The gloves are off. The game is on.
As Establishments Republicans are warming to Donald Trump, largely because they despise Ted Cruz, the conservative intelligentsia is stepping up its attacks on Trump.
The New York Times reports establishment reasoning:
However, the cadre of Republican lobbyists, operatives and elected officials based in Washington is much more unnerved by Mr. Cruz, a go-it-alone, hard-right crusader who campaigns against the political establishment and could curtail their influence and access, building his own Republican machine to essentially replace them.
The division illuminates much about modern Republicanism and the surprising bedfellows brought about when an emerging political force begins to imperil entrenched power.
As you surely know by now, the National Review, a preeminent journal of conservative opinion just brought out a new issue, headlining the fact that it is “Against Trump.” This link will take you to the nearly two dozen articles by conservative luminaries who are against Trump.
In its editorial:
Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.
Some conservatives have made it their business to make excuses for Trump and duly get pats on the head from him. Count us out. Donald Trump is a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot in behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as the Donald himself.
In rebuttal, Trump himself correctly pointed out that very few people still read the National Review. And yet, many people do listen to conservative talk radio, and its luminaries, from Rush Limbaugh to Mark Levin have also started to attack Trump. They prefer Ted Cruz.
Betsy Woodruff reports in The Daily Beast.
And that, in turn, presents an existential question for Trump’s campaign. We already know he can do just fine without mainstream national political media, and that he can do pretty well with minimal support from the conservative blogosphere. But can he win if he loses talk radio? We may be on the cusp of finding out.
Of course, as one Charles Sykes points out, Trump was the creation of the conservative talk radio crowd….