How Jeb Bush cleared the way for Trump

In the “fight” between Donald Trump and conservatism, Trump has had few better allies than Right to Rise, the super PAC supporting Bush’s candidacy. There will be plenty of blame to go around if Trump ends up as the Republican nominee, but Right to Rise will have earned a prominent chapter in those histories: cable and network television gave Trump endless hours of free publicity; influential conservative voices explained away his liberalism, excused his excesses, and legitimized his crazy; and Right to Rise, like an all-pro right guard, helped clear a path for Trump by blocking several of his would-be tacklers, in particular Marco Rubio.

This was no accident. It was the plan.

“If other campaigns wish that we’re going to uncork money on Donald Trump, they’ll be disappointed,” Mike Murphy, chief strategist of Right to Rise, told the Washington Post in August. “Trump is, frankly, other people’s problem.” In an October interview with Bloomberg, he said: “I’d love a two-way race with Trump at the end.”

It’s entirely possible that there will be a two-way race with Trump at some point before the nomination is decided. But it’s nearly inconceivable that the other candidate in that head-to-head contest will be Jeb Bush. (Nearly inconceivable only because nothing is actually inconceivable this cycle.)