The Republican Establishment Is Losing at Its Own Game

The party, seemingly helpless to stop Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, is not taking advantage of the strengths that usually allow it to be a power broker.

Comments: 220

  1. I like my popcorn with real Vermont Cabot butter.

  2. Mix a little maple syrup with that butter and it will be even better. Don't forget the Lake Champlain Chocolate cocoa and marshmallows!

  3. Trump would not be doing as well as he is in New Hampshire without a lot of support from "establishment" Republicans, the sort that nominated Willkie and Eisenhower over Taft, Ford over Reagan, Romney over Santorum. That's why I think Trump is the next president. The opposition is porous. He appeals to a certain percentage of, well, everyone. In fact, I think his strength is understated in the polls due to the hate blasts coming from the media. It would not surprise me if he got 50% in New Hampshire. If he did, other candidates funding would wither like a lettuce leaf in Tucson in August.

  4. @Here
    I bet to differ. Trump would not be doing so well if he didn't have a billion dollars of his own money in his pocket. Otherwise he would have disappeared after his first gaffe.

  5. Hate blasts from the media? Doesn't matter. Publicity is publicity, good or bad, and Trump has garnered way more than his share of it. Every news program and political talk show prominently features Trump. The voters don't really know anything about Republican candidates other than Trump. He's like Paris Hilton or the Kardashians, famous for being famous. Trump gets the same sort of adulation or revulsion. It's a crazy world!

  6. If you asked the wisest political sage "who will be the 2016 GOP frontrunner" a mere six months ago, they would have named the Governor of Wisconsin and the former governor of Texas. Where are they now?

    While Donald J. Trump might be the lesser of two evils in the contest to be the Republican nominee, when we look at their bench, it's filled to the brim with flawed demagogues and empty suits. The 2016 GOP field might be the worst in recent memory.

    Governor John Kasich (R-OH) claims he has momentum in New Hampshire. I thought he was affable and fairly bright. Then I watched the Charleston debate where he bragged about serving in Congress with Senator Strom Thurmond and Senator Trent Lott. The Ohio Governor bragged about two members of Congress known for their overt racism. He’s dumb not bright.

    Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) doesn’t know how to balance his checkbook and can’t tell the difference between a Visa and a Mastercard. Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) has the manners and demeanor of Eeyore, and New Jersey is a mess. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) plagiarizes his speeches. Dr. Ben Carson thinks that hummus is a terrorist organization. And Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) believes his brother kept the United States safe, and says President Obama created ISIS.

    Ted Cruz (R-TX) is the most frightening of all. He publicly joked that the United States doesn't have a "rubber shortage" when he was justifying banning contraceptives for women.

    The Republican party should concede now.

  7. I always liked Eeyore. Eeyore, despite his mannerisms, had at least one something Christie lacks: feelings.

  8. Bear in mind that these men represent the "deep bench" the GOP was bragging about last year before it became obvious that it was "deep" in promulgating racism and hatred only.

  9. "The 2016 GOP field might be the worst in recent memory." How about, The worst in American history?

  10. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to be a member of a very good union. The one thing the union told us they would not tolerate was divisiveness amongst its members. If there was an issue between members, we were not to talk about it in front of management for we would be displaying our weaknesses.

    That said: We always settled differences behind closed doors.

    Eventually, when it came down to renegotiating our contract, we were able to divide and conquer the management and get exactly what we wanted.

    Lesson learned: in unity there is strength.

    The irony here is that we see the exact opposite within the house of the GOP. And they are indeed paying the price for their "internecine attacks" for they have divided and conquered nothing but themselves.

    Perhaps they could learn a few lessons from organized labor after all…

  11. now - all those US union jobs are filled by Chinese workers. That's what happens when unions see management as the "enemy."

  12. The Unions knew exactly what management would do and did: place profits before people and management's interests about all. Follow the money, it leads right into the pockets of management and shareholders. The rest of us be damned.

  13. Or perhaps it is the other way around and management sees unions as the enemy!

  14. The important question: why is the Republican Party in this extraordinarily vulnerable condition? The GOP conflagration now is comparable to what happened to the Democrats in 1968, in the lead-up to the nomination of Eugene McCarthy. Then as now, one of the two major US political parties was heading toward its presidential nominating convention deeply split. The common factor between 1968 and today is a sense of sharp outrage felt by one segment of one party's usual voters.

    For the Democrats in 1968, the outrage came from intense opposition to the US war in Vietnam. The affected segment was the Left side of the party.

    Today the Republican Party faces a similar crisis, this time with the affected segment located on the Right. The issue leading to the Republican split, while not quite as obvious as the Democrats', arises from the disappointments and resentments of lower income, less educated white voters, at a time when the US is continuing to diversify. That distress has been building since the early 1970s. During the past seven years, the very fact of the Obama presidency has brought it to a head.

    The Obama presidency is the Republican equivalent of the war in Vietnam. If Republicans want to avoid the decades of irrelevance experienced by the Democrats from 1968 through 1992, the party must not allow itself to be fragmented in the same way. Unfortunately, the fragmentation may already have gone so far as to be irreversible.

  15. It's right-wing populism. The establishment Republicans have catered to it rhetorically for years while always catering to their elite base programmatically. The GOP's middle- and working class electoral base seems to have finally realized that the rhetorical "dog whistles" really don't accomplish anything for them, hence, their anger and disdain for the establishment candidates. The disjunct has become all the more apparent with the GOP control of Congress in recent years. This is not to say that either Trump or Cruz could deliver for them, or would even really try, but it does explain the anger, and the lack of "traction" for the establishment candidates.

  16. The so-called "establishment" is much better at local politics than national. They remind me of the character in The Matrix Reloaded, the Architect who tells Neo, "There are levels of survival we are prepared to accept". The only thing that bothers me about the situation is conservatives are not a "win at any cost" group of people. We are much more adept at shrugging our shoulders and working within whatever draconian system may arise. We are not as emotionally dependent on the outcome...so we don't really ever get the enthusiasm or passion if you will for victory in politics. I don't know what will happen in these elections. Part of me would like to see an archetypal choice for president such as Trump vs. Sanders. Let's have the Armageddon of economic ideas and see who comes out on top.

  17. Trump leading in the polls is not a fluke, it has fundamental reasons, and by the way, Sanders is destroying Clinton's chances.
    If you noticed, in many cases, even if it sounds paradoxical, Trump's and Sanders' ideas are identical. They both are talking about the disappearance of the American middle class and their desire to save it; they both are against huge trade deficits and self-defeating trade policies. The author is not exactly accurate when he hints that Trump has a blue collar appeal only. Both, Trump and Sanders have broad appeal, and polls prove it. What does it all mean?
    It is correct to say that both GOP and Dems' electorate are angry. But it is wrong to pretend that the anger of the American people is not justified. With 19 trillion in debt, with the open southern border, with 11 to 30 million illegals (nobody knows the exact number), with 500 billion trade deficit with China, with 85 million out of work force, with PC censorship limiting free speech, many believe that the establishment, elite, MSM (fill other elements of the ruling class in the blanks) are simply... failed and are in the state of decay and intellectual degradation, exactly like in Ancient Rome before Vandals' invasion, and some fresh blood is needed. Both Trump and Sanders represent capitalist and socialist branches of populism, and if Trump's populism means common sense of a businessman who wants to save the American middle class from disappearance - then populism is not a bad word for me.

  18. You can forget all about those polls showing the 74 year old Vermont socialist with the New York accent is going to win any national election. The Republican propaganda machine has laid off Sanders totally while continuing their 25 year campaign to destroy the Clintons. That will end about ten seconds after Sanders gets nominated, and his alleged "popularity" will melt like snow in April. A fool could write the attack ads. Anybody remember Kerry's popularity before being Swift-boated? And Kerry was a legitimate war hero.

  19. Nobody's had the guts to call Trump on his racism and lying - until now. GOP candidates cower in fear of being attacked by Trump. Jeb! "courageously" calls Trump a "jerk" and Hillary "bravely" claimed this unhinged lying racist has "a penchant for sexism" then pulled back in fear when Trump retaliated. Hey, if Donald Trump intimidates you, you shouldn't be president, scaredy cats.

    Two nights ago Bernie Sanders - the only candidate with convictions - called Trump on his racism, divisiveness and chronic lying. Sanders: "I think he's a pathological liar." Honest criticism of Trump makes Bernie the only candidate fit to be president.

    If you're running for president and so intimidated by Trump you avoid criticizing him so he won't bully you - Go Home! Cuddle with a blanket and suck your thumb.

    Not enough's reported about the media propelling Trump's candidacy with free coverage, broadcasting his live events for all-important ratings. Who else was blessed by this media benevolence? Chris Matthews in particular changed his show from "Hardball" to "The Donald Trump Hour." "Morning Joe," CNN have been terrible. Where's their judgement?

    All those too scared to take Trump on - Cruz, Rubio, Jeb!, Christie, Hillary, the RNC, the DNC, pundits and career politicians, tv networks - where were you when we needed you?

    Except for Sanders the candidates are gutless. And the media isn't being held accountable for shamelessly promoting Trump's candidacy. This is scandalous.

  20. Thanks.
    I couldn't have said it better myself and you hit all the points spot on. I like reading your stuff.. keep it up

  21. Great comment. The best Trump can come up with Sanders is that he is a nut. Sanders could be Trump. Clinton will be eaten alive.

  22. So Ted Cruz has the endorsement of "Duck Dynasty." What a perfect recommendation for POTUS for a dumbed down electorate. Although she has endorsed Donald Trump, it is hard to see how the "moose hunting" Sarah Palin could resist the charms of Ted Cruz in "full camo." Isn't she a better fit with Cruz in "evangelical and hunter mode" than Donald and his "New York Values"?
    Don't worry Sarah, there are still nine months to go- it's not too late to change your mind.

  23. I figure that Palin does nothing that doesn't directly benefit Palin. Sure, she loves the limelight and will steal it from Trump at every opportunity, but I surmise her support came at a price, one Cruz could never match. She gets to fly on one of Trump's private planes and be cheered by her devoted fans; he gets a proven crowd pleaser to warm up his audience. In return, her star rises again, and I expect her purse swells as well as her ego.

  24. Come on! We all know the real reason Sarah went with Trump: Cold hard cash! Always looking down the road to see where her next meal ticket is coming from, Sarah & family figured out that aligning with Trump offers a better future return than aligning with Cruz!

  25. Or to have another baby

  26. You can always blame the media, but never the voters. Why?

  27. The Republican establishment knew race baiting and hate baiting are toxic.

    Now the party is sick and they scratch their collective heads wondering why.

  28. I think the Republican party that everyone has known since 1980 is coming apart, and will be replaced with something else. The demographic changes that are taking over the country will make a party of angry rich white guys who want a tax cut irrelevant. A lot of republican voters are waking up to the fact that their party does not do anything to improve their lives. and that they are increasingly going to need help in this life with retirement, health care etc and that the republicans have no real solutions to anything.

