Back when William Kristol worked for a former Republican vice-president, they called him “Dan Quayle’s Brain.”
Later, Mr. Kristol enhanced his stature as right-wing wise man by arguing fiercely in favor of President Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.
After that, Mr. Kristol fervently pushed for Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, to be the vice-presidential candidate on John McCain’s Republican ticket in 2008. But Mr. Kristol is not always wrong about everything, as he showed over the weekend.
First on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday night on HBO, then on Sunday on ABC’s This Week, Mr. Kristol addressed the possibility that Donald Trump—a New York real estate tycoon—could become the Republican nominee and, perhaps, the next President of the United States.
“He is a very skillful demagogue, and he is dangerous for that reason,” Mr. Kristol said of Mr. Trump on HBO. “We all make fun of him and I, myself, thought ‘Oh, he can’t sustain this. It’ll fade. It can’t possibly work.’ But it has worked.”
Mr. Kristol cited “Trump University,” a real estate school that, Mr. Kristol said, “is particularly despicable” because Mr. Trump took money from average citizens, some of whom are suing him.
Referring to Tuesday’s primaries, Mr. Kristol said: “If any Republicans are watching this, vote for John Kasich in Ohio and Marco Rubio in Florida.”
On Sunday, Mr. Kristol found fault with Mr. Rubio for not saying in the last debate that he cannot support Mr. Trump for President should he get the nomination. Mr. Kristol urged others in the Republican establishment to speak up against what some call Mr. Trump’s fascistic tendencies.
“Where is Paul Ryan?” Mr. Kristol said of the Speaker of the House, a Republican from Wisconsin. “It’s a matter of the honor of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”
‘Oh, shut up, silly woman,’ said the reptile with a grin. ‘You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.’
In the last few days, Mr. Trump has left a trail of violent incidents at rallies in North Carolina, Chicago, Ohio and Kansas City. A young man tried to charge the stage Saturday in Dayton, Ohio, and was tackled by the Secret Service.
Sunday night, in what CNN called an exclusive interview, the stage-charger spoke out.
“Donald Trump is a bully, and he is nothing more than that,” said Tommy DiMassimo, who wore a tee shirt showing a picture of Muhammad Ali celebrating over the vanquished Sonny Liston in a 1965 heavyweight title fight. “He is somebody who is just saying a lot of bold things. He’s making bold claims. But I can see right though that. He’s just a coward and an opportunist.”
Mr. DiMassimo said Mr. Trump promotes “truly violent white supremacist ideas” and “says scary things” to his excited supporters.
“I’ve watched Donald Trump rallies and I’m terrified,” Mr. DiMassimo said. “He has them legitimately believing that their entire way of life—their bank accounts, their homes, their country—are all under attack.”
Mr. DiMassimo has been charged with disorderly conduct and inducing panic.
Saturday night, MSNBC showed live a nasty Trump rally in Kansas City, frequently interrupted by protestors and demonstrators who were insulted by Mr. Trump, who uses them as foils.
“Go home to mommy,” he said as one was pulled out.
Later, he called the news media “the most dishonest people in the world” and “Those lyin’, thievin’ reporters. They’re the worst.”
He called Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont “our Communist friend.” (Mr. Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic nomination, calls himself a “Democratic Socialist.”)
Much of his rhetoric was reminiscent of George Wallace and Spiro Agnew, politicians who peaked around 1970 amid political turmoil.
Mr. Trump told his mob that water-boarding is a mild form of torture and said he would tell interrogators of possible terrorists: “You can go a lot stronger than water-boarding, if you like.” Mr. Trump vowed “I’m a good Christian. I’m not going to allow people to chip away at Christianity.”
But one of the strangest moments in the speech came when Mr. Trump read the lyrics to an old song called “The Snake” by Al Wilson about a tender woman who takes pity on a sickly snake who is cold and near death.
When she takes the snake home and nurses him back to health, the snake responds by biting the woman, who says “Your know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die.”
Mr. Trump’s voice grew louder and more forceful as he came to the enthusiastic conclusion.
“‘Oh, shut up, silly woman,’ said the reptile with a grin. ‘You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.'”
Mr. Trump said the lyrics should be thought of in terms of terror, terrorism and terrorists.
Other listeners might hear an unconscious allusion to someone else.
The Sunday Shows:
STATE OF THE UNION Mr. Trump appeared on all the shows but seemed particularly peeved when talking to Jake Tapper of CNN. He complained about an earlier CNN show hosted by John King.
“It was a total kill job,” Mr. Trump said. “I should get credit, not be scorned on your program by John King all morning long.”
Mr. Tapper asked Mr. Trump about a tweet in which he seemed to threaten to send his supporters to disturb a Bernie Sanders rally in retaliation for supporters of Mr. Sanders protesting at Mr. Trump’s rallies.
