Donald Trump's judge attacks are a logical extension of his birtherism

ObamaOlivier Douliery-Pool/Getty ImagesPresident Barack Obama speaks during the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner on April 30, 2016 at the Washington Hilton hotel in Washington, DC.

Republicans who are surprised and vexed by Donald Trump’s racist attacks on US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel — the federal judge who is allegedly too Mexican to preside over Trump’s fraud trial, despite being born in Indiana — apparently were not paying attention during the years Trump spent spreading rumours that President Barack Obama had forged his birth certificate.

The attacks are fundamentally the same: In each case, Trump is attacking an American-born official for being insufficiently American on the grounds of his excessively brown heritage.

Trump’s attacks on Curiel are therefore not “out of left field,” as Speaker Paul Ryan said last week, or off-message, as Mitch McConnell scolded on Tuesday.

I think the instinct of some Republican politicians is that appeals to racism can only be cynical ploys to win over Republican primary voters; if you’re making a cynical ploy, you stop doing it when it ceases to be useful.

But what if Trump just straight up believes this stuff? Why would he stop saying it just because he is their nominee for president?

This is an editorial. The opinions and conclusions expressed above are those of the author.

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