Republicans Ride the Trump Tiger

CAMBRIDGE – During a typical week in late May, Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for the US presidency, grabbed headlines yet again. He declared a popular former president to be a “rapist,” flipped his position on one policy after another, bragged that his running mate could be “anyone” who supported him, and told the National Rifle Association that Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, would “release violent criminals from jail.”

Perhaps most worrisome from a global perspective, just hours after an EgyptAir plane crashed into the Mediterranean, and long before any certain facts were known, Trump began stating his own conclusions about what had happened and denouncing American “weakness” in the face of terrorism.

Virtually all efforts to prevent Trump’s nomination have ended, and establishment Republicans are moving steadily to reconcile themselves with their party’s capture by an uncouth, narcissistic, unprepared, and mercurial bully. “You’re better off riding the beast than trying to ignore it,” explained a former GOP Senate aide.

Many certainly did try to ignore it. No sooner had Trump announced last summer that he would seek the Republican nomination than pundits and political scientists started to find compelling reasons to dismiss his bid.