He’s just the gift that keeps on giving. Not long after a taping for MSNBC in which Donald Trump was open to punishing women who have an abortion, he apparently faced the necessary amount of public opinion backlash to cross the imaginary Trump Line; that would be the magical point where he realizes he needs to pretend he didn’t say what he actually said and instead meant the opposite.
Per CNN, within a span of just three hours, Trump went from saying a woman that has an abortion deserves “some form of punishment” to calling the woman a victim and saying only the doctor performing the abortion should be punished. In the mind of Trump, a woman can literally go from abortion criminal to abortion victim based on three hours of public opinion. That’s the kind of world leader a staggering amount of people actually want.
After responding to the direct question by saying the woman deserves “some form of punishment,” interviewer Chris Matthews then sought clarification. “For the woman?” Matthews asked. “Yes.” Trump replied. That’s as clear and straight-forward as it gets. But when Trump realized his statement might make him lose the hundred or so female voters he has left in the country, he somehow thought he could still play the public opinion groove and no one would notice:
“If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb. My position has not changed — like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions.”
Oh snap! Did he just drop a Ronald Reagan in there? This statement didn’t come, however, until after several leading anti-choice groups made statements regarding his original comments. You know you’ve gone way over the line when your hard-line stance on abortion somehow manages to be too hard-line. Jeanne Marcini of March for Life agrees:
“No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion. This is against the very nature of what we are about.”
Of course people have changes of opinion throughout their lifetime on controversial topics such as this, and often these changes shift with public opinion, but only Trump could manage to have the most extreme view on each side while apparently spending no time in the middle. In the popular video of Trump being interviewed by the late, great Tim Russert, Trump doesn’t just say that he’s “very pro-choice,” but he specifically says that he’s okay with partial-birth abortion. That’s a topic that even makes a lot of pro-choice people squeamish.
So somehow, he went from being further left than most people on the left, to now further right than most people on the right. Is this really the kind of volatile roller-coaster we want to risk? I mean, for the sake of comedians and journalists, he should totally stick around a bit longer, because every time I think we’ve maxed out on Trump, he finds a way to prove me wrong. But eventually lifelong Republicans have got to start asking themselves what other opinions Trump might dramatically change over the next four or *gulp* eight years.