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“How The GOP Stupidly Enabled A Donald Trump ‘Comeback'”: GOP Anti-Trumpers Lack The Credibility To Make The Kill

Remember when Donald Trump was losing?

If you blinked, you might have missed it.

It started during last Thursday’s debate, continued through the muddled results of Saturday’s caucuses and primaries, and lasted until, oh, around the time that news outlets began calling Mississippi for Trump a few minutes after the polls closed in the state on Tuesday night.

Now that Trump’s march to the nomination appears to be back on track with decisive victories in Michigan, Mississippi, and Hawaii, it’s worth pausing for a moment to assess just what went wrong with the #NeverTrump movement. Why has it done so little to alter the shape of the race? How has Trump managed to stay on top through the unrelenting critical coverage of the past week?

A good part of the answer lies in the distinctive defects of the messengers. In just about every case, those leading the charge against Trump lack the credibility to make the kill.

Let’s begin with Trump’s opponents in the race for the GOP nomination.

For two endless, sordid hours last Thursday night, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz tag-teamed with the three Fox News debate moderators in laying into Trump. They were merciless. By the time it was over, Trump looked like an incompetent, vulgarian huckster whose renegade presidential campaign may well pose a dire threat to the republic.

Yet when Rubio and Cruz were asked at the conclusion of the debate if they would support Trump in the event that he secured the party’s nomination, both of them outed themselves as unprincipled Republican Party hacks by answering, astonishingly, yes.

In those 30 seconds, two hours of damage was undone. After all, how bad could Trump really be if both of his antagonists wouldn’t hesitate to rally to his side and work to see him prevail in a battle against Hillary Clinton?

A similar bit of self-sabotage was at work in Mitt Romney’s historic speech ripping Trump to shreds earlier that day. It was an extraordinarily powerful statement, and unlike anything we’ve ever seen before: The Republican standard-bearer from just four years ago excoriating the present-day frontrunner of his own party.

But the moment one’s attention drifted from the message — Trump is a fraud and a phony — to the messenger, the cognitive dissonance became too much to bear. As everyone knows, when Romney was governor of Massachusetts he signed into law the direct forerunner of the Affordable Care Act — and then ran a presidential campaign devoted to denouncing the federal version of the law as nothing less than the advent of tyranny in America.

Which seems like pretty compelling evidence that Romney himself must have been at least a little bit of a fraud and a phony at one of those past moments.

Then there are the sour memories of Romney’s ostentatiously oligarchic 2012 campaign — with its denigration of 47 percent of the country as moochers, obsequious praise of entrepreneurs, brittle defenses of Bain Capital’s role in sowing creative destruction, and talk of car elevators, dressage, and other perks of life among the richest of the rich.

How likely was it that Trump’s angry white working-class voters were going to be moved by an appeal made by such a man? No wonder it seems to have backfired.

Finally, Trump has also come in for severe criticism from “members of the Republican national security community,” several dozen of whom have signed a hotly worded “open letter” that culminates in the claim that Trump is singularly “unfitted” to serve as commander-in-chief.

They’re certainly right about that. The only problem is that nearly every one of the 117 people who have (so far) signed the letter supported the disastrous Iraq War, most of them favored the military intervention in Libya that has led to similarly ruinous consequences, and many have sharply criticized President Obama for failing to commit more forcefully to arming and defending so-called (and exceedingly difficult to detect) “moderate” rebel groups in the Syrian civil war.

These are the people judging Donald Trump unfit to serve as commander-in-chief of the armed forces?

Let’s just say that their opinions would carry somewhat more weight had they not repeatedly demonstrated over the past decade and half that they possess consistently poor judgment in matters of foreign affairs.

These were the anti-Trump messengers of the past week — the week when Trump started losing. And then started winning again.

The really surprising thing is that anyone was surprised.

 

By: Damon Linker, The Week, March 9, 2016

March 10, 2016 - Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , , ,

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