A clear and present danger

6/10/2016, 7:12 a.m.
The danger that Donald Trump, practitioner of questionable business practices, inveterate bully, racist, sexist, demagogue and the Republican Party’s presumptive ...
Lee A. Daniels

Lee A. Daniel

The danger that Donald Trump, practitioner of questionable business practices, inveterate bully, racist, sexist, demagogue and the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for president of the United States, presents to American society was never more evident than last week amid a flurry of negative news stories.

The result was more additions to the ever-expanding “enemies’ list” he has promised he’ll retaliate against once he gets to the Oval Office.

For example, there’s Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over the court case involving Mr. Trump’s ill-fated Trump University. The evidence and testimony in the case thus far strongly suggest the “school” wasn’t simply a mismanaged enterprise but, as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman put it, “just straight up fraud.”

Because Judge Curiel’s parents emigrated from Mexico decades ago and became American citizens, Mr. Trump keeps referring to him as “Mexican,” although he was born in East Chicago, Ind., took both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Indiana, and has forged a sterling legal career in the United States. Last week, Mr. Trump told his supporters at a rally that the federal court system “is a rigged system” and that “they ought to look into Judge Curiel because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace.”

Mr. Trump’s words reek of those used by Southern segregationists during Jim Crow to denounce federal court decisions that were re-establishing the civil rights of black Americans. But his threat to bend the judiciary to his will is unprecedented for a serious presidential candidate. 

Also last week, after reporters began asking him pointed questions about the disbursement of donations he had collected last January and pledged to give to veterans’ groups, Mr. Trump began insulting individual reporters at the news conference he had called and bitterly threatening to curb press freedoms once he gets to the Oval Office.

Also, Mr. Trump last week excoriated the PGA Tour after its officials told him they were moving its World Golf Championship tournament from Mr. Trump’s golf course in Miami to Mexico City next year. The reason: Mr. Trump’s “brand” is now so toxic officials couldn’t get the commercial advertising and corporate sponsorship deals they needed to make holding the event there profitable.

Mr. Trump characteristically cast the decision as a personal insult. “Can you believe it?” he later bellowed at a rally in Sacramento. “But that’s OK. Folks, it’s all going to be settled. You vote for Donald Trump as president. If I become your president, this stuff is all going to stop.”

Hillary Clinton, the Democrat’s presumptive nominee, had the proper, scathing assessment of Mr. Trump’s candidacy and character in a speech she gave last Thursday in San Diego that effectively marked the opening of her general election campaign against him.

“Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different — they are dangerously incoherent,” she said. “They’re not even really ideas — just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies. He is not just unprepared — he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility.”

Mr. Trump now faces several significant problems. They include a serious legal case that could produce devastating consequences; and growing pressure to reveal his tax returns, amid suspicion that he both pays very little taxes and isn’t nearly as wealthy as he claims.

And, finally, he must contend with a lone, seasoned politician who has long marched through tough political battles at home and abroad.

However, Mr. Trump does hold one high card that makes him a clear and present danger. It’s not just that his mob of supporters have so eagerly sold their own birthright. It’s that they’ve done so because they’re intent on stealing ours.

The writer, a former journalist, is an author and speaker.