Trump Unhinged: Senseless Attacks on Sitting Judges Do Not a President Make

 

Trump-CurielIt seems in some sense pointless to say anything more against Donald Trump’s venomous personal attack on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who has the unenviable task of presiding over a law suit that calls into question the moral probity, intellectual rigor, and economic soundness of Trump University. Ironically, for all his talk about Curiel as “hater,” he has yet to ask Curiel to recuse himself from the case, knowing full well that a vicious personal assault is better than a groundless legal motion.

Before Trump began his ugly tirade against Judge Curiel, I was prepared to have an open mind about the merits of a law suit about which I knew, and continue to know, absolutely nothing. But now that Trump has decided to double-down on these scurrilous attacks, the easiest thing to do is to presume that a man who can so badly misbehave in public matters is likely to engage in the same dubious practices in his private business dealings. If Trump thinks that he has found a new way to run a presidential campaign, it speaks poorly to his own personal integrity and political judgment. His behavior against Curiel is the kind of onslaught that makes him unfit to govern. The entire episode is a nonstop travesty and should be condemned as such.

The situation is only worse because Trump, it appears, has decided to double-down on his offensive strategy in the face of huge amounts of criticism from all sides of the political spectrum, including key leaders in the Republican Party who have had to eat more than a modest amount of humble pie in order to remain loyal to the party. But his coarse speech that treats the merits of this case as self-evident shows that he has become a caricature of himself, willing to engage in the worst form of pyrotechnics in support of a vain and inglorious cause. He has become unhinged and perhaps delusional.

His sins on this matter go beyond monumentally bad taste for several reasons. The first is that there is absolutely nothing in Curiel’s background that merits this kind of harsh rebuke. Curiel has had extensive experience in private practice and government service. He was both a state and a federal court judge. The one item on his résumé that attracts immediate notice was that in his role as prosecutor, he was first Deputy Chief (1996-1999) and Chief (1999-2002) of the Narcotics Enforcement Division. This position was no sinecure, for as the Wikipedia account of his life notes, “Curiel prosecuted the Arellano Felix cartel in Tijuana, Mexico, and was targeted for assassination by the drug cartel.” It is nothing short of a disgrace to tar any person who took after Mexican cartels as unfit for office because of the “inherent conflict” of being Mexican. If anything, his willingness to stand up to a Mexican cartel is a strong point in his favor.

The institutional implications in this case, however, go far beyond the particulars of this dispute, for if Trump’s warped views on judicial behavior are accepted, it becomes impossible to run a decent system of justice. Trump of course regards himself as a figure above reproach. It would never occur to the ruffian that his own biases do not rest on any inherent, i.e., unavoidable, conflict of interest, but on the openly mean-spirited way in which he speaks of other people. Does he really think that he is fit to appoint people to serve on the federal bench or indeed in any office? Do white people have conflicts so that they cannot deal with litigation in which Mexicans or African Americans or Muslims take place?

Speaking generally, it is an exceedingly important feature of a successful legal system that everyone understands that there are places where identity politics are welcome, and places in which they are utterly alien to the spirit of a particular institution. Donald Trump, as a private citizen, could decide to invite only nativists to his own Fourth of July party. Other groups could decide to celebrate Cinco De Mayo in honor of Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Others can celebrate Israel’s Independence Day, which this year fell on May 12, 2016. But all those forms of deep personal identification play no role in judicial decision-making.

Even though it is probably impossible for any one of us to put aside our own personal allegiances, as public servants we darn well have to try, because each of us in his or her public role owes it to all citizens to do the best that we can to keep these preferences in check. There is every reason to think that Judge Curiel has honorably hewed to this tradition of adjudication — and all too much public evidence to show that Donald Trump has done everything in his power to tear it down. We cannot run a country in which everyone gets a judge of his own race, gender or political persuasion. Anyone who says the opposite is working nonstop to tear down the fabric of American public institutions. We need desperately to preserve our social capital.

