The big beast was no longer skinny and bag-kneed; its once limp and drooping trunk now swayed with menacing promise. But the G.O.P. elephant mostly drowsed or shifted from foot to foot. Every time the Party seemed about to wake up, a red-faced, elderly mahout named Harrison Spangler tiptoed up and made quiet, shushing nursery-noises until the pachyderm was soothed and drowsy again.

The G.O.P. was not only a pachyderm but a power. Everywhere west of Manhattan's PM and the New York Post, more & more of the U.S. was...

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