Republicans finally have their knives out for Donald Trump.
Calling immigrants “rapists” wasn’t a problem. Mocking American prisoners of war won some mild rebukes. But during the first debate, he finally gave them a reason to disown him. When Trump refused to promise to back the GOP nominee unless it was him, the jig was up.
Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly savaged Trump with just a taste of his history of insulting remarks to women and later asked him, “When exactly did you become a Republican?”
Hmm. Wasn’t it right around the time Fox News starting putting him on TV to demand the black guy’s birth certificate?
After the debate, Fox was determined to nail Trump’s coffin shut so he couldn’t get back into it before the sun rose and destroyed him. Frank Luntz’s focus/support group seemed designed to teach Fox viewers how to admit that you have a Trump problem and ask for help.
“The real story is the collapse of Trump in this debate,” Charles Krauthammer told the stragglers in the largest primary debate audience in history. “I thought this before I saw the Luntz group, but I think it is reinforced.”
The worm had turned, but Trump hadn’t fed his friends on the right enough rope yet. Trump’s willingness to turn against the GOP is a staple of empty conservative rhetoric. But they had planted the seeds of what they hoped was his demise by pricking his impossibly thin skin with the sharp tongue of a female interlocutor.
And on Friday night, Trump gave the right more than they could have prayed for: He attacked Megyn Kelly in an absurdly sexist way. Republicans who cheered Marco Rubio and Scott Walker insisting that women should be forced to have their rapists’ babies were suddenly very offended.
You don’t do that to a fellow Fox News employee, right-wing commentator Erick Erickson exclaimed.
The raving misogynist who thinks “You’re a girl!” is a hilarious putdown disinvited Trump to his Lord of the Flies dance around the fire known as The Red State Gathering.
For this act of solidarity with the Founders — which is what conservatives call Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes — Erickson was told that “he’s on the side of women” by the hilariously misinformed Jeb Bush.
Trump leads the GOP primary from satire from parody faster than Marco Rubio veers from his own immigration reform bill. But if there’s any value from this farce, it’s that Donald Trump continues to accidentally reveal essential truths about the Republican Party. Here are five revelations about the GOP we should be grateful that he’s crystalizing for America to see.
1. It’s easy to act like a conservative on TV.
Want to be a conservative? Deny climate change. Promise to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something that almost exactly resembles Obamacare. Say terrible things about Obama and Hillary. Deny the reality that the economy, health care and the deficit are all in far better shape than they were in 2008.
But most importantly, pick a scapegoat—a non-white scapegoat—to scare white America into believing you understand its fears.
2. The GOP’s decades of strategic racism make an actual racist look like a truth teller.
Ronald Reagan began his 1980 campaign with a states’ rights speech attacking “welfare queens” in Nesoba county, which was famous for its white supremacism and the deaths of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner and James Chaney. The Reagan Revolution was so effective at turning the middle class against the government policies that girded the creation of the middle class that Democrats even adopted the rhetoric of “strategic racism.”
Using vaguely racial appeals is less about race than it is about power. Conservatives are on the verge of seeing decades of the Southern Strategy pay off with a chance to appoint four Supreme Court Justices who will shape America for the next half-century. They need a real ideologue to win. Trump just wants power and status. He isn’t appealing to conservatives, he’s appealing to the voters conservatives have been tricking into voting against their own interests for decades.
House Republicans have voted for mass deportations several times in the last few years. Every Republican candidate starts his or her immigration reform rap with, “Secure the border first,” knowing that after decades of scaring them about invaders, Republican voters will never feel secure enough to back any real reform.
When Trump skips all that and calls immigrants “rapists” and imagines a conspiracy where Mexico is sending its criminals into our country — because if there’s one thing Mexico knows how to do, it’s controling criminals — he seems like the only honest clown in the circus.
3. Campaign finance is a complete joke.
Trump is a living argument for campaign finance reform. First, he’s a shining example of the sort of guy who is able to buy an election — arrogant, oblivious and comically absorbed in his own agenda.
But more important, as a large donor, he literally makes a mockery of the logic behind the Citizens United decision.
Conservatives on the Supreme Court justified unlimited corporate donations to campaign groups by arguing that doing so would “not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Trump essentially says, “I give these fools money and they do what I say.” And none of the Republican candidates standing onstage with him dare to disagree.
4. America is not a business.
Conservatives argue that rich people create jobs and America should be run like a business.
Trump inherited huge wealth from his dad and games the system to make himself much, much richer. The fact that the .01 percent are sucking up nearly all the gains of our economy is the greatest threat to our nation’s future. And when Trump stands there, we realize that what makes that possible isn’t his genius or the genius of the free market, it’s a political decision to aid the rich at all costs over the needs of the other 99.9 percent.
Recent Democratic presidents have kicked their Republican competitors’ butts on job creation because their policies treat workers as profit creators. When America is run for the sake of business, we get the crash of 2008 and Donald Trump — who was born on home plate and thinks he hit a home run — mocking those who leg out an infield hit as “losers.”
5. The “best Republican field in decades” is incredibly uninspiring.
The GOP continually vaunts its huge field of candidates as the best in a generation. If that were true, why is Trump soaking them up like so much au jus?
Republicans may be inspired by governors whose specialty is creating wealth inequality and denying women health care — including one who shares DNA with the living personification of the failure of conservative policies. They may love first-term senators whose primary accomplishment is grandstanding. And they may be thrilled by candidates who have never won an election but are strategically aligned to attack President Obama and Hillary Clinton with a shield against charges of racism or sexism. But their party is truly swooning over a guy who learned how to be a conservative by watching Fox & Friends.
The right thinks it finally has Donald Trump on the run, and soon he’ll go the way of Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann.
But Trump has been a household name longer than the Clintons, is richer than the Romney and Bush families combined, and is crazier than Cain. He has nothing to lose and no TV show to go back to (which is a great reminder that the GOP frontrunner began his campaign by being fired by several corporations because they couldn’t stand by the racist rhetoric GOP voters loved).
What’s more likely is that Trump is on to performing his next public service, which is proving that saying horrible things about women doesn’t hurt you with conservative voters very much — if at all.