Lindsey Graham, of all people, summed up the Republican Party's dilemma perfectly when he said of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, "Whether it's death by being shot or poisoning doesn't really matter. I don't think the outcome will be substantially different." Who knew Goober was so insightful?
The fact is neither man is all that beloved by their party and both would have incredibly high negatives going into a general election. Cruz would lock up the conservative vote in a way no Republican nominee has done since Ronald Reagan, but would not expand the electorate much beyond that; Trump, because he is far less ideological, might snatch some of those blue-collar Democrats that Hillary would be counting on, but because of his extreme views on immigrants and the way in which many African Americans have been treated at his rallies, would not fare well with minorities.
And neither would have coattails in November, meaning Republican senators running for reelection in swing states would be very vulnerable. Most political pundits last year thought the prospects of a Democratic takeover of the Senate a tossup at best. Now those odds have improved considerably. To be honest, it wouldn't surprise me if the Dems ended up with 52 seats, more if the GOP follows through with its threat to obstruct President Obama's Supreme Court justice nominee.
As for the House, while I don't subscribe to the ridiculous notion by some progressives that the Republicans are in danger of losing their majority, I do believe that a Trump or Cruz nomination - and possible ticket - would mean a Democratic net gain of 15 or more seats, just enough to make Paul Ryan's life a living hell in 2017.
So which will it be, the shooting or the poisoning? Well, right now things are looking pretty good for the shooting. Barring a miracle, Trump is going to be the GOP nominee. The other Republican candidates seem more concerned with who finishes second rather than knocking off the frontrunner. Cruz, from a delegate standpoint, has the best shot. He's only trailing the Donald 391 to 304. Marco Rubio - the "establishment" candidate - has a paltry 125. Even if he wins his home state of Florida - and the polls show him trailing by almost 20 points - he still won't have enough to make a run at the nomination. That's because beginning March 15 almost all the contests are winner take all. Seriously, somebody needs to take Marco aside and explain to him that it's over. I mean REALLY over.
So let's play this out. Rubio and John Kasich - the other fifth wheel in this bunch that can't take a hint - both lose their respective home states, and Cruz doesn't win any more states by the 15th. What you have is a runaway train headed all the way to Cleveland. You can forget about a brokered convention. Trump should reach the required 1237 delegates well before then. And even if he doesn't, say he falls just a few delegates short. Does anybody seriously believe that the Republican Party can deprive him of the nomination? If they do, Trump will take his supporters and run third party. That means Clinton wins in a landslide come November.
Now that's a Catch 22 if ever I heard of one. And, to be honest, I don't feel sorry for the Republican Party. Not one bit. They brought this on themselves. Paul Krugman may have written the best piece about Trump and the GOP. It should be required reading for all.
Establishment Republicans denounce Mr. Trump as a fraud, which he is. But is he more fraudulent than the establishment trying to stop him? Not really. Actually, when you look at the people making those denunciations, you have to wonder: Can they really be that lacking in self-awareness?Krugman goes on to point out the hypocrisy of people like Marco Rubio for calling Trump a "con artist" all while promising to "enact giant tax cuts, undertake a huge military buildup and balance the budget without any cuts in benefits to Americans over 55," and Speaker Paul Ryan, who accuses Trump of "evasion" and playing games, but "whose much-hyped budgets are completely reliant on 'mystery meat,' that is, it claims trillions of dollars in revenue can be collected by closing unspecified tax loopholes and trillions more saved through unspecified spending cuts."
He rips the GOP for, on the one hand calling for a rejection of intolerance and bigotry, while on the other benefiting greatly from it. He cites Richard Nixon's Southern strategy, Ronald Reagan's use of the term "welfare queens" and the Willie Horton ads as proof that the Party of Lincoln has drifted far from its roots. "Put it this way, " he adds, "There's a reason why whites in the Deep South vote something like 90 percent Republican, and it's not their philosophical attachment to libertarian principles."
The point is that Donald Trump may be a con man, perhaps the best we've seen in quite some time, but what he's really doing is exposing the Republicans establishment as the real frauds in this election cycle. He's shone a spot light on positions that the Party has held for decades and would prefer to stay hidden. His candidacy, if nothing else, has performed at least one public service to the nation.
And now he has the GOP - perhaps the whole country - by the balls. If it weren't so tragic, it would be amusing. Maybe it's a bit of both.