The RINO hunters become the hunted

A RINO was originally a Republican who was insufficiently conservative; then it was a Republican who was insufficiently strident or bombastic or extremist in their anti-Democrat tactics; and now, for a Fox host beloved of anti-immigrant populists, a RINO is a Republican who is on the other side of a disagreement with Trump, even if in substance, that means a RINO is someone who opposes a deal with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling, or stands against compromising with Democrats to get things done, which is to say, the opposite of what RINO meant in the recent past.

The schizophrenia of a political party that elevated the Tea Party, the Freedom Caucus, and Donald Trump in quick succession guaranteed ongoing conflicts between the Congress and the White House, and the White House and principled conservatives. And the conservative movement’s tolerance of intellectually dishonest entertainers and substantively dubious heretic hunts set the stage for a moment when some of those entertainers turned their tactics against ideological conservatives on behalf of a populist GOP president who is flirting with liberal Democrats.

Bygone heretic hunters and their enablers have become the hunted.