Donald Trump’s authenticity on issues such as ending abortion may be highly questionable, but there’s still a stylistic lesson more conventional Republicans desperately need to learn from him: people are sick of timidity in response to outrageous policies and malicious smears.
Case in point: on Friday, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) said the following:
I hear a lot in this institution from minority leaders about how their communities are targeted, but what I don’t hear them talk about is how their communities are targeted in abortion […] My liberal friends, Congressional Black Caucus members, talk about fighting for the defenseless, the hopeless, and the downtrodden […] There is no one more hopeless and voiceless than an unborn baby, but their silence is deafening. I can’t hear them. Where are they standing up for their communities, advocating and fighting for their right to life?
So far, so good. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) reacted with the usual hysteria:
After nearly 30 years in public office, not much surprises me anymore. So you can imagine my lack of astonishment when my dear friend and colleague from Wisconsin, Sean Duffy, rolled out abortion statistics among African-American women to lecture black legislators like me about defending the welfare of our constituents […] I don’t expect Rep. Duffy to understand why his comments are offensive […] What he and so many of his Republican colleagues fail to acknowledge is the underlying context behind high abortion rates in African-American communities. High rates of abortion are related to poverty and lack of access to quality care […] Rep. Duffy’s hypocrisy on this issue is as predictable as it is offensive. If he truly, truly wants to fight for the hopeless and voiceless, he should join us.
At which point Duffy falls apart. Moore’s attack is equal parts dishonest and malicious, purely an attempt to distract from his critique by changing the subject. This should have been met with doubling down on the original charge against her and her colleagues, with a healthy dose of shame added in.
Instead, he felt the need to appease his attacker.
Rep. Gwen Moore has met my Latina wife and our seven children. She knows that she and I share a passion for helping minority communities access the American Dream.
Mistake #1: dignifying Moore’s crass insinuation of racial insensitivity as a legitimate complaint requiring Duffy to prove he isn’t bigoted. Mistake #2: preemptively crediting Moore with noble intentions she does not possess. However sincere she may be in helping minorities on other issues (which she isn’t; her party perpetuates black poverty through dependence on government and trapping black families in failing school districts), Duffy was right the first time that she doesn’t have “a passion for helping minority” children in the womb. Claiming otherwise undermines his original point that she happily lets abortionist slaughter black babies.
It’s worth noting that Rep. Moore did not refute the harrowing statistics – more African-American abortions than live births in NYC – because they are irrefutable.
Mistake #3: This is the one good statement in Duffy’s response, but he should have led with and expanded it, rather than cushioning it with praise for her. The most productive thing he could have done would have been to expose this sort of demagoguery as the naked evasion tactic it is, so it might carry a little less weight the next time one of Moore’s pals tries it. But here, it just comes across as an afterthought.
My remarks were not an attack on her or any of my colleagues.
Mistake #4: Yes they were! And rightly so! There’s no shame in attacking insensitivity to violence against children, or the hypocrisy of perpetuating that violence while claiming to speak for their very communities.
See, crap like this is why I’m half-tempted to tell my political junkie friends I’m not really from Wisconsin. When we’re not sending leftists to DC, we’re sending wimps.
Consider the pro-abortion accusation that pro-lifers’ insistence on fighting abortion peacefully somehow suggests we don’t take abortion as seriously as we claim, because nobody would have a problem shooting someone to stop the murder of a born child. We know that’s ludicrous because lawbreaking is a serious, complex subject, but the underlying logic is much more applicable here—most wouldn’t expect someone authentically offended by killing babies to engage in hand-wringing about whether his criticism of such evil is construed as an attack.
Rather, they were an invitation to work together to defend poor, minority women against a powerful industry that targets them and preys on their vulnerability. Together, we can do more to offer African-American women and their children hope and non-violent solutions to difficult or unplanned pregnancies.
Mistake #5: “Inviting” a dyed-in-the-wool pro-abort to stop being a dyed-in-the-wool pro-abort? Really? News flash, Congressman: you’re not going to convert Gwen Moore into a pro-lifer, and you’re certainly not going to do it by tamely appealing to good intentions that simply aren’t there.
She’s not your pal; she’s your enemy. When an apologist for mass child execution attacks you like this, you’re not supposed to try appealing to the better nature you delusionally believe she has deep down; you’re supposed to defeat her—you’re supposed to so defiantly reject Moore’s every premise, so thoroughly condemn her insincerity, that you demonstrate that her tactics don’t work anymore.
Which brings us back to Trump. As Rush Limbaugh explained last week, The Donald’s aggressive parrying of Hillary Clinton’s attempts to deploy the War on Women narrative against him by reminding voters of the rampant misogyny of her own husband has have actually shaken Clinton and her usual media lackeys, even getting the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus to declare, “Trump is right: Bill Clinton’s sordid sexual history is fair game.”
To be sure, there’s plenty about Donald Trump that pro-life politicians shouldn’t emulate. But make no mistake: if an actual spine was injected into more skirmishes like the depressingly routine Duffy vs. Moore, the abortion debate would look very different.