In case you have not noticed, there is a little bit of panic right now spreading among Republican Party leaders. It's in all the newspapers.
If you push the panic to its logical conclusion, one needs to ask how many security professionals will be needed at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, just to handle the task of tossing out the party faithful who will be hating on the nominee.
So, precisely WHO is in a #NeverTrump panic?
The most common answer is the "Republican Establishment." This is usually defined as the people who are calling the shots in the party. And who is that? For Trump, that term points toward the big-shot donors, Republicans in Congress, the old-guard Republican experts who are constantly interviewed on television, etc., etc.
The New York Times produced a major piece the other day -- "Inside the Republican Party’s Desperate Mission to Stop Donald Trump" -- about this panic attack and, as you would expect, it was packed with familiar names from the GOP establishment Rolodex. But as I read it, I kept thinking: What is the connection between the party's ESTABLISHMENT and its BASE, the people it can count on to turn out on election day?
To be specific, are there leaders of the Republican BASE who are not considered to be honored members of its ESTABLISHMENT? If so, why is that the case? Might that disconnect have something to do with the Trump insurgency? Hold that thought.
This is long, but you need to read the whole overture (Spot the names!) to get into the mood of the story:
The scenario Karl Rove outlined was bleak.
Addressing a luncheon of Republican governors and donors in Washington on Feb. 19, he warned that Donald J. Trump’s increasingly likely nomination would be catastrophic, dooming the party in November. But Mr. Rove, the master strategist of George W. Bush’s campaigns, insisted it was not too late for them to stop Mr. Trump, according to three people present.
At a meeting of Republican governors the next morning, Paul R. LePage of Maine called for action. Seated at a long boardroom table at the Willard Hotel, he erupted in frustration over the state of the 2016 race, saying Mr. Trump’s nomination would deeply wound the Republican Party. Mr. LePage urged the governors to draft an open letter “to the people,” disavowing Mr. Trump and his divisive brand of politics.
The suggestion was not taken up. Since then, Mr. Trump has only gotten stronger, winning two more state contests and collecting the endorsement of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
This story is just packed with anonymous sources and people who heard someone else say something to someone else who is a big name -- a journalistic practice that, at one point, the Times leadership was trying to minimize (click here for .pdf). Perhaps the Times suffers from a shortage of GOP sources or, at least, GOP sources who are willing to admit on the record that they provide information and insights for the hated New York Times?
Anyway, the GOP establishment litany continues:
Despite all the forces arrayed against Mr. Trump, the interviews show, the party has been gripped by a nearly incapacitating leadership vacuum and a paralytic sense of indecision and despair, as he has won smashing victories in South Carolina and Nevada. Donors have dreaded the consequences of clashing with Mr. Trump directly. Elected officials have balked at attacking him out of concern that they might unintentionally fuel his populist revolt. And Republicans have lacked someone from outside the presidential race who could help set the terms of debate from afar.
OK, so far we have seen old-guard insiders, donors, elected officials and a big gap among people "from outside the presidential race who could help set the terms of debate from afar." Maybe voices from outside the establishment? Maybe people linked to the base?
Late last fall, the strategists Alex Castellanos and Gail Gitcho, both presidential campaign veterans, reached out to dozens of the party’s leading donors, including the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and the hedge-fund manager Paul Singer, with a plan to create a “super PAC” that would take down Mr. Trump. In a confidential memo, the strategists laid out the mission of a group they called “ProtectUS.”
Now, if the name Paul Singer rings a bell, that's because he is controversial in some corners of the GOP. However, in the context of the Times he is simply a "hedge-fund manager" who is listed among the "party's leading donors." How is Singer described in The Washington Blade?
Following a standout performance by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the third Republican presidential debate, a billionaire GOP philanthropist who supports LGBT rights has declared his support for the candidate’s 2016 bid.
In a three-page letter to dozens of donors obtained by The New York Times, New York-based hedge fund manager Paul Singer says Rubio “has been turning his campaign into a compelling argument for using conservative ideas to help America adapt and thrive in the 21st century.”
So now, let's talk Democratic Party leadership for a moment.
If you had a panic going on among Democrats, can you imagine the Times team doing a piece on the party ESTABLISHMENT and not dedicating some coverage to leaders in labor organizations (especially teachers and government workers), African-American community organizers, the LGBT community and environmentalists?
Now, what kind of voices are missing from this high-profile Times report about the GOP panic? What major segments of the GOP BASE receive zero attention? Wanna guess?
OK, so you want a hint or two. What kind of voters do GOP leaders need to turn out in mass numbers to have a chance at victory? Oh, and has any GOP White House candidate done well in recent decades without winning the votes of large numbers of Catholic voters?
Now, is this gaping hole in this political feature a comment about (a) the Times team, (b) leaders of the GOP establishment or (c) both?