Mona is saying what every liberal I know has been saying for decades - if you're truly pro-life, and not just the Cult of the Fetus, then start acting like it by caring for women and children who need kindness, compassion, and help. The problem is everything I can think of that would meaningfully reduce abortion rates - other than a complete ban, obviously - is anathema to the religious right and the GOP base.

* Free contraception? Nah, feels good to slut shame.

* Robust, evidence-based sex education? No way! That'll just encourage the little horndogs and make Baby Jesus weep!

* More money to Planned Parenthood for prenatal care? Um, Margret Sanger was into eugenics and you support her, so...

* Universal healthcare? Go back to Commiestan, commie!

* Free daycare? What, I'm going to pay a babysitter because loose women can't live moral lives?

* Improve the safety net? That's how it started in Venezuela!

And on and on it goes...

The plain fact is the Republican base and the religious right care far more about control, punishment, and harsh consequences than they do about life. That cruelty has been a major part of their rhetoric for decades. It has momentum. Besides, they *like* it. It's a socially acceptable way to be a loud, obnoxious bully.

Try to imagine a GOP leader standing in front of their supporters and saying "Hey, you know those murderous sluts we've been howling about since the 80s? Well, we maybe overstated things it a bit. They're actually people like you and me and we need to withhold judgement and help them. Also, we changed our minds, and giving money to single mothers isn't socialism anymore. Any questions?"

I mean, I'd love to see it, but...

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I can buy that many in the GOP are truly ready to move on from trump, and even that they might be successful in nominating someone other than trump this time.

What I want to know is what the "normal" Republicans, current and former, elected and electorate are willing to support. I get that they've finally decided that trump loses them elections, so perhaps they stop promoting the Big Lie, they tone down the violent rhetoric, the racist rhetoric, the laughing at political violence when it occurs. But what if red-state legislatures keep passing laws to give them the legal ability to overturn election outcomes they don't like in the future - do they just not mention it out loud anymore? Are groups like the Bulwark okay with that?

What exactly would it take to convince them that the GOP, at heart, is still anti-democratic in their leanings, still pro-putin and other authoritarian leaders, still lurching towards a white christian nationalism that blurs the line between state and religion, still willing to say (or not say) anything that would help them gain and keep power at any cost?

What does it take for them to be convinced that the GOP has the best interests of our nation at heart again - because it seems to me that running away from trump simply because he costs them elections, is still nothing more than a cold political calculation that addresses NONE of what they have been willing to either participate in, or quietly acquiesce to, during the past 6+ years.

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So, while I am sympathetic to Mona's views here re: abortion, it's missing something that has always been true in the abortion fight and it seems many pro-lifers either haven't, or are just starting to, get: The pro-life movement was never about helping women or children. It was always about control of women. Their lives, their place in society, and most critically in a Nation like ours with separation of church and state, imposing a minority's religious purity on the majority. There are conversations and compromises possible in the wider debate, but you need to start it from that previous baseline understanding

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Nov 16, 2022·edited Nov 16, 2022

"Every abortion is a tragedy"

The exact words of one of the obstetricians who performs medically necessary third trimester abortions at my institution.

The new laws will result in compounding the tragedies. Not only will fetuses be lost, but mothers will die as well.

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The National Review, standing athwart history, saying, "No....but this time we really mean it, guys!"

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I'm always bemused at how pro-life people who advocate for a kinder, gentler anti-abortion movement as if they're making a novel argument can miss that the pro-choice movement is already pushing for their preferred policies, and always has been. Pro-choice people want better access to other forms of contraception, which reduce abortions immediately. Pro-choice people want better pre - and postnatal care, and better supports for parents, so people don't feel like they have no economic choice. It's unfortunate that the leadership of the anti-abortion side has decided that "just say no, or we'll put you in prison" is the whole of their solution, but it doesn't immediately follow that their opponents are just as simplistic.

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Re Trump: "Maybe this time will be different."

No, it won't. No matter who its nominee ultimately will be, the GOP will go where it goes based on opportunity, not by values. We've seen what they have become. We've seen how their leadership functions. No trust is earned or warranted. And Trump is beyond redemption. He wants all of the glory and perks of the job and none of the actual workload and responsibility. In 2022/2023/2024 he is a stale old 2016 fart masquerading as a rose-scented agent of change. The only real change he seeks is revenge on those whom he perceives to have wronged him -- grievance on steroids. Because, in the end, Trump is neither R nor D. He is T. He is not mature enough to grow, change, or evolve. Nor does he care enough about anyone other than himself to try. That is who he is. That is what he does. It will not change, and MAGA does not want for him or the movement to do so.

This road map is very easy to read. We need to find a different means of navigation if we want to arrive at a different and better destination. But you know that.

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“Trump has always framed his politics of cruelty and dominance as a matter of counterpunching against enemies”

You could put DeSantis in that sentence and it would ring true....

I don’t see that DeSantis is any different. The GOP is so lacking in imagination- they only know how to put up cookie-cutter candidates.

As for the things Trump says his regime would do: they really sound more like Stephen Miller, don’t they?

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I guess I have no morals. Yes, let's bring back shame and immorality to pregnant women in all kinds of circumstances. I've experienced the fear of an unwanted pregnancy and the tears of joy following the abortion. I've experienced the happiness of being pregnant and the joy of holding ones newborn.

Those feelings are not the same. I'm glad I had the right to choose.

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I honestly can't think of any cults that died out due to fatigue. There probably are some, but I can't think of them. If they die out, it tends to be because they literally died out, like all of their members killed themselves or were killed. Hail Bop Comet, Branch Davidians, Jonestown. If Trumpism is the cult we've all been saying it is, then there is a core of supporters who will follow Trump to Hell. J6 is indicative that we have something of a cult on our hands.

Trump doesn't want to look like a loser, sure. But in his orbit, it's impossible for him to lose, even when he actually loses. I'm not sure fear of looking like a loser is in play at this point. If fear is driving his decision, it's fear of accountability. He doesn't want what DOJ has waiting for him.

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They're already getting back on the Trump train, see: Lindsey Graham.

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Abortion is as old as the hills and the prattle “ Every abortion is a tragedy and frankly, a moral failure” is just plain old bs. I had two and never thought twice. Does Mona Charen believe my choice was a moral failure? I suspect she’s Catholic, but don’t know so won’t accuse.

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"there are thousands of expectant mothers who wish there were an alternative."

I loved your newsletter today. It was very interesting.

I do want to respond to the statement above. While helping a pregnant woman is a wonderful thing to do, that is not the point of being Pro Choice. Lots of pregnant women choose the services provided by their states and there are a lot. The point of pro choice is letting women make their own choices. Anecdotally, a friend of mine, a successful business women AND a Republucan, had two abortions, because she did not want children. She knew she was smart enough not to get pregnant, but she did and never regretted having an abortion. She and I both, and millions of women, believe the government should never have the right to force women to go through pregnancy and child birth ever.

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National Review standing athwart history yelling NO. (Pending the next click rate statistics.)

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Another hopeful column, Charlie, and I hope the optimism is well-founded. I am not sure, though, that Trump being seen as a bully is going to dissuade the MAGA cult. I think it is a cult made up of bullies. In terms of standing up to him, I can't help thinking that through all the terrible Trump years, the only person who I think really might have punched him in the nose given the opportunity, is diminutive octogenarian Nancy Pelosi on Jan. 6. I like to think that that's what the midterm results were.

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Mona: No, every abortion is not a moral failure, any more than failing to ensure all women are pregnant as often as possible is not a moral failure. A clump of cells is not a person.

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