Ever since Donald Trump jolted the Republican establishment by dominating the party's early competition for the 2016 presidential nomination, the wish and hope of the old guard has been that as the field of the contenders, originally 17 declared candidates, would be winnowed out, eventually enabling one of the survivors somehow to derail him.
As the pre-election year ends, however, only four of the longest shots have quit. The latest to drop out is Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the most outspoken advocate of a stronger military effort to defeat the Islamic State, and also the most pointed critic of Trump. The others were former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.
Of the list, Graham made the greatest contribution to the GOP campaign conversation. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he offered a knowledgeable case for beefing up the American armed forces, and then the most biting sarcasm and ridicule of Trump.