The photo above is of a reader of this blog, “celebrating” Trump’s South Carolina victory (though I’m pretty sure he did so tongue-in-cheek, because he cannot get over how insane this campaign is). I can’t stop thinking about the semiotics of that image. That’s expensive French Champagne the dude is drinking. The reference on the t-shirt is to this Key & Peele skit. America! [UPDATE: Confirmed. It was in an, ‘It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine’ mode. — RD]
So, what do you think? I think if I were a Republican Party official, I would have to be kept away from sharp objects, and have my belt and shoelaces confiscated for my own safety.
Trump, last night, on the campaign ahead: “It’s tough, it’s mean, it’s nasty, it’s vicious, it’s beautiful.”
NBC News asked the right question in its analysis piece: “If Donald Trump Can’t Stop Donald Trump, Who Can?” Excerpt:
Entering South Carolina with a dominant lead, Trump could afford to play things relatively safe like he did in the lead-up to New Hampshire (well, sort of). Instead, he needlessly tweaked GOP dogma and feuded with everyone from the last Republican president to Pope Francis while running after every shiny object in the news that caught his eye. He accused George W. Bush of lying his way into Iraq and blamed him for not preventing 9/11. He dumped on House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday. He seemingly endorsed Obamacare’s insurance mandate on Thursday and then walked it back on Friday.
Yet somehow it worked.
Republican voters, who have a nuanced view of President George W. Bush already, proved willing to set aside their old affection when choosing their nominee. He distracted from potentially unsettling news with wild tangents, like calling for an Apple boycott or threatening Cruz with a lawsuit or insinuating President Obama was a Muslim (yet again). He shrugged off old interviews showing that he supported invading Iraq in 2002 and called the invasion a success in 2003, both of which undercut his already entirely unsubstantiated claim that he opposed the war.
His closing message on Friday was an unfocused mess of a speech that included a depraved celebration of war crimes in which he repeated an urban legend about Gen. John Pershing massacring dozens of Muslim prisoners with bullets dipped in pig blood. So far he has never gone wrong selling fear and bloodlust, and Saturday was no exception.
Republicans are now on the precipice of nominating a candidate with virtually no institutional support from the party running on blatant appeals to bigotry, joyful celebrations of torture, and a complete contempt for the pieties of movement conservatism.
Well, one out of three ain’t bad. But those first two in the list, they’re pretty bad.
Question to the room: At this point, what could stop Trump? Last night was a good one for Rubio, but the (by now) vanity campaigns of John Kasich and Ben Carson are a drag he doesn’t need. If Ted Cruz can’t beat Trump in South Carolina, a state full of conservative Evangelicals, where (besides Texas) can he beat him? Couple of thoughts from Twitter:
Here’s a depressing thought: For @realdonaldtrump to lose the GOP nomination, it will require an epic collapse, unlike any I can recall.
— Peter Wehner (@Peter_Wehner) February 21, 2016
The general denial I’m still getting from GOP elites about the strong position Trump is in to be their nominee is pretty amazing
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 21, 2016
Hey readers, after church this morning, I’m going to the airport and flying off to Italy. I will be in Norcia this week, at the Benedictine monastery, praying, writing, and interviewing monks for my Benedict Option book. I will be blogging as I can, but please be patient with my approving comments. There is no wi-fi in the monastery, and I will have to go to a cafe in the town to manage the blog.