“Oh, look at my African-American over here! Look at him. Are you the greatest? You know what I’m talking about, ok?”-Donald Trump at a rally in California
As I was scrolling through the Twitter trending topics on Friday evening, I wondered why #myafricanamerican was in the top ten. When I read the aforementioned quote, I was dumbfounded. Are we in 2016? Didn’t the Roots reboot just come out? In what context would using the phrase “my African American” be received well? Not surprisingly, the mainstream media had a field day with that soundbite.
The African-American being referenced was Gregory Cheadle (a Republican candidate in CA-1) who had met with Trump previously and had called out to him at the rally. Cheadle says he can understand how the phrase sounds in print but that it was well intended and that there are no hard feelings between the two. While that’s somewhat reassuring, the larger issue is why Donald Trump referred to Cheadle’s race and not the fact that he was a promising young star in the GOP. Why not just endorse him like he recently endorsed Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC)? Did his robo-call for Elmers say “please vote for Renee Ellmers because she’s my Caucasian?” No, the call said vote for Renee because she was “the first congressman to endorse me and she was really terrific and boy, is she a fighter.” After his Cinco de Mayo Instagram post which proclaimed how much he loved the Hispanics and taco salads, Trump’s statements have come under increasing scrutiny but he seems unable (or unwilling) to stop committing gaffes.
We were told that upon securing the Republican nomination Donald Trump would shift to a more palatable general election tone and a unifying message. He promised that after he beat the “leftovers” (Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich) he would be “so presidential” that reporters were going “to be so bored, you’re going to say this is the most boring human being I’ve ever interviewed…” I doubted that this seismic shift would occur overnight but thought that he might focus his ire on Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders instead of his GOP rivals. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.
In the past several weeks, he has continued to rail against fellow Republicans and mock them even after they switched their previous allegiances to endorse him. He derided former Governor Rick Perry, formerly a Cruz supporter, after he pledged to support Trump as the GOP nominee. His personal attacks against Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and Governor Nikki Haley have not stopped even after they no longer pose a threat to his election chances. Even in victory, he has continued to belittle and discredit GOP stalwarts. Throughout his campaign, he has excused his scorched earth campaign tactics as being reactionary in nature. His continued need to tear down members of his own party, even those who swallowed their objections and endorsed him publicly, is truly unsettling.
Even more damaging than his attacks on fellow Republicans are Trump’s accusatory comments aimed at Judge Gonzalo Curiel who is presiding over one of the Trump University lawsuits. In what was clearly a scripted move, Trump branded the judge “a hater of Donald Trump” who had “tremendous hostility” towards his plan to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. In an interview after he first questioned whether the judge’s Hispanic heritage rendered him unable to rule fairly, Trump doubled down on his earlier statements. “I have a Mexican judge. He’s of Mexican heritage. He should have recused himself, not only for that, for other things.” Katrina Pierson, Trump campaign spokeswoman, says that the “other things” is a reference to Judge Curiel’s membership in La Raza and the fact that he was a Obama appointee.
In response to Trump’s repeated attacks on the judge’s character, his supporters have flooded the judge’s office with angry calls and threats. Of course, Trump didn’t mention that the judge was born in Indiana, appointed to the bench by a Republican governor initially, and had bravely prosecuted dangerous drug cartel members from Mexico. If Trump had questions about the judge’s ties with a group he considered to be radical, why not mention that fact in his original statement or have his lawyers file the necessary paperwork to have him removed from the case? (Note: The La Raza Lawyers of San Diego is not an affiliate of the NCLR which has been actively protesting Trump events.)Why assume that every person of Hispanic descent is predisposed against him or the rule of law? Hasn’t he been maintaining that “the Hispanics” love him? If that is the case, why be worried about the judge choosing to unseal the documents in the case? Perhaps because the documents in question will reveal unscrupulous practices in the Trump University marketing manuals. As per usual, Trump chose to wage his battle in the court of opinion instead of using the proper channels. Republican leaders like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan once again had to distance themselves from remarks made by the presumptive GOP nominee.
As I’ve said in previous posts, I can’t support Donald Trump in good conscience. I had hoped that he would elevate his rhetoric and curb his tendency to make damaging statements but that hope is fading fast. To all my friends who support Donald Trump, here’s to hoping that your candidate will temper his remarks in the future.