  29. You nailed it. The Republican Party is going out of business. The only business it has left is fear, hate and ignorance and that adds up to moral and political bankruptcy.

  30. Behold Trump’s all or nothing, no holds barred reckless fling at self destruction and dragging his immediate world down with him with a despotic and utter disregard of them as individuals … what an amazing spectacle! How is this possible? It’s possible because of the glaring incompetence and dangerousness of each and every GOP candidate. A Trump candidacy could well win the Presidency, the Senate, and maybe even the House for the Democrats. Even districts that are 55% GOP might not be safe with Trump leading the ticket.

  31. While we are making predictions. I say that neither Trump nor Cruz is going to be the nominee. Voters, or should I say opinion makers have to sober up sometime. But a Trump candidacy, surely, would give the country that much-needed two-year window of Democratic control in which some meaningful legislation might get accomplished. If they do not pass election reform, I think I'll wash my hands of American politics and just live here in Japan after I retire.

  32. If Trump or Cruz win. it will be largely because the GOP Establishment changed the primary calendar, primary rules (delegates go disproportionately to winners, regardless of their absolute vote totals), and debate frequency.

    Example of the latter: It was felt that if the "rogues" didn't get much debate time, voters wouldn't get to know them and would stick with establishment candidates.

  33. The Republican establishment hasn't accomplished much of anything over the last 7 years, so they have no one they can now point to as a leader. No one regular folk can support. No one that has proven to be that clear thinking, mindful human being the middle actually likes and appreciates. The party of "no" has focused solely on party solidarity to defeat policy and proposals coming from the dem side of the aisle, to the detriment of the country they were elected to serve, and, 7 years later, have little to show for their collective defiance except an arms-crossed petulance. It's not surprising that they now have nobody they can elevate amongst their ranks. Loyalty to party-over-country eventually fails both.

  34. Actually, the person who has explained the Republican dilemma, and explained it repeatedly and forcefully, is Hillary Clinton: the GOP has been moving inexorably to the right and away from mainstream voters, the center-of-gravity that wins the presidency. Trump and Cruz have merely accelerated the curve. But the republican middle will not listen to HIllary, and she knows it and rejoices in their deaf ears, knowing that Trump needs a current tally of 75% or more primary voters to threaten her in the general, and he only has half that, and Cruz even less.

    If the Clinton's could have written a script for the antagonists to fail, they could not have done better than Trump and Cruz are doing for them. And it may be too late for a rewrite by the GOP establishment. We're looking at a Hillary v. Trump-or-Cruz margin like LBJ winning 60% over Goldwater in the 1964 general election. But the GOP will still hold the house and probably the Senate, so America will not be changed much by politicians through 2020--global economics and terrorism will be the delta factors.

  35. As Frank Rich pointed out in a column soon after the 2010 mid-term elections, "the Tea Party is a disaster for the GOP".

    This was compounded by the polarizing Sarah Palin in 2012.

    Indeed, had the GOP not embraced Tea Party congresspeople as part of their caucus -- or required them to run as an alternate party (a la the Reform Party), then the GOP would probably have been better off today.

    Instead, their obsession with attacking Obama caused them to blindly embrace the "wacko" reactionaries that would eventually lead to their downfall.

    And Trump is the nail in their coffin.

  36. Taking the Tea Party out of the GOP back in 2010, as today, is like taking wet out of water. The Tea Party and this GOP is one and the same. Not even a piece of paper one millionth of an inch thick could fit in between the Tea Party and the GOP.

  37. Don't underestimate the stupidity of the American voter.

  38. Trump and Palin. Sort of like Thelma and Louise driving off the cliff together!

  39. Mr Trump is leading because the average American, both on the left, and the right, feel ignored.

    Does the average person truly have a say anymore, in anything, when it comes to our government? It doesn't feel that way.

    Each day I read the papers, and all I see are one horrible story after another. Everything from crime to immigrants, to the market collapsing, and its really depressing. It's no longer the America that I grew up with. Its not what America is suppose to be.

    America has become the land of the offended, the entitled, and the victimized.

    The average hardworking citizen like myself seems to have gotten lost in the fray.

  40. I agree that working people have gotten lost in the fray, but I don't understand how voting for Trump helps. He thinks wages are too high. How would he help working people?

  41. Come on. The avg. auto worker may have been way better off - certainly, there were more of them in the U.S. back then - in the 50's or 60's, but there's no way he had any illusions about his influence - even collectively.

    What there was was a lot less obvious "pigginess" up above ... and that old (but valuable) touchstone of "my kids will have an even better life."

    Now, the latter is gone ... and whether it's 8-digit pied a terre apts in NY or whatever is comparable in Iowa or Ohio, there's more than enough to get anybody from their 20's to their 60's pretty steamed.

    I can't believe the sameness of the comments here - and they appear to be all over the political spectrum - that boil down to, "Voters have twigged to the game being rigged!"

    I still can't believe in a "Democratic miracle" - the Supreme Court's contributions decisions make HRC unstoppable - but Cruz or Trump strike me as every bit as "inevitable" as Goldwater or McGovern. It's like fever spiking to 105 when there's a nasty bug in one's body. One can only hope that there's a similar outcome with this - recovery and the "poison" seeming to disappear.

  42. Angie - I disagree with you on one thing. For all everyone's grumbling, and whatever our own personal troubles, it is better for everyone who lives in America now than it ever was before. We have more comforts, better medicine, longer lives, more choices, more social programs, less hunger, less racism, more opportunity and are stronger militarily than we ever were before. There are no utopias and it can always be better. But, we also now have the 24 hr. news cycle and instant communications, including visual, so that if a sparrow falls anywhere in the world, you don't need to be omniscient to know about it. It's on youtube or facebook or cable news somewhere. And when it comes to "news," most of it is negative.

    But, lots of people certainly feel the way you do and I think you gave some good reasons for Trump's success. I'd add that he is winning because a certain segment of the population is tired of what they believe is unfair political correctness, of being demonized and that he is for them.

  43. I think that it's terrific that Trump and Sanders are the front runners of their parties. They have FINALLY made the American people wake up and realize how the banks, lobbyists and super PACS have been controlling and destroying the government and have brought this country to it's knees. To the victors go the spoils.

  44. "Today Republicans want an outsider." And what about Democrats? How to explain Bernie Sanders if not an outsider? See folks - it's just not about angry old white men obsessed with preserving their priviledged position - yeah, priviledged if one believes the liberal press, and if one ignores the circumstances that have evolved to mock the American Dream for the common person.

    The establishments - Dem and GOP, have failed the American citizenry. Both have ignored or minimized the plight of the American worker - sacrificed, mostly, to special interests. Bill Clinton's administration proudly proclaimed their role in the "new economy", but denied any for the collapse of manufacturing and the resultant economic bubble. No concern at all for the collapse as they put it of the "rust belt." Trump for all his distastefulness has most clearly identified the causes for the plight of the American worker.

    Trump, as his son described, is a "blue-collar billionaire" beholden to no special interests; and possessed with a conviction that the average American has been ignored and abused by both political parties. This resonates because it is so very very true.

  45. It is true but how do you know what Trump believes and why can't he make a case without lying and making absurd statements. "It will be terrific"

  46. Tom Paine

    Actually the idea that Trump is a "blue collar billionaire" is not "very, very true"; it is very, very false. He is a trash-talking reality tv media creation , a trust baby who inherited hundreds of millions of dollars, declared bankruptcy numerous times, and rode a long Manhattan real estate boom to billionaire status. His public statements are those of a racist demagogue and misogynist, tossing out dog-whistles to the ignorant.

  47. Trump and Sanders win as now finally poor and middle class Republicans and Democrats both are fed up with money controlling politics. And America is starting to reject the old Baby Boomer crooked corporate, banking, and business systems they created since Reagan that gutted the tax systems, destroyed government, and benefited the Plutocracy that is America. When core GOP white rural poor reject Bush, and the progressive middle class in America reject Hillary, its a sure sign that America is getting wise the rigged, greedy, corrupt society we all have that benefits investment banks like Goldman Sachs at the expense of the rest of this country.

  48. I have a question about Duck Dynasty and the "full camp" candidates. Do the ducks shoot back?

  49. Whweller--you write 'full camp' candidates. I suspect it was a typo for 'full camo', but 'full camp' works for me very well. Thanks for the early morning chuckle.

  50. The fact of the matter is that the news media helped greatly in creating and sustaining Trump's "success." All of the campaign contributions of all other candidates in BOTH parties could not buy one-tenth of the free air-time Trump has received from profit-driven media outlets.
    What ever happened to the fairness doctrine? Moreover, whatever happened to professional journalism?

  51. The fairness doctrine, which served us well - too well for the GOP - was undone during the Reagan years. Doesn't that just tell us all we need to know?

  52. The Fairness Doctrine was abolished during Reagan's presidency. Professional journalism of the kind you are mourning can only exist where there is an audience that wants to be informed. Today's audience wants to be entertained.

  53. Saint Reagan killed the fairness doctrine...

  54. The reason that Cruz is attracting money from big donors is simple: He is their last hope against Trump. One by one, the establishment candidates have proven inviable - first JEB!, then Rubio, then Christie. Early on, non-establishment candidates (Trump, Carson, Cruz) garnered over 60% of primary support. None of the establishment candidates were *ever* going to have *any* chance. Voters are angry, and it is about high Unemployment (EMRATIO among 25-54 is still much lower than 2007, with HS graduates living with their parents, and college grads taking low skilled jobs) - and low pay.

    Why are big donors picking the proven dysfunctional Cruz over Trump? Simple - Trump came out in favor of SS, and in favor of more progressive taxation (since walked back), but he will likely revert to form (once nominated) because it is a winning strategy in the General.

    Cruz would get crushed in the general, whether by Bernie or Hillary.

    Bernie is polling at around 54%-57% against Trump in the general. The gap between Hillary and Trump is about 10 points smaller. Pundits are dismissing those polls. It is too early to believe those numbers, but dismissing Bernie - saying he is the weaker general election candidate - is incorrect. The establishment is old and watches either Fox News, or the neoliberal media echo chamber, not realizing that the word "socialist" is not as scary as "establishment" to a populace that sees *their* economic prospects on an ever-downward slide.

  55. Great point about "socialist" vs "establishment". I hadn't considered that. This is why I spend so much time reading the comments section. Thanks

  56. It is amazing and depressing that Trump and Cruz supporters, who by the way comprise a large majority of the republican electorate, are seemingly comfortable with (or blind to) the prospect of their party's destruction and the endangerment of their country in the process.

  57. Media coverage certainly is slanted. It is weeks since I have seen anything much about Mr. Bush. Is he still on the trail? I read occasionally about Christie, but Rubio has also faded from coverage. What we get is Trump & Cruz, Cruz & Trump - and I'm paying pretty close attention - the others (Fiorina and whoever else is left) aren't even shadows at this point. I wonder why and how they (and Martin O'Malley) are still in the race. Surely they and their donors see that it is hopeless. Are they gunning for a position in the next administration - cabinet or even VP? Are the working in 2020 or even 2024, so name recognition, becoming nationally 'known'?

