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Opinion: Trump bigotry has shameless defenders, from GOP pols to CNN shills

June 9, 2016

It is a wondrous thing to watch the mental and moral gymnastics Republican politicians and political surrogates put themselves through to defend Donald Trump. This week, they’ve had to work especially hard for their 30 pieces of silver to justify Trump’s bigoted remarks about a “Mexican” judge.

The target of Trump’s latest self-serving rant is U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing a class-action lawsuit brought by hundreds of people who claim they were bamboozled by the billionaire’s bogus Trump University. Trump alleges that Curiel is treating him unfairly — the big baby is always whimpering about being treated unfairly by someone — because the judge is a Mexican.

Actually, Curiel is an Indiana-born American, but his parents are from Mexico and Trump told the Wall Street Journal that amounts to “an absolute conflict.” Why? Because Trump wants to build a wall along the Mexican border and, because Curiel might not approve of that, he is bound to be biased in his rulings. At least that is Trump’s skewed reasoning, based on no evidence.

Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who tried to minimize the impact of his endorsement of Trump for the GOP presidential nomination by publishing it in his hometown newspaper in Wisconsin, was at least direct in his characterization of Trump’s comments. He called the candidate’s words a “textbook definition of a racist comment.” Other Republicans were less forthright.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went before reporters to tell Trump he should “quit attacking the various people you competed with and various minority groups and get on message.” His concern, apparently, was less what Trump said than it was his lack of campaign discipline. Utah GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch showed little concern about Trump’s bigoted assertion that a Latino judge’s ethnicity should be disqualifying. Hatch told the media that, because poor little Donald is new to politics, they should “be nice to him.” Trump’s prized lap dog, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, defended his new master. “I’ve known him for 14 years,” Christie said. “And Donald Trump is not a racist.”

The most brazen defense was put up by two of Trump’s shills on CNN Tuesday night. The first zinger came from Kayleigh McEnany, one of the gaggle of vacuous young women who are vying to establish themselves in the lucrative business of conservative punditry. McEnany, a constant guest on CNN, is notorious for her inability to veer from Trump-friendly talking points. She outdid herself this time when she tried to change the subject from Trump’s remarks to the terribly unfair way the man has been treated by the media. Incredibly, it took other panelists several seconds too long to point out that Trump’s successful campaign has been built almost entirely on unlimited free media attention and a long string of softball interviews.

McEnany’s inanity was exceeded only by CNN’s favored Trump surrogate, Jeffrey Lord. The veteran political operative who was an aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp is usually much more nuanced in his Trump pumping. But this time his spin veered into the surreal. Trump’s comments weren’t racist, he argued, Trump was “calling attention to racism.” Lord went on to accuse Ryan and McConnell of playing the race card by critiquing Trump.

Wow. That’s what you call bold. And loyal. And twisted.

The most venal thing about what Trump said actually goes beyond racism. It is that he is intentionally stirring up ethnic animosity in order to deflect scrutiny of the abundant evidence that he and his trained sharks bilked hundreds of people out of the many thousands of dollars they paid for worthless courses at his “university.” And, in so doing, Trump is defaming Curiel, a respected jurist and former prosecutor whom the last Republican governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, calls a hero in the fight against Mexican drug cartels.

If the Republican politicians who are defending Trump had not lost their sense of decency, they would be ashamed of themselves. CNN’s Trumpistas McEnany and Lord are, obviously, incapable of shame. They are what they are, professional spinmeisters angling for a better TV gig or a job in the Trump White House. Too bad Trump University is defunct. McEnany and Lord could have been professors.

David.Horsey@latimes.com

Follow me at @davidhorsey on Twitter

 

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