Between a Rock and a Trump Place

Published: June 7, 2016

By Jim Lichtman
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Dear Mr. Speaker,

Well, that didn’t take long.

Last month you told CNN’s Jake Tapper: “I’m just not ready to [endorse Donald Trump].”

You said you couldn’t support Trump unless he “advances the principles of our party and appeals to a wide, vast majority of Americans.”

The only problem with that statement, Mr. Speaker is that Donald Trump only operates with ONE principle: Whatever serves the best interests of Donald Trump.

Exhibit A: From CNN’s (June 5), State of the Union, regarding Federal Judge Curiel who is overseeing a case involving Trump University –

TAPPER: “If you are saying he cannot do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?”

TRUMP: “No, I don’t think so at all.”

Exhibit B: From CBS’s (June 5) Face The Nation

JOHN DICKERSON: “…if it were a Muslim judge, would you also feel like they wouldn`t be able to treat you fairly because of that policy of yours [temporarily banning Muslims coming into the country]?”

TRUMP: “It’s possible, yes. Yes. That would be possible, absolutely.”

Exhibit C: Your response, Mr. Speaker, to Trump’s comments: “Look, the comment about the judge the other day just was out of left field for my mind. It’s reasoning I don’t relate to. I completely disagree with the thinking behind that.”

“Out of left filed”? “Reasoning I don’t relate to”?

Yesterday, Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse called it exactly what it is: “Saying someone can’t do a specific job because of his or her race is the literal definition of ‘racism.’ ”

If Trump isn’t a racist, as his loyal followers continue to defend, then he’s ignorant. Worse still, even after supporters like Newt Gingrich call him out, Trump continues to stick to his statement, demonstrating that he is also willfully ignorant. Do you really want a willfully ignorant man in the White House?

Exhibit D: Last month you told Tapper that, “The bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee.”

Trump’s response: “I’m not changing.”

And you know what that means.

Everything thing Trump says, everything Trump does, you, Speaker Ryan, will have to stand behind for the sake of… (rationalization of) … “party unity.”

Exhibit E: Here’s what conservative writer George Will wrote (June 6), about your decision to support Trump:

“The Caligulan malice with which Donald Trump administered Paul Ryan’s degradation is an object lesson in the price of abject capitulation to power. This episode should be studied as a clinical case of a particular Washington myopia — the ability of career politicians to convince themselves that they and their agendas are of supreme importance.”

Caligula,” “malice,” “degradation,” “capitulation”: and that’s only Will’s first sentence!

Exhibit F: 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney – you remember him – you ran as his vice-presidential pick. The man you compared to Ronald Reagan said of Mr. Trump:

“Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud… He’s playing the American public for suckers… His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president.”

Exhibit G: During that same 2012 campaign, Mr. Speaker, you said, “We won’t duck the tough issues, we will lead! We won’t blame others, we will take responsibility. We won’t replace our founding principles, we will re-apply them.”

You are ducking the “tough issues,” Mr. Speaker. You’re not taking “responsibility.” You are replacing our founding principles by endorsing hate, ignorance and prejudice.

In that same speech, you said: “Exploiting people’s emotions of fear, envy and anxiety is not hope, it’s not change, it’s partisanship. We don’t need partisanship. We don’t need demagoguery, we need solutions.”

Make no mistake, Mr. Speaker, that’s exactly who Donald Trump is: a gene-splice of Sen. Joe McCarthy and Gov. George Wallace; he’s Charles Coughlin and Alcibiades… with poor language skills.

Exhibit H: In a March 3rd press conference, you said:

“If I see episodes where conservatism is being disfigured, if I see comments that mislead the people as to who we are as Republicans, I’m going to speak out on those. I’m going to speak out for who I am and what I believe and what we as House Republicans believe, and what conservatism is as we understand it.”

Mr. Speaker, you are far from both the spirit and integrity of that statement.

Clearly, that doesn’t matter, now. He’s your guy and you and your colleagues will have to accept everything that comes with him. So, get ready to respond to the next Trump statement tomorrow… next week… and the next five months.

Oh, and pass the fava beans and kee-ann-tee. On second thought, you might want to consider a good round of opioids for the pain.

BREAKING NEWS: Early this morning, Paul Ryan called out Trump’s remarks saying, “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’s absolutely unacceptable. But do I believe that Hillary Clinton is the answer? No, I do not. I believe that we have more common ground on the policy issues of the day and we have more likelihood of getting our policies enacted with him than with her.”

UPDATE: The New York Times reports Senator Lindsey Graham’s comments: “This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy. If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it,” he added. “There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.”

