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June 09th 2016 print

Peter Smith

The Donald and the Judge

Would a mainstream politician have dared raise the affiliations, sympathies, ethnic heritage and political patrons of the judge hearing his case? Never, not in a million years. But the outsider candidate detested by his own party's establishment is no normal politician. Nor is he a racist

trump dumpDonald Trump gets into trouble too often for his own good and America’s. He has to get with the PC program, give away his throwaways and stick to major national issues and policies. His policy objectives are all vote winners. Look at this partial list and find fault if you can. Putting myself in patriotic American shoes, I can’t.

  • Securing the border, building the military, taking better care of vets, destroying ISIS, putting America first by insisting that allies pull their military weight
  • Controlling immigration, particularly Muslim immigration
  • Replacing Obamacare
  • Creating jobs by lowering taxes and regulations, liberating the exploitation of fossil fuel energy and negotiating better trade deals.

If he concentrates on his policies and reserves his criticisms for Clinton  he will likely win. It’s the diversions that get him into trouble. This time Trump criticised the judge hearing the class-action civil suit against Trump University, which, as I understand it, purported to teach people how to profit from real estate. That would have been OK. His mistake was in suggesting that the judge’s Mexican heritage (his parents were Mexican migrants) may have played a part in swaying his conduct of the proceedings.

He said this because the judge, Gonzalo Curiel, appointed by President Obama, is a member of a Latino lawyers association (La Raza Lawyers Association) whose members have a record of acting for illegal migrants. Moreover, the class action was brought by a legal firm which has given large sums of money to the Clintons. Trump’s thinking is that the case has taken on a political dimension and that his own strong stand on illegal Mexican immigration may have affected the judge’s ability to act objectively.

Trump argues that his side is being treated unfairly. As an example he notes that a leading plaintiff was found to be on record praising the University. As a result, the legal firm representing her asked that she be removed from the case; as you would. At question, in Trump’s view, is why the judge allowed this without summarily dismissing the case.

I have no idea of the precise accuracy of this account or of the legal rights and wrongs of what occurred. But that doesn’t matter. The question I would like to pose is this: was Trump’s statement racist, as Paul Ryan and other Republicans have said; and as numbers of conservative commentators like, for example, Charles Krauthammer, have said?

I will cut to the chase. It isn’t racist. Asserting that some white jurymen and white judges in the Deep South in, say, the 1960s were influenced by their ethnicity in evaluating the testimony of black witnesses is not racist. As we know, in those cases, the racists were on the bench and on the juries.

Of course, if Trump had said what his critics claim it would be racist. Time and time again, I heard them say that Trump had said that Curiel’s Mexican heritage disqualified him from hearing the case. The problem is that he didn’t say that. The segment of the stump address that sparked the escalating brouhaha can be viewed below. Watch it if you have 11 minutes to spare and see if the press is reporting an actual comment or an imaginary one.

Subsequently, in a CNN interview (below), Trump said that Curiel’s Mexican heritage might be influencing his judgment in this particular case. This might be right or wrong but it isn’t racist. For, a relatively lonely, sane account of the beat-up kerfuffle read this from Patrick Buchanan.

Or take a fictitious example. A protestant judge with an Ulster heritage is hearing civil action against a Sinn Fein sympathiser of Republic of Ireland heritage. The sympathiser believes that his case is being badly handled and suggests that the Ulster judge’s heritage might be influencing his decisions and conduct of the case. It is self-evidently ridiculous to call this racist.

Another red herring is that Trump is impugning the objectivity of a judge. Give everyone a break. If judges are so objective why is it possible to accurately predict how Supreme Court justices will fall based solely on their political affiliations?

So where does this leave us? My own view is that Trump should mind his Ps and Qs but, at the same time, numbers of his Republican critics are being malicious and will jump on anything to bring him down. They are the Never Trump crowd or those who have supported him only through gritted teeth. But there is another factor in play. It is called stupidity.

It may be my age but I think it is increasing. It shows itself in an inability to comprehend distinctions in language. What people actually say is scrambled by inadequate brains to fit preconceived views. It then emerges as an historical record with no basis in fact. The question is, said Alice, whether you can make words mean so many different things. Yes, these days, you apparently can. And Donald Trump has to be particular careful. Elites on his own side are out to do him in.

Can’t have any champion of common folk in the White House. He might derail the gravy train.

