Photo courtesy of US District Court Southern District of California
Judge Gonzalo Curiel
The political world went forever sideways last year when Donald Trump tossed his hair into the ring, declared he was running for president and promptly labeled Mexicans "rapists." Ay dios mio! That seemed, at first, like the beginning of the end. Instead, it was the beginning of the end of logical public discourse, as we once knew it.
Along the way to now, Trump has baldly exhibited racism toward Muslims and African Americans. He's been a misogynistic, xenophobic, Pope-baiting, condescending, bullying con artist. All the while his poll numbers grew, even as, and perhaps because, his outlandish utterances empowered a pissed-off electorate.
Now The Tangelo Hued One has gone off on a local judge. When Trump spoke at a rally held last week at the San Diego Convention Center he went on a tangent about the unfair treatment he believes he is receiving from U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. This is the judge presiding over the lawsuit involving Trump University, in which some former students say for $35,000 they got elementary instruction at best.
Trump keeps insisting Curiel is biased against him because the judge is Mexican. How, wonders presumptive Republican presidential nominee Shock Top, can a Mexican be fair to the man who purports to have a plan to build a wall between the United States and his motherland?
Brains that run on logic are exploding all over the country. How does this fly? For starters, Curiel's birthplace barrio was Indiana, and his Mexican-born parents became U.S. citizens. As a federal prosecutor Curiel was involved in cases against Mexican drug cartels—and he had to live in hiding under the protection of United States marshals because an Arellano-Félix cartel gunman was taped in a San Diego prison saying he had permission to assassinate Curiel.
The judge has risked his life to do his job protecting the United States.
Trump has also asserted Curiel is politically biased because President Obama appointed him to the federal bench in 2011. True—and that was four years after Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneger picked him for a San Diego judgeship.
Most egregiously, Trump won't back down from the assertion that a Mexican judge can't give He Who Would Build The Wall a fair trial. Trump essentially says Curiel can't do his job because of his race.
If that's not blatant racism then the Holocaust never happened and slavery was a mutually beneficial partnership.
Rest assured there is no legal precedent for a judge to be removed from a case solely because of his or her race, gender or origin of appointment by political party. Bias cannot be deemed "inherent."
Whew. You know you've jumped the shark when the Senate Majority Leader, the House Speaker, Newt Gingrich and most of the GOP feel dirty about this tirade.
If the electorate lets this one slide we should all be shivering at night right up until the general election. "Dilbert" comic strip creator Scott Adams—a satirist skilled at skewering bosses with unusual hair—predicts Trump will win the November election in a landslide precisely because he has linguistically gamed the system. His "rhetorical techniques" make him a "master persuader," Adams writes in his blog.
If cartoonists are weighing in, let's not forget that 16 years ago a Simpsons episode predicted Trump would become president. "As you know, we've inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump," says Lisa Simpson, who, in the episode wins the Oval Office after Trump's term.
Is it a negative thing that a non-politician has gotten this close to the White House? In the case of Trump—who wants us to believe his remarks about Curiel were "misconstrued"—yes. He can't be the commander in chief. But that's not to say we need to cheer for a return to the bought-and-paid, circular-talk political system he's smashed up the side of its head. Let's hope Trump's bulbous noggin was destined to be the battering ram that knocks down the gate for a real-life, feel-the-Bern populist president of the future. Somebody more idealistic and thoughtful like Lisa Simpson, but not the crudely drawn, animated character that is Donald Trump.