Donald Trump has one personal policy: Never, ever admit that you said or did anything wrong, under any circumstances. No matter how absurd the post hoc rationalizations have to be, you find a way to claim that it was exactly what you wanted to do or say. And so it is with his answer on punishing women who have abortions:
Trump and his campaign last week walked back his comments during an MSNBC town hall, in which he told host Chris Matthews he backed an abortion ban and suggested women who have abortions be punished if the procedure were outlawed. Conservatives were outraged, and within hours, his campaign sent out two statements clarifying that he would punish only abortion providers — not women.
“That was a hypothetical question. That was not a wrong answer,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity during his show Monday night in Wisconsin. “There were other people that wrote me letters by the hundreds saying that was a great answer to that question the way it was raised.”
Trump maintained that he is “pro-life,” remarking that “I come with the three exceptions” — for rape, incest and life of the mother.
“You know, I’m pro-life, OK, with the exceptions, but I am pro-life,” he said. “I did the show because it’s not a high-rated show. He’s always been — I mean, he has never treated me very badly. And I didn’t think it was a big thing to do the show, and as a hypothetical question you give a hypothetical answer, and I didn’t see the big, big, huge deal.”
The New York billionaire suggested that Ohio Gov. John Kasich gave “such a bad answer” on abortion that got no coverage.
“I’m saying to myself, ‘He’s gonna get killed for that answer,’” Trump recalled. “Nobody ever said anything. Nobody ever talks about it. Nobody cares.”
This is the full Donald Trump toolkit on full display. He starts with the non-sequitur: It was a hypothetical question. As if that is in any way relevant to whether the answer he gave was a good one or a bad one. The statements he was forced to put out immediately, which completely contradicted his answer, were also answers to that same hypothetical question. So if he was forced to walk back his statement, several times (I think we’re up to four different answers now), the first statement must have been wrong, either in the sense that it didn’t represent his true position or in the sense that it was a politically damaging one (the latter is obviously the case here).
Then he goes for the “lots of people have told me they loved my answer” ploy, which he uses constantly. Every single day he receives mountains of letters agreeing with him, so he must be right. Except, again, that he immediately withdrew that position and substituted an entirely different one. So which one are people supporting? It can’t be both. And that’s assuming those hypothetical people who agree with him exist at all, which is doubtful. Lastly, this also has nothing to do with whether his answer was good or bad, right or wrong.
Then he tries distraction by insulting Chris Matthews and his show, again as if that had even the most remote connection to the question of whether his answer was good or not. Whether it was a “big thing” to do the show or not has nothing to do with anything.
And lastly he whines about how unfair it is that his answer was viewed as bad while someone else’s was not. All of this is straight out of the Trump playbook, the tactics he uses every single day to avoid anything even vaguely resembling a coherent position or answer on anything and to excuse away every dumb thing he says or does.