 

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [10]

  1. Warty says:

    Isn’t it interesting: ‘elites on his own side are out to do him in’. We find the same thing here in Australia, as you well know. As Malcolm Wormpill, our illustrious PM said on the 31st May, “Pauline Hanson is, as far as we are concerned, not a welcome presence in the Australian political scene”. Now, why would the leader of a supposedly conservative party say something so awful about another political figure? Well, it’s not altogether different to your Jeb Bushes in the Republican Party, a supposedly conservative party. These guys (I beg your pardon David Morrison) will keep the same old establishment rattling on ad infinitum: Democrat president replaced by a Republican one, followed by a Democrat. Certainly Ronald Reagan was no walking Jimmy Disaster Carter, but policies don’t change enormously.
    Here in Australia, the Racial Discrimination Act was brought in by Geoff Whitlam, way back in 1975 (in the days when I apparently thought the heavenly light shone from his derriere), which is the greatest impediment to free speech in our country (the RDA, not Whitlam’s derriere) particularly Part 2, which includes section 18c.
    Now, here’s the thing: each successive government, both Liberal and Labor have maintained this Act. The Abbot government pledged to get rid of section 18c with great fanfare, but with a recalcitrant senate, was unable to do so. What is interesting is that there was no mention of 18c being a trigger for Double Dissolution. I suspect it will wander off into the distance to be never heard of again (unless the ALA manage to get a few senators into the upper house).
    I have noticed dozens of reader comments in The Australian talking about the need for a Trump in Australia and perhaps we need such a dynamic force to blow political correctness out of the water. I don’t know, but things cannot continue the way they are. The problem here is again the same as the one in America: the media. The Australian News Commentary mentioned, back in March 1999: ‘The sustained media campaign against Hanson and One Nation was one of the most significant campaigns of vilification the country has ever seen’. I don’t need to say it, but I will anyway: loose cannons don’t follow mainstream conventions or policies (because they are supposedly ‘loose cannons’! Pauline Hanson was speaking out against uncontrolled immigration when it was just not PC to do so. It is not particularly PC to do so now, but John Howard told us that we have a right to determine who comes into this country and he set out to stop the boats (which Labor subsequently stuffed up). Howard’s sheer hypocrisy lay in the fact that he instructed Pauline Hanson’s One Nation be placed last on all Liberal ‘how to vote’ cards, including regional branches, most likely to benefit by an exchange of preferences. Howard did this for two reasons: media brouhaha and the fact One Nation was nibbling away at his support base, and he simply couldn’t allow that.
    But two of her principal policies aimed against uncontrolled immigration and the aboriginal ‘industry’ are genuinely worthy of discussion. As Mark Stein once said, with regard to Europe, and Germany in particular, that an indigenous population (indigenous in the sense Andrew Bolt uses it: someone born in a country) that has a birth rate of 1.5 children per couple, presents a ‘structural flaw’, hence the apparent need for immigration, but if we hadn’t had the sexual revolution of the 1960/70s we may never have had this ‘structural flaw’. The feminists have a lot to answer for.

    • a propos says:

      This comment contains quite a few valid points, which would be worthy of a discussion as an article.

    • Roy Edmunds says:

      Trump has managed his financial life successfully. During the same period politicians have followed the New World Order dictates (which are not that new fundamentally) and once again we have arrived at a global mess already called The Greater Depression.
      Trump I expect will be pulled into line once he becomes President and learns who runs this mess that President Clinton “more like ‘disorder’” and was immediately attacked in the British press the following day for uttering such sacrilege.
      Our major parties subscribe to the New World Order and it is just a matter of administering the directives according to all the treaties signed off on since Whitlam.
      Trump is the man who from the sidelines has simply described the NWO emperor as having no clothes.
      If we are going to have fascism let us have it well managed by someone who knows how to negotiate and not simply touch the forelock and go along with the whole shebang regardless of how bad the deals turn out.
      Trump promises better deals thats all.
      Thats all we can hope for this far down the NWO track…there is no turning back…just better deals.

      • Warty says:

        You’ve touched on a truly humungous topic, here, Roy, mentioning the idea New World Order, which many would associate with Woodrow Wilson’s brainchild ‘peace without victory’ and its enforcer, The League of Nations, a disaster that gave birth to a deformed monstrosity: the United Nations and its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Not only do organisations like the EU and it’s blood relative, the UN, render the concept of ‘sovereign nation’ utterly redundant, they managed to change the perceptions of ordinary citizens, as far away as one could possibly get from Brussels and New York, i.e. here in a quietly unsuspecting Australia.
        One might point to the Whitlam overthrow of the Menzies period of Australian conservatism; or wink wink nudge nudge at the sexual revolution, the pill, the moratorium movement and its prevailing anti establishment agenda. But whatever the origins, an inherent Australian conservatism, gradually began to be supplanted by political correctness and pervasive liberalism, promoted by the media with the connivance of politicians of all hues, who sought to use the media for their own ends, but were in turn forced to mould their agenda so as to ensure a sympathetic media. All those back-room deals, sneakily-engineered leaks and political assassinations, initiated perhaps by politicians, but aided and abetted by a scoop-driven media. And you thought the ABC simply reported the news.
        The wild-eyed, long-haired hippies somehow developed man boobs, halitosis and way out of controlled waist-lines and became, well, the establishment. The new LBGTIQ radicals view their ‘establishment’ with about as much loathing as their ex hippy parents did, but perhaps without the same justification: the old world order is no longer there. Labor and Liberal, which were once not unlike chalk and cheese, are barely distinguishable. We have a new kid on the block: the Greens, who surreptitiously suffocated the slightly older ‘new kid on the block’, the now defunct Democrats. But talk about syrup, or spider web or any other sticky substance that effectively pins you down (i.e. stifles any possibility of original, liberating thought) . . . the Labor left is indistinguishable from the grass roots Greeny, and the centre left Liberal politician is rather like his Laborite counterpart. And the ordinary Aussi looked from Liberal to Laborite and from Laborite to Greeny, but already it was impossible to say which was which. Pax George O.
        So what is this New World Order? It’s the spider’s web.

