We now know just how much the prospect of having Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee scares the party’s power brokers.
Like enough to make their ancestors’ boots quiver.
The GOP’s power brokers are so disturbed by the idea of The Donald being their standard bearer that they’re willing to make a deal with the devil – or, rather, several deals with several devils.
On Sunday, Trump’s two remaining opponents for the nomination – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich – announced they would work together to prevent the billionaire from gathering enough delegates to win before the GOP convention in Cleveland. Kasich agreed to suspend operations here in Indiana and Cruz promised to give Kasich a clear field in New Mexico and Oregon.
This is the very definition of a desperate act.
Cruz is just slightly less popular among his Senate colleagues – and, really, almost everyone who knows him – than the bubonic plague and sexually transmitted diseases. And Kasich has yet to demonstrate that he can win the votes of anyone to whom he is not married or related to by blood.
That these two flimsy vessels are tasked with bearing the Republican Party’s hopes demonstrates just how far from shore the GOP has drifted and how much the seas rage.
Not long before Cruz and Kasich announced their pact, Charles Koch – the multi-billionaire who has been both the mastermind and the bankroll for much of the modern conservative movement – told ABC’s “This Week” he might find Hillary Clinton preferable to any Republican candidate.
Koch said Bill Clinton had done a better job of managing the economy and government growth than the last Republican president, George W. Bush, did.
“As far as the growth of government, the increase in spending, on restrictive regulations, it was two-and-a-half times (higher) under Bush than it was under Clinton,” Koch told ABC.
He also said he was troubled by what he heard Republican candidates saying as they campaigned.
“We would have to believe her actions would be quite different than her rhetoric. Let me put it that way,” Koch said. “But on some of the Republican candidates we would — before we could support them, we’d have to believe their actions will be quite different than the rhetoric we’ve heard so far.”
If you’re a Republican or a conservative, it’s not a good sign if Charles Koch – a man who took his first steps in politics as a member of the John Birch Society – thinks maybe, just maybe, your party has gone a little too far to the right.
But, then, this really isn’t about the presidency any more.
Most knowledgeable Republicans have written off the White House this year. They know that stopping Trump short of the nomination will carry a heavy cost because The Donald and his voters are likely either to attempt a third-party campaign or just stay home. Worse, given Trump’s fondness for litigation, he could sue the Republican Party, tying both it and the nominee up in court.
And if Trump becomes the nominee, the polls show that he will lose in an electoral landslide. The percentage of voters who have negative impressions of him in some key demographic groups approaches 75 percent. A candidate who was not well known to the public might be able to move those numbers by spending a lot of time and money, but Trump’s tireless cultivation of media attention for nearly four decades means that only the comatose don’t know who he is and how he acts.
So, if Republicans can’t win the White House, why are they spending so much energy on stopping Trump?
It’s because they fear what a presidential candidate as volatile as Trump will do to their campaigns to hold onto the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and several key and close governors’ races, including the one here in Indiana, where Republican Mike Pence can’t stop shooting himself in the foot.
That’s why Ted Cruz and John Kasich are willing to kiss and make up – and why Charles Koch wants to cozy up to Hillary Clinton.
Happy, confident people don’t make deals with the devil.
But frightened people do.
And Republicans and conservatives now are clearly terrified.