Of all the thousands of words that have tumbled out of Donald Trump’s mouth since the self-adulating billionaire announced his candidacy for president in June, exactly none of them have cohered into a recognizable policy position on a serious issue.
That changed Monday, when Trump turned up on the Hugh Hewitt Show. Asked if he would favor shutting down the federal government in order to assure that Planned Parenthood is deprived of federal funding, Trump was unequivocal. “I would,” he told Hewitt.
It’s something of a watershed moment for The Donald. Most of his policy pronouncements have been long on promises and short on specifics. How would he deal with Obamacare? He’d replace it with something “terrific.” He’d get China to agree to punishing new trade deals. How? Something about having written the Art of the Deal 30 years ago.
Even on immigration, Trump’s signature issue, his “positions” – build a giant wall that Mexico will pay for, organize the mass deportation of 11 million illegals – are more the dreams of an anti-immigrant fantasist than realistic policy positions.
But his remarks to Hewitt were of a different sort. Republicans and some Democrats are in an uproar over a series of hidden-camera videos released over the past two weeks that show Planned Parenthood executives discussing the value of harvested fetal tissue--including organs--of aborted fetuses for companies doing medical research.
The videos made it look as though Planned Parenthood was looking to profit from the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood executives, on the other hand, say that the full videos demonstrate that no profit was involved and that the doctors shown in the footage were discussing how the organization could be repaid for the costs incurred from harvesting the tissue.
Both the abortions in question and research done on fetal tissue are legal. However, the footage enflamed abortion opponents, and sparked a call in Congress to include a requirement that Planned Parenthood be stripped of federal funding in spending legislation that would allow the federal government to continue function after the end of September.
Hewitt asked Trump about it on Monday evening, just as the Senate was preparing for a procedural vote on a measure defunding the organization. The effort ultimately failed due to a Democratic filibuster.
From the transcript:
HH: And so should the Republicans shut own the government rather than fund Planned Parenthood?
DT: Well, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I guess they are doing it right now as we speak. I’m in my office in New York and I guess as we speak they are going for a vote of some kind and you would think that that would be a vote that they, is the word that they won’t . . .
HH: The word is that the Democrats will filibuster and the president will veto — that the only way to get rid of Planned Parenthood money for selling off baby parts is to shut the government down in September. Would you support that?
DT: Well I can tell you this. I would and I was also in support if the Republicans stuck together you could have done it with Obamacare also, but the Republicans decided not to stick together and they left a few people out there like [Texas Sen.]Ted Cruz. You know, they left a lot of the people who really went in and wanted to do the job and you know what? If they had stuck together they would have won that battle. I think you have to in this case also, yes.
So, for the record, Donald Trump, billionaire businessman and current frontrunner in the Republican presidential primary race, is on the record supporting the idea that, less than two months from now, Republicans should refuse to fund the federal government unless they are allowed to punish Planned Parenthood.
You can agree with the position or not. Some believe government shutdowns are an acceptable mechanism to force policy change. Slamming the brakes on the operations of the government seems to be the default solution for Ted Cruz whenever he can’t get what he wants.
Others, however, have felt differently.
For instance, Donald Trump himself, talking with Larry King about the government shutdown in 2013.
“Well, it’s a mess Larry,” Trump said with a hint of disgust. “The whole country is being scoffed at and laughed at.”