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Commentary: Will Trump Bring Down The GOP?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump applauds during a rally, on Thursday, June 2, 2016, in San Jose, California. (Jae C. Hong/AP)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump applauds during a rally, on Thursday, June 2, 2016, in San Jose, California. (Jae C. Hong/AP)
This article is more than 3 years old.

Donald J. Trump has been compared to George Wallace, Benito Mussolini, P.T. Barnum and many others. His fans admire him as the “strongman” type of leader who exerts control by force of personality.

Even though Trump doesn’t seem very familiar with the Bible, perhaps he’d identify with the Old Testament strongman, Samson.

Samson wowed the Israelites with many feats of strength, like killing a lion -- which is similar to Trump conquering Fox News. Samson slayed 1,000 Philistines, using the jawbone of an ass, which is like Trump insulting and beating 16 Republican rivals.

But Samson was vulnerable in two ways. He couldn’t resist the alluring Delilah, just as Trump can’t resist being on television and hearing himself speak at rallies. And both Samson and Trump drew great strength from their longish hair.

Samson was betrayed by Delilah, who cut his hair in his sleep, and he was taken captive by the Philistines, who gouged out his eyes and imprisoned him. After Trump secured the required number of delegates for the Republican nomination, he felt betrayed by the media -- for example, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” panel, which had seduced him with praise before, suddenly mocked him and denigrated GOP officials for endorsing him. And Trump felt blindsided with criticism from GOP officials for his racist comments about a “Mexican” federal judge who was actually an American born in Indiana.

As a primary candidate, Trump loved his campaign strategy, “Let Trump Be Trump,” but now felt that the GOP establishment was trying to imprison him in a cage of political correctness.

We know how the Samson story ended. He was brought to the Philistine temple to entertain them -- as Trump will go to the GOP national convention. But at the temple, Samson asked to lean against two pillars.

"Samson called to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.’ Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. And Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.” — Judges 16:28-30

The GOP establishment wants Trump to stay between two pillars: “presidential” (toning down his demagogic style) and “principled” (renouncing extreme positions, like mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and banning Muslims from the U.S.).

Trump has made those who thought they’d taken him captive look foolish. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich thought he was guiding Trump and might become his running mate, but after Gingrich criticized him for attacking the federal judge, Trump scolded him for being “inappropriate.” House speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suffered the same fate — after thinking they could co-opt Trump, they found out he would not change. They are suffering humiliation as Chris Christie and Ben Carson did before them — a loss of credibility and dignity. They realize too late that the GOP majorities in the Senate and House are in serious jeopardy because they presumed the presumptive nominee could be controlled.

RNC chair Reince Priebus hoped Trump would just stand between the two pillars of “presidential” and “principled," but the strong man has other plans. The GOP convention will be his reality TV show.

Trump is bringing down the Republican Party, and the GOP establishment seems powerless to stop him … all because of the jawbone of an ass.

Todd Domke is a Republican political analyst and a regular contributor to WBUR Politicker.

Todd Domke Twitter Republican Political Analyst
Todd Domke is a Republican political analyst for WBUR.

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