For many Republicans, supporting presumptive nominee Donald J. Trump is like being strapped to the tip of a North Korean missile — you have no idea where it’s going or when it will blow up, but hey, you’re stuck, so you might as well enjoy your last few minutes on earth.
This past week, Trump achieved new heights — or is it new depths? — in his campaign to become America’s Bigot in Chief.
At a rally in California, he identified one supporter as “my African American,” a gem uttered just one day after he derided as “a Mexican” the Indiana-born, Republican-appointed federal judge overseeing a Trump University lawsuit.
As if that wasn’t remarkable enough, Trump then spent a full news cycle quadrupling down on his opinion that Judge Gonzalo Curiel could never be fair since, as Trump theorized for a solid two-plus minutes on CNN, “He’s Mexican; I’m building a wall, okay? I’m building a wall!”
Trump then told CBS News that a Muslim also couldn’t give him a fair hearing, a recognition perhaps that his hateful comments have consequences.
It wasn’t long before a whole bunch of elected Republicans began to twist themselves like pretzels over Trump’s remarks.
Oblivious, Trump demanded his surrogates disregard a memo (from his own campaign pros!) that asked them to stop talking about Trump University and Judge Curiel and shift the focus to policy.
Nope. Trump wanted a full-frontal attack hinged on the laughable claim that his comments were misconstrued, and while he may occasionally say a few bigoted things, it doesn’t mean he actually is a bigot. Huh?
The Republican nominee has so lowered the bar of civil discourse that Republican electeds and voters are left to not only grapple with whether his vile word vomit comports with their own personal values, but also to somehow prove that Trump is an aberration and not just an exaggeration of their own views.
It should be so easy to jump from Trump’s wobbly North Korean missile, but if they do, their decades-long foe, Secretary Hillary Clinton, will waltz right through the front door of the White House with Bubba on her arm.
Still, disowning Trump may be the only way to provide a soft(er) landing for their own morals, ethics and principles. A conundrum for sure.
Meanwhile, for many supporters of Secretary Clinton, watching Sen. Bernie Sanders indignantly appear on national television — after getting walloped in New Jersey and California and losing four out of six states — was nearly as discomfiting.
Few beside Bernie and Jane Sanders and their most math-averse Bernie-bots believed that his campaign was still alive as the votes piled up for Clinton in California.
That made his late-night threat to “fight all the way to Philadelphia” not only tone deaf but delusional. Instead of exhorting his supporters to rally around Clinton’s historic nomination, he choked on the moment and came off like a sore loser.
It took a solid night of sleep back home in Vermont, followed by a one-hour sit-down with President Obama and Vice President Biden on Thursday, for Sanders to soften his “fight to Philadelphia” rhetoric.
On the White House driveway, he smartly reframed his convention plan to be about issues and not himself.
Within moments, the president’s enthusiastic endorsement of Clinton went viral, and only hours later Biden and the original darling of the progressive movement, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, were on national television attacking Trump — and in stark terms.
Soon they will all hit the trail, joined by the first lady and Sanders, who rightfully serves as trustee of a real movement.
Folks, this is a firing line of epic proportions. Who, besides Chris Christie and Ben Carson, will take a bullet for Trump?
If Sanders can shepherd a fair share of his revolutionaries to Clinton’s side, just as she brought her PUMAs (Party Unity My A**) to Obama in 2008, Clinton’s own negatives — which, let’s face it, are real and palpable — will pale in comparison.
She is far from a perfect candidate but she is, in a landslide, the most attractive one still standing.
Republican colleagues in the Senate often lauded Clinton for her willingness to work across the aisle, which also makes her the more pragmatic choice for #NeverTrump conservatives and politics-weary independents.
Everyone knows that Democrats turn out in presidential years, and with so many beloved Democrats standing alongside Clinton, including former President Bill Clinton, another landslide — that’s not only possible but probable — is of the electoral kind.
And while the margin of victory could easily be historic, I must remind gloating Democrats that Trump has defied expectations every step of the way, so they’d be wise to take him seriously now and celebrate later.
With the GOP hard-pressed to plug down-ballot holes caused by Trump almost everywhere but Kansas and Alabama, their resources will be severely stretched.
In the face of legitimate Democratic opponents, that reality couldn’t be worse timed for local Republicans, as Tuesday’s Primary offered the latest proof of this region’s more politically balanced, blue-trending electorate.
Democrat Christy Smith took first in the 38th Assembly District race, beating Republican Dante Acosta by nine points and garnering 10 percent more votes than any Democrat ever had before.
Congressional candidate Bryan Caforio did something even the popular-among-Dems Dr. Lee Rogers could not, defeating multiple opponents to advance to a run-off against Republican incumbent Steve Knight that will likely cost each upwards of $2 million.
With Democrats Johnathon Ervin, Henry Stern, Steve Fox and Darrell Park also advancing, local Republicans will need to defend and spend on every race for the first time ever.
Yep, keep an eye out for that wayward Trump missile because it just might blow things up around here a lot sooner than even the most optimistic Democrat would have predicted even six months ago.
Thanks Donald. …
John Zaring has been a Santa Clarita Valley resident since 2000.