Eight (8) theories on the heavily advertised embrace of Trump over Cruz by the disembodied GOP “establishment”:
1. They actually want to kill off Trump. The Establishment is not stupid. It knows voters hate it. Its embrace of Trump could be the kiss of death. Problem: Too obvious.
2. They actually want to kill off Cruz: They despise Cruz both on characterological and institutional grounds, as described here and here. They are not faking their preference for Trump. Problem: Are they dumb enough to think they have the power to derail Cruz in this political climate?
3. They actually want to kill off Rubio to promote Jeb!: By seeming to embrace Trump, they’re signalling they no longer have faith in former favorite Marco Rubio’s viability, as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes tweeted. But the Trump embrace is a fake! Once Rubio and Cruz have been derailed, the Establishment lane will be wide open for Jeb!, who’ll win in a head-to-head with Trump. Problem: Will Beltway pissing on Cruz really be interpreted as a devastating dis of Rubio? Seems a little hot takey. [Indeed, Hayes’ tweet may have been a joke.] And who, exactly, cares if the DC Establishment loses faith in Rubio? Some funders, maybe. Not voters, you’d think.
4. They’re actually trying to help McConnell: Even if they don’t think they can derail Cruz, they’ll get points with the Senate Majority Leader for trying to discipline an obnoxious freshman who caused him trouble and called him a liar. And if you’re a K St. lobbyist it may be more important to get Sen. McConnell on your side than to get your first choice into the White House.
5. It’s all about immigration. They’re actually still trying to pass amnesty: They realize the best way to get a legalization bill isn’t to elect an amnesty supporter like Rubio and then ram it through with the help of the MSM — that opportunity has passed, thanks to voters. No, their best hope now is to let the voters elect a vocal opponent of legalization (Trump) and then “coach” him into accepting legalization. Problem: Wishful thinking? Trump seems heavily invested in immigration control. Maybe there is an “Enforcement First” deal that could be cut, with Trump bludgeoning Dems into going along. But the GOP Establishment has never embraced it before.
6. They just want to win: They recognize Trump’s ability to reach out to new groups of general election voters, including African Americans. Problem: Why didn’t they realize this seven months ago?
7. They’re just bowing to the inevitable: Lobbyists are adaptive. Like it or not, Trump is going to win. Maybe if they curry favor with him now … Problem: Still seems a little early for this. There’ll be plenty of time after New Hampshire or South Carolina.
8. They are patriots: After careful thought, they’ve concluded that whatever his chances, Trump will make a better president. Problem: Yeah, right.
I favor #5, of course, which is why I stuck it in. You? …