Will their standards sink even lower?

Is this stuff real, that would-be Republican presidents are serving up for public sampling? It’s difficult to resist the conclusion that the mud-wrestling bouts featuring what’s left of the field of GOP seekers of White House occupancy is too bizarre not to be an act – a sick promotional ploy concocted by party operatives. You want to think that the so-called debate a few days ago, of which the lasting takeaway and headline maker was Marco Rubio and Donald Trump sparring over the respective sizes of their genitals, was the lowest possible point of descent for these encounters. But you would be well advised to hedge your bets on that. There could well be even more barbaric goings-on in the pipeline.

It’s been long known that one guy, Trump, is as classic a rendering of repulsiveness in the public eye as there’s ever been. Troubled as they surely are that such a despicable character has been leading the pack in GOP primary voting, even-keeled observers of the process, Republicans as well as others, can’t be too thrilled that among the last men standing in the struggle to be the party’s nominee, there’s more than one committed to bottom-feeder tactics.

We’ve said here often enough that if the others now going to the mat with Trump were truly serious about not having their party represented by this blowhard — which is to say, if their disgust with him had been informed by principle above all else — an agreement among the concerned objectors would have settled on one of them as the Trump foil. But, principle be damned. This bunch, none of whom has anything resembling presidential cache, wasn’t about to embark on a party and / or country first path. Rubio in fact hurled at Trump the hard truth on support numbers during the recent slime-ridden snarling match: “Two-thirds of Republican voters don’t support you.” So do the elementary math, stupid! You and the other egomaniacal bozos who would rather see your party rent asunder than reach common ground on who among you should be the designated anti-Trump.

Of course, the narrative would not have gotten to these extremes of clown-car adventurism, had the party as a whole in the first place taken, again, a principled stand against Trump’s racist bilge and general hate mongering, and told him to take a hike. You wind up where Republicans are today when you prove yourself too gutless to employ condemnation and commensurate action where you know they’re clearly warranted.

The Trump-led circus atmosphere that has enveloped the GOP’s nominee search this time around has turned the spotlight on party structures, as they exist here in the U.S., as distinct, for example, from national parties as we know them to operate in Caribbean democracies. The ease with which Trump has been a tail wagging the GOP dog, even in the face of strenuous objection from party headliners far and wide to his being the potential brand representative, begs the question: Who or what constitutes the “establishment” of the Republican party? One analyst, when asked this after the circus had been underway for a while, proceeded to list an informal mix of major donors, governors, etc. One imagines that there are other interpretations of what the GOP establishment is.

Fitting into the party leadership bubble somewhere is that Republicans (as do Democrats) have a national committee. The post of chairman of the Republican National Committee is one whose sphere of influence one might wonder about, if not before, certainly as of the time that African American Michael Steele served as chairman a few years ago. The current chairman is a man named Reince Priebus, who was busy declaring to assembled conservatives at their annual gathering in Washington recently, that whoever the GOP nominee turns out to be would be guaranteed the party’s full backing. This, even as Mitt Romney at the very gathering, and assorted other GOP power players across the board were sounding off about how embarrassing and utterly undesirable Trump would be as the party’s standard bearer.

Republicans have at certain times in the past indicated having arrived at some point of self-examination that would supposedly be leading to some kind of substantive directional shift. Their much ballyhooed intention to undertake serious outreach to minorities comes to mind — an effort whose fruits seem none too visible. But this scrambling of the nomination process precipitated by one guy’s toxic presence has to be the GOP’s most important cautionary tale to date. It’s left to be seen if that elusive party “establishment” fails to take preventive action against getting similarly trapped down the road.

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