“It’s not a threat at all,” Mr. Trump said.
When Mr. Tapper asked Mr. Trump about encouraging violence, and said “You’re a leader, sir,” Mr. Trump interrupted with “Excuse me! Excuse me!” which is a Sean Hannity way of saying “Shut up! Shut up!”
“Give me a break,” Mr. Trump said. “CNN reports very, very unfairly about me.”
Later in the show, Mr. Tapper showed a discouraged Mr. Rubio saying the campaign has become “a circus, a complete fiasco.”
“At some point, people have to wake up here,” the senator from Florida said. “This is really doing damage to America… It’s reckless and it’s dangerous… All the gates of civility have been blown apart. We’re heading in a dangerous direction.”
When asked whether he could keep his pledge to support any Republican nominee, even if it is Mr. Trump, Mr. Rubio responded: “I’ll be frank. It’s getting harder and harder to justify that.”
FACE THE NATION Host John Dickerson on CBS asked Mr. Trump if he would follow through on a promise to pay the legal fees of a white man who sucker-punched a black man at a Trump rally last week in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
“I’m going to review it,” Mr. Trump said. “I’ll let you know.”
Mr. Dickerson also showed an interview with Sopan Deb, a CBS reporter arrested Friday night in Chicago after Mr. Trump canceled a rally there. He was outside the hall, photographing a man who bled from the head, a pool of red on cement.
“They pulled me down and bashed my face,” Mr. Deb said. “Put a boot to my neck and cuffed me.”
He was charged by Chicago cops with “resisting arrest.”
When Mr. Dickerson turned to his pundit panel, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic said “Somebody’s going to get seriously hurt” if Trump rallies continue to be violent. Michael Duffy of Time called Mr. Trump’s recent declaration that “Islam hates us” was “an astonishing, incendiary, reckless thing to say.”
Peggy Noonan asked him “Does he know what he is saying?”
Mr. Goldberg, referring to Mr. Rubio, said “that was a real moment” when Mr. Rubio wavered on supporting Mr. Trump if he wins the nomination.
“He’s ashen,” Mr. Goldberg said of Mr. Rubio. Ms. Noonan added: “Marco Rubio looked shocked by history. Sort of ashen, indeed, and just surprised”
‘Where were the political parties? Where was the government? Where was the government of Mexico? So, who is surprised now? I am not.’
THIS WEEK The ABC show, hosted by George Stephanopoulos opened with a Jonathan Karl report quoting Mr. Trump calling protestors “organized, professionally staged wise guys… We’ve got to fight back.”
In a remote interview, John Kasich was asked to respond to Mr. Trump calling Mr. Kasich a baby.
“You think I’m going to wallow in the mud with Donald Trump?” the Ohio governor said. “Are you kidding me?”
When Mr. Rubio was interviewed by remote camera, Mr. Stephanopoulos said “You seemed honestly shaken by what you’ve seen this week,” Mr. Rubio said “We’ve become numb to this outrage. There are people out there who are unbalanced. We’re going to have an ugly scene here… we’re going to lose our republic.”
Late in the show, there appeared a tape of President Obama saying the Republican establishment was worried by Mr. Trump.
“How can you be shocked?” Mr. Obama said. “This was the guy who was sure I was born in Kenya.”
Guest panelist Jorge Ramos of Univision told his host that it may be too late to stop Mr. Trump.
“Where were the candidates nine months ago?” Mr. Ramos said. “Where was the press asking tough questions? He was hateful and divisive when he said Mexican immigrants were rapists and criminals and drug traffickers. And where was the press? And where were the other candidates? Where were the political parties? Where was the government? Where was the government of Mexico? So, who is surprised now? I am not.”
Donna Brazile, a Democrat, said of Mr. Trump: “He’s soaking up this hate and spilling it back out. Donald Trump is amplifying everything we’ve heard on talk radio for the last eight years.”
FOX NEWS SUNDAY They opened with a highlight of the protester charging the stage in Dayton and, soon, a question by host Chris Wallace to Mr. Trump.
WALLACE: “Do you take any responsibility for the violence at your rallies?”
TRUMP: “First of all, I disagree totally, Chris, with what you said.”
Mr. Wallace played Mr. Trump’s “I think Islam hates us” recording from CNN and said “Why draw a battle line against an entire religion, major countries that are helping us in the fight against ISIS?”
Mr. Trump replied that 27 percent or 35 percent of the world’s Muslims would go to war.
“We can be very nice and we can be very naive, and say everything is wonderful,” Mr. Trump said.
He also complained that Fox moderators at the recent debate would not read a note Mr. Trump handed to Megyn Kelly during a commercial break. It contained a Better Business Bureau rating that contested the assertion that Trump University bilked students and intimidated them into giving instructors good grades.
