Planning the coming "Trump takedown"

Among the various Sunday shows this weekend there was a rather ominous segment which took place during John King’s Inside Politics panel on CNN. They were going around the table ferreting out the inside baseball aspects of the campaign which the various panelists were following, and when the inevitable subject of The Donald came up, a devious sounding plan arose for discussion. Since nobody is still sure “what to do about Trump” without burning their fingers on the stove, (more on that in a minute) there is talk of some sort of anonymous, clean hands plot to begin hitting him in a way where he can’t very easily strike back. (CNN)

And now, after weeks of assuming his support would be fleeting, there is a debate about how to take aim at Trump — and just who should finance such an effort.

CNN’s Maeve Reston noted that most GOP strategists see risks in having the attacks come from the other candidates or their directly affiliated super PACs. So, she reports, there is conversation about what other group might raise money for anti-Trump TV ads.

“There are a lot of donors out there who see it as much too dangerous, obviously, for the candidates, or their allied super PACs, to go after Trump,” said Reston. “So they’re looking to more establishment PACs to potentially take him down in post-Labor Day ads.”

Of course, nobody is going on the record to say precisely who is pushing the idea or offering specifics for who might handle the funding for a massive, anti-Trump television blitz, but it might not be too hard to guess. Assuming this is in the works you might see groups along the lines of the Conservative Victory Project (an offshoot of American Crossroads) or perhaps even the Chamber of Commerce funneling cash into an effort to undermine Trump. But it’s worth remembering that, in reality, none of these organizations operate in a vacuum when it comes to the established power structure in Washington and inside the GOP. There are big names who are not officially tied to any of them but obviously have some direct and influential input into their decision making process.

That brings us back to the initial question I indicated above. As a starting point, let’s just acknowledge for the bazillionth time that we’re not playing softball here and there are going to be some sharp elbows thrown. Fair enough. Everyone has their own preferences in terms of candidates and policy and we can all back who we wish. But at some point in the process reality has to begin to set in.

I suppose the point I’m trying to make here is that things are still fluid today and a lot can happen between now and, say… March. But Trump’s numbers are not some isolated aberration in a couple of remote boondocks. The guy is way, way out in front in not only the early states and the swing states, but nationally as well. Sure, that might change as the race ages and people begin dropping out, but it also may not. And if it’s not Trump, what if it’s Carson? (Currently running a very strong second in many locations.) What if – horror of horrors – the show ponies selected by the powers that be simply aren’t acceptable to enough of your voters this cycle and you’re stuck with somebody you can’t keep on a leash?

The bottom line is that healthy competition is fine. Any candidate who can’t take the heat should get out of the race. But if our GOP powerbrokers continue these sort of attacks well after the nation’s Republican primary voters have begun weighing in on a large scale in a different direction, that’s not just counterproductive… it’s insulting. You may have forgotten what your job actually is in that case. The only people who get to make the final decision are your voters who support and make up the party. If you insist on trying to torpedo their choice after they’ve spoken then you really need to get out of this business and go home.

Trump may not wind up being the leader for the nomination going into the convention, but at this point you have to concede the possibility that he might be. And if he is, it will be long past the time when you need to stop worrying over “what to do about Trump” and start figuring out how you’re going to get him elected.