Reining in Trump–At a Price

So according to a very credible conservative-watcher, WaPo’s Robert Costa, Donald Trump is going to take The Pledge later today, promising to back the ultimate Republican presidential nominee even if it’s not his own self. You should note this proviso in Costa’s otherwise confident piece:

The Republicans familiar with Trump’s decision requested anonymity to discuss private conversations. They also said that Trump may have caveats or conditions upon signing that have not yet been shared beyond the businessman’s tight-knit inner circle.

Assuming these “caveats and conditions” don’t create some loophole you could drive a Brink’s Truck full of Trump cash through, The Pledge should radically reduce the feasibility of a Trump indie run next summer and fall, while getting The Donald over the obstacles being created by state parties like South Carolina’s.

But then there’s this detail:

Trump will make the announcement at an afternoon news conference at Trump Tower, his campaign headquarters in New York, where he will sign the loyalty statement alongside its author, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus. That appearance will follow a meeting with Priebus.

I wonder whose idea it was for Priebus to be present at this lovefest? Yes, he obviously has a large stake in this deal getting sealed, but it comes at the price of legitimizing Trump and his views as quintessentially Republican, even as the man is still brutally mocking the GOP Establishment’s darling, Jeb Bush, in what David Kurtz aptly called a “prep school hazing.”

If I were Priebus I’d suddenly remember a wedding for some third cousin back in Wisconsin, or anywhere else less likely to become a target-rich environment for Democrats collecting general-election material. Creating a very large hurdle for a Trump indie run was indeed a worthy objective for Republicans, but it’s going to pay a price for it, and perhaps one more tangible than the marks on their souls.

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.