A few weeks ago – in the Rove-Stupid series – I posited the notion that the conservative base had finally defeated the GOP establishment.
The theory was that the top three candidates at the time – Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson – were clearly running outsider campaigns against the establishment and winning. They were combining for something like 65 percent in the polls at the time – while the 3 or 4 establishment types – depending on how you want to break them down – were at maybe 20 percent.
The establishment’s clear first choice, Jeb Bush, was nowhere in the polls. Neither were John Kasich or Chris Christie. Heck, things were so bad for the GOP-e that they had decided to throw in with Marco Rubio – a man who burst onto the national scene by kicking the establishment’s rear end in Florida and even running quintessential establishment squish Charle Crist slap out of the party. (Yes, I know full well why Rubio had become the establishment choice, but that’s another column.)
I believe now – as I did then – that the establishment will not get its man in this cycle. They certainly got their John McCain in 2008 and their Mitt Romney in 2012 – and both men ran feckless, disappointing and non-conservative campaigns and got their clocks cleaned. This after we heard for months – from establishment mouthpieces and elected officials – that both were the “most electable” Republican running.
Thus, with an understanding of and contempt for the establishment at an all time high – and the Mitch McConnell and John Boehner led Congress bowing at the altar of Obama on every major piece of legislation even after the 2014 wipe out – the Republican electorate has said enough.
It is now looking like a two-man race, with establishment nightmares number one and two being those two men in that race. The only question remaining – short of South Carolina actually caring what the odd tiny primary population in New Hampshire does – is who will it be. With either a Trump or Cruz nomination, the establishment will be horrified – and humiliated.
Or would they?
There is certainly ample evidence – even as many readers will reject the premise – that the establishment is winning on a few key issues while they are clearly losing the nominating process. Why do I say that?
Consider: In the past 96 hours, the anti-establishment Trump has basically gone “full McConnell” on Cruz and “full establishment” on ethanol. Not only that, but one of the other persona non grata of the GOP establishment, Sarah Palin, has jumped on the Trump train with both feet. Now if memory serves it wasn’t that long ago that Palin was not only praising Cruz for standing up against McConnell with his filibuster over ObamaCare – but was also decrying crony capitalism and pointing to ethanol as the worst example of it.
And let’s be clear: ethanol is not merely a single issue. It’s exhibit A for the Washington House of Cards lobbying establishment complex. The ethanol standards and subsidies negatively impact every American except a handful of lobbyists in Washington and some Iowans. Everyone else pays more for gas, more for food, and more for engine repair.
“What’s bigger as a pro establishment issue than ethanol subsidies” asked Mark Levin on his Tuesday show – clearly indicating that there isn’t one. Levin added that ethanol is also the most “pro bureaucracy pro EPA pro left wing environmentalist” program and that “(Trump) wants to increase it even more than Obama.”
This, after repeating numerous times, that he is good friends with both Trump and Palin – and friends with some other talk show hosts who refuse to bring it up.
In addition, there is no better example of establishment thinking than a McConnell led Senate working with Democrats to get things done. Trump has parroted this very notion by calling Cruz “nasty” and actually chastised him for standing up to McConnell in the Senate.
According to Trump, this is no way “to curry favor” and “get things done.” That line could have been written by any staffer working for John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Bob Dole – or the fictional Frank Underwood for that matter. It’s right out of the heart of Washington establishment thinking.
Which is why the question needs to be asked – is the establishment, while losing the nomination fight, beating the conservative base on some key foundational issues? For the past few days, the answer is yes.
Edmund Wright is a contributor to Breitbart, American Thinker, Newsmax TV, Talk Radio Network and author of Amazon elections best-seller WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost…Again.
This is installment 11 of the series Rove-Stupid: The New definition of the Republican Establishment.