Republicans are panicking that Donald Trump is ruining their good name while Democratic atheists are praying to god that Trump somehow manages to stay in the race through many a debate. They think this ex-Democrat and Republican apprentice who made “branding” the tackiest marketing trick on earth is their best hope to keep trashing the GOP’s brand without spending a Democratic dime.
I don’t buy it. It’s not that Trump isn’t vulgar, racist, mean, obnoxious, irrational, fact-challenged, loudmouthed, homophobic, xenophobic, sanctimonious, and a demagogue with Crazy Harry for hair. But that extraterrestrial mane aside, he’s almost indistinguishable from the other 14 Republican crackpots running for president. With the exception of George Pataki and Jeb Bush, who are as boring as Hillary Clinton, Trump is the prototype, not the exception. His fellow-candidates stand for almost exactly what he stands for. They just couch it more politically, which is to say more sleazily: they trump Trump.
Even dull Jeb is more Trump than not. He’s supposedly the most moderate of the herd. Yet what Bush actually stands for would have placed him way to the right of Barry Goldwater in 1964. And Goldwater is the guy who made Ronald Reagan look like a lefty in comparison. (Goldwater, who saw the religious right for the fundamentalist threat it was to secular government, suggested Jerry Falwell deserved a good kick in the balls, was all for gays in the military a generation before Democrats caught on, and blamed Republicans for damaging themselves more than Democrats ever could, is now what you’d call a moderate Democrat, putting him left of Hillary Clinton.)
So let’s take Bush as Republicans’ Great White Hope. What helps Bush most is America’s infatuation with amnesia. If it didn’t happen on your last five days’ Facebook feed, it never happened.