So it’s official. The moderates are now rallying behind Donald Trump:
“He’s been my friend for many years, he’s been a spectacular governor,” said Mr. Trump, standing with Mr. Christie at a press conference in Fort Worth, Texas, for the endorsement.
“I am proud to be here to endorse Donald Trump,” said Mr. Christie, noting they have been friends for a decade.
Mr. Trump “will do exactly what needs to be done to make America a leader around the world again,” said Mr. Christie.
It’s no small wonder. Speculation on why Christie never threw a punch at Trump during the debates has been rather vocal in recent days, and if the rumors are true — and these are rumors — of a Trump/Kasich ’16 alliance heading into Cleveland? Consider where the candidates overlap: high tariffs, protectionism, an expansion of Medicaid, single payer health care, etc. Immigration will be a sticking point, but there are perhaps no two better salesmen on immigration than Kasich and Christie.
If these alliances strike you as odd, Ross Douthat over at the New York Times has an observation worth considering:
Among many other things, this marks the weird, weird, WEIRD return of Rockefeller Republicanism.
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) February 26, 2016
…and it’s a fair point to raise.
Trump populism and Rockefeller moderatism aren’t perceptibly different from one another. Hostile to social conservatives and free markets, warm to protectionism and government-fed solutions, this branch of the Republican Party — once thought dead — is now back with a virulence. Big government wedded to Tea Party fanaticism.
The real question now? How many Vichy conservatives will flock to the Trump banners?
It would appear, ladies and gentlemen, that Rubio and Cruz now hold the ramparts for what remains of modern American conservatism.