Home » The press needs to stop pretending Trump’s word salads amount to policy thoughts

The press needs to stop pretending Trump’s word salads amount to policy thoughts

There’s a Washington Post story today that tries to turn Donald Trump’s thoughts on abortion into a serious report on the Republican presidential candidates’ anti-abortion policies. That was a mistake, of course, because Trump does not have policies. He has reactions, little bursts of words he uses to dodge and weave subjects he’s never given a moment’s thought. And in a better world, Trump’s incoherence would be the focus of this type of news article.

On Sunday, Trump appeared on “Meet the Press,” during which he reflexively bashed his latest enemy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake,” Trump says of DeSantis signing a “five-week or six-week ban.”

Asked if he would sign federal legislation banning abortions after 15 weeks, Trump launched into His Damn Routine.

The Post writes:

Trump declined to say what time frame he thinks is appropriate for an abortion ban and instead insisted that he would “sit down with both sides and I’d negotiate something, and we’ll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years.”

“Both sides are going to like me,” he added. “I’m going to come together with all groups, and we’re going to have something that’s acceptable.”

Ah, yes. Donald Trump, the world-famous peacemaker. The master politician who didn’t do all of this the first time around only because all his effort went to inventing lowbrow nicknames for his enemies, and because between that and the McDonald’s runs, he was just too tuckered out.

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Look, at no point does any of what Trump said approach a “policy.” It’s quite obviously meant to evade a question that he doesn’t want to answer, because he probably can’t remember what his past answers were or what his rally crowds have best responded to.

“We’ll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years” makes it sound like he thinks “abortion” is a country and he’s going to send his son-in-law over to patch things up and look for potential business deals. “I’m going to come together with all groups” is semi-coherent bullshit, at best, but when tacked onto an issue that regularly inspires far-right terrorists, it borders on punchworthy.

What’s most clear here is that Trump still hasn’t prepared at all for this election, for being president, for anything.

But more than that, it again suggests that Trump was a figurehead president whose advisers steered toward supporting their own far-right positions, but who himself simply did not give a damn.

Trump, of course, boasts about appointing the Supreme Court justices who struck down Roe v. Wade and ended the constitutional right to abortion. And on the 2016 campaign trail, he portrayed himself as viciously anti-abortion, saying there “has to be some form of punishment” for women who get abortions, even as he refused to commit to what that punishment would be.

Apparently, the man has watched enough television to know that this is not what the American public wants to hear. And yet he doesn’t have a new policy to share, maybe because he’s been too busy getting indicted and his advisers haven’t had time to tell him what his position should be.

There’s no point in pretending that Trump’s words indicate what he would do if, God help us all, he returns to the White House.

The Post could have split this story into two articles. The first could cover what they were aiming for—a serious look at the evolving and evasive positions of each Republican presidential candidate on abortion. And the second article could be devoted to pointing out how Trump has no opinion and is just riffing in said opinion’s absence. It could cover how he does this all the time.

After all, that, too, is a big story. It might even be the bigger story. Because if America wants that (again), then what’s that say about America?


Sunday Four-Play: The elephant in the room plops down on ‘Meet the Press’

Abortion bans make pregnancy complications more dangerous. Some women are suing

Republicans look to rebrand abortion as ‘pro-life’ stops working for them

Kerry talks with Drew Linzer, director of the online polling company Civiqs. Drew tells us what the polls say about voters’ feelings toward President Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and what the results would be if the two men were to, say … run against each other for president in 2024. Oh yeah, Drew polled to find out who thinks Donald Trump is guilty of the crimes he’s been indicted for, and whether or not he should see the inside of a jail cell.


September 2023