It takes some time to count votes on election night, and you have to fill that time somehow. On CNN, the panelists did it with a chaotic, Orwellian argument around the key question of the day: Is Donald Trump racist, or are his critics racist for calling out his racism?
If the idea that criticizing Trump for saying a federal judge can't do his job because he's Hispanic makes you the real racist makes no sense to you, congratulations, you are a normal human being with logic.
But Jeffrey Lord, CNN's designated Donald Trump supporter, offered up a series of increasingly convoluted attempts to justify Trump's comments, saying that the judge was the real racist for … belonging to a Hispanic lawyers group, and Trump was striking a blow for anti-racism by pointing it out.
The clip above is just 90 seconds of an argument that somehow lasted for nearly 20 minutes, but it should give you an idea of how it went.
Lord's argument was that the judge was the racist for "self-identifying as a Latino" primarily, not as a judge. This is a pretty massive assumption to hang on the thin thread of joining a professional group for Latino lawyers. This is also not what Trump said his problem with the judge was. And the idea that Trump was "pointing out racism" rather than perpetuating it actually makes no sense.
Still, it was riveting television, if only because it illustrated, much better than any criticism could, how incredibly weak Trump's position is.
It's possible to see Lord's argument as a more extreme and garbled version of a strain of conservative thought that holds that any legal acknowledgement of racial differences is in and of itself racist. That viewpoint was summed up by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who in a 2007 decision striking down a school busing plan meant to achieve greater racial balance wrote, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race" — in other words, trying to create a more level playing field for black children was discrimination itself.
But it's still a very big leap from arguing that the government should never consider citizens' race to Lord shouting, "It wasn't racist! He was calling attention to racism!" He's done this before: A key talking point for Lord, when Trump is accused of racism, is that what's actually racist is talking about race.