During panel time, Karl Rove said the violence at Mr. Trump’s rallies “will tend to help him.” He said it was “worthy of a country run by colonels with mirrored sun glasses.”
In a Fox-perfect example of biased wording, Mr. Wallace said: “President Obama was asked this week whether or not he bears any responsibility for the political polarization surrounding Donald Trump’s campaign. Not surprisingly, he said ‘No.'”
Mr. Wallace kept talking about Hillary Clinton’s “email scandal.” Fox showed a clip of Ms. Clinton discussing Mr. Trump’s bombastic way with mobs.
“If you play with matches, you can start a fire you can’t control,” she said. “That is not leadership. That is political arson.” (Perhaps some hapless segment producer at Fox will be scolded by his boss Monday for failing to show the Bengazi fire while she spoke. Roger Ailes would’ve loved it).
MEET THE PRESS On NBC, host Chuck Todd asked Mr. Trump: “Do you accept any responsibility whatsoever for the escalated tension that takes place at your rallies?” Mr. Trump replied that people “praised me” for canceling the Chicago event that ended with fights between fans of Mr. Trump and protesters against him.
When the discussion turned to the Dayton stage-charger, Mr. Todd said his alleged ties to ISIS “turned out to be a hoax.” Mr. Trump wasn’t so sure and cited something he heard about or saw on the internet.
“He was playing Arabic music,” Mr. Trump said. “He was dragging the flag along the ground and he had internet chatter with ISIS and about ISIS. He’s dragging the flag, the American flag, which I respect obviously more than you. You have to check it before you ask the question”.
Replied Mr. Todd: “We have. This video appears to be a hoax.”
On the pundit panel, Alex Castellanos—a Republican who is anti-Trump—said: “It’s all fun and games until one day there is blood on the floor. Mr. Trump is reacting exactly the wrong way.”
On tape, Texas Senator Ted Cruz—second place most places to Mr. Trump—said he was “troubled by the rallies,” especially by the raised-hand salute Mr. Trump asks from his audiences. Critics see it as a replica of the Nazi salute to Hitler.
“Responsibility starts at the top,” Mr. Cruz said.
Then came a tape of the President talking in Dallas Saturday night about the overall Republican race. Without his getting specific, he seemed as if Mr. Obama was speaking about right-wing hate radio and Fox News Channel.
“It’s not an accident,” the President said. “For years, we’ve been told we should be angry about America and that the economy’s a disaster and that we’re weak and that compromise is weakness and that you can ignore science and you can ignore facts and you can say whatever you want about the President and feed suspicion about immigrants and Muslims and poor people and people who aren’t like us.”
RELIABLE SOURCES Host Brian Stelter welcomed heavy hitters like Steve Brill, Carl Bernstein and Douglas Brinkley to his CNN show. Mr. Bernstein called Mr. Trump “A new kind of fascist in our culture dealing with an authoritarian, demagogic point of view. Nativist. Anti-immigrant. Racism. Bigotry that he appeals to.”
Mr. Bernstein faulted the three cable news outlets for not vetting Trump more thoroughly and professionally.
“No interviewer, as far as I know,, has asked Donald Trump, ‘What is Fascism, Mr. Trump?'” Bernstein said. “I think he is neo-Fascist, a new American kind of Fascism.”
Mr. Brill said Mr. Trump “is making stuff up” and that “the way to deal with a demagogue is to cut through and do real reporting, relentlessly, about how he is deceiving the very people who are showing up at these rallies.”
For historical perspective, Mr. Brinkley recalled nativist American rallies in Madison Square Garden before World War II and mentioned Father Charles Coughlin, the “radio priest” who preached anti-Semitism, among other things, in the 1930s from suburban Detroit.
Mr. Brill said lawyers all over the nation would chuckle at Mr. Trump’s offer to pay the legal bills of the old white cheap-shot artist who sucker-punched a young black protestor in North Carolina.
“Trump is notorious for not paying his own legal bills all across the country,” said Mr. Brill, founder of American Lawyer magazine.
MEDIA BUZZ Host Howard Kurtz on Fox News Channel went on about Michelle Fields, the reporter for Breitbart, a right-wing web site. She said she was roughed up by one of Mr. Trump’s top aides and is taking it to court.
“This has to be, outside of my father’s death, the worst thing I have ever gone through,” she said.
Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast said the editors at Breitbart are not backing her. They are a pro-Trump site.
“In the 25 years I’ve been doing this, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a news organization not stand by its reporter in a situation like this,” he said. “It’s an unbelievable thing to me. It makes them not a news organization. It makes them a Trump organization. It’s unbelievable.”
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.