In a speech today, Mitt Romney hinted at one of the few hopes the GOP establishment has for thwarting Trump:
I know that some people want the race to be over. They look at history and say a trend like Mr. Trump's isn't going to be stopped.Translation: We can't agree on a Trump alternative, so let's vote for anybody who can beat Trump in any state, and yes, they'll all go into the convention with fewer delegates than Trump, but at least he won't have enough for a first-ballot victory, and surely no one will get upset if we take advantage of that and nominate someone other than Trump, the guy in first place, right?
Perhaps. But the rules of political history have pretty much all been shredded during this campaign. If the other candidates can find common ground, I believe we can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism. Given the current delegate selection process, this means that I would vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, for John Kasich in Ohio, and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.
So that's the establishment's plan -- or one of the establishment's plans. Another is to run a Republican as a third-party candidate. I think the hope is that no candidate in a three-way race would get 270 electoral votes and a GOP House would pick the third-party establishment Republican as president -- even if that candidate finished third in the popular and electoral votes. (No one in America would be angry about that, right?)
But even if the GOP establishment could pull off the brokered-convention moon shot, or could herd enough GOP cats to get behind the third-party plan, why should we believe establishment Republicans could agree on an alternative candidate?
Hasn't that been the problem for the GOP starting with Trump's first top-of-the-charts poll -- that the party is supposed to decide on the consensus nominee, but the party couldn't decide this year? Hasn't the problem been that big donors couldn't settle on one candidate in the non-Trump "lanes," therefore too many candidates stayed in the race through too many contests? Isn't that still the problem? Why have Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich all remained in the race? Shouldn't Kasich, at least, get the hell out?
If the GOP establishment tries to go third-party, or tries to thwart Trump at the convention, isn't the same unwillingness to coalesce going to repeat itself -- except this time with new contenders? Isn't Romney going to be floated as a possible savior? As well as Paul Ryan? Isn't each of the three remaining candidates going to insist that he's the only one who can win? Isn't Bill Kristol going to start floating his cockamamie idea of an all-neocon ticket made up of Dick Cheney and Senator Tom Cotton? And on and on?
This might be easier if the Koch brothers -- the de facto chairmen of the Republican Party -- would weigh in. But they've pondered the primary candidates for a year now and have just continued to dither, and even now they're refuse to spend money to stop Trump. So they're no help.
I'm shocked that this seems to be the GOP plan -- not just because it's going to enrage the already angry (and occasionally violent) Trump mobs, but also because it would require the party to do something it couldn't do even though it needed doing months ago: make a freaking decision.
So Trump is probably safe.
UPDATE: Told ya.