Conservatives now lament ideas they were complicit in spreading in the first place. Here's how they paved the way for The Donald.
The man does not have a well thought out philosophy. He does not have serious, substantive principles. He's figured out the hot button issues. And he's going to keep pressing them. Look, I like a lot of what he says too. That's not the point. ~ talk radio host Mark Levin, criticizing Donald Trump
GOP primary voters should reward substance, rather than pols who masterfully exploit hot button issues. So why are so many Republicans embracing Donald Trump? They've been trained to elevate politicians based on the "tough" rhetoric they use rather than the record they've amassed. And to rally around anyone seen as being disrespected by the dread mainstream media.
The talk radio right bears much of the blame for these pathologies. Caught up in the Tea Party excitement, guys like Mark Levin used their platforms to act as apologists for Republicans like Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell. Didn't they fire up the base? Weren't they unafraid to zing President Obama? As Donald Trump rises in the polls, however, Levin is having second thoughts. The right is suddenly foolish to embrace demagogues with thin resumes and incoherent political philosophies. For all their differences, folks like Ross Douthat, David Frum, Reihan Salam, David Brooks, Daniel Larison, and many others have long been urging the GOP to pick its champions based on substance. You'll never hear any of them urge that Donald Trump be taken seriously.