  58. Those "lesser" candidates are among the group that thinks Trump and Cruz will self-destruct and they are still in hoping they can pick up the pieces.

  59. Who would have believed this four years ago, that our choices could be Trump and Sanders? That one would be an almost incomparably self-aggrandizing, insecure and egotistical bully who tells the truth much less than advertised - really, evangelists should be embarrassed and at least ask him one day who the four evangelists are or some other gimme - who literally stands there and just says that everyone will love him, that he will build a cheap but beautiful wall across Mexico that Mexico will pay for and seems to love Putin? And that the other would be a self described socialist - the third dirtiest word in American political history after "Tory" and "Communist" - who seems to believe that Barack Obama didn't spend enough, that in fact there is no limit to spending and whose way of dealing with bullies at his own political rally is to hand over his mike and make his own supporters subject to intimidation? Of course, the other plausible choices right now would be Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton, and that sounds crazy to my ears too.

    I know my only choice right now, Kasich, is a poor campaigner, a moderate with slim to no chance - not even in his own state - and that far more people are more excited about those I can't believe have a shot than they are about anyone I might like. In the end, we get the president we deserve as a nation and we seem to want yet another emperor with no clothes.

  60. Kasich is no moderate, folks.

  61. Make a courageous stand against education, progress, the environment, and equal rights for all.
    Vote for fear. Vote for hatred. Vote republican.

  62. Two main points of this article stuck me...

    One, that voters today ("less ideological and less educated" as stated in the article but certainly not only that group) seem more swayed by the preponderance of media attention showered on candidates rather than whether or not they agree on policy and messaging - because there is no "policy" or "messaging" any more for the most part. Quick sound bites and grandstanding seem to do the trick. Political rallies are circuses, a place to listen to someone give vent to your anger, and i'ts more fun to say you were "there" than pay any attention to what a candidate will actual do about it.

    I've watched the Republican debates and hear only about the doom and gloom of this country, who's responsible, and how "the other", whether their fellow candidates or the present, horrid liberals are railed against rather than how the perceived problems at hand will be remedied by each candidate - what they'll do and how/who will pay for it.

    The second is that, unfortunately, Bush, Kasich, Rubio, and Christy all split 40% of the remaining, more level-headed Republican voters. That group needs to be winnowed quickly. If Trump and Cruz are splitting 60%, you do the math. Republicans need to come up with a sound, cohesive game plan, and fight the crazies that the media have established as crown-princes of the party if they have any hope of nominating anyone who can compete on the national stage with a Bernie or a Hillary.

  63. In reply to Interested Reader:

    You state that "there is no "policy" or "messaging" any more for the most part". Well it may seem that way, but I think you may be missing the real message. All politicians speak in code sometimes, and both Cruz and Trump seem to be masters of this.

    I am still trying myself to understand this code, since the supporters of Trump and Cruz seem to be "getting" it. It seems to be based mostly on revolution against the federal government, which is allegedly being run by corrupt and unpatriotic forces. One problem with this is that different groups within the GOP have different ideas about who these "others" are. Both sides seem to agree that the bad guys include almost all Democrats, plus Republican RINOs like Bush. However, it seems that Cruz is more interested in empowering conservative white Christians who will "purify" the country's morals. Trump seems more interested in getting rid of all this messy democracy stuff by installing a strongman President somewhat on the model of Vladimir Putin.

  64. I agree with everything that you said but Christie and Rubio are not level headed.

  65. The Republican elite wooed "the crazies" and lured them into the party with rants about guns, gays, abortion - when all the elites really care about is making rich people richer at everyone else's expense. However there are not enough rich people to vote them into power, so - especially since the downfall of Communism - they have to rouse the rabble somehow. They - not the media - have created their own monsters. If it weren't so dangerous it would be funny.

  66. Current events matter. I saw a huge upswing in Trump support among conservatives here after the Paris attacks. Trump had already been talking about building walls and keeping America safe. That message resonated as people imagined themselves in some version of a Paris situation. Also, I never hear anybody anymore defend big business or say that high prices are needed for R&D or that the market is the best way to go. People know they are being cheated, and so a candidate independent of the corporate donors naturally appeals.

  67. A candidate that appeals to that part of the brain that resides at the base of the spine, our residual brain, our "Lizard" brain. The unthinking, subconscious part that reacts best to fight or flight instincts. That's the appeal you're referring to, right?

  68. In the first place the so-called moderates with the possible exception of Kasich are hardly moderate, they would, absent Cruz and Trump, all be recognized as screaming memies, talking right wing trash because that like everyone in that party pretty much is who they are and what they are.

    But the reason they cannot find traction is simple. Over the past several decades but especially in response to the election of the black man to the presidency the Republican establishment created and fed a howling mob of angry, left behind, uneducatated, frightened, white people. That is their constituency, that is all they have left.

    In the past they could bring it back, tame it sufficiently to choose a so-called moderate (there are not moderate Republicans anymore, it is a complete fiction that there are). But this time they can't bring the mob under control.
    The mob that is the Republican constituency wants blood and blood it will have. It is like Palin: ignorant, bigoted, full of hate and hateful, unwilling to know or listen to reason.

    So Cruz and Trump are not accidents, they are an expression of what the Republicans have wrought and they will be destroyed by it this year. And it is time they were.

  69. Yep. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

  70. I would completely agree with you, except that I fear there are more angry, uneducated, hate-filled voters in the South and Mid-West than you realize. One of these two fire-breathing may turn out to be our next commander-in-chief. That possibility is very scary.

  71. "Mr. Cruz has won more support among conservative elites than one would have guessed based on his oppositional tactics in Congress."

    This reflects the growing controlling interest of Big Donors (BD) over the Republican elite. The BD isn't concerned about the popularity of Cruz among his peers in Congress. They are not supporting him in a run for the Senate. They want the whole enchilada, where Cruz sits alone in an Oval Office and who will create an administration sympathetic to the desires of the BD.

    The Republicans -- in their efforts to unleash campaign donations -- have created a monster that is now devouring them as well.

  72. This analysis ignores the fact that it is not just Trump and Cruz, but also Carson and Huckabee who are articulating largely hate-filled and fearful politics, with well over 60% approval by Republican voters, if polls are to be believed. This is not accidental. The clear swing to the right among the Republicans began long ago with the Southern strategy of using racist appeals to bring in white voters, often working class. It was consolidated in the 1970s and 1980s with a clear pandering turn to the religious right. So now, after decades of tacking to the far right with jingoism, fear, endless versions of what was once called 'voodoo economics', and needless foreign wars, the Republican 'establishment' is worried that some of its candidates are going too far? I'm not a big Bible reader, but isn't there a verse that says 'as you sow, so shall you reap'? They've been working with the politics of fear, hatred, and exclusion for decades. This race is the logical consequence.

  73. C'mon, Huckabee is a 1%er. And I'm not talking about his income....

  74. The article and the comments both describe an electorate that generally votes (or fails to vote) based on "gut" and bias rather than facts.

    The horrible states of our elected governments and our major political parties are a consequence of that.

    Unfortunately, there is no quick cure. The (dysfunctional) media, parents, teachers and authority figures all share the power to build a population that operates rationally reflecting critically on the available information to make decisions.

    Even a good candidate with vision of a decent, prosperous nation and experience in politicking will need an adequately visceral campaign to get a multitude of non mindful citizens to get out and vote for him or her.

    (Independent voter)

  75. The "establishment" Republicans have lost the battle for their party to the libertarian/fascist mega donors unleashed by the Republican supreme court in Citizens United. They thought they had the tiger by the tail, but it has turned around to bite them.

    Now, let them sip their lattes and contemplate just what their scorched earth policies have wrought. Sometimes, our hate and anger hurts us more than its target; this would appear to be one of those times.

    After they reflect on the fact that the biggest loser in this race will be the Republican party, no matter who wins the nomination, perhaps they will see reason and join the Democrats in trying to undo the damage done to both parties by the radical Roberts' court.

  76. Citizens United is a major driver of thsi divisiveness. Each candidate has his or her personal billionaire backer. Lack of money is not likely to be the reason that any of them drops out. So each one "hangs in there" hoping to be the last one standing. Senator Lindsay Graham made that very point when he bowed out.

    Since any of the Republicans would be a far right wing candidate, with Cruz at the far right fringe, and Trump not very far behind, it likely makes little difference which one of these ends up being nominated. Carson and Fiorina seem totally out of their depth.

    One possibility is that none of these people will get enough delegate support so that the Republican convention will be a brokered convention. That would be an eye-opener for many people. The beliefs and positions of the Republican party would be on display, and that would not be pretty.

  77. The GOP establishment is waiting for the convention to place Paul Ryan in nomination, saving him money and the nasty primary fight that hurt Mitt Romney.

  78. Nancy from Jax - That's an interesting theory but Ryan isn't very well liked and probably couldn't win.

  79. The author suggests there is some distinction between less educated and less ideological Republican voters where in fact none exists. It's the less well educated that are most committed to simplistic, emotive and largely mythical explanations for what are invariably enormously complex issues whether they be domestic like healthcare or economic management, or external like the situation in the middle east or relations with China.

  80. The Republican Party spent the past thirty-five years denigrating our government while pushing policies that have led to fiscal and foreign policy debacles and a shrinking middle class.

    For the past eight years, they have been without alternatives for their failed policies. Rather than self-examination, they choose the path of loathing our government, President Obama and a host of others, foreign and domestic.

    They turned to radicals and reactionaries to bolster their ranks while simultaneously purging the party of Moderates and even some conservatives who chose governance over power.

    Purity was in. Anger was the message. It was, they were sure, the best route to the White House and the power they craved for its own sake.

    Ted Cruz was one result. But he was only the most visible and most destructive.

    That is, until Donald Trump played to the crowd the GOP had assembled. Boorish, racist, xenophobic, dismissive, and politically vacuous all played well to the angry base.

    The radicals had taken over the party. They now may be 70% of the GOP's base.

    The question is really no longer if the "establishment" wing can pick the nominee.

    The question is where the Republican Party can go from here?

    What is to become of the party that has so debased its nickname, "The Party of Lincoln,"?

    What is left to be saved?

  81. You point out that the 4 "main-stream" candidates are fighting over 40% of the vote, with the implication that if it boils down to 1, then that one will have a strong shot at the nomination.
    IMHO, Trump is in the race to block Bush. So as long as Bush is in, DJT is running. If Bush, however unlikely, is the first to fall, then maybe it all rolls in an establishment direct and Cruz is toast. If Bush hangs on, then it remains anyones call.

  82. "The weakness of the establishment makes it harder to figure out why this year is so different."

