The conservative magazine National Review made waves today when it published a special edition devoted to attacking Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
None of the more than 20 columns highlighted in the issue, however, took on one of the most pressing questions facing the Republican Party: If not Trump for the presidency, then who?
This point was made in a tweet today by Ross Douthat, a conservative columnist at the New York Times who is himself opposed to Trump's lasting dominance:
Against Trump, and for .... ?— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) January 22, 2016
As Douthat's tweet suggests, a more helpful choice than criticizing Trump might have been for National Review to find a specific candidate to support.
The publication has published scores of pieces attacking the real estate mogul over the past several months. Seeing National Review come out against Trump is not that much more surprising than watching Barbara Bush endorse her son in Jeb’s latest campaign video.
But the publication's silence on the right choice is also part of a bigger problem: the failure of any of the party's "establishment lane" candidates to consolidate support ahead of the rapidly approaching primaries.
Candidates considered most broadly acceptable in a general election have been spending more money on attacking each other than taking on Trump.
And with Iowa and New Hampshire just weeks away, time to figure out the candidate to beat Trump — rather than the publication to criticize him — is running out.