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. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Mike LaRoche:

    Umbra Fractus:

    The Reticulator:

    Randy Webster:Trump will maybe, maybe even probably, be a disaster. There’s 100% likelihood that Hillary will be. The margin is thin, but sometimes you have to go with it.

    Thank you, GOPe, for giving us this choice.

    This is the “Society is to blame” defense. It doesn’t matter what the Establishment did, the voters did something stupid and should be held responsible for it.

    There is nothing “stupid” about wanting to secure our borders and bring immigration down to manageable levels, two things which the GOPe promised – and repeatedly failed – to do.

    There is something incredibly stupid about voting for someone who promises to secure the border by sprinkling pixie dust on it and waving a magic wand.  If the problem has been that Republican candidates have failed to keep their promises, then it is incredibly stupid to vote for a guy who makes the most unrealistic promises ever seen.

    • #211
  2. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Mike LaRoche:

    Umbra Fractus:

    The Reticulator:

    Randy Webster:Trump will maybe, maybe even probably, be a disaster. There’s 100% likelihood that Hillary will be. The margin is thin, but sometimes you have to go with it.

    Thank you, GOPe, for giving us this choice.

    This is the “Society is to blame” defense. It doesn’t matter what the Establishment did, the voters did something stupid and should be held responsible for it.

    There is nothing “stupid” about wanting to secure our borders and bring immigration down to manageable levels, two things which the GOPe promised – and repeatedly failed – to do.

    Yeah, and when Congress doesn’t vote for his impossible promises, he’ll got on Twitter and call them names. Brilliant strategy!

    • #212
  3. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Politicians all make promises and break them. Sometimes on purpose and sometimes because they find that they just can’t deliver what they promised no matter how hard they try. I wouldn’t hold the latter against them.

    But I’m not worried too much about any of that. I’m worried that we might elect a president who is unhinged. We might give a great big child the power to do enormous harm because 1) he doesn’t’ know what he’s doing, 2) he thinks he is oh so smart, and 3) he allows his emotions to control his actions. This is so unprecedented that there is no way to quantify the risk.

    • #213
  4. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    There’s nothing more unhinged than thinking the GOPe will ever get serious about immigration control or border security.

    • #214
  5. Salvatore Padula Inactive
    Salvatore Padula
    @SalvatorePadula

    Mike LaRoche:There’s nothing more unhinged than thinking the GOPe will ever get serious about immigration control or border security.

    How about believing Trump would actually be any better?

    • #215
  6. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Mike LaRoche:There’s nothing more unhinged than thinking the GOPe will ever get serious about immigration control or border security.

    I can think of at least two: “Donald Trump is an honest man,” and “Donald Trump is a conservative.”

    • #216
  7. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Man With the Axe: But I’m not worried too much about any of that. I’m worried that we might elect a president who is unhinged. We might give a great big child the power to do enormous harm because 1) he doesn’t’ know what he’s doing, 2) he thinks he is oh so smart, and 3) he allows his emotions to control his actions. This is so unprecedented that there is no way to quantify the risk.

    You have the choice you have . . . I think you are saying you’ll take Clinton over Trump.  Is that right?

    • #217
  8. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Salvatore Padula:

    Mike LaRoche:There’s nothing more unhinged than thinking the GOPe will ever get serious about immigration control or border security.

    How about believing Trump would actually be any better?

    Be any better than Hillary?  I think you are saying Hillary is the better choice for President.  Do I have that right?

    • #218
  9. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Umbra Fractus:

    Mike LaRoche:There’s nothing more unhinged than thinking the GOPe will ever get serious about immigration control or border security.

    I can think of at least two: “Donald Trump is an honest man,” and “Donald Trump is a conservative.”

    So, you have a choice between Clinton and Trump.  You’re going to choose Clinton?

    • #219
  10. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    HVTs:

    Man With the Axe: But I’m not worried too much about any of that. I’m worried that we might elect a president who is unhinged. We might give a great big child the power to do enormous harm because 1) he doesn’t’ know what he’s doing, 2) he thinks he is oh so smart, and 3) he allows his emotions to control his actions. This is so unprecedented that there is no way to quantify the risk.

    You have the choice you have . . . I think you are saying you’ll take Clinton over Trump. Is that right?

    No. At present I don’t think I can vote for either one.

    • #220
  11. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Mike LaRoche:There’s nothing more unhinged than thinking the GOPe will ever get serious about immigration control or border security.

