The smart money said it couldn’t be done. In fact, only months ago, many on the left — and on the right — said that what just happened would be “impossible.”
When the primary season started, a crowded field of 17 Republican candidates looked primed to maul each other in the GOP race, while HIllary Clinton coasted to a coronation at her party’s convention in Philadelphia.
But the picture looked considerably different Thursday. The Associated Press officially called the Republican race in Trump’s favor, while Hillary is as embattled with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as she was when she won the Iowa caucuses by some suspicious flips of the coin.
Trump, of course, effectively won the nomination with a crushing victory in the May 3 Indiana primary, when his remaining rivals Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich finally bowed out of the race. But it wasn’t until Thursday, when enough unbound delegates confirmed to The AP that they are backing the billionaire businessman that he reached the magic number of 1,237 votes need to receive the Republican nod.
The AP story shattered the crystal balls of those who’ve predicted since June that a Trump nomination would never happen. It was an equal opportunity disaster for political pundits and campaign professionals, as liberals and conservatives alike had predicted failure for a celebrity better known for reality-show antics than realpolitik.
They ranged from Washington Post uber-liberal Dana Milbank, who wrote in October …
The day Trump clinches the nomination I will eat the page on which this column is printed in Sunday’s Post.
to conservatives like the Weekly Standard’s William Kristol, who insisted as late as February ….
“If I had to bet, I’d still bet against him getting the nomination.”
But to be fair, Millbank and Kristol are just two of the more prominent skeptics who thought a Trump victory over his Republican rivals was impossible.
For instance, Jeb Bush and his deep-pocketed donors greeted Trump’s surge last summer with “barely concealed delight” The New York Times reported in August.
John Feehery, a Republican operative, and one-time spokesman for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal in September headlined “5 Reasons GOP Rivals Should Not Attack Donald Trump in CNN’s Debate” that called any slams on the bombastic New Yorker a “waste of time”:
“Wasting time attacking somebody who won’t get the nomination is just that: a waste of time,” Feehery wrote. (Other than that, the column was dead-on, by the way. If he’d written “4 Reasons ….” he’d look like a prophet today.)
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, the purported personification of the Clinton restoration, was settled as the heir apparent, the woman who would bring Bill back into the White House from which his extramarital romps nearly got him tossed. (George W. Bush was just willing to settle for “honor and dignity.”)
Few pundits expected the former secretary of state to still be battling the Sanders insurgency at this point in the race, much less the prospect (however unlikely) of a contested convention on the Democrat side in July.
She who would be president is still the overwhelming favorite, thanks to the Democrat Party’s decidedly undemocratic “superdelegate” system, but the reality is that the millions of Sanders voters out there who aren’t supporting Hillary have exposed the coronation myth for what it is.
Donald Trump has officially clinched, and Hillary Clinton is looking at the humiliation of an effective tie for the Democrat primary in California, the biggest liberal prize in the land.
The smart money was all wrong on this one. All the way along. Now, for those prognosticators willing to forecast what will happen in November….