Over the weekend, many Republicans politicians and conservative intellectuals continued their attacks on Donald Trump, the businessman and publicity hound, hoping to drive him from the GOP primary before the first debate on August 6. Their end is desirable. Trump would make an awful president; his xenophobic demagoguery is discrediting; he adds nothing of value to the campaign; and he is cynically manipulating parts of the Republican Party’s base for his own ego-driven ends.
All the while, he’s damaging the GOP brand. And even in the unlikely event that he were to win its nomination, he would be an overwhelming underdog in the general election. Little wonder that so many on the right are eager for him to go away. But discrediting him probably won’t be as easy as harping on comments that Trump made disparaging John McCain’s status as a war hero because he was taken prisoner.
Yes, the comments were inane, offensive nonsense, as Matt Welch explains better than anyone. But Donald Trump has made headlines with inane nonsense for years, and his brash, offensive style seems to be part of his “I’m not a politician” appeal. He is succeeding among the part of his party that rallied around Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain—and while GOP moderates will assert themselves eventually, as they did in 2012 by nominating Mitt Romney and in 2008 with John McCain, farcical candidacies are difficult for the GOP to avoid or end quickly because the party is averse to certain truths that would help inoculate it against demagogues.