    Mike, it’s interesting that no one has actually refuted you.  They just respond with something reflecting how much they dislike or don’t have confidence in Trump.  I think that is backhanded confirmation of your point.

    I also think that if you had to boil the whole Trump phenomenon down to one thing, it’s precisely what you’ve hit on.  If there had been a scintilla of seriousness from the GOP regarding securing the border and fixing immigration, Trump never would have gained steam.

    So, I think one of the delicious ironies in this melodrama is Trump haters blaming voters—especially voters who watch reality TV.  Right, it’s voters’ fault for wanting a secure border.  Who the hell do they think they are?  They should know better then to want something the Left isn’t inclined to give them!

    You know what else never gets refuted, not even by Hillary?

    No Borders, No Nation.

    • #221
  12. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Man With the Axe: No. At present I don’t think I can vote for either one.

    So it’s a tie as to which is worst, right?  You are saying there’s no meaningful difference between them, so the hell with it.  Not trying to put words in your mouth . . . I don’t know how else to interpret your position.

    • #222
  13. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Umbra Fractus: It doesn’t matter what the Establishment did, the voters did something stupid and should be held responsible for it.

    The Solution – Poem by Bertolt Brecht

    After the uprising of the 17th June
    The Secretary of the Writers Union
    Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
    Stating that the people
    Had forfeited the confidence of the government
    And could win it back only
    By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
    In that case for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another?

    • #223
  14. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    HVTs:

    Man With the Axe: No. At present I don’t think I can vote for either one.

    So it’s a tie as to which is worst, right? You are saying there’s no meaningful difference between them, so the hell with it. Not trying to put words in your mouth . . . I don’t know how else to interpret your position.

    To hell with it is not quite right. I love this country with all my heart. But these are two monsters and I can’t vote for either one. I’d rather that others decide which poison we all take, to mix my metaphor.

    • #224
  15. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    HVTs:

    HVTs

    HVTs

    Man With the Axe: No. At present I don’t think I can vote for either one.

    So it’s a tie as to which is worst, right? You are saying there’s no meaningful difference between them, so the hell with it. Not trying to put words in your mouth . . . I don’t know how else to interpret your position.

    This is sad, that you know of no other way to interpret that position when it has been explained by many people, many times.

    • #225
  16. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Man With the Axe:

    So it’s a tie as to which is worst, right? You are saying there’s no meaningful difference between them, so the hell with it. Not trying to put words in your mouth . . . I don’t know how else to interpret your position.

    To hell with it is not quite right. I love this country with all my heart. But these are two monsters and I can’t vote for either one. I’d rather that others decide which poison we all take, to mix my metaphor.

    Well, I meant ‘to hell with voting’ not ‘to hell with the country.’

    At any rate, I had it right—you see them as equally poisonous and therefore you’ll sit this one out and let others decide which poison kills us.

    I just have great difficulty understanding how a guy who says he’ll regain control of our borders and immigration (and seems credible on this commitment, although we can’t know given his whole schtick is making deals) can possibly be a worse bet than someone who promises to continue manipulating our demographics in order to lock in her far Left agenda.

    Maybe you can help me decipher this seemingly self-defeating stance?  How do your values ‘win‘ not lose with Hillary in charge?

    This certainly seems hard to square with Ricochet’s Center-Right ethos, unless the “Right” part of that formulation is a misnomer.

    • #226
  17. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    The Reticulator: This is sad, that you know of no other way to interpret that position when it has been explained by many people, many times.

    And you’re complaining?  How could you shine so if we were all as brilliant as you?

    • #227
  18. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    HVTs: Maybe you can help me decipher this seemingly self-defeating stance? How do your values ‘win‘ not lose with Hillary in charge?

    Our values have already lost.

    The question MWTA and I are asking is how do our values win with Trump in charge. He and I and many others have concluded that they don’t, and when we ask Trump defenders to explain it to us, they provide nothing. They just shout, “Hillary!” at us and expect that to be sufficient.

    • #228
  19. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Umbra Fractus:

    The question MWTA and I are asking is how do our values win with Trump in charge. He and I and many others have concluded that they don’t, and when we ask Trump defenders to explain it to us, they provide nothing. They just shout, “Hillary!” at us and expect that to be sufficient.

