- Senator Tom Coburn: Trump "needs to be stopped."
- Bill Kristol: "A proud defender of greed, an unabashed indulger in adultery, a wanton mocker of the meek (the 'losers') of this world, Donald Trump does not inspire us, a terrible nominee and a terrible president."
- L. Brent Bozell: "Trump might be the greatest charlatan of them all."
- Mona Charen: "The man has demonstrated an emotional immaturity bordering on personality disorder, and it ought to disqualify him from being a mayor, to say nothing of a commander-in-chief."
- John Podhoretz: "He would be, unquestionably, the worst thing to happen to the American common culture in my lifetime."
- Thomas Sowell: "A shoot-from-the-hip, belligerent show-off is the last thing we need or can afford."
And these are the grown-ups in the Conservative movement, hereafter known as the 'ConMovs'. OK, the Times...
- Ed Board: " Mr. Trump has not a single solid, truthful idea about how to address the roots of this seething anger. He is basking in the energy created by turning one American against another, hoping hatred will propel him to the Republican nomination."
- David Brooks: "He is a threat to the long and glorious experiment of American self-government."
- Ed Board: "If it's a lie too vile to utter aloud, count on Mr. Trump to say it, often."
Not surprising, but not very civil, is it? OK, Fox...
- Fox HQ: "Donald Trump's vitriolic attacks against Megyn Kelly and his extreme, sick obsession with her is beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate who wants to occupy the highest office in the land."
These are some angry, nervous people. Let's try to sort out why. All three argue that Trump has, well, personal limitations that render him unfit to serve as president (integrity and belligerence, for examples.) There's a lot to be concerned about here, and it's a perfectly legitimate criticism.
But there's a lot more to it, and the ConMovs really figured it out. Trump is not a conservative ideologue. The ConMovs captured the Republican Party. There's an economic agenda: Tax cuts for the wealthy, free trade, cuts in domestic programs including Social Security and Medicare. There's a social agenda: Anti-gay marriage, pro-gun, anti-abortion. And there's a foreign policy agenda: Boots-on-the-ground military intervention.
Trump makes all the right noises about the social agenda, even if, as with Reagan, he's a latecomer. But on economics, not so much. He's for leaving Social Security and Medicare alone, taxing the hedge fund guys, and redoing trade deals. Heresy. And on the military, he's called out the failed wars given to us largely by the Bushes and their advisors. Heresy.
It turns out that the Republican electorate isn't really committed to the ConMovs' tax cuts for the rich and privatizing of Social Security. Nor does it want war. The Trump voter is doing what the American electorate regularly does, changing the conversation. We are being told that the country is not being run in the interests of most people, and that the pain is real. The fault lines in the Republican electorate are being exposed; voters are rejecting the ideological litmus test that have eliminated moderates from the Republican Party. The country is not moving to the right.
That's not to say that we can ignore the authoritarian and vulgar emanations from The Donald and some of his supporters. Temperament and character are important. But beware a coalition of the nervous, and it's failure to weigh the importance of ideas. As an outsider, I would choose Trump and his ideological eclecticism over Ted Cruz and the Crusaders every time. Not the choice I want, but ideas have longer-term consequences than personalities.
Finally, Trump has proven that there actually is an "Establishment", and that it can unify in the face of a threat. When Fox News, the New York Times and Brent Bozell are saying the same things, it's important. And scary.