    I think this might be why. For the entire Obama presidency, the GOP establishment has "let the dogs out," happily exploiting the birthers, the science deniers, the gun nuts, and the nativists in their all-out, knee jerk, scorched earth assault against anything that "This President," this awful "Other," has done or has tried to do. Now the GOP OWNS this select group, and Trump and Cruz are merely acknowledging that reality and basing their campaigns on it.

    What is a Jeb Bush or a John Kasich ... sensible men both, I believe ... to do? Can they pander enough to get the nomination, but not so much as to compromise their chances in the general election? Can they kowtow enough to the NRA, at least with lip service, an absolutely essential requirement for any Republican candidate, the majority sentiments of the general public, U.S. police chiefs, and even NRA members notwithstanding?

    I turn to the prophet Hosea, chapter 8, verse 7, KJV:
    "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind..."

  83. In 2012, perhaps there was a mistaken sense among the angry voters that everyone else was angry right along with them. Perhaps we tend to hang around like-minded people and in some instances, that might lead one to mistake one's social circle for "everyone;" and social media and talk shows and so-called news shows may serve to give that circle a larger feel. Then President Obama's victory in 2012 further riled up those already unable to handle change and unable to recognize bias within.

  84. Here's one thing Hair Trump cannot lie his way out of:

    This tough talking, belligerent, bellicose pretender to Commander in Chief is a Viet Nam draft dodging coward.

  85. I agree that Trump is a draft dodger, but I discovered when Slick Willie ran in '92 that the electorate does not care.

  86. I can't wait until someone renames this hypocrite Bonespur Chickenhawk. Sort of has a nice, catchy ring to it! And that someone should be either former antiwar activist/conscientious objector but now strong veteran supporter Sanders, or draft-ineligible Hillary. The name will stick, because all bullies are always cowards at heart.

  87. me,
    Masterful. Foghorn Leghorn-ish.

    RH,
    The difference between Clinton and these tough talkers,
    Eureka College guy cheerleader, WW II dodger Reagan,
    Andover Prep guy cheerleader, Viet Nam dodger Bush,
    Cranbrook Prep guy cheerleader, Viet Nam draft dodger Willard Romney, and il Trompolini, is that,
    Clinton was never a tough talking blowhard trying to PLAY a tough guy with the lives of other people's children and slaughtering innocents abroad by the hundreds of thousands.

  88. Trump could get elected and might be a good leader. Who knows?
    Somebody, maybe his daughter, should ask him to tone down the hate speech. Just in case.

  89. The Republican establishment has done an outstanding job of devastating the country through obstruction. Yet, if Trump or Cruz should make it to the white House it would be catastrophic for the nation. The Republicans have nothing to offer except more devastation and more nanny state corporate welfare for the oligarchs. Hopefully, for the good of the country, the radicalized extremists GOP will crash and burn. If it doesn't you had best pray for your children's future because if you are not part of 0.01% it will be very bleak.

  90. It's fitting that Duck Dynasty endorses Cruz, they are both Kabuki facades to cash making machines.

  91. Quite the group of geniuses, that Duck Dynasty. Mensa material, every one. I think one of them even graduated junior high.

  92. Excellent article & analysis.

    One really DOES have to wonder at Cruz' fund-raising success. Yes, there are some hedge fund & high-tech billionaires who have gotten where they are by going their own way, so Cruz' singular style (also go-it-alone) not only doesn't faze them - they relate to it.

    But usually when people get to the top of the hill (financially), they or their advisors opt for re-positioning that tries to avoid potential disasters.

    Where's their risk avoidance this year, because Cruz is more of an outlier than Goldwater was.

    To those of us in the center, the Kochs have a Kubrick-ian aura of borderline craziness when it comes to their politics. Unfair though it may be, Texas has always struck many of us (think '63) as Mississippi values with serious money to get their way. Obviously, Cruz COULD BE tapping into that cesspool.

    But the easiest explanation is the 40% split 4 ways. People remember 4 & 8 years ago where the Republicans seemed to have a different rising star 2 or 3 times in the early going. I figure that the rich Republicans (whether the word "establishment" means much any more) simply don't want to waste 100's of millions on folks who prove to be inept campaigners. NH should see the 4 "moderates" going to 2 or 1, and at that point - while there's so little transparency that we won't see it - big bux will fund the Republican equiv. of what took Kerry down - this time against C&T. (It mattered that Bush went from inevitable to pitiful in short order.)

  93. "Usually, journalists tend to focus on the establishment-backed candidates who have the best chance of winning...Just ask Ron Paul's supporters who relentlessly complained that their candidate wasn’t taken seriously... (The same dynamic is playing out for Bernie Sanders supporters.)"

    What a master class in rhetoric here!

    The first sentence acknowledges what we have known for a while, that organizations like the Times have placed an undue amount of attention on certain candidates while either outright ignoring or negatively covering others. It leads us to believe that despite their participating in such practice, that they recognize it is something in their favor.

    But then the second line with its use of "relentlessly complained" immediately denigrates the reaction to this kind of media coverage. What it says is that yes, we in the media know that we cover things in a biased way, but we frankly don't care that you're bothered by it.

    The third, and this is truly the master stroke, then neatly dismisses the complaints against the Times' laughably obvious preference for Hillary Clinton by lumping in support for Bernie Sanders with the "relentlessly complaining" crowd. The pejorative language is in the previous sentence, so while the author does not overtly criticize Sanders or his supporters, the connection to those he does is quite clear.

    The Times can rest assured that its staff's rhetorical gifts remain strong even if its commitment to principled journalism does not.

  94. God help America if the Republicans win the White House.

  95. As many other readers have noted, the mainstream Republican Party's "chickens have come to roost", and are providing exactly the type of radical candidates in Cruz, Rubio & Trump that the party elders have promoted the politics of now for 30 years, and particularly in the past 8 years.

    This mainstream Republican Party confusion may actually be be beneficial in the long run in that it will demonstrate the benefits of realigning around the Loyal Opposition concept, wherein the GOP finds it will continue to lose national elections unless and until it returns to its moderate, conservative notions that was predominant in the party many years ago. The upshot is that the Democrats will likely maintain their control of the Presidential role for the foreseeable future, assuming these folks get some young, fresh thinkers involved on a national level.

  96. Here's my guess:

    The establishment has to first knock out either Trump or Cruz. My bet is they will take down Cruz. Nobody likes him or views him as someone they can work with. Also his Canadian birth will become, for Trump, a complete deal-breaker. In this sense: Those who, on the GOP side, are concerned about strengthening borders will view a Canadian born person, who remained a Canadian till 2014, as suspect. (I say this as the US mother of a Canadian born son with a European father. But who never has claimed Canadian citizenship, having lived all but the first 3 months of his life in the US.). Anyway, to many of Trump's nativist supporters, Cruz' birth creates a huge barrier or legal complication.

    Next, once Cruz has been severely weakened or knocked out, I'm betting the party elites will likely try - if that's possible! - to knock out Trump. Or hope for a brokered convention.

    I'm rooting for a Dem. And in the end, I suspect the GOP elites may also be rooting for one. They might choose throw their weight to Bernie, given his age. In hopes of gaining the White House 4 years hence.

    All the above is just my psychological take on the GOP trajectory. Based on my assessment that Trump is only a narcissist, but Cruz is a dangerous sociopath.

    Cruz has got to be stopped!

  97. What should be considered in the GOP race is whether the angry people who show up at a Trump or Cruz event will show up to vote in primaries or to caucus. If they do and GOP race does come down to simply Trump vs Cruz and one of them becomes the Republican nominee our country will find itself in a very disconcerting era.

    Is there is no choice between Donald or Ted because they are both horrific demagogues with the later being only slightly worse if only because the former is giving him political cover by deflecting attention.

    It is time for the Republican establishment to mend the divisions within it and circle the wagons around a Not Trump or Not Cruz.

  98. The Republican establishment's woes began in 2012 with the choice of Mitt Romney, who never licked the tag of being "inauthentic" based on his hard-right positions in the early going (including his disavowal of Massachusetts health reform), followed by his swing toward the center in the first debate against Obama, followed by the revelation of his disdainful elitism in the "47 per cent" remark. It will be fascinating to see how Ted Cruz navigates a similar route should he win the nomination. Given his craftiness, he may well persuade the ultra-conservative base that his real heart is still with them, even as he starts playing up to the establishment as an Ivy League-educated lawyer. And this time around, the general Republican hatred of Hillary and the Obama record is so entrenched that Cruz' shape-shifting may not really matter.

  99. I look forward to the NH primary being over for the end of these inane political ads on TV. Breathless talking heads on the news with the latest horse race polls. Here's your future news stories: "Super Tuesday produces muddle; Conventions rollicking, Crisis in political system" yadda yadda (Media selling itself)

  100. If I was a Republican, which I am not (Independent/Democrat), I too would be mad at the Republican establishment of Paul Ryan, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell for their approach to be against whatever President Obama was for. That is no way for a major party to act. I vote for people who will best address and solve our many difficult problems. The dysfunctional Republican legislative leadership and their kow-tow fellow Republicans are what has brought our country to near collapse over the last eight years. It's not President Obama but Congressional intransigence to work to solve problems.

    However, if I were a Republican, I would also be leery of Trump. I have no idea what he would actually do to solve our problems. Banning Muslims from entering our country and building a wall and somehow thinking that Mexico would even agree to pay for it are both ludicrous.

    And Ted Cruz is part of the establishment. But I will never take him seriously after he shut down our government and read Dr. Seuss' book "Green Eggs and Ham" from the Senate podium.

  101. "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!"
    It's Ted Cruz versus "the establishment."
    No, it's Donald Trump versus "the establishment."
    It's Us versus Them! We versus They!
    Any minute now one of them will start singing, "You and me against the world" at rallies.
    Come on media; give it a rest!
    Both Cruz and Trump are as much a part of "the establishment," as anyone in the race.
    Cruz: Government-funded education at Princeton and Harvard. Supreme Court Clerk. Bush/Cheney policy advisor. Texas' Solicitor General. Partner at huge law firm. Federal Trade Commission.
    And, lest we forget (as Cruz claims HE did) that huge loan from keystone of "the establishment," Goldman Sachs.
    Trump: Admits he "buys politicians." ("When they call, I give. When I call...they are there for me.") Admits he "used (established) bankruptcy laws" to his advantage. Trump University's "You-can-be-rich-like-Donald!" online scam. Trump himself admitted last August he was, in fact, "part of the establishment. I was the establishment until two months ago."
    What he should have added was, "until two months ago when I started running for president and realized being 'anti-establishment' was a better sell."
    The fact is, both Cruz and Trump are as much a part of, and have benefitted from, "the establishment," as any other candidate in the race.
    They won't tell the truth. It's high time the media starts doing so.

  102. To the peasants, Let them eat Cake!

    To all the Repub candidates and Sarah Palin, Let them drink Flint Water!

  103. Republicans have been spoon fed vitriol from the day Obama was elected. Civil debate and rational discussion of the issues gave way to a blanket rejection of anything that Obama proposed. Nothing could be more self evident than the total rejection of ACA, which is in essence a Republican free market approach to health care; or the abuse directed at the negotiations with Iran, an accomplishment that was strongly supported by all of our European allies who were also at the table. Because it served their purpose, party leaders gave permission to attack everything Obama, even when it was clearly contrary to the country's best interest, and it worked in giving them control of the House and solid wins in the midterm elections. Now that they want to bring back their base to a more reasoned discussion of the issues in order to select a responsible Presidential candidate they are unable to do so. The less well educated portion of their base, once given the heady freedom to say and believe anything, without restraint of facts or evidence, has chosen to simply continue down the path they were set on. They have unleashed a monster and now they can't put it back in its cage.

  104. The Republican Party is the victim of its own refusal to fix Citizens United. In the good old days the party had the money, and thus the power, to steer a candidate toward the nomination. It was in effect the single source of the money needed to put on a winning presidential campaign.

    Citizens United, or more accurately five highly conservative lawyers sitting on the Supreme Court, has changed all that. Today, each of the candidates running for the Republican nomination is sustained by his own separate, outside-the-party source of money given by one or another "malefactor of great wealth" who operates outside the traditional organizational setup. That Jeb Bush continues to spend stupendous amounts of money while barely managing to appear even as a blip on the radar screen, or that Ted Cruz (and Marco Rubio) likewise continue financially unimpeded, financed by Adelsons, Scaifes, or Kochs, while his own party tries to shun him is evidence enough of the destructive power of money in American politics.

    The Republicans may yet learn that in detaching themselves from any sort of control of money in political campaigns, they—even their members of great wealth—are reaping what they sowed.

    In winning, they have most likely lost.

  105. Republicans made defeating and defunding (thru legislation) against Pres Obama their #1 goal for the last 7+ years. In opposing Pres Obama with such fervor, the party veered right and the current candidates have continued that rightward direction. In their complete opposition to Pres Obama for winning 2 elections, they have slowed the govt process, neglected the country's needs, and achieved nothing. Now they reap what they sowed.

  106. the author rightly points out that the Republicans have four plausible candidates and they are bashing it out in a primary, that how it is supposed to work. The Democrats meanwhile had been hijacked lock stock and barrel by Hillary. There is no Democratic party, just Hillary 2016. Sanders has thrown sand in the gears of the Hillary machine that was to allow her to March to the convention. we will see how it turns out for Hillary once the voting actually starts.

    it is rather disingenuous of the author to find weakness in the Republicans for having a rousing primary season.

  107. First, there is no strong establishment person in the Republican Party who can broker a deal between establishment candidates and unite party leaders behind that candidate. Certainly, so-called Congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan cannot play this role. Past nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney are not loved or respected, they're regarded as "losers."

    Second, with the possible exception of John Kasich, none of the establishment candidates has a very good record in governance. Rubio has been a consistent no show in the Senate without a single distinguishing contribution. Maybe he should add a drag outfit to his boots to get some media attention. Possibly Christie could shut down another bridge, or Bush could figure out how to preside over another huge housing crisis in Florida. That might get them some media attention.

    I had thought that Kasich had entered the race solely to get some attention to secure the Vice-Presidential nomination as a popular governor in a key state. However, seeing who might wind up on the top of the ticket (other than himself) I don't blame him for eschewing any desire for the Veep job.

  108. The key to understanding what is going on is to see that it is the "end of days" for the Republican establishment. GWB was both the agent and the sign of their destruction; they haven't recovered.

    JEB's peculiar enervation and total loss of swagger shows that the dynasty is done. It has lost its way, its core premises exposed as idiot and disastrous, nothing left to to stand for other than "I have money, give me power."

    Rubio and Christie hoped to inherit the mantle and revitalize it; neither will. Rubio is another hollow man -- his abandonment of the principal interest of latinos was his 30 pieces of silver. He too is exposed as having no principles other than Yurtle the Turtle's.

    Christie carries too much awful baggage, and never could play across the nation. He's not likely to carry his own state. "Da Bridge" is his albatross.

    It's no surprise that Cruz has captured the Evangelical/Tea faction.

    Trump is the surprise -- he's a phenomenon like an avalanche or the the fall of the Berlin wall -- one can see that the situation is unstable, collapse is possible, but the exact time or path is unpredictable.

    Trump is pretending to be Spartacus. The impersonation is absurd, but then so are Trump's followers. Trump is going to be stuck with Rick Wilson's put-down about his "alt right" followers: a reference to the Dylann Roof brigade.

    Trump's candidacy will implode at his first real defeat. The next leader of this faction will be more authentic, and not nicer.

  109. 'Just ask Ron Paul’s supporters, who relentlessly complained that their candidate wasn’t taken seriously, even as he performed well in early primaries. (The same dynamic is playing out for Bernie Sanders supporters.)'

    But the Paul and Sanders as candidates are worlds apart. Paul was a bit of a whacko, but Sanders has sound policies that are appealing to the citizenry (though not to the moneyed establishment that owns the media).

  110. The problem with the Republican Party is they don't have any ideas. They don't have any ideas because they believe in very limited government. They "believe" in very limited government because they are in the pockets of the RICH and ELITE in this country. Truth.

  111. They don't believe in limited government, if they did, they wouldn't be interfering in people's marriages and health care decisions.

  112. How anyone think Ted Cruz is an outsider is beyond me. For all but one year of his professional career he has worked for either a state government or the federal government. That alone makes him part of the establishment.

  113. This feels new because it is. Forget the previous campaigns of Reagan, Nixon, Souther Strategy, etc, etc. Trump and Sanders are radicals and they are getting real and lasting support from INDEPENDENTS.
    The support for radical candidates from moderates is a sign that the Independent voters are angry because they feel ignored. The establishment candidates on both sides have polarized so widely and pandered to their bases for so long that "moderate" people are now radicalized. They want to be heard. Some are falling in with Trump and some are falling in with Sanders. The story of 2016 is the radicalization of the center!

  114. After Iowa and New Hampshire, I believe that only one or two of the four mainstream candidates (Bush, Rubio, Christie and Kasich) will remain in the campaign, and South Carolina will probably drive the the second of those who remains out of the race. Then there will be one "mainstream" candidate.

  115. Many have identified that the Republican party of yore - of Eisenhower, of Nixon, and even of Reagan - no longer exists. It's in a transformation, to be replaced by something else, or perhaps even two parties.

    When people say this, they mean it as a way to soothe our anxieties, as if to promise that this fiasco is merely a temporary plague we will need to endure. But what of the longer-term consequences? What, exactly, will the "new" Republican Party stand for?

    Two days ago, we watched John McCain's monster, Sarah Palin, publicly endorse a candidate who has mocked McCain's war record. Now even our veterans are subject to their vile hatred. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the "new" Republican Party that seems ready to outlast the 2016 election.

    What is needed, and fast, is some sitting members of the Republican party to publicly risk their next re-election by taking a firm stand on the racism, arrogance, and general stupidity of these two front-runners. Will anyone have the courage to risk their own political fortunes in order to save their own party? (Or our country, while they're at it?) Based on the cowardice the GOP has shown in not standing up to Big Oil, the gun lobby, etc., my money is sadly on no, they will not. And they will have only themselves to blame when the former Republican Party officially becomes a zealous KKK chapter of delusional, small minded bigots.

  116. It's a stretch to say that Trump mocked McCain's war record. What he said is that there's basically a false idol worship of someone that spent the war as a POW and positioning them as a war hero, versus someone that went to war, led battles and did other various and sundry heroic things during war. It's a matter of semantics at this point. Someone who is traditionally a war hero is one who helps 'win' the battle/war, not someone who spent their time during a significant part of the war as a captured prisoner. They can both be considered a hero, but there is a difference.

  117. When you climb into the cockpit of a fighter plane and fly sorties against anti aircraft missiles and bullets, volunteer to fly combat missions, fly even after injury (USS Forrestal) withstand years of severe torture and refuse early release until his fellow prisoners are also released - then you can belittle McCain.
    BTW - I did not vote for him. And he is a hero. Nobody chooses to be shot out of the sky, Cadence. Its why/how a person is in the sky and how he/she acts when shot down. McCain behaved with bravery and heroism.

  118. I wasn't aware that Trump served in the military. He had many deferments which apparently aren't stopping him from running for President. McCain was tortured. I did not like McCain nor his choice of Palin as V.P. But being tortured is not a walk in the park. By saying he is not a war hero is denigrating all of the soldiers who were captured.

  119. What continues to go unnoticed or at least, is left unsaid, is the two-term election of an African-American president, has been the cause of a fractured and chaotic Republican party. The low-information voter, the disinfected blue-collar worker, the disgusted small business owner, the god fearing mid-westerner, the proud gun owner, found somewhat of a home, not a great home, in the Republican party. But that all changed with President Obama --- now the ideological gloves are off---no more John McCain's or Jeb Bush's---they want the real deal to stop and then eradicate what Trump calls a nation now ruled by New York values and a man who they consider to be Muslim.

  120. Or it could be that people view our political system nationally, as so hopelessly corrupt that no establishment candidate who can't acknowledge that fact simply can't be stomached by the public.

    Think about it. The difference between Trump, Cruz, or Sanders, is they communicate something. Whatever that is, their words mean something. As opposed to the insincere garnish provided by 'main stream' candidates for the meat and potatoes balancing act of coordinating the special interests among their campaign contributors behind closed doors, which is all they seem to actually do.

    It could all just be that the public has had enough of the usual corruption that is our political system, and the calming blather commonly mouthed by politicians on a regular basis. The novelty of politics has worn off. No one believes it anymore.

    Bernie Sanders said it best in the last debate, if campaign finance doesn't change, not much else is likely to either.

    If that's the sentiment, its not so much about the public "being angry", as it is to people having caught on to the fact that its a rigged game of 3 card Monty, and the only way to win, is not to play.

  121. What we're seeing is the changing of the Republican establishment from traditional politicians and fundraisers to the new Republican establishment characterized by conservative media moguls like Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, and Rush Limbaugh.

    What's surprising is that it took less than 30 years after the demise of the Fairness Doctrine and Equal Time rules for our national media to become a platform for dangerous propaganda.

  122. Absolutely. That's it. It's very scary.

    That IS the problem. We need to undo this, to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, but it seems like the cat has been let out of the bag, and we can never get that cat back in it. So sad.

  123. One of Trump's campaign tropes is that world doesn't respect our governent and its policies anymore, that our leaders (the black guy in the White House) are stupid. The only people dissing our government and our President are: The grand Ayatollah, Kim Jung Un, Putin, and all of the Republican candidates.

  124. As a lifelong, registered Republican, the way the party has gone the past 2 election cycles has horrified me. I now vote mostly Democrat.
    As I read about Palin's endorsement of Trump, two thoughts popped into my mind. 1)Do people still even give a darn what Palin thinks? 2) Are people really this stupid?
    Sadly, I think the answer to both questions is "Yes".