    We agree this is a horrible choice between two terribly flawed candidates, but I don’t think I’m merely shouting “Hillary.” I’m assessing likely outcomes.

    There is no chance Hillary will do anything that promotes conservative values, conservative policies, etc.  Hillary is so bad that Trump needs only a tiny probability of doing something that promotes conservative goals to be the better option.

    For example, if Trump does just 10% of what he has promised with respect to border security and immigration he will be a vast improvement over what Hillary intends for this country.  She will not in any way moderate Obama’s border and immigration policies . . . more likely, she doubles down.

    Similarly, Trump’s SCOTUS picks are never going to be worse than Hillary’s and are almost certainly going to be much better.

    Those are both huge issues, but you can go down a long list of topics and similarly conclude the probability is we will have better outcomes for conservatives with Trump.

    As unpleasing as Trump may be as President, if we stay focused on likely outcomes I think the choice is clear.

    • #229
  20. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    HVTs:I just have great difficulty understanding how a guy who says he’ll regain control of our borders and immigration (and seems credible on this commitment, although we can’t know given his whole schtick is making deals) can possibly be a worse bet than someone who promises to continue manipulating our demographics in order to lock in her far Left agenda.

    I don’t agree that immigration is the only issue that matters, though it matters a great deal. The constitution matters. Free trade matters (to me). All the personal characteristics of a good man matter. Not handing over the reins of government to a rabble rouser matters. Maintaining the NATO alliance matters. Having a semblance of intellectual depth to understand complicated questions foreign and domestic matters.

    I’ve been saying for a year that I could vote for any Republican but Trump. It’s still true. I can’t vote for Trump because I can see him leading the country into catastrophe. I can’t vote for Hillary for the same reason.

    • #230
  21. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Man With the Axe: I don’t agree that immigration is the only issue that matters, though it matters a great deal.

    It’s not the only issue that matters, as I think my reply to UF makes clear. But it’s a dramatic issue that makes the contrast between the candidates blazingly clear.

    The constitution matters.

    Hillary is worse on Constitutional issues, so how does not voting for Trump demonstrate this “matters” to you?

    Free trade matters (to me).

    Fair trade matters to me and Trump will prioritize Fair over Free.  The question is, does Hillary’s Free Trade stance outweigh all the negative effects she’d have on other priorities?

    All the personal characteristics of a good man matter.

    Hillary’s character flaws are far deeper than Trump’s, no?  Why/how does Trump’s character rate below Hillary’s in your view?

    Having a semblance of intellectual depth to understand complicated questions foreign and domestic matters.

    Having gifts and using them wisely are two different things. How well has Hillary used her gifts when in leadership positions? Abandoning missile defense program? Russian reset? SOFA fail? Muslim Brotherhood/Egypt? Libya campaign? Benghazi?  I can go on.

    …can’t vote for Trump … see him leading country into catastrophe … can’t vote for Hillary for same reason.

    Not voting is choosing Hillary, in my view, since Democrat electoral advantage is only overcome by higher center-right turnout.  Obviously that’s your privilege…hope you’ll reconsider.

    • #231
  22. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    HVTs:

    Free trade matters (to me).

    Fair trade matters to me and Trump will prioritize Fair over Free. The question is, does Hillary’s Free Trade stance outweigh all the negative effects she’d have on other priorities?

    If Trump is in favor of fair trade, that’s yet another reason not to vote for him.

    • #232
  23. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    The Reticulator: If Trump is in favor of fair trade, that’s yet another reason not to vote for him.

    Except “Trump is in favor of fair trade” is not a reason; it’s a statement. What reason is there for preferring unfair trade to fair trade?  Is that reason likely to garner more or fewer votes?

    • #233
  24. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    HVTs:

    The Reticulator: If Trump is in favor of fair trade, that’s yet another reason not to vote for him.

    Except “Trump is in favor of fair trade” is not a reason; it’s a statement. What reason is there for preferring unfair trade to fair trade? Is that reason likely to garner more or fewer votes?

    The term “fair trade” has been used by Democrats for years to mean “no trade.”  It is a code word for protectionist policies that favor unions and other insider groups with political influence.  Maybe you are using that term to mean something else.  If so, you’ll have to tell me what it means to you, before I could consider getting behind it.

    • #234
  25. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Larry3435:

    HVTs:

    The Reticulator: If Trump is in favor of fair trade, that’s yet another reason not to vote for him.

