By Jonathon Van Maren
My view of Donald Trump has been the subject of much fierce criticism over the past several years. To sum up, my view is that Trump was—and is—a fair-weather social conservative; that the gains achieved by the pro-life movement during his presidency were largely due to the hard work of others (without whom those gains would not have been achieved); and that Trump himself is an amoral narcissist who cares about nothing and nobody but himself. It is true that he was obviously a better choice than Hillary Clinton or Joe “trans the kids” Biden. But to stick with Trump now even as he attacks his primary opponents from the Left when we have much better alternatives is frankly nuts.
As I noted in First Things last month, Trump is pivoting on abortion, telling the pro-life movement that the issue is a loser and offering them nothing in exchange for their support besides an emphasis on his previous record. (He also celebrated the “Respect for Marriage Act” enshrining the redefinition of marriage into federal law and telling the LGBT activists gathered at Mar-a-Lago that: “We are fighting for the gay community, and we are fighting and fighting hard, With the help of many of the people here tonight in recent years, our movement has taken incredible strides, the strides you’ve made here is incredible.” His son Don Jr., not a man renowned for his brains, called for a halt to the conservative boycott of Bud Light, the most successful boycott in years). Plenty of people were angry about that column, as well.
I wonder what it will take for social conservatives still on the Trump Train to realize—again—that Trump is attacking his opponents from the Left, even on abortion. As Trump pivots on the pro-life movement, MAGA world—which has devolved into a pathetic posse of desperate grifters hoping for a piece of the pie—are pivoting with him, with one key Trump figure deleting his previous pro-life tweets after Trump decided to attack Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s decision to sign a six-week abortion ban. “If you look at what DeSantis did, a lot of people didn’t even know if he knew what he was doing,” Trump said in an interview. “But he signed six weeks, and many people within the pro-life movement feel that that was too harsh.” He then emphasized that he believes in “exceptions” to laws protecting pre-born children.
Trump is lying, which isn’t unusual. Nobody in the pro-life movement—and I mean nobody—thought that the Florida abortion law was “too harsh.” This is what Trump does—because he doesn’t want to come out and say something directly (just yet), he attributes his position to other, fictious people he invented in his imagination. But he is lying nonetheless, a habit that is entirely consistent with his entire political career thus far. He made that up. Now, I understand that there are multiple considerations here. Because Trump has a double-digit lead in the polls, many are cautious about criticizing the notoriously think-skinned candidate when they may be lobbying him very soon on a wide range of issues. But because we have other options, I think it is worth pointing out that some of us aren’t surprised by Trump’s pivot on the pro-life issue—and anyone who didn’t succumb to the personality cult shouldn’t be, either.