Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Yesterday I wrote that Donald Trump's criticism of Ronald Reagan, in his 1987 book The Art of the Deal, was going to be the death knell for his presidential campaign (or pseudo-campaign or whatever the hell it is) -- no one criticizes St. Ronnie and survives on the right, I said. But I was wrong. I assumed that all the Republicans who fret about the "unseriousness" of the 2012 field would pounce; I thought Trump's swipe at Reagan would win banner headlines at Drudge and Fox Nation and like-minded sites. But nothing. Crickets. The people at the controls of the noise machine clearly don't want the Trump Show shut down just yet.

Which is why it's a letdown to learn the details of a Trump interview breathlessly previewed by Josh Marshall here:

Just between you and me, you simply must see this video of Donald Trump today getting asked about whether he believes there's a right to privacy in the US constitution. We've got it up in the feature right now. And it was bouncing around the cable nets all day. But no lead in can do it justice. By any measure, it's right up with "In what respect, Charlie?" as one of those video moments for the ages where a pop political culture supercollider rams schadenfreude into empathy at such a velocity that it explodes in hilarity and disbelief.

What he's teasing seems like a huge gaffe -- but I don't think it is:

In his lengthy interview with NBC's Savannah Guthrie, Donald Trump appeared stumped when asked about the legal principle that served as the cornerstone for the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Here's the key part of the interview:

Guthrie: "Is there a right to privacy in the Constitution?"

Trump: "I guess there is, I guess there is. And why, just out of curiosity, why do you ask that question?"

When pressed to explain how his position on the right to privacy "squares" with his anti-abortion position, Trump responded: "Well, that's a pretty strange way of getting to pro-life. I mean, it's a very unique way of asking about pro-life. What does that have to do with privacy? How are you equating pro-life with privacy?"

Guthrie asked, "well, you know about the Roe v. Wade decision." Trump responded, "yes, right, sure. Look, I am pro-life. I've said it. I’m very strong there."

OK, sure -- the professional anti-choicers are going to be upset. So are one-issue anti-choice zealots in the electorate who know all the lingo.

But wingnuts are getting so much pleasure from Trump that I don't see this hurting him all that much. Three reasons: First, anti-choicers agree that it's inappropriate to link privacy to abortion -- they don't think there's an express or implicit right to privacy in the Constitution, and they don't think such a right would give you the right to be a dirty filthy baby-killer even if it were in the Constitution. Second, this, to a wingnut, is the classic "liberal media smartypants tries to trip up true patriot with clever word games" scenario. Third, if Trump is about to be attacked for ignorance, that makes him just like Reagan -- and like the "misunderestimated" George W. Bush in all his first-term glory. The wingers love that.

Yeah, Trump should have uttered all the right buzzwords if he didn't want to risk losing part of the base. But come on -- he's a consummate bullshit artist. He'll master the lingo very quickly. He won't get the answer wrong again.

Elsewhere, I see the Club for Growth attacking Trump for abusing eminent domain. Really, guys? That's the best you've got? Wingers do care quite a bit about eminent domain, but that's not going to bring this guy down either. Next thing you know, they're going to be so desperate they'll accuse him of favoring the Law of the Sea Treaty.

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