The first duty of a vice president is grinning and bearing it when his boss says something he can’t defend. If it’s true that Newt is lobbying to be VP, what exactly does he think he’s signing up for? Choking down whatever sh*t sandwich Trump is serving that day is what you’re there for, buddy. When he plops it on your plate, you smile and ask for seconds.

Skip to 2:30 of the clip below for his comments on Newt, followed by a meandering explanation of why he keeps attacking the judge in a civil suit that won’t see a verdict until after the election. When Brian Kilmeade notes that voters don’t care about this, Trump readily agrees — but what can I do, he continues, when reporters keep bringing it up? Ah, well, one thing he could do is say, “Because the case is pending, it’s better that I don’t comment on it anymore.” Or he could — gasp — say that upon reflection he thinks that Newt’s right and that he shouldn’t have questioned the court’s motives for ruling the way it did. That would have the advantage of delivering some cheap, easy positive publicity about how he really is starting to behave more “presidentially.” But he can’t do it. MSNBC has a smart theory as to why:

Aides appeared unprepared for the Trump University story last week, despite knowing in advance that unsealed court documents would reveal explosive allegations of fraud. Beyond a short video of former students praising the program that was posted online, the campaign offered scant pushback.

The absence of a response to the Trump U story left the candidate to fill the vacuum with a torrent of demagoguery against the federal judge overseeing the case, Gonzalo Curiel, who Trump said was biased by his “Mexican heritage” despite his Indiana birthplace.

Trump’s comments against the judge horrified many supporters, but the real estate mogul rebuffed efforts by campaign staff, donors and party officials to back off the incendiary claim this weekend, per sources, telling them he was unwilling to look like he had caved to pressure.

The one thing a would-be strongman can’t do is admit error, even if the alternative is to keep going down a road that’s leading him further away from his goals. That’s why so many Trump critics tremble at the idea of him being in charge of U.S. foreign policy. Between his aggressive shots at adversaries and his absolute refusal to lose face, it’s too easy to imagine him talking himself into a standoff abroad in which he concludes his only option whenever an enemy declines to submit to his wishes is to escalate. In fact, knowing that, I wonder if the foreign-policy establishment working below him won’t overcompensate by steering U.S. diplomacy further afield from disagreements with other nations so as not to tempt Trump to assert himself in the face of defiance. If you’re haggling with Russia over a peace deal in Syria, aren’t you better off making the Russians happy and then selling your concessions as a “win” for the U.S. than you are driving a hard bargain and risking a confrontation between Trump and Putin?

Then again, how likely is a confrontation between Trump and Putin really?

If you can spare five minutes, I recommend reading the entire MSNBC piece at the link above as it makes astute points about how many times Trump’s bare-bones campaign operation has whiffed over the past few weeks when presented with golden opportunities. There was no rapid response to Hillary’s speech last week attacking Trump; there was virtually nothing on the damning IG report about Clinton’s e-mail practices; as noted in the excerpt, they weren’t even ready with some forceful spin about the Trump University documents. It’s true that they have a media dynamo in Trump himself who can drive a message far wider than any hired spokesman could, but that only works if in fact Trump is driving that message. Too often he isn’t, choosing to ramble about the “Mexican” judge instead. The virtue of having a pro communications team is that they can address topics he never gets around to in interviews and, more importantly, they can do it in a disciplined way. There’s no reason for him not to build one, apart from the sheer self-flattery involved in believing that a media genius needs no help from anyone.

In lieu of an exit question, two tweets to show you what sort of legs the attacks on the judge have had even on his own side. The heat he’s getting for this from Republicans is calculated insofar as he attacked Judge Curiel months ago with little flak from them at the time, but they have a new incentive to push back hard now — namely, signaling to him that it’s time for him to act more statesmanlike, whatever that may look like in practice.