So, what should be done? Right now, the Republican Party should take it upon itself to ask whether it can nominate any candidate that shows such terrible judgment and bigotry in dealing with public matters. If the answer to that question is no, as it may well be, then they should turn themselves as one person against him, by refusing to honor his primary victories. It is better to run an open convention after removing this cancer before it spreads. The gruesome alternative is that, if he becomes President, there is all too great a chance that his impetuous temperament will lead him to perform public acts that will indeed count as high crimes and misdemeanors, worthy of impeachment. In this campaign, if Trump survives, look closely at his vice presidential pick, for sooner than you think that person could well become President after a Trump victory. So, Donald Trump — even you can learn to back off a fight that you cannot, should not, and must not win.

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  1. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    So, this finally prompted me to actually go back and watch Trump’s entire 11-minute tirade on the case, which you can find here.  Geez, what a putz . . . but, I carefully noted what he actually said.

    He attacks class-action lawyers and NY AG Eric Schneiderman (who really is a horrible left-wing political hack) and gives his version of the underlying facts in the case.  He talks about Judge Curiel in three passages, totaling less than a minute.  In two, while he denounces the judge for being biased and not recusing himself, he makes no mention of ethnicity. He prominently mentions Curiel was appointed by Obama and, as best I can decipher the usual Trumpian word salad, that appears to be the basis on which he claims bias and why the judge should recuse himself.

    The third passage is when he makes this remark about the judge:

    “who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great.  I think that’s fine.  You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs”.

    So, that’s what we’re arguing about and does anyone have any idea what that last sentence is referring to?  Everytime I listen to this guy, my head starts to hurt.

    He makes no mention of La Raza, immigration or the wall.

    • #61
  2. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    HVTs: So, if a white judge belonged to a group called “The Race,” which advocated for race-based solutions to what it viewed as race-engendered historical crimes against Caucasians by African-Americans, you’d think it perfectly fitting for him or her to sit in judgement of a Black Panther? You wouldn’t want to perhaps find a judge without prima facie partiality?

    Again, if you want to criticize the judge’s membership in La Raza, go ahead.

    That’s not what Trump did.

    In your analogy it’d be like saying that no white man at all can sit in judgement of the Black Panther.

    • #62
  3. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Umbra Fractus:

    HVTs:

    Ned Vaughn: Trump’s campaign is a nonstop travesty and should be condemned as such. But his limber defenders stand ready to twist into the contortions needed to pretend their “strong” man is the genius he ceaselessly claims to be

    Actually, Trump just needs to be marginally better than his opponent. We’re choosing between better and worse, not good and bad. If you think Hillary is better, please paint that word picture for us all to see.

    They are both unacceptable.

    Not a terribly flattering word picture for Hillary . . . I’ll stick with Trump.  Any other takers?

    • #63
  4. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Umbra Fractus:

    A-Squared:

    Tommy De Seno:Professor,

    If ethnicity is of no import to a judge in his decisions, then why does America find such great importance in having diversity on the bench?

    Please answer.

    Who finds great importance on having diversity of skin color on the bench – America, or Democrats?

    Everyone who criticizes Trump is a Democrat. No exceptions.

    Huh?

    • #64
  5. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    BrentB67:

    Umbra Fractus:

    A-Squared:

    Tommy De Seno:Professor,

    If ethnicity is of no import to a judge in his decisions, then why does America find such great importance in having diversity on the bench?

    Please answer.

    Who finds great importance on having diversity of skin color on the bench – America, or Democrats?

    Everyone who criticizes Trump is a Democrat. No exceptions.

    Huh?

    If you’re not 100% behind Trump then you’re obviously satisfied with the progressive status quo, completely unaware of the danger posed by Hillary Clinton, and unwilling to fight for America.

    Or that’s what the Trump supporters keep telling me, anyway.

    • #65
  6. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Basil Fawlty:

    Jamie Lockett:The sad fact, Prof Epstein, is that a large number of his supporters (reluctant or otherwise) think his behavior here is laudable and way past due.

    Its disgusting, but this is what white identity politics gives us.

    Well done, Republicans, hope it was worth it.

    Gee, Jamie, I thought you had sworn off accusations of racism.

    White identity politics isn’t an accusation of racism.

