From the Left



Trump paved the way for Alabama's abortion law

Dana Milbank on

WASHINGTON -- The ship has sailed, the train has left the station, the horse is out of the barn, the genie is out of the bottle, and the toothpaste is out of the tube.

Enter President Trump.

"As most people know, and for those who would like to know, I am strongly Pro-Life, with the three exceptions -- Rape, Incest and protecting the Life of the mother -- the same position taken by Ronald Reagan," Trump tweeted on the weekend.

He was trying to distance himself from Alabama's new law begging the Supreme Court to ban abortions even for victims of rape and incest. But it no longer matters what Trump thinks -- and not just because the Alabama ban is already signed into law. Trump put Alabama on course to do what it has done.

He rewarded pro-life advocates for their support with two new justices, vetted by the conservative Federalist Society, and likely an antiabortion majority on the high court. Now, pro-lifers are predictably testing to see how far they can go in reversing Roe v. Wade. Why wouldn't they? Trump's chance to influence this has passed.

This is just one of many cases in which Trump seems to be catching up with the consequences of his own actions. His policies toward China, Iran and on the southern border have likewise produced a variety of ill effects and unforeseen consequences. Unforeseen, but not unforeseeable: Trump seems to govern by smashing crockery, undoing decades of precedent and causing upheaval for its own sake -- without much regard for what the consequences might be.


Trump's loyal supporters see the chaos he causes as its own reward. "He continues to turn things upside down. Love it," one wrote to me last week in an email that well captured this sentiment.

But turning things upside down causes unpredictable and sometimes ugly results. Some were clear immediately, as in the botched rollout of the travel ban, the family separation policies and the attempt to repeal Obamacare without an alternative. The consequences of Trump's upending of other policies and norms -- alienating European allies, protecting access to firearms by the mentally ill, declaring a national emergency to circumvent Congress and launching a massive economic stimulus during an expansion -- might not be felt for years.

At some point, though, the consequences show themselves. Trump, for example, turned Iran policy upside down, pulling out of the "horrible" Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama administration and badgering European allies to accept tough new sanctions against Iran.

Now, a year later: Iran has declared that it is resuming nuclear fuel production; a rocket fired by an Iran-aligned militia on Sunday landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; the United States has pulled back diplomats from the area and sent an aircraft carrier amid rising tensions and an attack on oil tankers; and European allies are blaming the United States.


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