Speculation is rampant today that the GOP is looking for an “exit strategy” from the Trump mess they are currently in. I don’t really know what that even theoretically would look like, but it sounds pretty much to me like the kind of wishful thinking you might hear from, say, a Red Sox fan in 1990 suggesting that the team was looking for an exit strategy from having Bill Bucker play first base in late innings of a World Series game in which they had a comfortable lead.
It’s an interesting fantasy and an alluring one, the idea that somehow such a gigantic mistake can be undone, so I know why people keep coming back to it. It’s a comforting and joyful thought, the idea that we might spend the next three months supporting literally anyone other than Trump against Hillary Clinton.
But come, I will level with you: Donald Trump is not going anywhere until November. End of story. He’s not going to quit, and none of you are going to force him out of the race. The idea that Trump can be talked out of three more months of his face constantly being on television for any reason at all is absolute wishcasting. The idea that any mechanism exists at this point for removing him from the ballot in favor of some other candidate is just not factual.
The GOP passed their final opportunity to hit the emergency eject button two weeks ago in Cleveland. They were so committed to staying in their seat and going down with the plane that they used threats, cajoling, an impressive whip operation, and blatant violation of their own rules to prevent even a voice vote on the rules package from taking place – even knowing that the anti-Trump forces would definitely lose the voice vote.
Prior to that, there were a number of opportunities for the GOP to pull the rip cord. The last opportunity prior to the convention was passed up by the voters of Indiana, who decided that throwing in the towel and accepting Trump was a better call than continuing a primary fight they were kind of sick of hearing about. Before that, John Kasich decided saving the party and the country wasn’t a good enough reason for him to drop out of the race, so he didn’t see why he needed to open his parachute either. Before that, the GOP party bosses decided that stopping Trump wasn’t important enough to line up behind Ted Cruz. Before that, a whole bunch of candidates stayed in the race way past their expiration date. Before that, the GOP adopted rules that made it exceptionally difficult to beat an early front runner, and so on and so on.
There have been a million opportunities for the GOP and its voters to take measures – either extraordinary or ordinary – to stop Donald Trump from officially representing the Republican party for almost four solid months. Each and every one of those opportunities has passed. They are now stuck with him. And any attempt to distance themselves at this point will be transparently hollow and empty – as though Trump’s attack on the Khans is the worst thing he’s done or somehow isn’t completely unexpected and in character with how he has behaved for over a solid year now. The GOP has known exactly who Trump is and what he stands for since day one and has not considered any of that important enough to stop him, so now they own him, no matter what.