Thursday, October 05, 2017

The "Independent" Donald Trump

On September 9 The New York Times' Peter Baker wrote

Now in the White House, President Trump demonstrated this past week that he still imagines himself a solitary cowboy as he abandoned Republican congressional leaders to forge a short-term fiscal deal with Democrats. Although elected as a Republican last year, Mr. Trump has shown in the nearly eight months in office that he is, in many ways, the first independent to hold the presidency since the advent of the current two-party system around the time of the Civil War.

He can imagine himself as anything he wants, even as a President, as one elected with a majority of the popular vote, or as one elected without the intervention of a foreign power. But "independent," he most assuredly is not.

For some context, consider that Franklin Foer (albeit twenty years ago) explained

Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 case legalizing abortion, made fetal viability an important legal concept. The Supreme Court ruled that states cannot put the interests of a fetus ahead of the interests of the pregnant woman until the fetus is "viable." The court defined viable to mean capable of prolonged life outside the mother's womb. It said this included fetuses that doctors expected to be sustained by respirators. The court accepted the conventional medical wisdom that a fetus becomes viable at the start of the last third of a pregnancy, the third trimester, sometime between the 24th and 28th week (a pregnancy usually lasts 38 weeks). Because the point of viability varies, the court ruled, it could only be determined case by case and by the woman's own doctor. Even if the fetus is viable, the court said, states could not outlaw an abortion if the woman's life or health was at stake.

In recent years, several states have restricted or outlawed abortions after 20 weeks on the notion that a fetus can feel pain at that point, despite the Supreme Court's decision in 2014 to leave in place a lower court's ruling to overturn a 20-week ban in Arizona.  Although not all fetuses are conceived equally, a spokesperson for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has concluded that fetuses "do not have the capacity to process, recognize or feel pain during the second trimester."

Typically denying science, Republicans in Congress are forging ahead with "The Pain-Capable Unborn Children Protection Act." Politico reported Thursday that

Senate Republicans want to follow the House and vote to ban abortions after 20 weeks. But doing so would likely reopen an internecine fight over the filibuster with the lower chamber — and the president.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday will reintroduce his bill to ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which failed on the Senate floor two years ago, 54-42. It’s sure to fail again if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brings it up.

Surely, our President, who "has shown that he is, in many ways, the first independent to hold the presidency since the advent of the current two-party system around the time of the Civil War," would recognize this as an unacceptable effort to circumvent the nation's highest court.  That, though, would be in only the fantasy world Baker inhabits, because

holding another unsuccessful vote after House passage Tuesday is not so simple with Donald Trump as president: He’s said he’d sign the bill if it gets to his desk. And he hates that Senate Republicans won’t abandon the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold, which is the only thing stopping the federal ban from becoming law.

Majority Leader McConnell has long been reluctant to abolish the filibuster and Senator Graham says “Some of the strongest supporters of the idea of not eliminating the legislative filibuster are the pro-life groups. What we’ll do is grow public support for the idea that abortion on demand is not the right answer." They probably recognize that when some year Democrats retake Congress, they might introduce the "Restore Womens' Rights Act," expanding reproductive freedom.

Such legislation might be passed at that point, and signed by the President- unless he is one of those supposedly independent-minded chief executives who do as the Republican Party tells them they should do.

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