It seemed like it was only a matter of time when someone in the political media consortium found a way to claim Donald Trump’s obviously racist attacks on a federal judge wasn’t actually racist. And, lo and behold, it was none other than political hack and avowed Trump buddy Mark Halperin who tried to pull off that Jedi mind trick.
Yep. During Friday’s broadcast of his Beltway-insider-meets-ESPN’s-PTI show With All Due Respect, Halperin tried to convince co-host John Heilemann that Trump’s insistence that Judge Gonzalo Curiel shouldn’t be allowed to preside over his Trump U fraud case because he’s Mexican-American wasn’t racial in any way. Why? Well, because “Mexico isn’t a race.”
Yes, this was actually Halperin’s justification.
From Media Matter’s transcript of the exchange:
JOHN HEILEMANN (HOST): Let’s just say this first of all, when Trump does what he did in that Tapper interview, and he did it over and over again, he kept calling Curiel a Mexican, right? It is not even dog whistle politics. It is just pure racial politics.
MARK HALPERIN (HOST): No, it’s not racial.
HEILEMANN: It’s racial politics. It is.
HALPERIN: Mexico isn’t a race.
HEILEMANN: It doesn’t matter whether Mexico is a race, it’s stirring up racial animus about people who don’t like Hispanics, and illegal immigrants coming across the border. That’s what he’s doing. He’s ringing the bell for them every time he does it. He’s not Mexican. He was born in Indiana. And eventually you can get Trump to acknowledge that he’s Mexican-American, it’s his heritage that’s what he’s doing here right? Then on top of that he is a potential president of the United States who has issued, over the course of the last week, vague threats, saying that the judge should be investigated. It is wildly inappropriate and yes, of course there are no political benefits to this and I’m sure that his team is beating it’s head against tables as they watch him blow news cycles behaving in this way that is again, I think racially tinged and also really wildly inappropriate things to say about a federal judge by someone who could be president of the United States.
HALPERIN: It’s certainly racially tinged. I just want to make the point that Mexico is not – Mexican is not a race.
HEILEMANN: I am fully aware that Mexico is not a race, but you can invoke things like that to stir up racial animus regardless of whether or not Mexico is a race or not.
Notice how gobsmacked Heilemann is regarding his partner’s comments. And this is someone who is used to Mark Halperin making Mark Halperin-type statements! Even he can’t believe the angle Mark’s trying to take here.
Obviously, Halperin is playing Semantics for Dummies ™ with the term race. He’s hoping he can muddy the waters just enough to get people to switch the argument from Trump’s blatant racism to just saying that the real estate mogul is being petty and reckless. Essentially, he is taking the tactic of a high-school freshman debate team member. Also, yes, Trump is being a full-blown racist here. There isn’t a debate.
As one would expect, Halperin — who earlier this year said Trump has a real chance of winning California — took a lot of shit on social media. Kevin Glass of the Franklin Center noted that he predicted someone would try to make the “Mexico ain’t a race” case to defend Trump, but he figured it would be a Twitter egg.
Boy did I call that one. Though I thought it would be a Twitter egg, not Mark Halperin. pic.twitter.com/nZQgE5lO4Z
— Kevin Glass (@KevinWGlass) June 3, 2016
Others just held up Mark for some good ol’ fashioned mockery:
— GottaLaff (@GottaLaff) June 3, 2016
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) June 3, 2016
Instead of a skeleton, mark halperin’s being is supported by an internal framework of extremely dense smarm. https://t.co/lcgQtkJw2E
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) June 3, 2016
Are you wondering why Mark Halperin is defending Donald Trump against charges of racism? pic.twitter.com/HyavDEpefR
— Charles Johnson (@Green_Footballs) June 4, 2016
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) June 4, 2016
Just a reminder — when you absolutely, positively, definitively need a pundit to provide a supremely dumb take, Mark Halperin is your man!