At long last, the moment when Rush finally turned on Trump!

…Isn’t it?

Here we are in a Republican primary, and Donald Trump, out of the blue, starts blaming the Bush family for 9/11, for knowing that the intelligence was made up, that there never were any weapons of mass destruction, and they knew it, Trump said.

Michael Moore doesn’t even say that…

On the stage at a Republican debate, Donald Trump defended Planned Parenthood. Not the abortion stuff, he said, but the fact that they do great things for women’s health. Folks, there were a number of occasions where Donald Trump sounded like the Daily Kos blog, where Donald Trump sounded like the Democrat Underground, sounded like any average host on MSNBC.

Nailed him. But wait — why is Rush dropping the hammer on Trump now when he’s been at pains not to say that he’s an inferior choice to Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio? Rush praised Cruz last week as the closest we’ve come to Reagan since the great man passed, but even that apparent endorsement was qualified by him stressing that you should support Cruz “if conservatism is the dominating factor in how you vote.” Emphasis: “If.” Were Trump’s debate answers about 9/11, Iraq, and Planned Parenthood so egregious that even Rush is ready to drop the “if” and declare, categorically, that he’s unfit to be the GOP nominee?

Nope. Not yet, anyway. The clip below, cut by Team Cruz, naturally contains the most damning bits of what Rush said today but omits the part where he defended Trump’s motives. Maybe Trump wasn’t giving us his honest opinion, Rush suggests. Maybe he was pandering strategically to the center because he’s one step ahead of the game in South Carolina:

I said to myself, “Now, wait a minute. What’s going on?” Trump is not — I don’t care what any of you think, he’s not stupid. He has political advisors. He has a lot of people who are conservatives who are there to tell him where the boundaries are, and he crossed those boundaries on Saturday…

Short version, I think Trump strategically was making a move on independents and Democrats in South Carolina since it’s open. And I think that he wants to wrap this up ASAP. I think he wants a blow ’em out, going-away win in South Carolina. I think he just wants to wrap this up. I think he thinks he can…

So, Trump literally with Democrat lingo — liberal Democrat lingo — in the debate on Planned Parenthood, on the Iraq war, on 9/11, on weapons of mass destruction. Never before has he said it, but never before have we had an open primary yet. This is an open primary. Democrats and independents can cross and vote. If there’s something else going on here, that Trump lost control, and who he really is surfaced, then it was gonna happen at some point, and it happened on Saturday night. If that’s what really happened.

Going back to this morning’s post, where does that defense land in my debate with Ace over whether Trump’s Iraq answer will hurt him on the right or not? You could say it proves Ace right — if Rush Limbaugh is complaining on air that Trump sounds like Michael Moore and a dKos contributor, that’s probably not going to help him lock down any new conservative votes. My point in the earlier post, though, was that anyone who’s sufficiently well disposed towards Trump to consider backing him probably isn’t going to be turned by a few outre comments about Bush. The fact that even Rush is willing to let him off the hook on grounds that he’s making a strategic move suggests one way Trump fans might ease their cognitive dissonance over supporting a guy who believes something they don’t about Bush’s motives in Iraq. Maybe Trump simply didn’t mean it. Maybe he’s just playing eight-dimensional chess. He’s told us repeatedly that he’s capable of “changing” as needed to maintain his advantage over his opponents, right? Well, there you go. He did it again on Saturday night to lure independents. Maybe he really does believe that Bush lied about Iraq’s WMDs, just like maybe he really believes he’s going to deport everyone. Or maybe he’s saying that because he stands to benefit from it electorally, in which case we all must stand back and applaud his political genius. How can we hold a nasty, false attack on Bush against him — even as he screeches about Ted Cruz’s dirty pool — when he’s only doing what a winner would do?

That’s the first clip below. The second, which I couldn’t find anywhere else to put, is of an answer Trump gave today about Obama’s executive amnesty in which he appears at one point to say “I think it’s great” and then says only that he’ll take a look at it when asked if he’ll rescind it. Sounds mighty damning — but in all fairness, it looks like Trump’s simply out to lunch on the terminology of “deferred action.” He’s said many times that he’d blow up Obama’s executive amnesties; I think he just got confused here about what the reporter was referring to. Watch the answer anyway, though, as it’s a sterling example of why Trump is such a force in the primary. His response about wanting Americans to be “dreamers” is pure nationalism but it’s highly, highly effective, especially the segue into how little Obama and the Democrats have done for black voters. Everyone likes to crow over Trump’s poll numbers but you hear him say something like this and wonder how he could possibly be polling under 50 percent. Then you remember the 8,000 things he’s said to annoy you and think, “Oh, right.”