Donald Trump led the field with support from a whopping 24% of Republican respondents to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted late last week, beating Scott Walker by 11 points. I bet you didn’t think you’d be pulling for Scott Walker in 2015, did you? But the Post seems to have buried the lead in its story on the poll: although Trump polled very well Thursday and Friday, his support plummeted Saturday night, after the media widely reported his remarks about John McCain. It seems Trump has defined some contours of the contemporary Republican Party. You can call Mexicans rapists, but you cannot attack a veteran.
Two fun things happened last weekend. On Saturday, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia awarded me first place in its Political Column category for my work at the Missoula Independent. That’s extremely nice of them and probably better than I deserve. In case you needed another reminder that the race is not to the swift, a Fox News poll released Friday had Donald Trump running first among Republican candidates for president, with support from 18% of likely primary voters. Before you stockpile canned beans, let us remember that Trump is one of 16 candidates for the Republican nomination, and his status as front-runner may testify less to his viability and more to how thoroughly that field has split the vote of people who try to supply the funniest answer to polls. Also, right after that one came out, Trump criticized Senator John McCain for getting captured during the Vietnam War.
Midway through this strange Hill story, in which Senate Republicans inexplicably describe Donald Trump as a “smart guy” instead of a “shit-eating wildman,” GOP strategist John Ullyat articulates a frightening vision of the future:
The Republican candidates who decide to take him on and attack him do so at their peril and the party’s peril, because the worst thing for Republicans is for Trump to go through the primaries and make a third-party run.
But that would never happen, right? It seems pretty implausible that this country could see a three-way election among a Bush, a Clinton, and an outspoken billionaire—god dammit.
Those of you looking to divide the Republican Party into old and new need look no further than the public feud between George Will and Donald Trump, whom Will called a “bloviating ignoramus” on television Sunday. Trump responded that Will “may be the dumbest political commentator of all time,” and Will admitted that he was wrong and retired. No, wait—that second part didn’t happen. Instead, Trump flew to Las Vegas and participated in a fundraiser for Mitt Romney, where Romney stood next to him and tried to imply that Trump was dumb with his eyes. The Republican nominee also announced that he “accepts” that President Obama was born in the United States.
Good news, you guys: “Newsmax Media and ION Television are moving forward with The Newsmax ION Television 2012 Presidential Debate moderated by Donald Trump, a great American success story.” Can you spot the deviation from traditional journalistic ethics in that sentence? It comes from Newsmax, the conservative sort-of-news website sponsoring that debate. You may remember the Trump/Newsmax debate from this extremely fun series of events, or perhaps this one. You may remember Newsmax from the most pernicious lie of the last few years, which also happens to include a lot of Donald Trump. But you don’t need to remember any of that stuff to understand the importance of The Newsmax ION Television 2012 Presidential Debate, because Newsmax has helpfully reminded us. “The debate has gained huge support from the country’s largest and most powerful conservative groups and voices,” Newsmax Wires writes, “but several candidates have declined to join the debate, including Mitt Romney, whose poll numbers have been sliding since his refusal of Trump’s invitation.” Now that is some maximum fucking news, right there.