Trump Backs Down

Since he clinched the nomination, Donald Trump’s campaign has been a train wreck. His criticism of Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who presides over the Trump University case, has been a four-alarm disaster. After his initial comments provoked controversy, Trump returned to the subject several times and dug the hole deeper. Finally, earlier today, Trump tried to put the matter behind him with this statement.

Trump’s statement consists mostly of a defense of Trump University and whining about Judge Curiel’s treatment of him, but this part is salient:

It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage. I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent. The American justice system relies on fair and impartial judges. All judges should be held to that standard. I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial.

The statement concludes:

Normally, legal issues in a civil case would be heard in a neutral environment. However, given my unique circumstances as nominee of the Republican Party and the core issues of my campaign that focus on illegal immigration, jobs and unfair trade, I have concerns as to my ability to receive a fair trial.

I am fighting hard to bring jobs back to the United States. Many companies – like Ford, General Motors, Nabisco, Carrier – are moving production to Mexico. Drugs and illegal immigrants are also pouring across our border. This is bad for all Americans, regardless of their heritage.

Due to what I believe are unfair and mistaken rulings in this case and the Judge’s reported associations with certain professional organizations, questions were raised regarding the Obama appointed Judge’s impartiality.

By Trump! Although I am not aware that Trump had any knowledge of Curiel’s affiliation with the racist group La Raza when he launched his initial attack.

It is a fair question. I hope it is not the case.

While this lawsuit should have been dismissed, it is now scheduled for trial in November. I do not intend to comment on this matter any further.

Hallelujah. But the cows are pretty well out of the barn. Trump’s original comments were not racist, as Paul wrote a little while ago. But they were criminally stupid. No real politician would have committed such an unforced error. Perhaps Trump fans who thought it would be great to nominate a man who is not a politician are now seeing the downside of selecting an amateur.

I used to think highly of Paul Ryan. I was surprised to learn, some years ago, that my wife really, really didn’t like him. As is so often the case, her insight was sharper than mine. Ryan’s denunciation of Trump’s complaint about Judge Curiel as “the textbook definition of a racist comment” was, to put the most favorable construction on it, cowardly. As Paul wrote, it was flat-out wrong.

Then there is the ever-helpful Lindsey Graham. He recommended that Republicans un-endorse Trump, because Trump’s complaints about Curiel were “the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy.” This is a remarkably stupid assertion. I can think of at least ten or twenty things Barack Obama has done that were far more un-American than Trump’s rambling denunciations, beginning with ripping up the Constitution and perverting the Department of Justice. (I also don’t think Republican Senators should cite McCarthy as the gold standard of un-Americanism, but that is a topic for another day.)

But in the end, Trump has no one to blame but himself. As Byron York points out, there was no reason for Trump to go off on a ten-minute dissertation on the Trump University case. This is a completely self-inflicted wound, and it results from Trump’s lack of discipline and common sense. That some Republicans are willing to join the jackal pack when Trump slips up should come as no surprise to anyone, let alone Donald.

He had better step up his game if he doesn’t want to be embarrassed in November.