Conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh spent a chunk of his show on Wednesday talking about — and defending — Donald Trump's decision to skip Thursday night's Fox News debate because of a dispute with the network over moderator Megyn Kelly.
Here's a snippet of what Limbaugh said of Trump:
Everything he's doing goes against the book. Everything that any analyst or consultant or professional would tell you not to do, Donald Trump is doing it, and he's leading the pack. This creates its own set of emotions and feelings and thoughts that run from person to person. Now, the political business, if you want to look at it that way, is like any other business. It has its people who are considered the elites in it — and like any business, they hate outsiders. They don't want outsiders just storming in trying to take over, and much less succeeding at it.
Like any group of elites, they're exclusionary.
They want to keep people out.
They want to be in charge of who gets in the club. They want to be in charge of who's allowed to rise or climb the ladder in the club. Politics is no different, and all of those determinations are made by who gets money and who doesn't. But Trump is functioning totally outside this structure that has existed for decades. As such, the people who are only familiar with the structure and believe in it and cherish it and want to protect it, feel threatened in ways that you can't even comprehend.
That's a very astute analysis of not only Trump but the broader Republican establishment and its reaction to Trump. What Limbaugh grasps is that there is simply no blueprint for what Trump has done and is doing. No one has ever — or at least in modern presidential politics — said the sorts of things that Trump has said and succeeded. (On the other hand, there are plenty of examples of politicians who said what were deemed to be impolitic things and were, in turn, destroyed by them.)
Trump is sui generis. He is rewriting how you run for president with each day he stays in this race (and leads it). And, someone who is not only committed to breaking every rule of how politics works but is also succeeding with the electorate while doing so, is a very dangerous thing indeed to entrenched interests.
Power protects power, as Limbaugh notes. The realization that Trump (or Ted Cruz) could be the Republican nominee has sent the GOP establishment into a tizzy over the last few days — a panic made worse by the creeping realization that the powers-that-be have very little control over Trump or his voters.
That Trump chose this moment to walk away from a debate (on Fox News no less!) is telling. The debates are one of the last pieces of the puzzle that the establishment controls. They set the dates. They decide on the media sponsors. They make the rules.
Except that Trump is now flouting the rules because he doesn't think they are fair — or, more accurately, advantageous — to him. The establishment can't do anything about it. And Trump — and his supporters — love that. Giving the middle finger to the establishment is what energizes them.
Limbaugh gets that. Maybe because he has been flipping the bird to many of the Republican party's poobahs for decades now.