As the Republican nomination focuses on this Tuesday’s New York primary, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have been trading barbs regarding “New York Values.”
“New York Values” first came into prominence in the primaries when, in January 2016, Ted Cruz stated that Trump “embodies New York Values.” Cruz was asked to explain the statement during the January 14 Fox Business Republican Debate. Cruz responded in part:
(Starting at about 11 minutes into the video,)
…not too many years ago Donald did a long interview with Tim Russert. And in that interview, he explained his views on a whole host of issues that were very, very different from the views he’s describing now and his explanation, he said look I’m from New York, that’s what we believe in New York, those aren’t Iowa values, but this is what we believe in New York, and so that was his explanation.
Trump responded by invoking the 9/11 and New Yorker’s efforts to rebuild afterward. It was widely viewed as a rhetorical victory for Trump.
But what about the substance of Cruz’s charge? The interview to which Cruz referred was an October 1999 interview of Trump by Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet The Press. At the time, Trump was considering a run for President as a member of the Reform Party. The interview was wide-ranging and eventually turned to social issues:
Tim Russert: Partial birth abortion, the eliminating of abortion in the third trimester: big issue in Washington. Would President Trump ban partial birth abortion?
Donald Trump: Well, look, I’m I’m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. But you still I just believe in choice. And, again, it may be a little bit of a New York background, because there is some different attitude in different parts of the country. And, you know, I was raised in New York, and grew up and work and everything else in New York City. But I am strongly for choice and, yet, I hate the concept of abortion.
Tim Russert: But you would not ban it?
Donald Trump: No.
Tim Russert: Or ban partial birth abortion?
Donald Trump: No. I would, I would, I am, I am pro-choice in every respect and as far as it goes, but I just hate it.
To put Trump’s statement into context, one must fully understand the partial birth abortion procedure, particularly as described by Russert as taking place in the third trimester. Of note, fetal viability at the beginning of the third trimester is around 90%. During a typical procedure, the fetus, which in many instances is alive, is partially delivered and then the doctor suctions out the brain of the fetus, which allows the fetus to pass more easily through the cervix. The procedure was made illegal by the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. It is a barbaric procedure that, particularly in the third trimester as specified by Russert, is tantamount to infanticide.
Despite such barbarism, universally abhorred by pro-lifers, Republicans and conservatives, Donald Trump did not support a ban on partial-birth abortions. And his reason? Because he “was raised in New York, and grew up and work and everything else in New York City.”
Ponder that for a second. Ask yourself, “How many of my neighbors would have to support making partial-birth abortions legal in the third trimester before I would join them?”
Now, Trump claims to be Pro-Life. Yet being Pro-Life, by definition, is to support increased restrictions on abortions, if not a total ban. But Trump doesn’t support any changes to current law. In an April 3 interview on CBS’s Face The Nation, Trump declared with respect to abortion, “At this moment the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.” To claim to be Pro-Life yet not support changing current law is Orwellian.
For Donald Trump, his values aren’t values at all; by his own admission they are positions to be taken to fit in with those who surround him. In 1999, he was trying to fit in with New York City elites and the Reform party. In 2016, by claiming to be Pro-Life, he is trying to fit in with Republican primary voters. If elected in 2017, he will undoubtedly be trying to fit in with the Washington D.C. establishment.