“This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made. I think it’s inexcusable.”
Those words were spoken by Newt Gingrich – a man believed to be on Donald Trump’s Vice Presidential shortlist – during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
What mistake had the presumptive Republican nominee made that he earned the rebuke of an ally?
Trump had questioned the impartiality of a federal judge.
The controversy erupted when Trump told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Gonzalo Curiel – the judge in the Trump University class action lawsuit – might not give him a fair shake because of the judge’s connection to Mexican political activism. After critics bemoaned such an accusation as racism, Trump doubled down on “Face the Nation.”
“[Judge Curiel] is a member of a club or society, very strongly pro-Mexican, which is all fine,” Trump told CBS’s John Dickerson. “But I say he’s got bias.” The club Trump was referring to was La Raza Lawyers; an organization with the stated mission “to promote the interests of the Latino communities throughout the state.”
Translated, “la raza” means “the race.” Imagine the outcry if white attorneys from Mississippi, such as this author, started a a legal association called “The Race” with the stated mission to promote the interest of white, Southern communities. Hollywood stars and entertainers, such as Bryan Adams, would boycott the state in perpetuity.
Trump’s suggestion that a Hispanic judge may treat him unfairly because of Trump’s border security proposals, such as the wall, challenges the claim that liberal judges engaged in identity politics are never biased against non-liberals. And while Democrats were enraged by Trump’s challenge, Trump struck fear into the hearts of establishment Republicans not accustomed to challenging the politically correct code to which they have previously surrendered.
Hillary Clinton immediately launched a political advertisement. The ad claimed that Trump’s questioning of Judge Curiel’s impartiality was “the definition of racism.” It also incorporated the growing list of Republicans condemning Trump’s Curiel criticism.
“I don’t condone the comments,” Sen. Bob Corker, another potential Trump VP, said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding Trump is “going to have to change.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that he hoped Trump “will change direction” in dealing with Latinos.
But what exactly had Trump done wrong? How was it unreasonable to suggest that a judge belonging to a group pledging to advance Latino interests might be biased against the man who wants to build the wall that hinders the interests of Latino politicians?
Had we not just witnessed Latinos in San Jose throw eggs and sucker punches at Trump supporters, and wave the Mexican flag? Had not McConnell himself, by hoping Trump would change his standard rhetoric, conceded that liberal Latinos – of which Curiel belongs – viewed Trump’s proposals with animus?
If one listened to Hillary and her cabal of Republicans, Trump is a modern day version of Orval Faubus – the Arkansas governor who resisted court ordered integration of schools. But that conclusion is based on left-wing fan fiction that holds any time a white male questions a protected minority the motivation must be rooted in discriminatory animus.
Judge Curiel’s integrity is not being questioned by Trump just because of his Hispanic heritage. Trump is merely asserting that a person’s heritage does not foreclose a proper inquiry into their political activism and potential biases; he is suggesting that Curiel – a man who supports awarding an illegal alien a scholarship – might not view favorably a man who wants to deport the said scholarship recipient.
Recusal is a common theme when pro-choice advocates run up against pro-life judges. Recently, some scholars wanted Justice Antonin Scalia to recuse himself from McCullen v. Coakley; a case concerning abortion clinic buffer zones. But such requests are rarely viewed in a negative light.
The fact is seeking recusal – even if just discussing it – is a great way to preserve the integrity of the bench. Federal judges are appointed for life, unelected, and reviewed by other unelected judges. It is why Thomas Jefferson warned the federal bench could easily become a “despotism of an oligarchy.”
So why blast Trump for his Jeffersonian view of the judiciary? Democrats know Hillary is in trouble. They know the economic outlook is bleak and for almost 8 years the party has had no answers. It is why Hillary is making much ado about nothing and, frankly, the voters don’t care about the judicial politics of one class action lawsuit.
But this debate is not just about Trump or Trump University; it is about a politically correct double standard that permits liberals to use the faith of pro-life judges to boot them from a case, but calls questioning the ethnicity based activism of a liberal judge racism. And this is a concept the voters understand.
Liberals made Trump’s comments about race because they know a reasonable person might conclude Curiel’s activism creates the appearance of impropriety. The sad thing is Republicans, much like a battered spouse, are so accustomed to the politically correct abuse they accept it as the new normal.
By validating Hillary’s race card, Republican leaders have exhibited one of the worst examples of Stockholm syndrome. And when the dust settles, Newt will see that he and his fellow Republicans are the ones who made the “inexcusable” mistake.