Some of Trump's critics say that even if he wins the requisite number of delegates, the GOP establishment should shut him out. Obviously, that's very dicey. If he wins fair-n-square, and he's denied the nomination, that seems to make a mockery of the whole process. However, I'd like to briefly explore some possible justifications for that maneuver.
1. Ironically, Trumpkins think that if the Donald fails to garner a majority of delegates, the RNC should rewrite the rules to award him the nomination anyway. That's like adding points to the scoreboard after the game is over. And that logic cuts both ways. If Trumpkins think the RNC has the right and duty to change the rules to Trump's advantage, then why doesn't the RNC have the right to change the rules to his disadvantage? If Trumpkins think the RNC should intervene to take the decision away from the delegates, then that principle is a two-way street.
Of course, I don't expect Trumpkins to be consistent in that regard. But if they complain, it's worth pointing out that they honestly can't have it both ways.
2. There's precedent for something analogous. When David Duke won the Republican gubernatorial primary back in 1991, he was repudiated by the GOP establishment. For instance:
Speaking at a news conference in Washington, President Bush said: "When someone asserts the Holocaust never took place, then I don't believe that person ever deserves one iota of public trust. When someone has so recently endorsed Nazism, it is inconceivable that someone can reasonably aspire to a leadership role in a free society."
The President said, "I have got to be careful, because I don't want to tell the voters of Louisiana how to cast their ballot."
Yet he said: "When someone has a long record, an ugly record of racism and of bigotry, that record simply cannot be erased by the glib rhetoric of a political campaign. So I believe David Duke is an insincere charlatan. I believe he's attempting to hoodwink the voters of Louisiana, I believe he should be rejected for what he is and what he stands for."
Bush has labeled Duke a ``charlatan,`` and a number of prominent Republicans in and outside Louisiana have urged GOP voters to support [Democrat] Edwin Edwards, a former governor.
South Carolina Gov. Carroll Campbell, who heads the [Republican Governors] Association, has refused to acknowledge Duke`s status as a Republican, or the possibility he might become eligible for membership in the national governors` group.
Former [Louisiana] Republican Gov. David Treen has helped organize a pair of anti-Duke groups, one aimed at stressing the dangers a Duke victory would pose for the state`s economic development, another called ``Louisiana For Truth,`` directed at exposing Duke`s personal history.
In that case, the GOP establishment did the right thing. It put principle above partisanship and red tape. The rules are not an end in themselves.
Finally, let's consider two scenarios that might warrant barring him from the nomination:
3. Suppose he pays off enough unbound delegates to meet the 1237 threshold. And this isn't purely hypothetic. There's evidence that he bribed the Florida Attorney General to refrain from investigating the Trump University scam:
Seems like a clear quid pro quo to me. If he's prepared to bribe a public official, which is a pretty brazen act, he might well pay off delegates. And if he did, surely that would disqualify him from the nomination. I'm not making a prediction. But it something to keep an eye out for.
4. On the stump, Trump has been fomenting a lynch mob mentality:
At his rally in Las Vegas [he said] “I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that . . . ? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”
He told another rally that if they see any protesters preparing to throw a tomato, to “knock the crap out of them. . . . I promise you I will pay for the legal fees.” Referring in an interview to yet another protester, Trump said “maybe he should have been roughed up.” At the Vegas event, Trump had said, “I’d like to punch him in the face.”
We will see if this pattern continues. But surely a lynch mob boss forfeits the right to the nomination.