Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Donald Trump and the "Mexican" Judge

Judge Gonzalo Curiel

The latest Rasmussen poll shows Hillary Clinton with a one-point lead (39-38) over Donald Trump among the Nation’s electorate. At this still early stage in the campaign national poll numbers do not mean that much although it is interesting that about 20% of those polled are undecided as yet. I suspect that the numbers might change if Clinton is upset by Bernie Sanders in today’s California primary. They will probably split the California delegates but a loss to Sanders might further tarnish Clinton’s image.

However, Clinton strategists seem to believe that it will do her no good to attack Sanders or his proposed policies. More and more, she is focusing her attacks on Trump. She read a carefully crafted speech last week that was supposed to lay out her views on foreign policy but was in reality just an opportunity to attack Trump. I was in the gym when she delivered it and watched a good deal while on the treadmill. Donald Trump later characterized her speech as boring and I would have to agree. She shows no passion or conviction when speaking and the teleprompter just makes her delivery more stilted. Even the fans in the audience could hardly bring themselves to applaud at the appropriate moments.

It’s no wonder that Trump’s remarks this week about the judge trying the Trump University suit caused more interest on the news than Clinton’s major foreign policy speech.  Trump complained that the judge was treating him unfairly in the case and attributed the judge’s conduct to the fact that he was a “Mexican.” Actually, Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s ancestry is Mexican but he was born in the USA to parents who were born in Mexico.

Trump’s remark sent shock waves through the media and the political class. Charges of racism were leveled against Trump but rather than apologizing he doubled down on his initial remark. Trump claimed that the many irregularities in the case could only be explained by the judge’s prejudice against him for his proposals on Mexican immigration.

It is not impossible for a judge to be biased. Judge Gonzalo Curiel was an Obama appointee in 2014. It is hard for me to imagine that Judge Curiel’s Mexican and Hispanic ancestry was not a factor in his appointment to the Federal bench. It is also hard for me to imagine that when newly elected President Barack Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, her Hispanic ancestry was not a factor. It is true that she is a member of the Democrat party but why appoint her unless it was believed that someone on the bench would need to be sympathic to Hispanics?

In his seven years in office how many Republicans has President Obama appointed to the bench? Isn’t it expected that these appointments will show some bias? When the Trump University class action lawsuit came into his jurisdiction, Judge Curiel appointed a prominent law firm that had donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrat politicians to represent the plaintiffs. Moreover, it is a common practice for lawyers in big money cases to search around for friendly venues and judges.

Does an accusation of bias in one judge constitute racism? Those who like to level charges of racism are often guilty of a kind of reverse racism. How often do we hear that it was the race of a white policeman that led him to shoot a black suspect? How often do we hear that a white teacher cannot teach Black History? Should Asian applicants to prestigious universities like Harvard and Stanford complain that they have been rejected solely because of their race.

Finally, Mexicans do not constitute a race at all. Nor do Hispanics all of whom can trace their ancestry back to European Spain. When Trump says that he is as proud of his heritage as Judge Curiel, he may not realize it but they both belong to the same race despite differences in their ethnicity. On the other hand, maybe Trump does know what he is doing and is using a little Machiavellian ploy to make the judge bend over backward to avoid any appearance of bias in the future.


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