A month ago, Ralph Reed, the one-time wunderkind of the religious right, claimed that Donald Trump was winning so many evangelical votes because he “checks all the boxes” when it comes to the social issues. Since then, however, Trump has unchecked a couple.
On the wedge issue du jour — transgender bathrooms — he’s suggested that maybe there’s nothing to get excited about.”There have been very few complaints the way it is,” he declared on a “Today” show town hall Thursday. “People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble, and the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife and the economic punishment that they’re taking.”
Then there’s the perennial hot button. First Trump allowed as how if abortion is illegal, the woman who procures one should be subject to criminal penalties. And now he says he wants to change the Republican party platform to permit exceptions for rape, incest, and life-of-the-mother. Haven’t we been here before?
Almost 20 years ago today, the aforementioned Reed, then executive director of the Christian Coalition, announced that he would “reluctantly” support changing the Republican platform to permit those exceptions, in a move widely seen as providing Republican candidate-to-be Bob Dole, who supported them, room to maneuver.
For his pains, Reed was pilloried by his evangelical compatriots. A year later, he resigned from the Christian Coalition to start a political consulting firm that would, he said, focus on electing candidates opposed to abortion.
Today Reed is heading the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which claims that “North Carolina has become ground zero in the war on Judeo-Christian values.” I’m guessing he’s not going to be providing Donald Trump with room to maneuver on the restroom thing. Or the abortion thing.
As for Trump, one possibility is that he’s been maneuvering for moderate votes in today’s Acela primary. Another is that he just doesn’t know what the program is when it comes to social issues. I’m voting for the latter. But either way, it’s kind of refreshing.