This is the dangerous, ridiculous Republican Party of 2016. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refuses to call Trump racist because opening that door leads to a house of political horrors. House speaker Ryan says Trump is racist but won't let logic get in the way of what comes next: repudiate Trump.
You can feel the GOP party leadership hoist by their own "political correctness" petard. That's the loose artillery that conservatives aim at liberals; political correctness devalues America's currency. Well, it turns out that for conservatives, words also have literal meanings -- one man's political correctness is another's constitutional originalism. Donald Trump's entire campaign repudiates the Republican version of political correctness. GOP primary voters massively voted against the standard-bearing Republicans for being too politically correct.
But doubling down on racism, as a gut-level, instinctual appeal will not be not-such-a-good-way-forward in a general election for Trump. We know why Trump lashed out against a federal judge of Mexican descent: because the Trump-fueled fraud of Trump University will doom the candidate in November.
Party leaders are twisting themselves into strange pretzel shapes to repudiate what the man says but not what the man does; and this is coming from a man who found every weakness in his primary opponents and drove them off the stage poo-poo'ing their "low energy", their "little" digits and the kinds of personal slights that turn Senator Lindsey Graham into the only honest Republican in the room.
What Donald Trump has done is to pull into the spotlight the foibles and weaknesses of a GOP national strategy based on stirring fear, anxiety and resentment. In doing so, Donald Trump dragged into broad daylight the bright fact that the GOP is not the party of "values voters", or "the moral majority". It is the same affiliation that thrived on masquerade parties by the firelight and strange fruit in the trees.
What's a Tea Party member to do? Whose head do we put in a noose today?
To the Republican establishment, it is enough to make Hillary Clinton seem like a very good deal in November. A Hillary Clinton presidency means four years more of what the GOP leadership knows how to do: block the White House at every turn. On the other hand, Donald Trump is wildly unpredictable.
Trump is so unpredictable he has forced the nation's top Republicans into a position of supporting a racist. History will gnaw this version of the Republican Party to the bone.