    If you had asked me 10 years ago if I would ever support Hillary Clinton for President, I would have called you crazy. Now, not so much.

  125. Palin does'nt think. She has nerve transmissions to her speaking apparatus.

  126. I left the Republican party after GW and for the most part I feel pretty good about it. Hang in there and keep staying involved.

  127. My sister has been telling me for decades how much she hates Hillary "the carpetbagger". Now she says she'll end up voting for her, there is no Republican candidate she can stomach.

  128. This is where it is appropriate to say the chicken(hawks) have come to roost, The GOPTP has spent the last 8 + years spitting at the government of the United States of America.

  129. Isn't this just a situation where the GOP through its scorched earth politics and need to meet stringent conservative purity standards has effectively made it impossible for anyone that would appeal to the rank and file to emerge? After all, no Republican candidate can survive the need to appeal to various special interests like Christian fundamentalists, wealthy conservative funders, NRA, Tea Party, etc. The problem is that the ordinary Republican is only slightly more conservative than a generation ago, unlike the party's leaders. The party elites and special interests through primary control of candidates have extinguished the diversity of the leadership still apparent in the rank and file.

  130. Senator Dole just cozied right up to "The Donald." They'll end-up loving the guy. Anyone but Hillary.

  131. I still think that Jeb Bush will end up being the Republican nominee. The media is hyping up the chances of Trump and Cruz winning the nomination to get more clicks and increase ratings.

  132. Your hunch is quite a long shot. Many of my Republican friends (establishment types and angry types) mostly agree that there's a feeling that Bush has been pushed onto the party by 'dark' moneyed types and WASPy DC Republicans. To this end, both groups want someone other than Bush. The establishment types are pushing on Rubio and Kasich, while the angry birds are pushing either Trump or Cruz.

  133. Here's another way to see the Republican establishment's dilemma. The Republican party is the first to be swept away by the flood of dark money into the elections. It's ironic that conservative Supreme Court justices created those opportunities. However, it is not surprising that conservative billionaires and free-trade corporations have been extremely effective in funding Republican candidates whom they favor -- leaving the Republican establishment with very little ability to "favor" its own preferred candidate. The flood of dark money mixed with the misinformation of the right-wing media is producing the hemlock that the Republican party is forced to drink this year.

  134. That's it. I think that the RNC does have less control, less influence and power, and apparently less money than the big private donors, who are now free to run their own people.

  135. Today's Republican Party is rotten to the core. Perhaps the low point was Ted Cruz arguing, vaingloriously, on NPR that "the satellite data" tells us that there isn't any climate change just a few weeks before NOAA tells us that 2015 was the warmest year on record. The constant denial of fact after fact is just one example of the Republican Party's "strength through ignorance" approach and attempting to cling to power through voter suppression and gerrymandering.

  136. Do you recall Romney's 47% remarks? There is little difference between the views of the so-called establishment and its rank and file., except tone. This was true in the Eisenhower years and it is true today. The idea of the billionaire Trump and the parvenu Cruz as populists is riotus. What we see in the GOP is not a difference in views but a difference over strategy.

  137. Cable news has turned politics into a reality show and politicians are now celebrities and thus must act like one. Trump is best positioned here because he is an experienced celebrity, understands his audience and knows what they want to hear. Cruz in simply shadowing Trump and presenting himself as a more electable version of the Donald. At this point in the campaign it's all about getting donors and to do that you have to be seen as electable. Cruz is using his elitist background to appeal to the establishment $$ while pandering to the fox news crowd with hatred and vitriol. Maybe he can have it both ways...

  138. Cable news provides what sells. The junk that they purvey *is* America. It was not so (much) in the past and it is now.
    Unfortunately. Blame America for its love of Rambo wannabe politicians and news reporting and washed out, white bread everything. Don't blame cable news. As soon as the USA demands quality - cable news and others will provide it.

  139. "But Mr. Trump is a true celebrity..."

    No. David Bowie was a true celebrity. Princess Diana was a true celebrity. Ditto for Tutu, Jimmy Carter, I'll even throw in that icky Steve Jobs, but Donald Trump is not a "true celebrity".

    He's a Face, a Suit and a Hair. He's a bankrupt mogul. A philanderer. A party-boy. He's on the level of the Kardarsians or Bruce Jenner.

    He's a Birther, in fact, he's THE BIRTHER, though no one speaks of that today. Now, think on that: No one speaks of that today. He's had his bio scrubbed as clean as a Soviet Party hero.

    He's a teevee personality, but, hear me: I've never watched even one episode of his shows. Why would I? There's a great deal of silly and ugly out there I never watch. I had to live through the 80's - why would I watch warmed over leftovers? Ugh.

    Now this Face has taken up with a screechy also-ran Face, Sarah Palin.
    This is sooo yesterday. So mediocre. Is she another "true celebrity"? Really?

    YOU, the media and the columnists, have made these media creatures. YOU created them, and, when it became necessary to scrub their bios, YOU did so scrub. But a "true celebrity" doesn't need that. Jimmy Carter was dumped in your memory-hole, but he survived such nonsense because he is a true man of value and accomplishments.

    Trump is not. He's a side-show that covers up the problem that the R-party is offering nothing that anyone wants: None of them.

    I don't think you understand what is going down.

    Get out more.

  140. "true celebrity"...?

  141. The botton line: They eat their own....

  142. The GOP of today is all about white anger and fear, the candidates that tap into those deep feelings do the best. Being practical and reasosned is seen as flaws. The media used to play a vial role in fact finding and truth telling, but with so many channels for information, candidates don't need the media, the media needs the candidates much more.

    And the media loves Trump. He sells, and media is about revenue first.

  143. Cohn is ignoring the most important distinction between Trump-Cruz and other challengers of years past: their tone.

    The appeal of Trump-Cruz is due to their blatant contempt for our nation's elites. The voters are sending an unmistakable - to everyone, apparently, except the party pros and top journalists - message: our political system does not work to the benefit of most Americans.

    This is essentially the same impulse as the one motivating Sanders' supporters. Americans of all persuasions know that our democracy is deeply troubled and that governance and rule of law in this country are in decline.

    This is felt most intensely by older voters who remember a time when our politics was less corrupt. It's really not hard to see this - provided you're outside the DC-NYC bubble.

  144. The masses that rally in support of Trump are as enamored of his talent for flummoxing the press as they are of anything he says. So these long-winded dissections of his candidacy simply put wind in his sails. I imagine him sitting with his morning coffee, laughing at Mr. Cohn's presumptuousness here and remarking "Who is this kid, anyway? I'm sure he's 'good people.' I like him."

  145. From the start, this is one of the weakest pools of candidates the Republicans havecrun, worse than even 2012. Why? The real candidates* stepped aside to let their chosen crony, Jeb!, be elevated. With Jeb! being such a weak candidate, all the self-interested bottom feeders stepped in for their chance. It's the worst of politics; it's the modern Republican party.

    * For instance, Condoleezza Rice

  146. Condi Rice might have pulled out the Republican nomination, but her close association with the Iraq war would have rendered her unelectable in November.

  147. It is way too soon for Democrats to celebrate. Remember when we laughed at the thought of an actor running for president? Our nominee will either be a 74 year old Jewish socialist or someone that most Americans say they do not trust. If you think either one will easily beat Trump, he has a bridge in Brooklyn he would like to sell you at a great price.

  148. I fear that you are right.

  149. Archie Bunker was a caricature of an ignorant, poorly-educated white male unable to deal with changes in American culture and society. He was played for laughs, puffery, and buffoonism. Who knew that the republican party would eventually take that as their charter?

  150. Actually, that was Archie at the beginning of All in the Family. Archie matured much towards the end of the series. Nowadays, the GOP would tarnish him as a radical left wing socialist/communist.

  151. George Bush knew...

  152. The sad thing is that if you ran All in the Family today, no one would recognize Archie as a "caricature." The modern-day GOP has so legitimized and popularized behavior like his that its standard-bearer and de facto public spokesperson is an Archie-clone-on-steroids (and opiates) Rush Limbaugh.

  153. "Are Republican voters much more upset and angry than they were in 2012? Or would that race have gone similarly if Mr. Romney had been replaced by four strong establishment candidates, never mind if Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz had run?" I am no expert, but I suspect it's the latter....

  154. I realize it's anathema for Americans to look beyond the next earnings quarter but what does this election with Trump, Cruz and others of their ilk portend in future elections. If this is our best today, what with the Republican field look like 10 years from now? Scary indeed.

  155. I would feel a lot more sanguine about the November election if the Democratic party’s own ineptitude didn’t leave us without a clearly electable alternative to whomever the Republicans finally nominate. Hillary Clinton was hailed as the 2016 Democratic nominee almost from the moment she lost the 2008 nomination to Obama, and the party has more or less given her the title uncontested with the exception of the pesky Bernie Sanders, whom I’m sure the Democratic establishment looks upon with as much exasperation as the Republican establishment looks upon Cruz and Trump. But Clinton looks more and more like a flawed candidate in her own right, and if she goes up against Trump or Cruz, she has a very good chance of losing. And it takes a real leap of faith to imagine a self-described Socialist winning the general election. It sure would have been nice to have Joe Biden or even John Kerry in the mix.

  156. Actually, I believe current polling shows Sanders would beat either Cruz or Trump in a general election. The idea that Sanders is somehow out of the mainstream is just a media perpetrated myth.

  157. For all of Clinton's alleged "flaws", let me assure you, there will be a large number of votes against Trump or Cruz.

  158. Have to admit that I don't much like Clinton. That said, electing someone other than Clinton will be a disaster for our country. Republicans can say what they will about Benghazi and the emails, but the world is an extraordinarily dangerous and complicated place. Both Clintons--don't much like Bill either--know how to play the geopolitical chess game.

  159. The republican party has been marching in locked goose-step saying NO to everything two duly elected democratic Presidents have proposed over the course of the last 3 decades. When they were in power during bush ii a disaster ensued of epic proportions. And yet....
    Of the 20+ regular guests on Sunday morning TV news talk 16 are republicans, with John McCain as honorary anchorman. Why? The republican party has not contributed anything to the common good for the U.S.A. since Eisenhower built the interstate highway system.
    35 years after FDR's New Deal America was humming along, building highways, sending GIs to college, helping them set up business, sending men to the moon.
    35 years after Reagan America can't fill its potholes.
    It is past time for the 4th Estate to start doing its job of reporting facts and news instead of innuendo and opinions.
    It is indeed time to make America great again...by scraping the republican party off our shoes and putting it into the dust bin of history.

  160. The GOP should thank the Roberts Court and their Citizens United - McCutcheon decisions for engineering the coup that's dethroned the party establishment. With billionaire donors ready to write big checks for whatever brand of crazy they favor, who needs political parties?

  161. At least Donald Trump can write his own checks - and - that is what has made him so effective against the big "Dark Money" investors.

