Friday, 1 April 2016

Trump blunders. But is his fall what we should wish for?

It seems the age of wonders is not past. Even Donald Trump has had to backtrack at last. He’s trying to wriggle out of what he told MSNBC about abortion. It’s left him looking just like any ordinary politician who has “misspoken.”

Initially, he said that abortion should be made illegal. Then he went one step further, arguing that women who nonetheless persisted in having an abortion – an illegal abortion – ought to be subject to “some form of punishment.” Finally, he nailed his colours to the pro-Life mast.

CNN reproduces Trump's unfortunate interview on MSNBC
It seems he may, finally, have made one gaffe too many. Across the Republican party, the statement was greeted with horror. The Guardian quoted Mallory Quigley, speaking for an anti-abortion Political Action Committee, who questioned Trump’s commitment to the ‘pro-Life’ cause and added, “If Donald Trump wants to be a leader, he has to demonstrate that he understands the pro-life position.”

Trump’s now trying to row back from his statement. It seems his approval rating among women is down at the 25% level, which could make it hard for him to win the Presidency, seeing as women are a pretty significant part of the electorate (53% of the turnout at the last election). More immediately, he’s not doing well in the next primary to be held, Wisconsin, where he’s trailing Ted Cruz in the polls.

It’s a fascinating development, isn’t it?

The first aspect that struck me was the language used. I’ve talked about this before. This notion of being ‘pro-Life’ really gets me. What are these characters saying? That the rest of us are in some sense anti-Life? That we like to see a bit of death around the place, just to brighten up our day?

The truth is that we’re neither pro-Death nor even pro-Abortion. It’s hard to imagine who would favour abortion, or why. Those of us in the other camp from Mallory Quigley’s aren’t pro-abortion, we’re simply for a woman’s right to choose. It doesn’t tend to be a light decision to take, and what we maintain is that a woman should be entitled to take it without the moral pressure of the ‘pro-Life’ movement and free of a legal prohibition against it (at least up to a reasonable point in gestation).

Pro-Life? The reality is that they’re opposed to freedom of choice. Which is curious, isn’t it, as they tend to flock around the libertarian right for whom freedom of choice, at least in other fields, is a cardinal principle?

The other aspect of this incident that caught my attention was the effect on the Trump campaign itself. It could very well derail it. Now, I never thought I’d say this, but it worries me if Trump is denied the nomination at this stage – because the damage he’s done to his own standing means that he’s unlikely to beat a Democratic opponent, whether Clinton or Sanders, in November.

What worries me is the thought that Cruz might sneak in and take the nomination, because he could prove harder for the Democrats to beat. He may be a quieter man, but underneath the surface he’s at least as dangerous as Trump, possibly more so. In particular, there’s no doubt of his ‘pro-Life’ credentials, in other words, his vehement opposition to freedom of choice for women.

It’s a lot of fun watching that buffoon Trump blunder and shoot himself in the foot. Just as long as we don’t end up with Cruz instead. Because then the last laugh might be a very bitter one indeed.

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