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Wingnut Week In Review: Donald Trump’s Scarlet Letter

Wingnut Week In Review: Donald Trump’s Scarlet Letter

This week, the problem wasn’t that Donald Trump believes women who have abortions after Roe v. Wade is overturned should be punished. The problem was that he said it out loud.

It may go down in history as the beginning of the end of Donald Trump’s presidential aspirations. Donald Trump sat down to an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Wednesday. Matthews asked Trump — who says he’s “staunchly pro-life,” but also admitted that “millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood,” even as he promised to axe its federal funding — about banning abortion.

“How do you ban abortion?” Matthews asked, which is a simple way of asking how does one do away with 43 years of reproductive freedom for women and deal with the inevitable consequences.

“You go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places,” Trump eventually said, after some hemming and hawing. “But you have to ban it.”

So, Trump would brand women who have abortions with a “Scarlet Letter” for our times; and “A” for “Abortion” instead of “Adultery.” Of course criminalizing abortion means that the parties involved — both the person who performs the procedure and the woman who has it done — have committed a crime. Crime implies punishment, which is why Matthews presses Trump on the issue.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no as a principle?
TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.
MATTHEWS: For the woman?
TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.
MATTHEWS: Ten cents? Ten years? What?
TRUMP: Let me just tell you – I don’t know. That I don’t know. That I don’t know.
MATTHEWS: Why not?
TRUMP: I don’t know.
MATTHEWS: You take positions on everything else.
TRUMP: Because I don’t want to – I frankly, I do take positions on everything else. It’s a very complicated position.

Actually, it’s not that complicated. Trump, relatively new to politics and campaigning, simply carried the rhetoric of the anti-choice movement to its logical conclusion. Abortion, in that view, would be similar to a contract killing, and in such cases the person who ordered the hit is just as guilty of murder as the hitman who carried it out.

A seasoned politician would have deftly avoided giving a concrete answer to Matthews’ hypothetical. After all, abortion is currently legal. Why get into the weeds over circumstances that don’t exist? But Trump has been winging it, making it up as goes along. While newspaper editors have realized that terrifying truth during meetings with the candidate, this time the depth of Trump’s unpreparedness for office was exposed to the public.

The reaction showed why a seasoned politician would have avoided answering Matthews’ question. Trump, who would have a chest full of medals by now if lying were an olympic event, gave an honest answer, and everyone hated it. Trump later attempted to walk back his remarks, and even blamed MSNBC for “editing” his exchange with Matthews to make him look bad, but it was too late. He “went there,” and the damage is done.

Anti-choicers were quick to distance themselves from Trump’s remarks.

The problem for them, of course, wasn’t so much that Trump said what he said. It was that he said it out loud. After all, Roe v. Wade notwithstanding, efforts to restrict abortion in the states is driving clinic closures and blocking new clinics from opening, to the extent that internet searches for DIY abortion instructions have increased in the states with restrictive laws. Women are being arrested and jailed for terminating their pregnancies.

As Democratic strategist Nomiki Konst said on CNN Headline News, Trump merely “pulled back the curtain on what Republicans actually think” about women and abortion.

Once again, Trump managed to embody the worse stereotypes of the Republican party. The real problem Republicans have with Trump’s abortion remarks is that he exposed the intellectual dishonesty Republicans rely upon, by exposing the logical consequences of the right-wing agenda. They fell over themselves trying to deny it or distance themselves from it.

None of this is helping Trump with the group he needs most to have a hope of actually winning the presidency: women. According to the latest CNN/ORC poll, 73 percent of women have a negative view of Trump. Women don’t just dislike him. They detest him, because they know the danger he represents.

Women and allies spoke out against Trump under the Twitter hashtag #WontBePunished.

Here’s the best of the rest of the worst in wingnuttery this week:

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