    Time to repeal Citizens United, shorten the perpetual election cycle. Give the country back to ordinary humans who care about living in a progressive decent society, where women are equal and have choice. Corporations are not people!

  162. Any time the Republicans want to win the presidency, all they have to do is draft Jon Huntsman. Which they are completely unable to do.

  163. The ridiculous thing about establishment Republican's is their belief that anyone really cares about their attacks among themselves.

    Their Party has already been subsumed into it's own version of Insane Clown Posse.

    The tabloid inspired press can't get enough of their lead singer, and pay little attention to GOP roadie's.

  164. It seems in both parties we have weak candidates.
    I will not over the Republicans, as many commentaries and this article take care of this, but what do we have on the Democrat side?
    A pathologically ambitions woman who was instrumental in the destruction of the Libyan state, and together with her husband in the 90's, in the destruction of the Serbian state and the creating of the artificial Republic of Kosovo on Serbian land.

    On the other side, there is an affable elderly man, whose long political carrier has culminated in being the governor of a very unusual state.

    Where are the plummy, well-polished, well-educated candidates with good grasp of international cultures and politics? This is what country of over 300mil has to offer?

  165. President Hillary Rodham Clinton. Get used to it.

  166. Bernie Sanders has been a Senator for decades. Both he and Secretary Clinton are well-qualified to be President.

    I do not think the turmoil in the former Yugoslavia and Libya can be blamed on Hillary Clinton. That is a preposterous statement.

    And are you saying that any woman who aspires to be President, even a woman as well-qualified as Hillary (research her long resume of public service, longer than the majority of the men running in the Republican camp), are "pathologically ambitious"? That is an offensive statement.

  167. Sanders may be affable and elderly but he has never been a governor of any state.

  168. Let's face it - there is no longer the old "Republican Establishment". It has been dying (sometimes quite literally) for at least a generation. Part is attributable to the changing structure of the economy - big banks swallowing up all our local banks that knew and cared about their customers, big box stores, retail chains and now e-commerce eviscerating main street stores that supported local communities and provided local leadership. In many ways deregulation favored by the Republicans facilitated this process.
    Republicans have never complained when our industries were bought up to become conglomerates and then the new managements sent all the manufacturing jobs overseas. Then market deregulation and tolerated tax havens led to hedge funds and a small number of very rich people. THe Supreme Court put the last knife into the Republican establishment with it's Citizens United decision allowing dark money into the system.e ideologically driven than substantively driven. Sad.
    Both parties are becoming mor

  169. Let me understand this. A guy who graduated from Harvard law school and was a Supreme Court law clerk is running as an outsider rather than an "establishment" candidate? That is largely a political strategy. He was an outsider in the Senate because he was ineffective, not ineffective because he was an outsider. He was unpopular with his fellow senators because he was loudly ineffective, rather than quietly ineffective. As the only Harvard/Yale candidate in the race, Cruz IS the establishment candidate.

  170. And...Mr Cruz is married to a Goldman Sacks executive, procured a signature loan from Goldman Sachs, and a loan from Chase Bank. Neither was reported to the the appropriate campaign office. The failure to report doesn't bother me--after all, we're talking about Texas politics. But, I'd bet a year's salary that Cruz--like LBJ and the Bushes--carries water for the oil industry once he is President. Outsider...sure.

  171. Hillary did law at Yale

  172. But unlike Cruz, she is not claiming to be an 'anti-establishment' candidate.

  173. A reason that the outsiders are doing better is the the "so-called " plausible establishment candidates are poor candidates. Marco Rubio''s latest anti-Cruz commercial was insulting to Canada , an important ally and major trading partner. Christie has been "outruded " by Trump . and Bush and Kasich are , well , Bush and Kasich

  174. Take any set of photos of Trump's and Sanders' supporters, remove the campaign logos, and see if you can tell them apart. You can't. They're both overwhelmingly middle-aged and older white, middle-class males who are of modest economic means.

    These people are united by their belief that insiders rule our democracy to their benefit and that the only way to arrest our national decline is to shake up the system and get rid of the current political class.

  175. Me: Black attorney in Washington DC, a millennial, registered Republican and Trump supporter.

    So all Republicans look alike?

    :-)

  176. If DCBarrister had actually read T-bone's comment, s/he would have realized that T-bone never claimed that "all Republicans look alike".

  177. "These people are united by their belief that insiders rule our democracy to their benefit and that the only way to arrest our national decline is to shake up the system and get rid of the current political class."

    T-bone, are "these people" wrong to think that way? I don't think so. Furthermore, they probably think that this rot affects both parties, and they are right on that front too.

    Lastly, it isn't only middle-aged and older white males of modest means who feel this way. Many, many people of disparate races and economic strata feel the same way, which is a big, big reason why so many in this country don't vote. From their perspective, why engage in an exercise that won't change anything? The only ways out of this mess are to institute campaign finance reform and to curtail the influence of lobbyists (I'd love to get rid of them altogether, but I don't see that ever happening).

  178. What Trump and Cruz tap into is the fear, anger, and resentment of a group of people, mostly white, who see their historical place and influence declining rapidly.

    For this group immigration, and demographic change, are a social threat. Stagnant wages, and a perception that government does not attend to their financial issues is an economic threat. A political system indentured to a moneyed class, and inattentive to what this group sees as the impending death of the American way of life, is the ultimate root cause and the biggest threat.

    The rise of the Tea Party was just the beginning. The Republican Party was able to subsume them, and then failed them. It's really no surprise that this group sees the Republican Party as ineffective and, worse, as cynical and manipulative. Their attraction to any outsider who "gets them", who is perceived to have the strength to upend politics as we know it, is not a surprise in this context.

  179. I think it is not they tap into "fear, anger, and resentment"; it is that Trump and Cruz create "fear, anger, and resentment" with the help of some media outlets, Limbaugh, Fox, etc. In doing so they follow a tradition that the GOP started many years ago. As another reader noted: "No surprise that the crazy neighbour invited to the party is dancing on the table".

  180. Nate Cohn argues that the main driver for success in a campaign is the media attention because it alone reaches the party masses. The argument proposes that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were able to grab that attention; attention that was formerly owned by establishment candidates. Unsaid is that attention and not the content of the attention are relevant. As this paper has shown multiple times statements made by Trump and Cruz are 50-75% lies. Attention (and not content) alone as the driver seems plausible. But attention alone cannot drive it - Fiorina and Carson for example got lots of attention but both faded. I might argue that being a media personality may be the additional ingredient for success. That would explain Trump's success; but certainly not Cruz's - a guy stiff as a rock. I suggest that something more sinister is happening: Somehow Trump and Cruz managed to "buy" some key news outlets. Once you have such an advantage media feeds on themselves. Even independent media get into the coverage; as for example Public Radio or this paper amply demonstrate.
    I say "buy" in quotes because I leave unsaid if that means hard cash, relationships, or a combination thereof. Fox owner Murdoch may well be at the heart of what is happening. This is just a possible hypothesis without a hint of proof.

  181. The problem with establishment candidates this cycle is that a certain establishment candidate Bush cannibalized all other establishment candidates early on by locking in donations from big donors; and that the last name "Bush" is enough to sink his candidacy.

  182. For years, conservative friends having to choose between two equally undesirable GOP candidates explained, "sometimes you have to just hold your nose and vote" for the lesser objectionable choice, We are now witnessing the consequences of that practice.

  183. But Democrats have to constantly do that in the general election . . .

  184. Both sides are complete failures wake up. They don't care about us at all. They only care about the corporate lobbyists that buy their elections is all. Folks if you look at it this way one side is going to the left and the other to the right while in the middle the country is crumbling and no one seems to care at all.

  185. Up north here in Canada we view most of the Republican candidates as less than capable. Pretty charitable eh? That Trump guy is a nutbar, may be successful in business but is that who you want a loudmouth idiot? How on earth did that guy get in the running, oh yeah he's got lots of money.
    You got a big strong nation you want someone to be world leader for other nations. Especially now. Good luck.

  186. I don't see establishment vs. mainstream, I see the GOP and the radicals. The mainstream says out loud that they support jobs and values, and behind closed doors they only support the wealthy (and the unborn) and they'll do anything to keep black people from voting.

    The radicals say out loud what the establishment thinks. All of it is completely missing the point, which is why they can't win the general election. If they want the economy to grow, they need to stop giving tax breaks to the rich. stop punishing women for unwanted pregnancies, and quit letting the NRA buy its way out of gun legislation.

    And now they're getting behind two people, Trump and Cruz, who can't possibly win the general election. Unfortunately Bush can't find his way out of a paper bag, and Kasich, who should be winning, can't get anyone's attention.

  187. right on. Rubio & Christie are also ranting nut-jobs and they are supposed to be the 'mainstream'? What could anyone ever have seen in Scott Walker.
    Neither can claim financial responsibility in their personal or governing lige-styles.

    Why don't they get behind the Michigan governor who poisons and prays?

  188. Kasich would be a disaster, too. Too conservative, too traditional, too much for the wealthy like all Republicans,and too out of touch with intelligent, progressive Americans. Kasich's Republican party affiliation alone would
    would guarantee a mediocre presidency at the very best, but it would almost certainly be much worse than that. He is quite conservative, not moderate at all. Any moderate would have already left the party entirely.

  189. Au contraire, I think it's quite fortunate that Bush can't find his way out of a paper bag. But other than that, everything else you say is spot on. Well said.

  190. When you invite the crazy neighbors to dinner, don't be surprised when they start dancing on the dining table.

    fwa

  191. part of "the weakness of the establishment" is the weakness of the so-called establishment candidates: Christie, an ethically challenged bully whose state's finances are a catastrophe; Rubio, a lightweight with great teeth and no content; Bush, dull scion of a family people wish they had seen the last of; and Kasich, who has the best record in office but has campaigned like a hectoring scold. Kasich is the only one of these not already mortally wounded by his resume. If he comes in second in NH, which is possible, maybe the old guard will have a chance, but unless he gets a makeover they'd be rallying behind a curmudgeon.

  192. Agree. Kasich is the most reasonable of the candidates but he has been terrible in the debates. Defensive, 'pay-attention-to-me', uncompelling recitations, looking backward.

  193. Trump surged to the top of the polls with his disparaging comments about Mexicans. He cemented his position when he called for a banning of Muslims. And then you wonder why he's doing so well? Why do you think?

  194. It will be Clinton vs Bush this fall. The clowns will self-destruct along the way.

  195. Wouldn't we see some sign of that by now? Some little crack undermining the support of the outsiders? Instead, Mr. Trump and Sen. Cruz currently have nearly 54% of the Republican electorate behind them nationally. Throw in Dr. Carson, and you have over 60% of the vote going to the three outsiders. That total hasn't changed more than a couple of percent in three months, all the while pundits proclaiming the imminent political demise of the outsiders. If those 60% coalesce around one outsider, in other words if being an outsider is the primary criterion for choosing the nominee, it won't make any difference to those voters whether he is a snarky intellectual, a crude blusterer, or a soft-spoken doctor trained in medicine but not in economics or world affairs. That "if" is not a given, but it is looking more and more like a lot of Republican voters want an outsider, no matter who he is. (Sorry, Ms. Fiorina, but it isn't going to be you.) It won't make any difference who the establishment coalesces around unless they can make something else the highest priority for some of the 60% who now support Trump, Cruz and Carson. If they want an insider to be nominated, it's getting late to start trying to accomplish that.