UPDATE #2: The New York Times reports the release of a lengthy statement by Donald Trump the essence of which says: “It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage.”

After reading the entire statement, I find it difficult to “misconstrue” the following:

TAPPER: “If you are saying he cannot do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?”

TRUMP: “No, I don’t think so at all.”


DICKERSON: “…if it were a Muslim judge, would you also feel like they wouldn’t be able to treat you fairly because of that policy of yours [temporarily banning Muslims coming into the country]?”

TRUMP: “It’s possible, yes. Yes. That would be possible, absolutely.”

UPDATE #3: CBS This Morning reports that Senators Lindsey Graham, Mark Kirk and Jeff Flake have all withdrawn their support of Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for president.

UPDATE #4: Despite his lengthy statement saying that his comments about Judge Curiel were “misconstrued,” Trump has not apologized. According to a story in The Washington Post (June 8), Trump “softens his tone” in last night’s carefully worded and delivered speech from a teleprompter, and “the GOP hopes it will last.”

Over the next 5 months?  Maybe if he’s in a coma!

UPDATE #5: On CNN’s Out Front (June 8), Senator Mitch McConnell blasted Donald Trump’s attacks against Judge Curiel, but stopped short of calling the presumptive nominee’s comments racist despite the fact that House Speaker Paul Ryan has characterized those comments as such

The Republican leader who supported Lyndon Johnson over his own party’s choice of Barry Goldwater; the politician who supported The Civil Rights Act cannot label Trump’s comments racist? This is a no-brainer, Mitch!

UPDATE #6: In a story carried in The New York Times (June 8), “Politicians are so politically correct anymore, they can’t breathe,” Mr. Trump said in an interview Tuesday afternoon as fellow Republicans forcefully protested his ethnically charged criticism of a federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against the defunct Trump University.

“The people are tired of this political correctness when things are said that are totally fine… It is out of control.”

Memo to Trump: Not withstanding your poor grammar skills, clearly stating, as you have many times, that a federal judge cannot be fair because  of his ethnicity is not political correctness.  You should re-educate yourself with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s statement: “Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment.”

Don’t be fooled, folks. If someone told you that you could not perform your job due to your race, religion, or gender, how would you react?


  1. Another perspective?
    From the commentary by Mark Davis, host of a radio show in Texas and special contributor to the Dallas Morning News, as seen in the (June 9), Santa Barbara News Press:

    “Donald Trump is having a tough stretch as the primary season comes to an end, not because he is racist, but because he has done a thoroughly inadequate job insulating himself from that charge in a case that is so easy to explain that even I can do it.” Davis goes on to say that the perception of Trump’s complaint by America is “The judge is a Mexican.” Further, Mr. Davis states that Judge Curiel’s ethnicity is of no inherent significance, but there are reasons to believe he may harbor racially charged political animus common in life, such as his association with the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association and related behavior.

    Essentially it comes down to Mr. Trump’s explanation that his argument against the judge is behavioral, not racial. But as with many commentaries, either verbal or written, human beings tend to hone in on words that resonate with their beliefs and really don’t want to consider another idea.

    1. Sorry, Donna Marie, but to suggest, as Davis does, that Trump’s comments against a sitting federal judge are somehow activated by some subconscious or uncontrolled behavior just doesn’t wash. Trump has complete, conscious control of his brain and his mouth.

      When Trump says that Mexicans are “rapists”; that a federal judge cannot be unbiased because of his heritage; and to claim that a Muslim judge could not be unbiased, as well, is to use Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s words, “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”

      1. The suggestion wasn’t that [Trump’s]comments were subconscious or uncontrolled behavior, but that his comments were focused on the behavior of the judge, not the fact that he is Mexican. There is a big difference.

        On a much smaller, somewhat related scale, let’s contemplate this scenario: If I say, out-loud to myself while driving around in my car, “that F-ing bitch,” when some woman driver cuts me off, am I sexist or anti-woman? Or am I merely commenting on her behavior as a bad driver?

  2. OMG Jim, these quotes and this topic makes me nauseous and he is running for Commander in Chief!

    Your best quote, from Nebraska Republican Representative Ben Sasse called it exactly what it is: “Saying someone can’t do a specific job because of his or her race is the literal definition of ‘racism.’ ”

  3. I’m with you, Jim. I loved George Will’s first sentence. Great vocabulary and great description.

  4. There was a time when Senator John McCain was known as a sensible, independent-minded politician who didn’t kowtow to party lines. Then he chose an utterly unqualified, uneducated carnival sideshow for his VP in the form of Sarah Palin and it ruined his credibility. My guess is that Paul Ryan will never live this down, either.

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