    • #66
  7. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Richard,

    Yes, Trump should not have done what he did. He is getting his hardball on the job training. Of course, Obama was untrainable and made the same insane mistakes for 8 years lying his way through. Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton is single-handedly responsible for bringing Justice to a halt at the Justice Dept. This woman shouldn’t be President, this woman should never have been Secretary of State, this woman should never have been in the Senate. This woman belongs in jail and you and everyone else with an IQ above 98.6 knew it.

    Where is the screaming outrage?! How many idiot news reports can I hear about her messaging and her style when there is a mountain of evidence available about major federal felonies she has committed in office.

    Yes, yes another Trump outrage, yawn. When does the monster in the pantsuit get indicted?

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #67
  8. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Umbra Fractus:

    HVTs: So, if a white judge belonged to a group called “The Race,” which advocated for race-based solutions to what it viewed as race-engendered historical crimes against Caucasians by African-Americans, you’d think it perfectly fitting for him or her to sit in judgement of a Black Panther? You wouldn’t want to perhaps find a judge without prima facie partiality?

    Again, if you want to criticize the judge’s membership in La Raza, go ahead.

    That’s not what Trump did.

    In your analogy it’d be like saying that no white man at all can sit in judgement of the Black Panther.

    Yeah, it is what Trump did.  It may not be exactly how he said it . . . too bad; he hasn’t spent his life parsing every syllable.  He’s rough and real in speech, not manicured and powdered like you prefer.  No one much cares since he speaks to a real issue that is at the heart of our cultural suicide.  Pretty much every sentient being with a lick of commonsense knows exactly what Trump was expressing—the judge falls short of our legal norm for appearing unbiased in criminal cases.  Trump just doesn’t think a judge should get a pass because his racially bigoted group is comprised of Latinos.  You disagree?

    • #68
  9. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    HVTs:

    Umbra Fractus:

    Yeah , it is what Trump did. It may not be exactly how he said it . . . too bad; he hasn’t spent his life parsing every syllable. He’s rough and real in speech, not manicured and powdered like you prefer. No one much cares since he speaks to a real issue that is at the heart of our cultural suicide. Pretty much every sentient being with a lick of commonsense knows exactly what Trump was expressing—the judge falls short of our legal norm for appearing unbiased in criminal cases. Trump just doesn’t think a judge should get a pass because his racially bigoted group is comprised of Latinos. You disagree?

    That’s actually not what Trump was claiming in the 11 minute clip.  He did not say the judge was biased because he was Latino.  As near as I can tell, his problem according to Trump was that he was an Obama nominee.

    • #69
  10. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Basil Fawlty:

    Man With the Axe: If the shoe were on the other foot, and a Latino candidate for president, someone like Julian Castro, were to argue that a white judge could not decide some civil case he was involved in because he (Castro) is in favor of amnesty for illegals, every Trump supporter would be apoplectic with rage.

    A Latina candidate for appointment to the Supreme Court tells us that her ethnicity will inform her judicial decisions. She is confirmed in her appointment. Would not a reasonable person conclude that ethnicity might inform the judicial decisions of other judges?

    Only if you judge people by their race and not as individuals.

    • #70
  11. blood thirsty neocon Inactive
    blood thirsty neocon
    @bloodthirstyneocon

    Man With the Axe:Re #36: VDH is right on all counts:

    1. Trump was wrong to say what he said.
    2. The judge is wrong to be a member of that group.
    3. Trump’s behavior reflects the race-obsessed behavior of more sophisticated racists.

    It is a mistake to see this as a defense of Trump. It’s better for all of us to denounce this sort of race-obsessed behavior and rhetoric from all sides. Accepting it from Trump, defending it as payback to the leftists we so rightfully despise, is a huge mistake.

    Nope, we should turn their own premises against them. If we have to support policies that favor ethnicity X in order to win the approval of ethnicity X, then it’s logically consistent to carry that premise to its logical conclusion: a judge of ethnicity X is likely to oppose a politician who takes positions that are strict on ethnicity X.

