I have mad respect for Jonah Goldberg, I've read his books, but I somewhat respectuflly disagree with his latest piece. Really this:
Meanwhile, too many of Trump’s GOP primary competitors, afraid of angering his fans, stand mute or mumbling. Republicans are fielding the best candidates in a generation, but Trump is poised to make them chumps by association. He has no chance of becoming president, but he has the huge potential to deny his alleged party a White House victory in 2016.
This better explains to me why some are in knots over Trump's candidacy. I understand their concerns. However, if we really, truly are “fielding the best candidates in a generation,” wouldn't all of them, or at least some of them have the smarts to strategize around this? Use it as a springboard? That has always been the GOP's biggest failure: When it comes down to it, they can't fight their way out of a paper bag. They get stage fright and freeze. It prevents them from emotionally connecting to voters. I've only seen two candidates handle the Trump Variable deftly: Ted Cruz and Ben Carson (the latter of whom I'm not even a 2016 fan). Instead of wringing their hands trying to be something to everyone, can't candidates say “You know, Trump is hitting on an issue that we've been talking about for years, perhaps not in those same terms … ” and steal his thunder? Build off it? Or are they afraid that by acknowledging him in such a way it will lend his campaign the legitimacy they say it lacks (although Perry doesn't seem to have this concern)? Instead of focusing on the hows of what he said (he was talking about illegal entry into the United States, should we cheer amnesty?) we should focus on the why of its resonance with voters. Clearly he's doing something that's capturing people's attention. Voters are angry. They're out for political blood this election cycle. They don't want a peacemaker, they want a firebrand, someone who brings a verbal sword. They want someone who will say everything they've been feeling with the same level of emotion they've felt these past eight years. That's what I feel the party is overlooking. It just happens to be Trump, instead of another candidate, filling that role at the moment.
*Edited to add from Allahpundit:
The CW is that Republican candidates should ignore Trump so as not to “elevate” him as a serious candidate but he, more than anyone else, may hold the power right now to elevate them in the polls.
(Also, because I've interviewed all but a couple of the presidential candidates and written about them, I've been accused at one time or another of endorsing each of them. While I have some I lean towards favoring, I'm saving my lot to cast for the most conservative candidate who can win who has disappointed me the least. It's still early.)