Why even this US conservative says it is imperative to stop Trump being elected
Donald Trump's speeches sound like a drunk on a bus explaining why his wife made a mistake when she left him.
Some highlights from his Arkansas speech on Saturday.
"Rubio has the biggest ears I've ever seen." "Lightweight Rubio. Little mouth on him. Bing, bing, bing." And "Rubio looks like he puts his make-up on with a trowel."
Then he spent a good 10 minutes explaining why Trump is not a crook. He just "got sued by a lawyer who sued because he sues". Donald Trump's State of the Union is going to be a long rant about the time McDonald's refused to serve him breakfast after 10.30am.
I've left it a little late to say, definitively, "please don't vote Trump" - but here goes.
Like many observers, I didn't take his campaign seriously. I was wrong. Mea culpa. But he stands a good chance of sweeping the board on Super Tuesday and turning an eccentric candidacy into an inevitable one.
He must be stopped and for good conservative reasons. By which I mean moral, all-American reasons.
I have friends who have voted for Trump. I understand why. I acknowledge the frustration with a stagnant economy and a cultural surrender to the Left, while Middle America is betrayed by a Republican Party that seems to exist merely to exist.
I get, too, the emotional appeal of having a street fighter on one's side - it's like hiring a tough kid to beat up the school bully.
I understand also that Trump isn't an apocalyptic choice. America has had presidents who have been rubes, slave-holders, grifters, adulterers and reckless populists. Donald Trump is not historically abnormal. He's just "below average". America would survive a Trump presidency.
But I doubt Trump will make it that far - because he polls the worst against Hillary Clinton. At a time when America is becoming less white, less male and less angry, he only promises to bring more of that particular demographic to the polls.
Moreover, it is well known that the Democrats intend to make his character an issue in the election - a huge issue. They are right to do this.
The US presidency is nothing if it is not supposed to be a moral office.
The Founding Fathers argued that the republic would rise or fall according to the virtue of its citizenry. The character of the occupant of the White House should reflect the nation's highest moral ambitions.
Donald Trump is an unethical person. He has used the powers of eminent domain to try to force a woman from her house in order to build a parking lot for limousines.
He boasts that he has used political donations in order to influence lawmakers to do his bidding. He has used illegal labour. He has used the laws of the land to avoid the full financial costs of businesses going bad.
Then there is Trump University, a higher education course that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman described as "a classic bait-and-switch scheme. It was a scam, starting with the fact that it was not a university."
At one seminar, attendees were promised that they'd get to have their photo taken with Trump. It turned out to be a cardboard cut-out. The university is estimated to have taken around $40m in total from students and Trump will soon have to take to the witness stand to answer questions about it.
Ring any bells? The similarities between Trump and Hillary Clinton - the person all conservatives claim they love to hate - are astonishing.
Both New York politicians. Both fans of the abortion-provider Planned Parenthood. Both in favour of big spending. Both critical of free trade.
Both accused of lying on an epic scale. They're so similar that Hillary even went to Trump's wedding. They are two trashy peas in a pod. With a couple of notable differences.
First, Hillary doesn't have Trump's genitalia. Second, she doesn't have his record of slandering foreign races. Indeed, the one thing that obviously distinguishes Donald from Hillary has been his willingness to toy with the politics of race and religion.
His claim that large numbers of illegal immigrants from Mexico are rapists, or his insistence that Muslims be barred from migrating to the United States "until we can figure out what's going on", jump straight from the Know Nothing, nativist tradition of American politics.
Judge him by his supporters. One of them is a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke.
Another is Jean-Marie Le Pen, a French fascist who has broken from his fascist daughter because he doesn't think she is fascist enough.
By the way: Trump is not an anti-Semite and most of his supporters are not anti-Semitic. But he is the only candidate whose critics are sent anti-Semitic abuse. One produced a cartoon of me in a Nazi gas chamber. The Donald's finger hovered over the execution button.
Here's the bottom line. Conservatism depends upon faith and reason. Without these two, it can descend into something terrible. Remove the faith and it becomes utilitarian and materialist, motivated by greed. Remove the reason and it is a vehicle for prejudice.
Trump is conservatism without any ethical foundation. He is pure id. Worse, he is a populist who doesn't respect the populace.
William Jennings Bryan, Ross Perot, even Pat Buchanan were all motivated by a love of the little guy. Trump is laughing at the very people who support him. "I love the poorly educated," he said.
Happily, there are alternatives. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz or John Kasich would each make a fine Republican nominee.
Personally, I am attracted to Ted Cruz's constitutionalism and his calm, lawyerly demeanour. Vote for him in Texas.
Elsewhere, the polls suggest Marco Rubio has the better shot of winning - and his reinvention as a witty slayer of the Trumpite ego is what has The Donald so rattled and might, eventually, bring him down. He must be stopped.
Or else the country will face a choice between Clinton and Trump - which is little choice at all.
Predicted GOP campaign song: "This land is my land… now get the hell off it." (© Daily Telegraph, London)