And now it's clear that they won't even blame themselves collectively for failing to stop Trump. They won't kick themselves for not coalescing around a safer choice in the primaries.
As this New York Times story suggests, they'll just blame Jeb Bush:
The party elders had hoped that one of their preferred candidates, such as Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, would be rising above the others by now and becoming a contender to rally around....Right -- according to The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes, the problem isn't that some of the mid-level establishment candidates won't drop out for the good of the party (and the country), and it's not that what was once regarded as a "deep bench" of extraordinary political talent turns out to be a collection of uninspiring hacks. The primary villain is Jeb:
[But the] establishment candidates and their allies have spent approximately $35 million attacking one another, and there is no sign that they plan to relent anytime soon....
Many in the party say they believe the assault by Mr. Bush against Mr. Rubio has been particularly damaging.
Mr. Rubio has stepped up his complaints in recent days about the ads from Mr. Bush and his supporters. Rubio aides have been working aggressively behind the scenes to portray the attacks as strengthening Mr. Cruz and Mr. Trump, highlighting, for instance, an article in The Weekly Standard that argued that Mr. Bush would be to blame if Mr. Trump became the nominee.
In the "fight" between Donald Trump and conservatism, Trump has had few better allies than Right to Rise, the super PAC supporting Bush's candidacy. There will be plenty of blame to go around if Trump ends up as the Republican nominee, but Right to Rise will have earned a prominent chapter in those histories: cable and network television gave Trump endless hours of free publicity; influential conservative voices explained away his liberalism, excused his excesses, and legitimized his crazy; and Right to Rise, like an all-pro right guard, helped clear a path for Trump by blocking several of his would-be tacklers, in particular Marco Rubio.Power Line's Steven Hayward is also fed up:
This was no accident. It was the plan.
"If other campaigns wish that we're going to uncork money on Donald Trump, they'll be disappointed," Mike Murphy, chief strategist of Right to Rise, told the Washington Post in August. "Trump is, frankly, other people's problem." In an October interview with Bloomberg, he said: "I'd love a two-way race with Trump at the end."
It's entirely possible that there will be a two-way race with Trump at some point before the nomination is decided. But it's nearly inconceivable that the other candidate in that head-to-head contest will be Jeb Bush.
... isn’t it time we got rid of the Bush family in politics for good? Look, George H.W. Bush is a very decent man, but his political malpractice in the White House -- squandering the Reagan legacy on purpose --opened the door for Bill Clinton. George W. Bush is another decent man, with much to recommend him, but he left the Republican Party even more demoralized than his dad, and for similar reasons. Now Jeb may be responsible for killing off the most electable conservative candidate in the field and leaving us with Trump.Look, it pains me to defend a Bush, but, folks, what the hell did you expect to happen this year?
No more Bushes, please. Let’s clear all of our fields of every Bush we can find, and drench the dirt with Roundup (before the EPA bans it) so they never come back.
You got the campaign finance laws of your dreams from carefully chosen corporate bootlickers on the Supreme Court, one result of which is that anyone who can raise a lot of money can stay in a presidential race forever, so it was all but inevitable that the presidential field would include at least one old bull with far more fundraising ability than voter appeal. If it hadn't been Jeb, it would have been Mitt Romney . Do you think he would have approached this campaign in a dainty, respectful manner? Mitt Romney, the guy whose well-funded "death star" destroyed the campaigns of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich four years ago? Yes, maybe he would have directed his fire at Trump as well. (Not that attacks on Trump have done any good.) But do you think he would have sat idly by while a little pissant like Marco Rubio racked up good poll numbers?
The amusing thing about all this is what it says about other issues on which Republicans have strong opinions. Republicans say free markets invariably lead to excellent outcomes. Well, the GOP presidential contest is an awfully free market. How's that working out? And Republicans also say that the best deterrent to crime is widespread ownership of guns by private citizens, because, in the event of a crime, those citizens will use their weapons in a safe and responsible way, killing and injuring only the people who deserve it. Well, the Republican presidential field is a big mess of people all firing their campaign weapons every which way, but the bad guy is somehow unscathed and a lot of the so-called good guys seem to be mortally wounded. Maybe professional policing isn't such a bad idea.
The Republican Party didn't want to do anything collectively to stop Trump. Its candidates won't sacrifice their ego trips to make his nomination less likely. Republicans have been telling us for years that Ayn Rand is right about selfishness being virtuous. Jeb and the rest of the also-rans are just embodying that philosophy, and these are the results.