donald trump caricature flickr cc

ABC News’s Rick Klein has an interesting observation:

Don’t look now, but is Donald Trump pulling his punches on Ted Cruz? A day after unleashing a new series of attacks on his chief rival on the Sunday shows, Trump didn’t mention Cruz by name at either of his big campaign events Monday. (That doesn’t account for Twitter, where he’s still on his birther kick, but still…) That decision comes after a few days where major conservative talk radio hosts – notably, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin – have publicly warned him of the dangerous game he’s playing in attacking Cruz. It’s impossible to overstate the cover people like Limbaugh and Levin have given Trump in their willingness to accept him as a conservative, despite countless statements he made in the past that point to a much different ideology. Now that Cruz’s “New York values” attack has brought those statements back to the surface, any hesitation among conservative leaders is notable, particularly down the campaign’s stretch. Trump may yet best Cruz in Iowa and beyond. But for one of the few times in a campaign he’s dominated, Trump is going to need to find a new strategy.

I think that is largely correct.

In my view, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have been utterly craven in their pandering to Trump and, to a degree, have given Trump much-needed cover and credibility. Trump stands for just about the opposite of everything those two men have stood for for decades… except sticking their finger in the GOP establishment’s eye. Yesterday, Rush was somewhat muted in his usual unseemly boosterism of Trump and Levin engaged, as Leon noted, in pushback:

The fact that he was going after Cruz hammer and tongs over the weekend and has reduced his attacks to Twitter trolling has to be seen in the context of the Levin and Limbaugh coolness and Trump, himself, being booed at a rally when he accused Cruz of corruption.

I suspect, though, that within the week he will be back attacking Cruz because his poll numbers are slipping in the two most recent Florida and Georgia polls, because Cruz continues to needle him, and because, Trump being Trump, at some point he’s going to convince himself that Limbaugh and Levin giving him cover was really immaterial to divine intervention his own solitary efforts. Then it will be gut check time for Limbaugh and Levin. Will they continue as Trump boosters or will they realize there is an election underway and it is essentially a two-man race.

As I’ve said a thousand times, if I’m confronted with the choice of voting for Trump or Clinton, as far as I’m concerned it is a no-brainer. I’ll happily cast my vote for Trump to drive a (metaphorical)stake through the (figuratively speaking) shriveled, blackened heart of Hillary Clinton and her detestable family’s political grifting. But there is no way I will vote for Trump until that moment and I would vote for him knowing that all I’m getting is a GOP establishment tool.