So the last time I put together an update I lamented how boring this race has become. Now the race is over, and thanks to the ridiculous human being that the Republican Party has apparently (but not yet!) decided to nominate for president, things have gotten interesting all over again. He is who he thought he is. How to do this….
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Trump once put his name on something that was billed as “a university,” a real estate “school” where you could learn the secrets to success in his industry. The school, it turns out, was a giant scam run solely for the purpose of extracting money from desperate people — no really, it was, and almost all of those positive reviews were as fake as his weave — and there are a number of different lawsuits working their way through the courts seeking restitution. Seriosuly, take some time to read the background on this enterprise; no amount of snark will do justice to how disgustingly awful it actually was. Pay attention to the way officials in some states asked for and received political donations from Trump just before quashing Trump Uniersity lawsuits in their state. Texas appears to be the worst, but it’s by no means the only one.
Trump, of course, thinks these lawsuits are so obviously illegitimate that they should be dismissed, and their continued existence necessarily means for him that someone somewhere is biased against him. Given that, he of course decided to lash out at the very distinguished judge, and given the campaign he is running, of course he decided to claim that the judge is biased because he is ‘Spanish’ and ‘a Mexican’ and ‘a hater.’ He didn’t bother to follow the very clearly established and widely understood rules for filing a disqualification motion before the court, which is of course what you do if and when you have actual evidence of an actual conflict of interest. Because of course he didn’t, because of course he doesn’t have actual evidence. No really – he has no actual evidence! You know the score – everything is a public negotiation, and he means nothing he says, right? Power and dominance and winning, or not. Depending.
Now I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t see coming what happened next. I expected Trump’s opponents to hammer him for saying that a man’s heritage necessarily means that man cannot be a fair minded judge. And I expected those opponents to declare that sentiment to be what it so obviously is: dangerously unAmerican and deeply illogical. And I even expected his supporters in the political establishment to run like cockroaches in a kitchen where the lights just got turned on. But I didn’t expect, and I never would’ve predicted….in no particular order…all of this:
- Speaker of the House Paul Ryan deemed the remarks “completely unacceptable” and the “textbook definition of a racist comment.”
- Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called Trump’s remarks “un-America” and begged his fellow Repuboicans to get on the Trump off-ramp.
- Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois got on that off ramp, publicly un-endorsing Trump and, echoing Clinton, declared that Trump does not have the temperament to serve as Commander in Chief.
- Newt “People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz” Gingrich called the remarks inappropriate.
- John Yoo, the legal architect of Bush’s torture regime, called Trump’s remarks “disturbing.”
- John Kasich called on Trump to apologize to the judge and his family.
- Joe Scarborough called it “completely racist.”
- Fox News’ Megan Kelly went off on a Trump surrogate on live TV.
- Republican Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada declared that you “can’t defend the indefensible“
- Republican Senator Collins of Maine called the remarks “absolutely unacceptable.”
- Republican Senator Ayotte of New Hampshire called on Trump to retract his comments.
- Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina called Trump’s remarks “racially toxic” but then added “not racist.”
- Republican Senator Rubio fo Florida called on Trump to stop making these sorts of remarks.
- Republican Senate candidate Kathy Szeliga of Maryland declared the remarks “insulting to all Americans.”
- Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin called on Trump to retract his remarks.
- Republican Sentaor Corker of Tennessee called the remarks “wrong” and told Trump to change.
- Republican Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina directly linked Trump’s remarks to the horrific church shooting in Charleston last year.
- Republican State Senator David Johnson of Iowa literally left the Republican Party over his party’s respond to Trump’s remarks, declaring that “fascists took control of Germany under the same types of strategies” (We Can Haz Godwin!!!)
- Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus privately reached out to Trump and asked him to tone things down.
- Republican Senator and Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley of Iowa cited Trump’s numerous lawsuits as proof that Trump really does respect the judiciary, only to later follow that up with a total rejection of Trump’s line of attack.
- Republican Representative Lee Zeldin of New York said that what Trump said was bad, but that Obama is the real racist, so that’s OK.
- Republican Orinn Hatch of Utah said that although Trump’s remarks were outrageous, he isn’t a racist because he says outrageous things all the time.
- Mitch McConnell, the human-turtle hybrid who is the embodiment of equivocation, hemmed and hawed but then eventually took a stand and personally told Trump to stop.
Do you detect a trend? I suspect you do. Add to this the fact that this is all happening the week after Clinton gave a speech (video here) in which she hammered Trump and after which not a single prominent Republican came to Trump’s defenses, and you’ve got a very serious problem for the Republican nominee.
So how did Trump handle this crisis? Well, his first step was to double down on the rhetoric, doing a number or pretty high profile interviews in which he continued this line of attack. Most of those were over the past weekend, and it was in reaction to those interview that this tidal wave of condemnation began to build. But Trump being Trump, he wasn’t content to let it alone. Annoyed that people were not rushing to his defense, he personally held a conference call with his top surrogates to lambast them for not pressing the line of attack more vigorously. When they informed him that his own top staffers had told them to make the issue go away, he reportedly said the following:
“Take that order and throw it the hell out.” Told the memo was sent by Erica Freeman, a staffer who circulates information to surrogates, Trump said he didn’t know her. “Are there any other stupid letters that were sent to you folks. That’s one of the reasons I want to have this call, because you guys are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren’t so smart….The people asking the questions—those are the racists.”
And that was clearly the straw that broke the camel’s back. First news leaked from multiple sources on the call about how Trump had behaved, and next you get that bullet pointed list above. That led Trump to issue an odd, passive voice statement in which he promised to never talk about the issue again, after which he of course went immediately to Sean Hannity and demanded that his fellow Republicans just ‘get over it’ and get on board. OK!
All that is on its own quite bad, but there’s more. It turns out Trump hasn’t yet bothered to begin building a national campaign. Two big reports filled with all kinds of interesting quotes, one from MSNBC and another from NYT. He has no communications staff. He has a minuscule team vetting VP candidates. He has almost no field staff. His fundraising is anemic. And since he started up all this nonsense with Judge Curiel last week, it seems nearly everyone in the world of professional Republican politics has decided that they don’t want to be involved in any way with his campaign. Mock this idea if you will, but I promise you this – in nation of 315+ million people spread out across a continent, it takes a not-so-small army to win a national campaign. And at least at this moment, Trump can’t find anyone experienced who wants to join. Tons of top positions remain open, but they simply cannot find anyone who wants to fill them. The word “unprecedented” has been thrown around a lot in this election, but that truly is unprecedented. One of the two campaigns for president in the United States of America can’t find people willing to jobs that people usually are willing to fight to the death over.
And it’s not just the Trump campaign; it’s the party too. Over at the RNC, there has been a rash of resignations by the party’s top Hispanic and African American staffers. Which, no, is not what you expect to happen in the weeks after one candidate clinches the nomination. It’s really not how this usually works.
And one last thing…the media, it appears, has finally figured out how to handle Trump’s lying. This is how you use the Chyron kids! And well done Jake Tapper! Y’all might finally be figuring out how to deal with liars!
Oh, and apologies for the typos, but it’s late and I’m exhausted. Until next time…