2016, Donald Trump — June 4, 2016 at 2:15 pm

What we learned about Trump’s greatest fear from his attacks on Judge Curiel


He’s much more afraid of being known as a fraud than a racist

You know the 2016 election is getting to you when Donald Trump’s bigotry starts to make sense.

Continuously confronted with most outwardly bigoted major candidate since George Wallace, you could easily to forget that Trump’s use of racism is strategic, as it seems as haphazard and spewed as his tweets often do. But we can’t deny that it has worked.

His birtherism and rants against Mexicans and Muslims won him the GOP primary and this week. And this week, as he’s continued his “outrageous” attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s Mexican heritage, we’ve learned that he thinks bigotry is still his path to the presidency.

It comes down to this: Trump is much more afraid of being marked as a fraud and a failure than he is of being known as a racist. This is his actual strategy and it’s not as crazy as it sounds.

White people are Trump’s path to the presidency for two reasons:

  1. He can’t do much worse with minorities than Mitt Romney did in 2012, when turnout of non-white voters skyrocketed. Sure, he could turn Latinos away from the GOP the way Goldwater sent them fleeing forever in 1964 — as the GOP’s best strategist Mitch McConnell suggested he might. But that’s not Trump’s problem.
  2. He has to outperform Romney with white voters by considerable numbers. And that isn’t happening yet. Actually, he’s doing far worse with college-educated Republicans than Romney did. And he’s only barely outperforming Romney with white working class voters, winning about 65 percent when he needs at least 70 percent of their votes.

His best path to winning over white voters — and possibly, he believes, the minority men reluctant to elect the first woman president — is his business record.

That’s why Trump University is such a devastating story and could be his “undoing,” as The New Republic‘s Brian Beutler suggests:

Trump University will dramatize the truth about Trump for those voters in the same way Bain Capital dramatized Romney’s stone-heartedness. Trump says that he—and only he—has all the answers for the ailing middle class. That he will ply his business acumen on behalf of the everyman and turn his good fortune into theirs. All they have to do to secure his beneficence is fork over their votes. But it’s all a scam. All lies. And when his victims and former employees testify to this for the country, it will be devastating.

The wealth of testimony released by Judge Curiel this week might be enough to make that case. Heck, Democrats might have enough material already to prosecute Trump in the public mind.

Trump’s attempt to “poison the well” against the Judge in the most offensive way possible shows him employing the same strategy he’ll use against Hillary Clinton, drowning her in vile personal attacks. These attacks are not haphazard and have now been joined in a somewhat more substantive way by George W. Bush’s disgraced Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Will these obviously ridiculous and racist attacks work against a jurist with the nerve to take on Mexican drug cartels? Probably not.

But could they taint the discourse to lessen what could be Democrats’ most effective attack on his business record? He obviously hopes so. And it’s better than Romney’s defense on Bain, which was to basically shout “You did build that!” all summer.

It’s also important to remember that this could be a stupid gamble.

Greg Sargent has been imploring the left not to be caught up in the myth that Trump has “magical powers.” Trump won a primary by being willing to act out the repulsive impulses that make the GOP a dying party nationally. That won’t win him the presidency.

This week, he stuck his finger meat grinder waiting for him in the general election.

Hillary Clinton pointed out that Trump is dangerous fool when it comes to foreign policy. The press loved it and no serious figure on the right seemed to disagree.

Even more promising? She’s starting to find a way to beat him at his own game.

What’s remarkable about this tweet below, isn’t that it’s great. It’s that it has twice as many retweets as Trump’s: