President Trump's Comments on Abortion and What They Tell Us

(Ben Carmack) #1

A friend on Facebook posted about the comments President Trump made in his State of the Union address about abortion. I did not listen to the president’s address so my knowledge of what he said has come second hand. I thought it might be useful to reproduce two of my comments here, if Sanityville citizens will indulge my vanity.

First comment:

Trump is useful not in what he is or does, but in what he illuminates. It is not as important that he made the statement he did, as it is important that previous Republicans have not gone as far as he has rhetorically in supporting the pro life movement.

That tells you a lot.

Second comment:

In 2016 I went back and watched Bush’s first debate with Gore from 2000. During that debate Bush made a pretty milquetoast anti-abortion case. He did not believe that the president, as head of the executive branch of which the FDA is a part, could over-ride the decision of the FDA to approve RU-486. He promised he would ensure that the pill was safe for women.

As a teenager, I remember how Bush was viewed by evangelicals at the time. He was Our Guy. He was one of us. He was going to turn back the liberal tide.

Bush was slightly more conservative than his father was, which isn’t that conservative but also isn’t nothing. Even so, the fervent support he received from evangelicals was out of proportion to what he was giving them in return, even before he was elected.

The Gospel Coalition wants us to believe that evangelicals suddenly lost their principles and sold out in 2016. But the truth is that evangelicals were selling out long before 2016, arguably from the beginning of the Religious Right. Ronald Reagan had Jerry Falwell assure the folks that Sandra Day O’Connor was a good, pro-life justice. That was 35 years ago, but the pattern is familiar.

People have this idea that the old Religious Right were a bunch of meanies. The truth is they were really bad at advancing their agenda, and the triumph of the Left in the culture wars is proof. They could have been more mean, more calculating, more cynical, but they weren’t.

This is why I have a hard time taking some NeverTrumpers seriously. Trump isn’t the cause of the problem but a symptom. If National Review were to say, hey, we were really zealous supporters of George W. Bush 15 years ago, and we felt we had to do it for political reasons, but in retrospect we ended up diluting our principles for political gain, and that was wrong, I could respect them more. But what’s really going on here is that Trump represents the Wrong Kind of People in the Republican Party, a version of conservatism they disdain. That’s why they oppose Trump. It isn’t because of his infidelities to principle, but which infidelities he chooses.

That kind of tribalism just makes my blood boil. As Michael Scott might say, it just makes me wanna MAGA even harder.

(Tim Bayly) #2

Hate, actually. But it’s Those Kind of People I love and trust.

Those People (along with the Guardian’s explanation of them) are the ones who led me to support, and keep me supporting, President Trump.

Everything you write here is precisely right, I think. I like Bush the Second as a man, but he never was conservative in any thoughtful sense of the word.

NR knew a tame conservative when they saw one. I told Marvin Olasky I didn’t like his man because he was the man the NYT really wanted as the Republican candidate, and that didn’t bode well to me. I said his campaign responses on abortion were awful. Marvin’s kinder/gentler rhetoric helped Bush II get in, and the rest is history.

NR has always been in bed with the elite and I’ve not subscribed or cared what they write. Thoroughly beholden to The Money and never willing to align themselves with gauche. Just like the entire Presbyterian Church in America. Just like that midwesterner who climbed into his catbird seat in some church in Manhattan and pontificates from on high.

But ultimately, don’t follow the money; follow gauche.

Despite his money, President Trump has always been viewed as tasteless by those inside Gotham. Big name on his buildings? Gauche. Hair? Gauche? Bimbo wives? Gauche. Like Clarence Thomas post-Anita Hill, all the despising of him so very publicly has steeled him and President Trump has embraced gauche, casting his lot in with Those People.

The loudest Presbyterian/Reformed folks today are bounders who were raised baptist, so they get what gauche is and they can’t move themselves far enough away from it. To them, religion and theology are as much about affect and style as truth. Classical expressions of music are the sine qua non of TR worship today—not confessions of sin and preaching to the conscience.

Now let’s see how our faithful moderator decides on this one. Shall he make a new thread or shall he knot? Gaucheness? Former-Baptists? Bounders? Bimbo wives? Marvin Olasky? Tim Keller? The possibilities are limitless.

(Ben Carmack) #3

NR, like other conservative magazines, will produce good articles here and there that are worth reading. Since 2016, they’ve brought on Michael Brendan Dougherty, a former friend and admirer of Joe Sobran’s. They saw they were missing something, and they brought Dougherty on board.

That said, Tim nails their pretentions. David French is a PCA man, and a former Baptist, and when you understand what that really means, much of what he writes becomes much more understandable.

(John M. ) #4

The Bush wing of the GOP turned losing the culture war into a fine art. Tax rates? Oh, they’d go to the mat on tax rates, and have done so repeatedly. And they’d mouth the right platitudes on the culture war so the rubes would vote for them. And boy, when it was time to vote, didn’t the Bushies (and Romney, and McCain) count on the rubes getting in line.

But when it was time to deliver prayer in schools? Cue some shuffling in the dust with their feet. Well, the Supreme Court gave a ruling, y’see. Or banning abortion? Well, the Supreme Court. Having a border? Well,there are jobs that our donors need to fill, and acts of love, and I’m sure the Supreme Court will get around to ruling that we can’t have a border pretty soon now.

I hadn’t realized how much of a Bushie Olasky was. Early in the GWB administration, I lived in a home that subscribed to World. World’s editorial line was all-out for Bush’s tax cuts in what struck me as a very bizarre moral crusade. In retrospect, it strikes me as yet another example of social conservatives scratching the backs of the fiscal conservatives. When it was time for the fiscal conservatives to reciprocate of course, it turned out that they all had better things to do.

(Jay Tuck) #5

NR was “Never Trump” for the election. There are people who have continued to be reflexively “anti-Trump” but I have not seen that from NR. They have a variety of viewpoints but mostly consistently cheer on Trump’s judicial appointments. Their articles and editorials are generally much more thoughtful and elucidating than most of the Christian blogosphere.

And David French was taking lumps for “The Pence rule” before Pence.

Gauche for gaucheness’ sake isn’t a good strategy for anything. It’s just falling off the other side of the horse.


An NR Apologist

(John M. ) #6

So when battle ensued, National Review was fighting for the other side. But when the Deplorables want to have a victory parade, the NR crew wants to be out front? Well, fool me once, and you don’t get fooled again, to quote the last “true conservative” they foisted on this country.


(Jay Tuck) #7

No. They don’t want to “get out front” of the deplorable parade. I don’t think anyone there thinks in those terms. I’m not sure anyone should.

“Trust not in princes.”