... there is one entity that can’t dump Trump, no matter how hard it tries: the GOP. The Republican Party can’t dump Trump because Trump is the Republican Party.The part of this I disagree with is the notion that Trump is picking this stuff up "conveniently." Milbank thinks Trump is being totally cynical. I'm not so sure.
... Trump has merely held up a mirror to the GOP. The man, long experience has shown, believes in nothing other than himself. He has, conveniently, selected the precise basket of issues that Republicans want to hear about --- or at least a significant proportion of Republican primary voters.....
Anti-immigrant? Against Common Core education standards? For repealing Obamacare? Against same-sex marriage? Antiabortion? Anti-tax? Anti-China? Virulent in questioning President Obama’s legitimacy? Check, check, check, check, check, check, check and check.
Does anybody suppose Trump really cares about illegal immigration (which helps his construction interests, by suppressing wages) or about defending traditional marriage (he’s had three)? ...He goes on to tell an anecdote about Trump's 1999 flirtation with a presidential run. Pat Buchanan was running, and he was ranting about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. Back then, Milbank says, Trump considered that kind of talk racist. Now he's saying the same things. Therefore, Milbank concludes, Trump is faking all this right-wing rage.
Maybe -- or maybe Trump has become an unthinking consumer of the same rabble-rousing media that some of your non-mogul relatives avidly consume, then quote verbatim at Thanksgiving dinner. He certainly wouldn't be the only rich guy who seems to have Fox commentary memorized -- how many billionaires in the past few years have declared that the criticism they've faced makes them feel like Hitler's victims?
But whether Trump is being phony or sincere, much of the political world doesn't realize that he's speaking the well-established language of modern conservatism rather than expressing prejudices that are strictly personal. As BooMan writes:
I’ve spent 10 years trying to convince you that this is exactly what the Republican Party has become. But I couldn’t get people to shun the GOP the way they are suddenly shunning Donald Trump and the Confederate Flag. Milbank is right. Trump didn’t invent any of this. He’s just exploiting it in a way that’s a little more obvious than the way that Rick Santorum and Lindsey Graham and Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz have been exploiting it.The difference is that anbitious Republicans pols, even the likes of Cruz, Santorum, and Huckabee, know enough not to push it too far -- that's left to Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham, and to pols like Steve King who don't have national ambitions. Everything Trump is saying is regularly said and published in the right-wing media -- it just isn't said very often by someone who's winning presidential polls.
As a result, when Trump is finally out of the race, BooMan (and the rest of us) will still have trouble convincing people that the Trump message was central to Republicanism, not a bizarre, fringey eruption of personal bigotry. The mainstream press will continue to insist that the real Republican Party is polite and civil and works well with others. But Trumpism will still be its underpinnings, long after Trump's 2016 campaign is forgotten.