Mona Charen, Creators Syndicate

Does the Republican field have the sense to change tactics when the very nature of the party and country are at stake?

Ted Cruz, who bears some responsibility for the rise of Trump, keeps aiming his Jimmy Swaggart-style pitch to the choir, unctuously proclaiming his status as truest, bluest conservative in the race and thus the logical tribune of the grassroots. Cruz encouraged voters to destroy the “Washington cartel” and boy did they listen — except not to his benefit.

Irony: Trump, the greatest crony/corporate Democrat in America, is alive while Cruz’s campaign is nearly dead.

John Kasich and Ben Carson are deaf to everything except their own egotism.

Unlike Cruz, Marco Rubio didn’t spend months praising the joker in hopes that the “anti-establishment” vote would one day drop into his lap, but he didn’t attack him head-on either.

Kasich hopes that clearing the field of competitors will permit him to defeat Trump one-on-one because a majority of Republicans have voted “not-Trump.”

But campaigns are dynamic. A winner attracts many opportunists, and Trump is on the verge of seeming unstoppable.

Those hoping that Trump will say or do something to disqualify himself have surely seen by now that we are in a new world. His gaffes (I don’t need to list them, do I?) have not hurt him. The more he spouts venom, the more free press he gets. While Cruz keeps impotently pounding Rubio as insufficiently harsh on immigration, Trump — a corrupt Democrat promising trade wars, universal health care and war crimes — is winning.

If ever there were a moment for a Republican establishment — a powerful cabal of donors, officeholders and power brokers — to intervene, this would be it.

Because if Trump is the nominee, it spells the end of the party as a conservative vehicle. It will be transformed into a contemptible platform for the worst excesses of American life: using government for personal gain, bullying minority groups, undermining civil liberties and enhancing centralized power even more than has been accomplished under Barack Obama.

Deluded voters who imagine Trump is the anti-Obama are in for the biggest disillusionment yet.

But of course the “Republican establishment” is not going to ride to the rescue, because it is itself mostly a shell. Money doesn’t buy elections (see “Bush, Jeb”), and there is no one behind the curtain.

I believe Rubio to be the most viable non-Trump candidate left. But above all, he and the others (who have plenty of money) must abandon the strategy of fratricide. The winner cannot rely on anti-Trump votes alone. He must undermine support for Trump.

“Can’t be done”?

How about “hasn’t been tried”?

Of the $215 million spent by super PACs this year, only 4 percent has been spent against Trump. It’s been the longest free ride in recent political history.

Trump is not strong; he’s frighteningly weak. He arguably suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, meaning his wobbly self-esteem needs constant invocations of his own fabulousness and endless affirmation from others.

He goes ballistic at suffering the smallest slight. He’s an ignoramus. Ads should remind voters, for example, that he doesn’t know what the nuclear triad is. His whole foreign policy experience is being on a TV show with Vladimir Putin, whom he praises because his pathetic need for approval utterly distorts his judgment. He is completely immoral, recommending torture and the killing of the wives and children of suspected terrorists.

Trump is a Clinton-class liar. Split screens ought to clarify that: He didn’t oppose the Iraq War; he was for it. He’s not self-funding his campaign; he’s collected millions in contributions. He evaded the draft and then offered that sleeping around and risking STDs was his “personal Vietnam.”

He’s beyond vulgar. He complained publicly about his first wife’s breast implants. Nearly nude pictures of wife No. 3 are everywhere.

Unlike, say, Mitt Romney, whom Democrats caricatured as a cruel business tycoon, Trump really is one. He has a history of paying off elected officials to get special treatment, stiffing business associates and abusing those who work for him (such as the “Polish brigade” of illegal immigrants who helped build Trump tower). He ran four businesses into bankruptcy and profited from a scam called Trump University.

He’s not a self-made man who “built a great company.” He inherited millions from his dad. That said, he’s almost certainly exaggerating his net worth. Where are those tax returns? He donated more to the Clinton Foundation than to veterans charities.

That’s a start. There’s plenty more. The con man must be unmasked.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.