Procrastinating on February 22, 2016

Live from the Palmetto State: The sorcerers' apprentices in the Republican Establishment who misdrew their pentagram and so amplified the Curse of Goldwater now pin their hopes on Marco the Callow:

McKay Coppins: Republicans Rush to Crown Marco Rubio the Anti-Trump Standard Bearer: "Rubio’s path to the mantle of establishment savior is remarkable...

...for its lack of modern precedent. This is a candidate who placed third in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire; who lags a mile behind the leading candidate, and has yet to win a single primary. In fact, the closest Rubio has come so far to winning a contest was here in South Carolina, where he beat out Ted Cruz for second place by a microscopic margin--and proceed to celebrate this triumph with perhaps the loftiest victory speech ever given by a non-victor. ‘If it is God’s will that we should win this election, then history will say that on this night in South Carolina, we took the first step forwards in the beginning of a new American century,’ Rubio told supporters on Saturday night.

But while he has been mocked lately for his habit of unearned end-zone dancing, Rubio had a real accomplishment to celebrate Saturday night. In an historically crowded and competitive field of contenders, he has outlasted every other viable candidate deemed acceptable by the Republican establishment. He may have gotten this far by process of elimination--but when the process is as brutal as it’s been in this race, Rubio’s team counts survival as a win.

They also know, however, that Washington Republicans’ rush to crown an establishment champion now is a direct response to Donald Trump, whose double-digit domination of the primary field in South Carolina inflamed the growing sense of panic among party elders.... While welcoming the support, Rubio’s team is quick to reject the ‘establishment’ label.... But Rubio’s appeal to GOP elites has never been rooted in ideology; it’s about his talents as a communicator, and his compelling personal biography, and the aspirational nature of his message.... With the post-Jeb landscape still shifting, sources in Rubio’s camp said their immediate goal is to capitalize with a strong showing in Tuesday’s Nevada caucuses--if not topping Trump, then at least handily beating the rest of the field. Rubio’s campaign team in the state has meticulously built what they believe to be the best ground game in the party, and they’re hoping Jeb’s exit will give them an extra last-minute bump. According to one Rubio adviser, top Bush-backers in the state could begin endorsing Rubio as soon as his Sunday-evening rally in Las Vegas.... Beyond Nevada, Team Rubio hopes the coalescing of the establishment will help them rapidly replenish their war chest, especially as former Bush donors come on board....

Sources involved in the effort to elevate Rubio said their biggest hurdle at this point might be the calendar. With Super Tuesday fast approaching, there’s an exceedingly tight window to work out the mechanics of the establishment’s coalescence, and to transform the Rubio operation into the kind of Death Star Romney used in 2012. There’s little time to waste catering to the delusions of the long-shot rivals, or the wounded egos of the also-rans. ‘Marco is our last, best hope,’ said one pro-Rubio strategist, adding that the alternative is ‘nominating Donald Trump and letting him destroy the Republican Party forever.’"