This is hardly the first time Trump has flirted with disaster, and earlier predictions of his demise were premature. But playing demolition derby with a large field of Republican rivals was the minor leagues compared with facing off against Clinton. There is little margin for errors, and none for compounding them.
Especially now, when Clinton is about to consolidate the Democratic Party behind her, the contrast will be stark. She’ll be basking in gushy coverage about the “historic moment” of the first woman becoming the presidential nominee of a major party, while he’s bickering with just about everybody, including supporters, over the judge.
His flame-throwing at the media was in response to critical stories about how much money he raised for veterans groups, an issue he created way back when the campaign was in Iowa. When he didn’t get the praise he wanted, he went ballistic.
The attack on the federal judge is more of the same. Judge Gonzalo Curiel has ruled against him in some pretrial issues, and Trump responded by saying the judge couldn’t be fair because he is the son of Mexican immigrants and Trump has taken a hard line on illegal immigration.
Even if Trump has the kernel of a point in both cases, so what? How does either issue help Americans who are looking for a job and a reason to believe in the nation’s future again? It doesn’t, and that’s why Trump is wrong to elevate his feuds.
Clinton, meanwhile, had her own problems, but they didn’t do her much new damage. The blistering report from the State Department’s inspector general marked the first time a government agency faulted her handling of e-mail and the home-brew server, but Trump was too busy shadow boxing with the press to exploit the opportunity.
Similarly, the rotten jobs report undercuts Clinton’s defense of the Obama economy, but again, the moment passed. And while Bernie Sanders is growing more critical of Clinton and her team as being heavy-handed in trying to force him out of the race before the convention, Trump is not in a position to benefit.