As for their anguish about Trump as a “loose cannon,” that anxiety is also of recent vintage. The ornery Bob Dole and the nutty John McCain somehow didn’t trigger it. The country club Republicans told conservatives to lose their nerdy primness and vote for them.
It was amusing to hear Paul Ryan pompously invoke the “party of Jack Kemp,” as if Kemp were a philosophically and personally impeccable conservative before whose memory all must genuflect. Kemp was a flake too. He ran with Bob Dole in 1996 on a wobbly platform of moderate Republicanism. Who cares if Trump isn’t living up to the standards of Jack Kemp? They weren’t that high to begin with. Moreover, Kemp was a loud and tiresome proponent of the “Big Tent” and frequently scolded conservatives for imposing purity tests on Republican candidates. Now his acolytes tell us that the Big Tent isn’t quite big enough for Trump.
Paul Ryan seems to think that he is God’s gift to the political world and that conservatives should wait with bated breath until his “comfort” level rises. Most of them appear to be shrugging. If anything, the hypocritical boycotting of Trump by the Ryans, Bushes, and Roves enhances Trump’s crossover appeal with independents and working-class Dems. The more that he is hated down at the GOP yacht club, the more he appears as a regular guy in the eyes of voters. Meanwhile, the Tea Party Republicans interpret the boycotting as a sign that Trump is too politically incorrect for the effete GOP elite and cleave to him even more tightly.