And then of course there's always the GOP's favorite whipping boy, the media. The #NeverTrumpers have already begun to blame the media for creating Trump, turning him into such a ratings-driven phenomenon that the party could not properly defend itself against him. There's probably some truth to that, but as an excuse I don't think it gets you far. Again, Trump's essential nature has been clear from the beginning. From birtherism to "Mexicans as rapists" to "Ted Cruz's daddy helped kill JFK" to "bleeding from ... wherever," all of the essential Trump was already clear to see way back in the primaries. Everything that has happened since has been confirmation, not revelation.
Conversely, the Trump crowd blames the media for destroying his candidacy with coverage that is so unfair and biased that it basically amounts to rigging the campaign against him. I have no patience at all with that argument: If you knowingly choose to nominate an utterly amoral, intellectually lazy con man whose sole concern is his own ego and who plays to the worst instincts of his supporters, then it's not unfair for the media to depict him as an utterly amoral, intellectually lazy con man whose sole concern is his own ego and who plays to the worst instincts of his supporters.
That is accurate reporting.
The real question that both factions of the Republican Party have to address but want to avoid is why. Why Trump? Why was it so easy for such a charlatan to seize the entire party infrastructure? What made their base such fertile soil for such a noxious crop? What rendered party leadership so helpless against a disaster that many were smart enough to foresee? Those questions -- or rather their answers -- cut to the core identity of the party, so few are willing to confront it.
The avoidance instinct is so strong that #NeverTrumper Erick Erickson, writing at Resurgent.com, even resurrrects the claim that the Trump disaster is the result of a secret plot to destroy the GOP, hatched between Trump and those devious Clintons.
"Trump decided to get into the Republican race, build up an online army of trolls to make it look like he had massive support, then intentionally sabotage the race to hand it to his friend Hillary Clinton," Erickson theorizes, apparently sincerely. "... That also explains why Ivanka Trump and Chelsea Clinton remain very close friends. This was all part of the plan and Trump took advantage of angry voters looking for change."
In one sense, that's ludicrous. In another, it gets us closer to at least part of the answer. A party that turns so often and so readily to conspiracy theories to avoid hard truths simply had no natural defenses left when a charlatan like Trump came calling. And that's on the party as a whole, not on any one faction of it.