REPUBLICANS now want to "Dump the Trump"? Come on.

Too late, dudes. Shoulda listened when you had a chance.

Last August, I wrote that if party leaders didn't want Trump, they needed to act, put together a deal to winnow the field with promises of future rewards and settle on a pair that could win in November.

I even noted that a GOP ticket able to take Florida and (especially) Ohio can snag enough Electoral College votes to win the general election.

Know the last Republican elected president without winning Ohio?

There isn't one. Never has been.

Yet, faced with the chance of dealing a duo of, say, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, with either at the top, Republican leadership opted instead to see no Trump, hear no Trump, and sit on its hands.

It gaped as Trump gathered strength to grab the prize.

Even after months of indisputable evidence that Trump can say anything and not lose support, nobody in the "Party of Lincoln" could find a way to banish The Donald.

Now as Trump climbs higher in national polls (CNN polling this week puts him at 49 percent; nobody else is out of the teens), everybody wants to pull him down.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, the GOP 2012 veep candidate, calls out Trump for appearing not to denounce the KKK:

"If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party there can be no evasion and no games."

This is laughable on its face. The nominee of either party gets to be the nominee through evasion and games.

Ryan, by the way, presides at the GOP convention in July; any last-ditch, stop-Trump effort unfolds under his gavel, if not his name.

Mitt Romney, the party's 2012 presidential candidate, suggests there's a "bombshell" in Trump's tax returns.

This is the guy who, to be kind, didn't run the best presidential campaign, and set off his own bombshell: "47 percent" of Americans will vote for Obama "no matter what" to protect their government entitlements.

(Ironically, Romney got 47 percent. Obama got 51 percent.)

Trump's closest GOP rival, Rubio, evidently now believes that to beat Trump, you must act like Trump. So Rubio calls Trump a small-handed "con man" sporting a spray tan.

Ah, the rarely used triple-insult, referring to penis size, cheating, and vanity.

Yes. Such is the tone and civility of today's national politics.

Oh, and if Trump survives put-downs and the convention and is the nominee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans will drop him "like a hot rock" and run ads against him to get or keep their Senate seats.

The parade of newly awakened social-justice advocates, political pragmatists, and copycat Trump attackers is impressive only in a better-late-than-never sense.

The exception, of course, is Gov. Christie, who, after calling Trump a "carnival barker" during his run for the nomination, now endorses him for president.

This brave, selfless act (and chance to be VP or attorney general) is a guaranteed gold-medal winner in the 2016 Opportunists Olympics.

Trump has survived calling Mexicans rapists, banning Muslims, his wall, drive-by misogyny, a New York Times "secret tape," various 9/11 theories, fraud allegations at Trump University, cozying up to David Duke, and calling Pope Francis "a pawn."

All while GOP turnout, because of him, sets records as Democratic turnout lags.

Super Tuesday was no different. Nobody did as well as Donald.

The Trump phenomenon is born of bad wars and worse economies, D.C. waste, tea party elements, and a political system that isolates itself from average folks in every way.

After creating an environment in which people without power feel lied to, betrayed, and ignored by their leaders, creators of that environment shouldn't complain about its product.

GOP efforts to stop Trump in his tracks or at the convention amount to a national party invalidating its own voters.

The Trump thing is years in the making - and "IT'S ALIVE!"