    • #71
  12. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Mark:

    HVTs:

    Umbra Fractus:

    Yeah , it is what Trump did. It may not be exactly how he said it . . . too bad; he hasn’t spent his life parsing every syllable. He’s rough and real in speech, not manicured and powdered like you prefer. No one much cares since he speaks to a real issue that is at the heart of our cultural suicide. Pretty much every sentient being with a lick of commonsense knows exactly what Trump was expressing—the judge falls short of our legal norm for appearing unbiased in criminal cases. Trump just doesn’t think a judge should get a pass because his racially bigoted group is comprised of Latinos. You disagree?

    That’s actually not what Trump was claiming in the 11 minute clip. He did not say the judge was biased because he was Latino. As near as I can tell, his problem according to Trump was that he was an Obama nominee.

    Sorry, this whole issue has moved way beyond factual reality so let’s not trifle with that!  }:-)

    Trump’s mis-attribution of the judge’s nationality has been (to put it mildly) WIDELY interpreted as meaning Trump objects to him BECAUSE of his ethnic heritage.  That’s what I’m addressing.

    • #72
  13. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Hypatia: And even more finally- check out Laureate the world’s largest for profit University which uses exactly the same hard sell tactics to pressure students–and does it to college age people, not business persons–and which paid Bill Clinton, I think, over 16 million dollars.

    Is Mr. Laureate running for President?

    • #73
  14. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Kate Braestrup:

    Hypatia: And even more finally- check out Laureate the world’s largest for profit University which uses exactly the same hard sell tactics to pressure students–and does it to college age people, not business persons–and which paid Bill Clinton, I think, over 16 million dollars.

    Is Mr. Laureate running for President?

    No. Billary is.

    • #74
  15. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    A-Squared: You say this like destroying the Republican Party is something Trump supporters oppose.

    Most of us on Ricochet are conservatives.  I certainly am.

    Many of us on Ricochet are Republicans, if only by default.  Such am I.  I make no apologies for being in the party of Eisenhower, Reagan, Cheney, Giuliani and Kemp.

    Many of us on Ricochet are Trumpsters.  I am not.  I have, however, tried to accept his inevitability.

    Those of us who are unhappy with the Washington surrender crowd had some hope a year ago.  We had our chance, with talent like Walker, Perry, Cruz, Jindal; and we blew it with the Donald.   The Donald, for Crissakes, the weakest candidate in history, when the POTUS was ours for the taking.

    Nature abhors a vacuum, and destroying the Republican party is leaving one.  A big one.

    So don’t complain to me, A-Squared, when Hillary becomes queen for life.

    • #75
  16. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    James Gawron: Yes, yes another Trump outrage, yawn. When does the monster in the pantsuit get indicted?

    Thank you.

    • #76
  17. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Nick Stuart: When does the monster in the pantsuit get indicted?

    Never.

    Wishing it won’t make it so.

    • #77
  18. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Doctor Robert:

    Nick Stuart: When does the monster in the pantsuit get indicted?

    Never.

    Wishing it won’t make it so.

    I don’t know . . . Valerie and Michelle hate her more than I do, so I’m keeping hope alive.

    • #78
  19. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    HVTs:

    Doctor Robert:

    Nick Stuart: When does the monster in the pantsuit get indicted?

    Never.

    Wishing it won’t make it so.

    I don’t know . . . Valerie and Michelle hate her more than I do, so I’m keeping hope alive.

    Wishing for it is cheaper than a lottery ticket.

    • #79
  20. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    HVTs:

    Doctor Robert:

    Nick Stuart: When does the monster in the pantsuit get indicted?

    Never.

    Wishing it won’t make it so.

    I don’t know . . . Valerie and Michelle hate her more than I do, so I’m keeping hope alive.

    Yeah, but they both hate Republicans more than that.

    • #80
  21. Sleepywhiner Inactive
    Sleepywhiner
    @Sleepywhiner

    Basil Fawlty:Sotomayor tells us that her Latina ethnicity will influence her judicial opinions. Crickets. Trump tells us that a Latino judge’s ethnicity may do the same. Outrage.

    WE (and by WE, I mean conservatives) are outraged in both cases.  To choose to be selectively outraged makes us them.

    • #81
  22. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Trump is the perennial victim. He is always being treated unfairly when for some reason he isn’t getting his way. He is a whiner. My old Scottish climbing partners would refer to him as a wanker. He is a three year old who has simply never grown up. If that is what you need for your revenge, it may be that you have more problems than he has.