    Except “Trump is in favor of fair trade” is not a reason; it’s a statement. What reason is there for preferring unfair trade to fair trade? Is that reason likely to garner more or fewer votes?

    The term “fair trade” has been used by Democrats for years to mean “no trade.” It is a code word for protectionist policies that favor unions and other insider groups with political influence. Maybe you are using that term to mean something else. If so, you’ll have to tell me what it means to you, before I could consider getting behind it.

    Yup. Fair trade always means politicized trade.

    • #235
  26. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Larry3435:

    HVTs:

    What reason is there for preferring unfair trade to fair trade? Is that reason likely to garner more or fewer votes?

    The term “fair trade” has been used by Democrats for years to mean “no trade.” It is a code word for protectionist policies that favor unions and other insider groups with political influence.

    It’s true that “Free Trade” and “Fair Trade” are both bumper stickers with lots of manipulative meaning attached from all sides.  Trade is a huge topic and I don’t claim expertise.  Here’s a summary from Trump himself:

    Our goal is not protectionism but accountability. America fully opened its markets to China but China has not reciprocated. Its Great Wall of Protectionism uses unlawful tariff and non-tariff barriers to keep American companies out of China and to tilt the playing field in their favor.

    If you give American workers a level playing field, they will win. At its heart, this plan is a negotiating strategy to bring fairness to our trade with China.

    [Emphasis in original]

    That’s a reasonable starting point, in my view.  Let’s ask the Anti-Trump Free Traders: does China use illegal barriers to disadvantage American companies?  If so, shouldn’t we address that through better negotiating?

    Other pertinent questions: is Hillary going to address unfair trade more effectively than Trump?  Were establishment GOP candidates addressing fair trade or did it take the outsider Trump to make it a serious part of the GOP agenda?

    • #236
  27. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    The Reticulator: Fair trade always means politicized trade.

    Trade deals result from a process that is “political.”  So, all trade is politicized.  You imply only one side is and that “free trade” has no politicization attached to it.  Is that really what you mean?  What example would you use to show Free Trade as free from politics?

    • #237
  28. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    HVTs:

    The Reticulator: Fair trade always means politicized trade.

    Trade deals result from a process that is “political.” So, all trade is politicized. You imply only one side is and that “free trade” has no politicization attached to it. Is that really what you mean? What example would you use to show Free Trade as free from politics?

    An example that doesn’t involve tariffs, import duties, export subsidies and credits, taxpayer-backed loans, etc.

    • #238
  29. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    The Reticulator:

    HVTs:

    The Reticulator: Fair trade always means politicized trade.

    Trade deals result from a process that is “political.” So, all trade is politicized. You imply only one side is and that “free trade” has no politicization attached to it. Is that really what you mean? What example would you use to show Free Trade as free from politics?

    An example that doesn’t involve tariffs, import duties, export subsidies and credits, taxpayer-backed loans, etc.

    So, you don’t have an example.  You have words.  No example.  That’s because what you are imagining is as real as unicorns.  There’s no such thing as a politics-free Trade deal for the simple reason that a Trade deal is a political document.  As far as who can and will get elected POTUS in 2016, you evidently prefer the Left’s Free Trader to the Right’s Fair Trader.  Now you know why middle class wage earners like Trump.  He’s got their back, whereas you and the Left only give them the shaft.

    • #239
  30. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    HVTs:

    The Reticulator:

    HVTs:

    The Reticulator: Fair trade always means politicized trade.

    Trade deals result from a process that is “political.” So, all trade is politicized. You imply only one side is and that “free trade” has no politicization attached to it. Is that really what you mean? What example would you use to show Free Trade as free from politics?

    An example that doesn’t involve tariffs, import duties, export subsidies and credits, taxpayer-backed loans, etc.

    So, you don’t have an example. You have words. No example. That’s because what you are imagining is as real as unicorns. There’s no such thing as a politics-free Trade deal for the simple reason that a Trade deal is a political document. As far as who can and will get elected POTUS in 2016, you evidently prefer the Left’s Free Trader to the Right’s Fair Trader. Now you know why middle class wage earners like Trump. He’s got their back, whereas you and the Left only give them the shaft.

    Some trade is a lot freer than others, though.  As far as what I “evidently” favor, it’s a lot more evident to you than it is to reality.  But if you like making stuff up, go ahead as long as you stay away from slander and libel.

    • #240
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