“60 Minutes” aired an interview earlier this evening with President-elect Donald Trump. It was wide-ranging, but I want to focus attention on two items dealing with abortion, gay marriage, and the Supreme Court. Trump’s response to questions on these topics is not encouraging for those of us who believe in the transcendent nature of these particular issues. You can read the exchange about abortion in the following excerpt from a transcript:
Lesley Stahl: One of the things you’re going to obviously get an opportunity to do, is name someone to the Supreme Court. And I assume you’ll do that quickly?
Donald Trump: Yes. Very important.
Lesley Stahl: During the campaign, you said that you would appoint justices who were against abortion rights. Will you appoint– are you looking to appoint a justice who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade?
Donald Trump: So look, here’s what’s going to happen– I’m going to– I’m pro-life. The judges will be pro-life. They’ll be very—
Lesley Stahl: But what about overturning this law–
Donald Trump: Well, there are a couple of things. They’ll be pro-life, they’ll be– in terms of the whole gun situation, we know the Second Amendment and everybody’s talking about the Second Amendment and they’re trying to dice it up and change it, they’re going to be very pro-Second Amendment. But having to do with abortion if it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states. So it would go back to the states and–
Lesley Stahl: Yeah, but then some women won’t be able to get an abortion?
Donald Trump: No, it’ll go back to the states.
Lesley Stahl: By state—no some —
Donald Trump: Yeah.
Donald Trump: Yeah, well, they’ll perhaps have to go, they’ll have to go to another state.
Lesley Stahl: And that’s OK?
Donald Trump: Well, we’ll see what happens. It’s got a long way to go, just so you understand. That has a long, long way to go.
Even though Trump clearly wants to appoint Justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, it appears that Trump can’t bring himself to state what is plainly the view of pro-lifers. We are in fact trying to end abortion-on-demand, and that does mean passing laws that will lead to some women not being able to access abortions. That is certainly a controversial view, but it is not a difficult one to understand. It is the pro-life view, and that Trump cannot find the words to say as much is telling.
Moreover, when asked if he’s okay for women to get abortions in states that make it legal, he punts. He doesn’t say whether he would support that or not. All of this adds up to one conclusion. Trump does not have a consistent and coherent pro-life point of view, and that is a huge problem for those of us who put the sanctity of human life as the most important concern.
Here is the exchange on gay marriage.
Lesley Stahl: One of the groups that’s expressing fear are the LGBTQ group. You–
Donald Trump: And yet I mentioned them at the Republican National Convention. And–
Lesley Stahl: You did.
Donald Trump: Everybody said, “That was so great.” I have been, you know, I’ve been-a supporter.
Lesley Stahl: Well, I guess the issue for them is marriage equality. Do you support marriage equality?
Donald Trump: It– it’s irrelevant because it was already settled. It’s law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it’s done.
Lesley Stahl: So even if you appoint a judge that–
Donald Trump: It’s done. It– you have– these cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. And, I’m fine with that.
Notice what Trump does here. He dodges the direct question about whether or not he supports gay marriage. Rather, he says that the Supreme Court has settled the issue and therefore his views on the matter are irrelevant. When Stahl points out that he will appoint judges that can overturn the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision, Trump says that Obergefell is “settled” law and that he’s “fine” with how the Supreme Court settled it.
Did you catch the difference between the abortion answer and the gay marriage answer? When it comes to abortion, Trump wants to appoint judges that will overturn Roe v. Wade. Even though Roe is “settled” law, Trump favors overturning it. Yet on marriage, Trump is unwilling to oppose this “settled” law. Why? Why would Trump be willing to appoint justices to overturn Roe but not to overturn Obergefell? The reason is really simple. These issues that drive social conservatives are not issues that he cares about.
Joe Scarborough warned social conservatives in July that Trump is not with them on gay marriage. Scarborough says,
It really speaks to Donald Trump’s worldview that he hasn’t really shown during the primary campaign… Social conservatives, if Trump is elected, duck because he’s not on your side on these issues. It’s not like this is the first time we’ve been saying that. He does not care. He has a more open view, and certainly he’s more in line at least with millennial voters and with an awful lot of voters. So that wasn’t a real surprise to any of us that know Donald. It may be a surprise, though, to Jerry Falwell Juniors that go out and say certain things…
Bottom Line: Donald Trump is not a social conservative, and he doesn’t behave like one. And he’s not going to govern like one either.