Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone last week wrote "The press went gaga for Rubio after Iowa because – why? Because he's an unthreatening, blow-dried, cliché-spouting, dial-surveying phony of the type campaign journalists always approve of."
That undercuts the argument of Amanda Marcotte, who recognizes Marco Rubio as a viable general-election candidate, that "Cruz is still considered by both the Republican establishment and the mainstream media to be a more acceptable candidate than a bully like Trump." Evidence has emerged that the GOP establishment is coming to terms with the possibility of a Trump nomination, in large measure becasue it realizes the alternative may be a Cruz nomination.
Nonetheless, Marcotte recognizes Trump's "policies are nonsensical, he clearly would rather burn this country to the ground than have anything approaching justice or equality in it, he is racist to his core, and he has no respect for anyone but himself and people who are just like him." Consequently, she "can’t help sharing in the pleasure" which his supporters "take with the way that Trump’s very existence exposes the smarmy two-faced hypocrisy of the modern Republican Party."
Citing voter suppression and immigration, Marcotte observes that the policies of both Cruz and Rubio are "arguably worse" than even those of Trump. Left unsaid is that the take no prisoners approach of Cruz and Rubio portends a foreign policy at least as expansionist as that of the frontrunner.
Recognizing that the "main problem" establishment Republicans have "with Trump is he puts his dirty shoes on the couch," Marcotte maintains they want" to be able to pursue nasty, bigoted policies while maintaining an air of gentility that garners respect in the mainstream media." Party leaders know that is imperiled by a candidate who "calls people 'pussy,' which is far worse than letting people die in the street."
And so Marcotte finds telling the exchange in the Texas debate in which Trump admits "I will not let people die in the street if I'm president" and Cruz responds "have you said you're a liberal on health care?" Rubio is presumably the candidate whom establishment journalists are "easily swayed" by because he chooses to "wear nice shoes and can somewhat imitate the facial expressions of people who feel empathy, Annoyed by Trump's apostasy,he could remark only "This is a Republican debate, right? Because that attack about letting people die in the streets..."
Marcotte did not have to mention gun safety. Or reproductive rights. Or cutting taxes on the wealthy. Or Wall Street regulation. Or the myriad of other issues to which Rubio and Cruz can offer only right-wing solutions.
She did not have to because the GOP perspective on health care- if you haven't worked hard enough to make the money to stay alive you're on your own- is something of a metaphor for the Party's governing ethos. It is one in which Donald Trump has had to take a crash course to repeat in his quest for the nomination of the Party of greed and selfishness. If he makes it through Cleveland, Marcotte realizes, it "would puncture any remaining illusion that the Republican Party is a home for serious people, instead of a den of misanthropes and bullies that see politics solely as a way to preserve their own privilege while screwing over everyone else."
"That," she concludes, "and it will probably be easier for Clinton to beat Trump than either of his opponents."