Damon Linker’s latest column on the travails of the Republican Party at the hands of Donald Trump hits on a tremendously important truth. Linker says that if Trump wins tonight in South Carolina, it
will not only strongly indicate that he’s likely either to win the nomination orprevent the nomination of anyone else prior to the GOP convention this summer. It will also portend a tumultuous future for the Republican Party, regardless of who ends up as the nominee in 2016. A party with such a large bloc of voters who diverge so sharply from the party’s organizing ideology iseither a party that will need to significantly change its ideological direction — or one on the verge of breaking apart.
He says that Trump’s outburst in last weekend’s debate, in which the candidate said that the Iraq War was a disaster, and that George W. Bush “lied” to drag America into the war, was a bright red line. The conventional narrative told by antiwar critics is that the Bush administration told itself (and the American public) a story it wanted to believe, to justify war on Iraq, engaging in a massive — and massively consequential — episode of confirmation bias. That is bad, but it is not the same thing as deliberately lying for the sake of starting a war. That particular slander has been common on the far left — until the leading Republican candidate for president in 2016 uttered it onstage in a presidential primary debate.
Unthinkable! But Trump went there. Linker’s Week colleague Michael Brendan Dougherty (side note: what a great pair of columnists those two are) recounts what happened next: