It’ll appear tomorrow in a special all-Trump edition of National Review. Fair enough, but the guy’s campaign slogan might as well be “f*** the eggheads.” How is a manifesto going to peel off any voters who have absorbed that and are still considering him? At this point, if you’re one of the dwindling few who remain invested in movement conservatism, you’re probably already locked down for Cruz or Rubio. If you’re on the Trump train or are open to climbing aboard, it’s because his previous 8,000 sins against conservative dogma didn’t move you. I’m sure it’ll be eloquent given the caliber of talent mentioned by the NYT, but trying to convince Trumpers or people who are Trump-curious to abandon ship in the name of conservative ideals is like trying to persuade people who like punk through reasoned argument to abandon it for pop instead. The things they don’t like about pop helped lead them towards punk in the first place. If anything, a full frontal attack from mainstream conservative pundits will only bind Trump’s audience closer to him.
My sense of the dynamic is that the manifesto’s going to sound something like this (minus the Cruz-hate) when the audience for Trumpmania is looking for something more like this:
Follow the link up top for details. These paragraphs from the Times’s story are actually more interesting, and revealing. The conservative pundiocracy fears and loathes Trump, but Republican lobbyists fear and loathe Cruz. What could explain it?
[T]he cadre of Republican lobbyists, operatives and elected officials based in Washington are much more unnerved by Mr. Cruz, a go-it-alone, hard-right crusader who campaigns against the political establishment and could curtail their influence and access, building his own Republican machine to essentially replace them…
“We can live with Trump.” said Richard F. Hohlt, a veteran lobbyist, reflecting the sentiment of his colleagues at last week’s meeting of the Republican National Committee in Charleston, S.C. “Do they all love Trump? No. But there’s a feeling that he is not going to layer over the party or install his own person. Whereas Cruz will have his own people there.”…
If Mr. Cruz were the party’s nominee, said Charles R. Black Jr., a lobbyist who has worked on numerous Republican presidential campaigns, “what would happen is a lot of the elected leaders and party elders would try to sit down and try to help Cruz run a better campaign, but he may not listen. Trump is another matter. You can coach Donald. If he got nominated he’d be scared to death. That’s the point he would call people in the party and say, ‘I just want to talk to you.’”
Mr. Trump is also a recognizable type in the political world. A wealthy businessman, he has given money to donation-hungry candidates for decades, often welcoming the supplicants to his Manhattan office. He has also employed a small stable of lobbyists in Washington, such as Mr. Black, and in state capitals to promote his real estate and casino empire. He has had large law and lobbying firms, like Greenberg Traurig, on retainer.
“Trump won’t do long-lasting damage to the G.O.P. coalition,” said John Feehery, and by “GOP coalition” he means the coalition of Republican office-holders, business interests, and lobbyist/consultant middlemen. If you prefer Trump to Cruz despite the fact that K Street strongly prefers him too, no ideological manifesto is going to turn you.
But I don’t mean to tease. What’s the point of writing if you’re not going to write about what moves you? Pro- and anti-Trump bloggers have been writing manifestos piecemeal over the last eight months, me included. Few of us are under the illusion that we’re persuading anyone. You write because your conscience nudges you to do it, not because you think anyone in Iowa’s going to say “eureka.”
Here’s the USA Freedom Kids — remember them? — singing songs of Jeb Bush’s mediocrity on Jimmy Kimmel’s show last night. Exit question: How long before Trump starts attacking Cruz for not tithing like a good Christian should?