In a painful irony, Trump's enablers included a gallery of erstwhile rightwing pundits–who portray themselves as the standard bearers of conservative ideological purity, viz. Bill Bennett, Pat Buchanan, Keith Burgess-Jackson, Ann Coulter, Monica Crowley, Jerry Fallwell, Jr., Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, Mike Huckabee, Laura Ingraham, Robert Jeffress, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Peggy Noonan, Sarah Palin, Ben Shapiro. They were men and women of stalwart principle–unlike those soulless RINOs in the Republican establishment.
Some of them continue to support him. Others panicked and began to attack him, but by then it was too little too late. It's very revealing to see the amount of dry rot in conservative punditry which Trump unwittingly exposed. Most of them proved to be just as compromising as rudderless Republicans in the GOP "establishment". The Trump phenomenon has been a clarifying moment for the conservative commentariat. Let's run through a few of these:
i) Bennett is one of the more literate conservatives. He's a moralist. Writes lots of hortatory books. Yet he lacks the moral discernment to see Trump for what he is.
ii) I have to assume Gingrich is backing Trump because Gingrich wants to be back in the loop. A presidential advisor. A powerbroker.
iii) I suspect pundits like Hannity and Limbaugh were corrupted by their own success. They now move in the same socially elite circles that Trump was born into.
iv) Coulter has made a career of moral posturing. The question was how much was moral and how much was posturing. Well, we now see it was posturing all the way through. A social butterfly in a socially conservative cocoon.
v) Ingraham has a homosexual brother. That probably dilutes her commitment to social conservatism.
vi) We see a number of erstwhile conservative women supporting Trump. It's no secret that there's a type of woman who's drawn to men who project wealthy, status, and power. Both Coulter and Ingraham have really bad taste in boyfriends–so it's not surprising that they fell for Trump.
vii) With Huckabee, there's always been a tug of war between Huckabee the social conservative and Huckabee the social climber. He used to be an eloquent spokesman for social conservativism, but that had to compete with his worldly ambitions. Like a man with multiple-personality disorder, the two Huckabees would surface at different times. It wasn't clear which one was dominant, but the social climber finally strangled the social conservative.
viii) With Ben Shapiro, I think he prides himself as the disinterested referee who calls 'em as he sees 'em. He won't allow pragmatic considerations to blur his ideological acuity.
But that was in tension with the fact that Shapiro has a profound personal investment in who wins the culture wars. Who wins the nomination. Who wins in November. Who sits on the high court. Those two sides of Shapiro weren't properly integrated, which accounts for his shortsightedness.
In addition, both he and Levin like Trump's pugnaciousness. But that betrayed them into giving him the soft-glove treatment early on.
ix) Pat Buchanan went off the deep end years ago. Indeed, he was always unstable.