What If They Gave a Donald Trump Pinata Party and Nobody Came?

We’re at a pretty fascinating moment in the 2016 presidential nominating contest. The whole hep Republican Establishment appears to be ready to lionize any candidate who goes after Donald Trump with a baseball bat–not some tut-tutting “let cooler minds prevail” comments limited to defending the honor of immigrants or repulsing Trump’s attacks on their own selves, but a full-on Sister Souljah onslaught telling him to get his ass out of their primary–and so far, nobody’s answering the bell.

Aside from the engraved invitations from former RNC chairman Michael Steele and past-and-present GOP money maven Karl Rove and conservative columnist Matt Lewis, the MSM has chipped it with predictions of the vast political riches one can derive from being the first to take on the school-yard bully. Yesterday none other than Mark Halperin drew bright flashing lights on the path between an attack on Trump to the White House itself:

To the other candidates, therefore, Trump represents a target of opportunity‑because there’s no better way to show strength than by attacking a potent rival. And with Trump, of course, there’s much to attack. Politically, he’s given financial support to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, flirted with single-payer health care, supported tax increases, embraced the birther movement. But that’s not even half of it. More businessperson than politician, more celebrity than authority, more bluster than substance, more ego-trip than leadership—or so goes the standard (and semi-blind) dismissal of his candidacy. Take down the pompadoured giant with the glass jaw and look like the powerful king of the world.

But while there’s ever-increasing talk of figuring out what to do about The Donald, what should be happening–somebody grabbing this as a heaven-sent opportunity to seal a Fox debate position in one fell swoop and doing it very fast before someone else does it–isn’t actually happening, unless I’ve missed something while I’m writing. Yeah, Lindsey Graham seemed to be screwing up his courage:

“The first rule of politics when you’re in a hole is stop digging,” Graham, a South Carolina senator, said at an Atlantic Council event in Washington. “I think somebody needs to take the shovel out of Donald Trump’s hands.”

But I don’t see Graham doing that, do you?

Some observers think the reluctance to boost one’s standing by dumping on the most unpopular GOP candidate is attributable to Trump’s unscrupulous tactics, which they rightly fear. I dunno, maybe he’s got nekkid pictures of them all.

But I suspect the slow-motion nature of the revolt against Trump may be like the strange reluctance of candidates an inch from making the debate stage being unwilling to openly appeal to the largely unrepresented and actually sizable number of self-identified GOP moderates. The habit of thinking there’s no such thing as an enemy to the right is hard to shake. And if a sizable element of “the base” likes it when Trump talks smack about Mexicans, then they’d just as soon somebody else have the honor of taking him down.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.