    His trial for Trump University will be judged by a jury of his peers. He has been very clear about that. If he can convince a jury that the charges against him have no foundation, he will be free and clear. Whining doesn’t prove is innocence or guilt. It just makes him that much more obnoxious.

    As to the judge and Sotomayer (what the h… does she have to do with any of this? I would much rather have this man sitting on the Supreme Court than Sotomayer based on all that I have read about him and his judicial and prosecutorial experience. Bring her up is just blowing smoke which Trump supporters seem best at. I guess they get that from their hero.

    • #82
  23. blood thirsty neocon Inactive
    blood thirsty neocon
    @bloodthirstyneocon

    Nick Stuart:

    HVTs:

    Doctor Robert:

    Nick Stuart: When does the monster in the pantsuit get indicted?

    Never.

    Wishing it won’t make it so.

    I don’t know . . . Valerie and Michelle hate her more than I do, so I’m keeping hope alive.

    Wishing for it is cheaper than a lottery ticket.

    I don’t want her replaced with someone less beatable. I just want Comey to resign in disgust and tell all when she doesn’t get indicted.

    • #83
  24. Freesmith Inactive
    Freesmith
    @Freesmith

    Eugene Kriegsmann: It isn’t about returning greatness to America, it is about punishing the left

    What’s the difference?

    • #84
  25. The Dowager Jojo Inactive
    The Dowager Jojo
    @TheDowagerJojo

    This post is a fact free diatribe. I did not hear Trump’s but it could not have been worse.

    If Trump did not say he does not want  Mexican judge- and I don’t believe he did- then it is dishonest to rant that we can’t expect to have a judge of our own race or culture.

    • #85
  26. The Dowager Jojo Inactive
    The Dowager Jojo
    @TheDowagerJojo

    Or political inclination, which was probably the only point Trump was making in bringing up ethic background. Ethnic. Hard to comment on phone.

    • #86
  27. Sleepywhiner Inactive
    Sleepywhiner
    @Sleepywhiner

    From the WSJ on Friday,I am not sure that he could have been much clearer that he wants the judge to at least recuse himself, over his “Mexican heritage.”

    In an interview, Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he was “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said.

    • #87
  28. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Sleepywhiner:

    Basil Fawlty: Sotomayor tells us that her Latina ethnicity will influence her judicial opinions. Crickets. Trump tells us that a Latino judge’s ethnicity may do the same. Outrage.

    WE (and by WE, I mean conservatives) are outraged in both cases. To choose to be selectively outrages makes us them.

    Hmmm.  Let’s tally this up a bit, shall WE?

    Their selective outrage has meant WE conservatives shut out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave for 28 of the past 36 years.  It’s meant a purposeful policy of politically and culturally destabilizing immigration.  It’s meant stagnant middle-class wages, schools that teach gibberish but not how to read, same-sex marriage, transgender bathrooms, Obamacare, crony capitalism, a weaponized IRS, $20 Trillion debt, and $140 Trillion in unfunded liabilities.  And more to come from another 8 years of Obama, perhaps.

    But, hey, your moral purity is intact … we’ve got that going for us.

    Maybe being a little bit more like them might be the last option WE have to save this Republic.  Maybe.

    Or maybe it’s just not worth it.  Not if your moral vanity has to get sullied . . . I mean if you’ve got to rub up against the unwashed Trump?  That’s just asking too much, huh?

    • #88
  29. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Sleepywhiner:From the WSJ on Friday,I am not sure that he could have been much clearer that he wants the judge to at least recuse himself, over his “Mexican heritage.”

    In an interview, Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he was “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said.

    Thanks for that additional info.  As I mentioned above, the original 11 minute statement by Trump did not make those claims.

    • #89
  30. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    By the way, does anyone have any idea what Trump meant when he said after criticizing Curiel (see Comment 61, above):

    “I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs”.

    Was he:

    Talking about Mexicans in Mexico?

    Talking about Mexicans in the US?

    Talking about the Mexicans he is going to deport and then readmit via that “big, beautiful gate” in the Wall?

    Just throwing out a random bunch of words?

    Something else?

    • #90
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