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Sweet: Don’t let Trump lull you into a new normal

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. | Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump on Sunday made another outrageous assertion — that a Muslim judge might not treat him fairly.

Trump’s comment to John Dickerson, the host of CBS’ “Face the Nation,” came in the wake of Trump accusing a Hispanic judge, who is hearing Trump University fraud lawsuits, of bias. Not backing down, Trump has been calling the judge “Mexican” even though he was born in East Chicago, Indiana.

It has taken a while, but the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is finally getting tougher scrutiny and more relentless follow-up questions when he slides to another topic.

So have some of his chief spokesmen who appear on his behalf on TV, who until recently have been able to use the tactic of changing the subject to avoid answers on the topic at hand.

This harder treatment is not special for Trump and his team.

It’s the routine deep looks that a serious candidate gets. It’s the scrutiny that Hillary Clinton has gotten during the Bill Clinton administration and for the emails and Benghazi controversies stemming from her tenure as secretary of State.

OPINION

For far too long Trump was treated like a special case. A novelty. Ratings bait television networks could not resist.

Trump did tons of TV — I give him credit for that — and until recent weeks, he was able to filibuster his way through, plowing over interviewers who couldn’t figure out how to get straight answers from him in the midst of his stream-of-consciousness ramblings.

It worked.

Trump won the GOP primary fair and square. There’s not going to be a contested convention when Republicans meet in Cleveland.

Democrat Hillary Clinton is on the brink of locking up her nomination by Tuesday. Even if Bernie Sanders declines to stand down until the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, it doesn’t change Clinton’s trajectory.

So let’s look forward.

I hope that folks don’t get complacent because Trump makes questionable statements on an almost daily basis.

That should not become the new normal.

It’s important that we don’t go numb when Trump says things that are disgraceful, offensive, racist, false or just bizarre.

I’m not counting statements that are merely boastful hype of which when Trump speaks, there is an abundance.

So far, Trump has been immune to paying any consequence for saying things that are not true. Look no further than Trump’s leadership of the birther movement of folks who believe that President Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen.

On Sunday, Dickerson asked Trump about his attacks against U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the son of Mexican immigrants.
Trump launched the attack against Curiel, sitting in the Southern District of California, after he ordered documents related to the lawsuit against Trump University made public.

Trump slammed the judge as a “Mexican” who had a conflict of interest because “I’m going to build a wall.”

Dickerson, noting that Trump is calling for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration, asked Trump, “If it were a Muslim judge, would you also feel like they wouldn’t be able to treat you fairly because of that policy of yours?

Trump said, “It’s possible, yes. Yes. That would be possible, absolutely.”

Trump had no interest in a broader discussion Dickerson tried to have about the American tradition of not judging people by who their parents are.

It’s a rare Republican leader who criticizes Trump while still voicing support for him.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, mentioned as a potential Trump vice presidential pick, told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that he was not comfortable with Trump attacking Curiel.

Said Gingrich, “This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made and I think it’s inexcusable. . . . This judge was born in Indiana. He is an American, period.”

On Friday, Trump, pointing to a man at a rally in California said, “Oh, look at my African-American over here. Look at him,” Trump said. “Are you the greatest?”

Under questioning Sunday from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Gregory Cheadle, an African-American Republican running for a California congressional seat, told Matthews he was indeed at the rally and he was the man Trump singled out. Cheadle told Matthews he was not sure he would vote for Trump.

Almost every day, it’s something.

What Trump says is not to be shrugged off because, well, it’s the umpteenth controversial thing he’s said.

Please, don’t make that the new normal.