  196. Your statement obviously contradicts itself.

  197. Anders, Clinton is still the probable nominee on the Democratic side (but things could get very interesting if Sanders wins both Iowa and New Hampshire). I can guarantee you, however, that the Republicans will NOT nominate Bush. He should withdraw after New Hampshire, but will likely stick it out for a last stand in Florida on March 15. When he loses his home state decisively, he will finally face facts and drop out.

  198. 'The Duck Dynasty patriarch calls “one of us” in a television ad' -- Are you kidding me?? A literally fictional TV character is making endorsements for presidential candidates?? And people listen to this and quote this? I can't think of a more inane example of how ridiculous American politics has become.

  199. What's wrong with that? It's all good entertainment. American politics has become like Mexican wrestling.

  200. Have you ever seen the photos of the Duck Family at the country club, prior to their beards, in their chinos and golf sweaters? Talk about a made-up fantasy! There's nothing more inventive than a bunch of rich Republicans chasing a buck! Kinda like Ted Cruz in face-camo - what a laugh!

  201. You believe Phil Robertson is fictional???

  202. What Republican "Establishment"? Do you mean the tea party group that controls Congress or the tea party Republican governors? There no longer is a republican Establishment, only a bunch of loons and special interests.

  203. And apparently the Kochs are going their own way, creating their own candidates, not just providing funding to the ones the GOP comes up with.

  204. The party known as 'GOP' is essentially imploding. It's necessary that it finishes collapsing under the weight of its own baggage in order for some sort of phoenix to rise from the rubble. This is a historical shift we're currently living through, but there's no mystery about the situation. The Republicans are going the way of the typewriter because things that don't adapt to change die out. That's time-honored, irrefutable truth. Their vicious attempts to maintain a hold on their power through sheer ruthlessness and greed will not, in the end, win out, despite the amount of damage they will have done in the process. Thoughtful people should be wondering what awaits us on the other side of these death throes. How can we emerge from this with a more viable political entity, which is critical to our democratic system - we need at least two actually viable political parties. How can we encourage the half of the country that's supported these charlatans to hold up their end of the 'democracy requires an informed electorate' bargain and support a better caliber of politicians, one that meets the criteria for 'statesmen'? What can be done to improve the chances of a future for a new Republican party that does not feature a Trump or a Cruz? As a lifelong, multigenerational Democrat and a humanities major trained to view things in the broadest possible context, I think these are issues worth contemplating.

  205. That is the problem -- getting the Democratic party haters, the liberal haters, to become informed and think. But there is also the problem that their brains apparently operate differently, with a more over-active amygdala. How do we change that?

  206. The Republican establishment consists mostly of the 1% and they have been doing fabulously well. All of the growth in America in the past 20 years has gone to them, with none flowing to the rest of us.

    The clown car of candidates and who wins the presidency is basically meaningless to them. They have the money and they are getting more. That has been true whichever party the president belongs to. Control of the House by gerrymandering virtually guarantees their financial growth will continue.

    The Republican establishment is deliriously happy that the rest of us are paying attention to the clowns and not to the fact that they are robbing the rest of us blind.

    For what we should do, go to YouTube and watch Comedy Party Platform (2 min 9 sec). Send a buck to Bernie Sanders and invite me to speak to your group. Thank you!

  207. The 2016 Republican party does not have an "establishment" of elected office holders or former nominees who can speak for its agenda. Cruz, Trump, etc are not "outsiders"; they perfectly reflect this year's Republican agenda: fear! The proof is in the states controlled by Republicans where increasingly power is gained by denying to others the right to vote, the right to govern their own cities (MI) and the right to future where there is an equal opportunity to succeed and not a permanent economic underclass.

    Watching a party self-destruct is not pleasant for those who consider themselves "life-long" Republicans or for those who have voted for Democratic candidates as the Republicans have shifted to an agenda/party platform controlled by a few big dollar donors and expressed 24/7 by a captive cadre of media stars who feed on the anger and fear they spew.

    It is time to speculate on what the successor to the 2016 Republican party will choose as an agenda. If we thought the "autopsy" following the 2012 Presidential election defeat was harsh, wait until this one. Those who love this country want the US of better "angels" to win in 2016 and not the US which has turned to guns, lawless occupations and the candidates who use immigrants and refugees to gain votes from those disenchanted by failed fiscal policies generally supported by past Republican establishments.

  208. The GOP 2016 primary voters are happy to choose without regards to the elect-ability of either Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz. Never mind their delusional "agenda" for: non-governing? The Trumpeters and Cruzaders are living in their moment buoyed by the media attention to their rebellion. It is no wonder the GOP "establishment" and their deep-pockets are concerned. Their preferred candidates have become increasingly irrelevant. As angry and fearful as the Republican base is, the GOP barn offers no comfort. In fact, there is a voter stamped away from it. But who/what scared them in the first place?

  209. Q. "But who/what scared them in the first place?"

    A. Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, the so-called Tea Party, and others that fanned the same flames.

  210. And their little Internet enclaves and the collapse of newspapers as a central or shared source of information.

  211. Let's step back and consider this from a political-philosophical perspective. "Establishment" and "anti-establishment" no longer have any meaning. Voters have shifted the meanings of these terms such that they lack coherency.

    John "Maverick" McCain is now one of the "Pro-Capitulation Betrayers."

    Firebrand Ted Cruz, who shut down the government, has evolved into a "Washington Insider."

    Marco Rubio has lost his purity, emerging as one of those "Pro-Illegal Sellouts."

    Oh, and the Tea Party is essentially an institutional force now with a base of career politicians in the House.

  212. It's a shame your politics can't be more like The West Wing, where both parties showed a modicum of good sense, goodwill, decency and ethics.
    Trump makes dear old President Reagan look like Nelson Mandela.

  213. The equation is pretty simple.

    You have to be very far right to win over the Tea Party.

    If you are that far right you stand zero chance in the general election.

    So, the Republican nominee will lose.

    Even Romney, much more centrist than these candidates, didn't attract enough independents to win.

    Bring him back, and the dislike of Clinton might be enough for him to win this time.

    But none of this will happen as the wacko faction sets the agenda.

  214. But "the base" thinks that Romney was a "RINO."

  215. The New York Times needs to do a bit of soul searching to understand why its news analysis continues to be full of wide-eyed surprise regarding the candidates on top of both sides of Presidential nominating campaign. For example: "It’s a challenge ... for analysts trying to make sense of an unusual nomination fight." Perhaps you should stop interviewing insiders, consultants, and academics and get out of the spin zone and figure out what real people are actually feeling. I'm sure it's easier to dismiss all of this as "anger" and continue with "access journalism", but it's not leading to a quality product.

  216. to mr. cohn's concluding query: people want what they are shown, and their desires change if they are shown something different. ask any car salesman.

    trump presented something genuinely new: the non politician. even bernie sanders can't claim that caché.

    what the american people seem to want most of all is an escape, a release, from the partisan politics foisted on national policy as a device to keep institutional political parties in power and in control. why is that so hard to comprehend?

    of course, the most fervent expression of that desire, of that nausea with the status quo, comes from those sections of the electorate that have been most thoroughly disenfranchised and exploited by the political parties.

    read federalist #10 by madison: "faction" is the greatest danger to democracy after invasion by a foreign power. the political parties have used faction as the engine for their self interested growth. we need a president who can break the faction con game that passes for democracy in this country.

  217. The Establishment (which one could simply define as moderate Republicans) has gotten it's nominee in 2008 and 2012 (and further back, 1996). All lost. So these Establishment figures today (particularly Mr. Dole, one of the losers) are in a very weak position to make the argument that more conservative types like Mr. Cruz would destroy the party. If the nominee, he may hurt GOP Congressional candidates in more moderate/liberal states but IMO if he brings out the evangelicals who stayed home the last two cycles he'd have more than a fighting chance in a general versus either Hillary whereas a moderate a la Kasich or Christie would be DOA.

  218. Joe, a few issues with your comment:

    1. I don't think any Republican could have beaten Clinton in 1996, given how well the economy was doing back then.
    2. There is NO WAY that ANY Republican could have won in 2008 after the financial crisis.
    3. It would have been very hard for any Republican to win in 2012; many voters were simply not ready to let the Republicans off the hook yet for the Great Recession.
    4. Much has been said and written about the decline of the evangelical vote over the last two elections. I don't buy the theory that increasing evangelical turnout would have changed the outcome of either election. Here's why:

    (i) white turnout as a whole was only 2 points lower in 2012 than in 2008, which in turn was only 1 point lower than in 2004. Even if ALL of this decline were due to evangelicals staying home, doing the math would lead to an unsupportable number of evangelicals in this country (somewhere between 100-200 million; no one believes there are anywhere near that many).

    (ii) in the states where there probably was a depressed evangelical turnout, this only affected the margin of victory, not the outcome itself. Two states that come to mind are Mississippi and Louisiana, both of which Romney won by a lower margin than McCain, probably because Evangelicals stayed home rather than vote for a Mormon. That same dynamic probably played out in some other states as well.

  219. Points 1 and 2 are plausible - but there were better options than Dole and McCain - it was simply "their turn." GOP has often made this mistake and paid for it.

    On Point 3 I totally disagree - I think Romney was a poor candidate in many respects, but that's a long discussion.

    Regarding 4(i) - Also a long conversation (and 'evangelical', like 'assault weapon' is hardly a fixed, easily defined word) but latest Pew research states that about one-third of American adults (35%) self-identified as evangelicals in 2014. So you may be underestimating that group's numbers. Trick is getting them to vote.

    I respect your arguments. And thanks for approaching this rationally. SO many responses to my comments are just invective. Cheers.

  220. Joe, I will say this about the 2012 Republican field; I have long thought that Perry and Gingrich should have fared a lot better than they did that year. Perry had the advantage of presiding over a Texas economy which boomed even during the worst of the Great Recession, and Gingrich (the most influential Republican on the national stage since Reagan, in my opinion) had the advantages of presiding over the Republican political and policy successes of the 1990s (the takeover of Congress in 1994, welfare reform and the budget surpluses of the later Clinton years). I did think that both of them had stronger cases to make than Romney, and remain mystified to this day as to why each of them fared so poorly in that campaign.

    In the end, however, I still think that each of them would have had a hard time being Obama in 2012, because (i) there was still a lingering G.W. Bush hangover and (ii) it's hard to beat an incumbent (only two elected incumbents, thus excluding Gerald Ford who was NOT elected, have lost their re-election bids in the last 80 years).