By Steve Eggleston
“Game over man, game over”
– Hudson, “Aliens”
I could just as easily titled this “The Death of Conservatism”, because that’s what the results out of South Carolina mean. Donald Trump, who returned to his liberal roots in the last debate, won the South Carolina primary by 10 percentage points. By “returned”, I mean “went deep into the Netroots fever swamp”, as even 1990s Donald Trump wouldn’t have parroted the Code Pink tripe regarding the Iraq War (note; Trump supported the Iraq War at the time and said in 2000 he believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction) and 9/11 (this a few weeks removed from Trump wrapping himself in 9/11’s #NewYorkValues). Thanks to how South Carolina allocates its delegates, Trump won all 50.
Sticking with the debate for just a moment, those are just two of the most recent expirations of prior Donald J. Trump statements. If that sounds familiar, it should.
Meanwhile, Marco Rubio, and even more strongly, his supporters, have taken the nearly-two-decade-long push by the GOP to get a new non-conservative base to heart, using relentless attacks on Ted Cruz (and only Cruz, despite weathering a second state’s worth of attacks from the Jeb Bush campaign) to wrest second.
That Cruz took third in the “conservative” party’s primary in a state that was seen as one of the most conservative in the country is disturbing. Indeed, the fact that full-throated conservatism garners less than 25% versus the “slow drift left” of Rubio and the “say anything because statements are made to expire” of Trump means more than Cruz’s upset win in Iowa.
I suppose the good news is that, with Bush’s departure, the GOP’s Next In Line principle, first noted by The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto and in effect between 1960 and 2012, appears to be finally dead. That leads me to Nevada, where the Democrats, despite a lot of noise from the Bernie Sanders campaign, appear set to finally break their own equally-longstanding Not Next In Line priniciple. While Hillary Clinton didn’t need to continue her incredible string of “luck” of winning every game-of-chance tiebreaker to win the Nevada caucuses like she did in Iowa (and before that, in hog futures), she did.