When Republicans have a severe communications mishap, all conservatives should be concerned about getting the situation righted as soon as possible.
If someone seeking to speak for all Republicans commits a seething unforced error, it must be addressed promptly so that voters know they can expect better moving forward.
I am referring, of course, to Paul Ryan.
Sure, Donald Trump could have been more precise in his complaint about Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Something like this: “The Judge’s ethnicity poses no problem in and of itself. But there is an appearance of compromised impartiality based on racial politics— the judge’s membership in a pro-amnesty lawyers’ association is in direct conflict with my campaign policies.”
What would that take, ten seconds? Fine-tuning Trump’s phraseology is easy. Far more pressing is the issue of key Republicans choosing to lie about our presumptive nominee.
Senators Lindsey Graham and Mark Kirk issued a dual gasp, joined by Governor John Kasich and others in a collective recoil over the perceived affront to this unassailable judge. From Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on down, suggestions swirled that the judge deserved an apology.
If there are apologies to be crafted, they should come from every Republican who chose to join the campaign of deception designed to smear Trump as a racist.
I expect this from Democrats. There will be no limit to the dishonesty and slanders they will launch in their attempt to drag their corrupt candidate across a November 8 finish line.
But I would have expected more from the people supposedly interested in beating her.
Republicans do not need to universally, blindly, uncritically lift up the nominee. Constructive suggestions are welcome. I have a few: meet often with strong conservatives, formulate a list of them for running mate and cabinet slots; spare us further juvenile insults on twitter as in the attack on Heidi Cruz; become more fluent in the language of conservatism and constitutional fidelity; and stop advocating stupid things like a higher minimum wage.
I offer all of those because I want him to win. Can his tormentors over this phony Curiel controversy sincerely say the same?
They may try, but their words betray them.
Paul Ryan, the most noteworthy Republican in America until Trump wins, carefully measured the following sentences and then actually spoke them:
“Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed; it is absolutely unacceptable.”
Indeed it would be, if that’s what Trump had done. His complaints about Judge Curiel have always been about fairness and the belief that the judge may well be hostile to Trump as a litigant. The culprit factor is indeed the politics of race, a familiar phenomenon not only acknowledged but celebrated by Sonia Sotomayor in her climb to the Supreme Court.
Her assertion that a “wise Latina” can offer better rulings than someone of some other ethnicity or sex is straight-up racism. I remember few cries from the marble halls of the Republican establishment at that time. Yet today, these same people feign revulsion at comments their own party’s near-nominee never made.
Professor Ryan could not restrain his analysis of how the Republican brand (which has done so very well lately) is somehow damaged by the Trump-Curiel dustup: “What bothers me about the comments is it doesn’t reflect who we are or what we think or how we think as Republicans; it’s antithetical to what we believe and our principles.”
Ryan has actually stumbled onto an unfortunate truth about a disconnect between the ivory towers and real people. For years, the Republican leadership has indeed failed to reflect how sick and tired voters have become of kowtowing to identity politics. After years of attacks on conservatism as racist, one man dares to suggest that minorities might harbor the occasional vendetta based on the politics of race. And the favored leadership “principle” is to pound him into the ground with lies that only help Hillary Clinton.
In the punditocracy, the cries are loud that the Republican party is somehow fractured and damaged by these last few days. There are surely damsels in thousand-dollar suits getting the vapors in the Speaker’s anteroom and the lobby of the RNC, but across real America, millions of voters who elevated Trump to the threshold of the nomination knew exactly what he was talking about and are glad to hear attention to the effects of race on judicial impartiality.
I’d venture that millions of Republicans who favored other candidates are somehow able to grasp Trump’s complaint, while the supposedly smart kids running the party and issuing haughty commentary have once again blown the call.
It is not hard to envision thoughtful people in Trump’s circle occasionally suggesting optimal ways to maximize his communications strengths while avoiding pitfalls. But for the life of me, I don’t know how pantywaist Republicans get past their surrender instincts in the racial arena, or their inability to grasp that the great unwashed electorate no longer smiles on their flavor of leadership.