At the Washington Post, "Debate rips open GOP wounds, and party risks tearing itself apart":
GREENVILLE, S.C. — In an election that Republicans have long seen as a chance to put forward new stars with a fresh and broadly appealing conservative vision, the GOP is instead at risk of tearing itself apart over its past as it heads into the thick of the primary season."Existential" is a strong word. Call me skeptical. "Rejuvenating" is more appropriate, and not a moment too soon.
A day after a debate marked by a series of personal, petty exchanges — and a day before former president George W. Bush was set to make a high-profile return to the national scene — Republicans were grappling with their core beliefs on a host of issues, as well as the image they were broadcasting to the country.
The infighting was ignited at the debate Saturday night by front-runner Donald Trump, who was unrelenting in his criticism of both how well the 43rd president kept America safe before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and of the hawkish Republican worldview in general.
The foreign policy fracas is only the latest row among 2016 candidates over many of the basic tenets that have guided Republican and conservative thinking since the Reagan years, from free trade to the extent to which the federal government should be involved in providing health care for its poorest citizens.
Trump reiterated threats to use tariffs on imported goods to punish corporations that leave the United States, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich defended his decision to accept an expansion of Medicaid in his state as a humane step in line with conservative goals.
The increasingly harsh discussions of these and other issues amount to an existential crisis within the Republican Party and reflect the growing influence of non-ideological, populist voters who have flocked in particular to Trump’s nationalist “Make America Great Again” message...
Keep reading, in any case.