  2. Warty says:

    I may need to explain what is meant by a ‘structural flaw’ in the last paragraph (above). A birthrate of 1.5 children per couple does not allow a country to renew itself, so to speak. It becomes top heavy, with the older generations starting to outnumber the young, and the workforce having to sustain a welfare system overloaded with pensioners. Part of the structural flaw also lies in the fact that, on average, Muslim families have four children per family (it may be more, because some husbands have more that one wife, allowing them to have up to sixteen children). But you knew that anyway.

  3. Rob Ellison says:

    Most Australians think of China as a trading partner rather than a threat. Most see the US as likely to lead us into a confrontation. Yet most support the US alliance. A contradiction that is a study in geopolitical fatalism. The philosophy of containment – which is the only reality of geopolitics – has shown no signs of ever succeeding. Eisenhower sought to contain Japan and Europe Germany. The aftermath saw the rise of China and Russia – the containment of which led to proxy wars of attrition across the planet.

    All of which have resulted in defeat and humiliation for the US. You’d think they’d want a different result. Both sides of American politics
    contribute to empty sabre rattling. The democrats approve FONOPS in the South China Sea challenge the 12 nautical mile rule based on legalistic interpretations of the status of rocks in the ocean that are no longer rocks in the ocean. In the cause of expensive oil and depleted fisheries? More likely it is an expression of American exceptionalism encouraging adventures abroad.

    It’s time they stopped and focussed instead on the real foundations of wealth – trade, innovation and fiscal and monetary conservatism. Neither side of US politics seems likely to succeed in this any time soon. But Trump seems uniquely qualified to step up international tensions with his lines in the sand and promises to stand up to diverse regimes. As well as to hasten the further economic decline – already well advanced – of the US with protectionist and isolationist policies.

    We should distance ourselves rather than march lock step – albeit eyes wide open – into every American adventure.

    • a propos says:

      What has your primitive anti-Americanism got in common with the subject of Peter Smith’s article?

      • Rob Ellison says:

        The subject of the first paragraph concerns the attractiveness of Trump policies to voters. It went on to a lauding of all things Trump.

        At this stage of history – they would do well to reflect and refocus internally – and to negotiate a new place in the world. Especially to improve trade, productivity and fiscal and monetary management on the long road back to economic and social health.. After so many misadventures and so much squandered gold and blood. Trump appears with bluster and bullying to promise more of the same with bells on and not something different.

        Quite frankly – I don’t a flying f… for either of these US parties of dinosaurs. I merely suggested we position ourselves as good trading partners who deplore sabre rattling. Perhaps we could consider not going along on the next adventure?

        But really it is not about my primitive US indifference. I just gave a cool assessment of the likely impact – based on announced policy and The Donald personality – on global peace and American prosperity. I’d be happy enough if they did mend their ways – but it seems a hopeless cause.

        I’d be happier if we decided that the purpose of free speech was to a little deeper than dismissive slogans.

  4. Rob Ellison says:

    I had to to laugh at this from an impeccably credentialed libertarian – or Whig as Hayek said in ‘Why I am not a conservative’. Meaning the original liberal in the classic sense.

    ‘Donald Trump is as well positioned as anyone to be elected leader of the world’s oldest democracy. If he wins, I hope he tires of America quickly and leaves us for a younger, Eastern European country. But if he puts his name in gold letters atop the White House and stays for four years, our next best hope is that right and left, Congress and the courts see new urgency in safeguarding civil liberties, reining in executive power, limiting surveillance, and tyrant-proofing the White House like helicopter parents moving into a new place with a badly behaved toddler.’

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/where-libertarians-stand-as-donald-trump-rises/476139/

  5. Rob Ellison says:

    Americans hate both candidates. This appeared in my Facebook timeline this morning – shared by the son of a real world friend.

    https://www.facebook.com/JeremyMcLellanComedy/photos/a.830187887022388.1073741829.825953290779181/1122325024475338/?type=3&theater

    But there is an adult alternative – and it doesn’t involve ranting maniacally about the new world order.

    https://morningconsult.com/2016/06/07/gary-johnson-general-election-poll-hillary-clinton-donald-trump/