No, Paul Ryan isn't in the race. It's just that he's now the agenda setter for the GOP and Donald Trump isn't even in the same universe.
"Panicked Republicans question whether Mr. Trump will be able to unite a Republican-controlled Congress that would normally be expected to promote and promulgate his agenda, an internal crisis nearly unheard-of in a generation of American politics," the Times reports. "On nearly every significant issue, Mr. Trump stands in opposition to Republican orthodoxy and his party’s policy prescriptions — the very ideas that Mr. Ryan has done more than anyone else to form, refine or promote over the last decade."
Lindsey Graham doesn't see the popular, apparently conservative demagogue as something other than a Republican. Abortion, eminent domain, social security, energy sources, Israel are major issues for Republicans. Trump differs with the party on all of them. We're talking panic, not a dose of worry and the expectation that negotiation will follow
Congressional Republicans — especially senators up for re-election in swing states — have been terrified to criticize Mr. Trump by name because they need his voters, too, in primary and possible general election battles. White-hot fear is beginning to set in. ...NYT
Conor Friedersdorf, writing at The Atlantic, looks at this battle and sees major trouble for the GOP.
I wonder if it occurred to Trump at the time that the movement conservatives and Republicans who pressed him to forswear a third-party bid made no commitment of their own to support him if he won the nomination. Would conservatives dare to greet a Trump victory with their own third-party challenge? The threats of old-time party supporters are for real. Eric Erickson, Bill Kristol, Glenn Beck are among the many who have spoken out about a new party take on presumed Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
A third-party run does not require unanimity among Trump skeptics. It only requires enough conservatives to launch a campaign. And it seems to me that there are a lot of conservatives who earnestly believe that they have no reason to support a Republican Party headed by Trump. In fact, they’ve spent the last eight years convincing themselves that rebelling against non-conservative Republican candidates is among the noblest of fights. ...Friedersdorf,Atlantic
Hispanics are decidedly against Trump, as the Post reports.
Donald Trump has used the issue of immigration to help make himself the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, but his harsh rhetoric also has earned him the highest negative ratings among Hispanic voters of any major GOP hopeful, according to a Washington Post-Univision News poll. ...WaPo
The Post-Univision survey tested those four GOP candidates against Clinton and against Sanders. While all trail badly among Hispanics at this point, Trump does the worst — losing the Hispanic vote to Clinton by 73 to 16 percent. That 57-point gap is little changed from a 54-point deficit recorded last June, but is significantly wider than the 44-point margin by which former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lost Hispanics four years ago and bigger than in any presidential exit poll since the 1970s.
Meanwhile, Clinton leads Rubio by 30 points, Cruz by 38 and Kasich by 43. Matched against Sanders, Trump trails by 56 points. Rubio trails Sanders by 24 points, Cruz by 33 and Kasich by 37. ...WaPo
How can we explain Trump to ourselves even as this blowhard threatens to take a greedy bite out of our erstwhile democratic system? Well, Kevin Drum appears to have the answer.
... The thing that knits all these Trump supporters together isn't low wages or jobs disappearing overseas or xenophobic fear of anyone nonwhite. You can find each of these qualities in some of Trump's supporters, but not in all of them. As near as I can tell, the only thing that all of them seem to share is a desire for someone "tough." Mostly they want someone who's tough on foreigners of various stripes, but Trump also does well by insisting he'll be tough on crime, tough on insurance companies, tough on hedge fund managers, and tough on a slew of other malingerers.
And…now I'm trying to think of what to say next. It's not that I'm surprised toughness sells to a certain audience. What I'm surprised by is that so many people buy the idea that Trump is tough. To me, it looks like a reality show schtick. It's so obviously phony that it barely seems conceivable that so many people are taken in by it. Is that really all you have to do? Just a lot of blustery talk and that's that? When did so many Americans get that gullible?
It's puzzling. Trump is hardly the first demagogue to become popular, so maybe I'm overthinking this. But it feels different this time, as if we've become so sucked in by reality TV that we now accept reality TV as reality itself. So that's what we want: the faux toughness of a reality TV star.
Trump's act seems so obviously childish to me that I have a hard time accepting the fact that so many people apparently take it seriously. But what else explains him?