So this is the way the GOP primary race ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper from a number of prominent Republicans who are still reeling from the fact that the super-embarrassing reality TV star they had expected to drop out of the race will certainly (bar prank show reveal or divine intervention) be their presidential nominee. Yes, some GOP leaders are "rallying" around the Donald, the way one rallies around the semi-frozen fish sticks left in the cafeteria after everyone beat you to the cheeseburgers. In the past 24 hours, Republican establishment support for Donald Trump has varied from underwhelming to thinly-veiled existential terror.
The inevitability of Trump's candidacy leaves all those GOP-ers — who were most likely banking on someone like Jeb(!) Bush or Marco Rubio to wrestle the nomination away from him — in a tough situation. After all, a number of these folks couldn't have fathomed a primary field with so much girth fading away to the Unholy Trinity of Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. (Really? That guy who couldn't crack the top six in the Iowa Caucus?) This is almost certainly their worst-case scenario coming to life. But the decision still has to be made: Do they backpedal on earlier promises to support their party's decision by rejecting the (presumptive) nominee, or do they swallow whatever's left of their dignity and climb aboard the Trump train?
Seems like a number of them are choosing the latter — but rest assured that it is very clear that they aren't all that happy about it.
Last night's depressing parade began with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus — who once promised on television that this race didn't have him pouring Baileys into his cereal (methinks the chairman doth protest too much) — insisting that the GOP rally behind Trump to stop Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton from being elected. Maybe due to a Bailey's-soaked-cereal error, the message failed to convey enthusiasm. Priebus' tweet expressed, instead, a dull sense of resignation, reading more as: "This is fine. We're fine. Hey, it's not like we're the musicians and those adorable kids on the Titanic ..."
The gritted-teeth, not-so-supportive support for Trump demonstrates the lengths some members of the party are willing to go to in order to avoid addressing the flaming trash ball in the room. But I get it, GOP. Trump is your new stepdad, who greets you each day with a "Mornin', kiddo" and tells you that "Your mom's a real special lady." You're not in a position to oust him from your house, but you're not all that good at pretending that you're happy about it, either.
Both Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin had a que sera, sera approach which communicated the helplessness of the situation. Toomey said, “I will be supporting the Republican nominee, whoever that is” and Johnson said, “In the end, I’ll support whoever the nominee is" when asked if they'd back Trump. To me, their responses are truly indicative of the Republican Party's dire straits. While not naming any names, they promise that "whoever" the nominee is, they'll support them in the end. It's not exactly glowing, but high-profile support is more about quantity than quality, anyway, right?
Or, if you're more like Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, you're not even bothering to feign excitement or disguise your apathy:
I’m resigned to whoever we nominate.