Now that the media has latched on to last-ditch conservative efforts to field a third party run, the so-called “Establishment” gets to stand back and watch the carnage.
Among the recruits under discussion are Tom Coburn, a former Oklahoma senator who has told associates that he would be open to running, and Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who was suggested as a possible third-party candidate at a meeting of conservative activists on Thursday in Washington.
As Erick wrote, we’re not at that point yet, but the “Establishment” would rather deflect attention from their real target, who is the best and only chance to stop Trump from hijacking the GOP: Ted Cruz.
I write “Establishment” in quotes because the term has acquired the same meaning as boogeyman, monster, zombie, Sasquatch, or SMOD. It’s an undefined, amorphous bad thing that shows up at the worst time and ends you. But there is a real GOP establishment. It’s the crowd that funds, staffs and supports Super PACs like Right to Rise, that spent nearly $100 million on nothing whatsoever, but failed to take out Donald Trump.
There are members of Congress, senators and their senior staffs who loathe Ted Cruz, and would rather see anyone inhabit the White House than him. These are people with Reince Preibus on their speed dial, and when they call, he answers. Senators like Orrin Hatch of Utah, a state that Cruz needs to win, Trent Lott, Bill Frist, Thad Cochran, and most of Florida’s congressional delegation.
Welp, Trent Lott just told me he'd take Trump over Cruz if he had to choose.
— Molly Ball (@mollyesque) January 21, 2016
Right to Rise spent tens of millions trashing Marco Rubio when he could have stood against Trump–when Marcomentum was real. When Trump began his campaign and soared to the top of the polls, in the first debate, the first question asked to any candidate by Megyn Kelly was to ask Trump if he would sign a pledge to back the GOP nominee. Trump refused to commit.
At that point, the GOP could have excoriated Trump. These same establishment politicos could have called Preibus and demanded Trump withdraw, excluded him from debates, or forced him to sign a pledge with no conditions. Instead they rolled out the red carpet and Preibus kissed Trump’s ring at the Trump Tower. They said they were afraid of a third party run, but they really weren’t. Sure, it could have been another Ross Perot, but it wouldn’t have been and they knew it.
What they also knew is that Ted Cruz had a good head start on a ground operation, a first class data operation that made Mitt Romney’s ORCA disaster look like a seventh grade computer project, and an outsider conservative movement behind him. They thought they’d have Trump take out Cruz, have Jeb take out Rubio, and it would be over by March.
They were nearly right about one part: it’s March and it’s perilously close to over. But the establishment people don’t care. They’d gladly take Trump as the nominee. They’re hoping he gets 1,237 delegates, or they can get Kasich to stay in long enough to force Cruz to make a deal and sacrifice the nomination to Trump for the threat of “riots.”
But they really secretly hope Trump gets way more than 1,237, puts Cruz away, and then they can watch the disaster unfold as Hillary wins. Then they can compromise on President Obama’s SCOTUS nomination of Merrick Garland, they can compromise on every pork-barrel, election winning, blue-state program to keep their jobs, and claim they’re doing it to preserve the party in case Hillary wins.
In fact, they don’t care if Hillary wins, or if Trump wins, as long as they keep their jobs. If Trump wins the nomination, of course, many of them will lose their jobs either way, but the consultants are telling them they won’t (some of the same consultants who ran Right to Rise into the mountainside).
If Trump wins the nomination, Hillary will in all likelihood crush him, and they won’t care because they can raise their cash and win their elections and make their deals. In the meantime, these people, with a few exceptions such as (grudgingly) Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney, will sit back and watch Cruz win by himself.
If Cruz wins, they will deserve every bit of our malice and distrust. Fortunately Cruz believes in the Constitution and will deal with them according to that document. But we should remember at the polls after this November. If Hillary wins, they will have brought it on themselves, and we should remember them for that.