Trump moving away from policies that made president popular among Catholics
by Derek Ganzhorn • ChurchMilitant • April 10, 2017
WASHINGTON – Less than three months into his administration, President Donald Trump is reneging on campaign pledges and calling into question his commitment to positions that made him attractive to Catholics.
The policy shifts have come in the midst of a power grab in Trump’s cabinet with Trump reportedly depending more on the advice of his socially liberal daughter Ivanka and her husband, “lifelong liberal and a Democratic donor” Jared Kushner.
Shake-ups have also been noticeable in the foreign policy realm. On Tuesday, self-professed nationalist Steve Bannon was removed from the National Security Council. On Sunday, K.T. McFarland, a Trump ally who opposed increased military presence in Syria, left the National Security Council to become ambassador to Indonesia.
The Council is now dominated by Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and Derek Harvey, two officials who have close ties to Gen. David Petraeus and other globalist hawks from the George W. Bush White House.
The most major shift came Thursday when Trump launched an attack on an airfield in western Syria, after a chemical weapons attack allegedly committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. As of today, there is no independent corroboration that Assad was behind the attack.
Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, went on Sunday morning TV shows advocating greater U.S. military response in Syria and calling regime change “inevitable.” Haley said, “You cannot achieve peace in Syria if Assad is still in power.”
National Security Adviser McMaster said on Sunday that while the president is open to a political solution in Syria, military options were still on the table. McMaster also suggested that if the United States did take military action in the country, it would pursue the defeat of ISIS and Syrian state forces simultaneously. Reports have McMasters and Harvey advocating 150,000 ground troops and regime change in Syria.
Trump had previously derided the idea of military intervention in the Middle Eastern nation, saying, “We’re going to start World War Three? Over Syria? Give me a break!”
Trump’s pledge to limit the number of Syrian refugees is likely to be affected by further military action in that country. Trump previously said he would look Syrian children “in the face” and tell them they could not come to the country.
Commitments to pro-life causes are also suspect. Trump has claimed he will put justices on the Supreme Court who will overturn Roe v. Wade. Neil Gorsuch, who was seated on the Court Monday, seems to fit this description. Yet Trump has been weak when it comes to condemning Planned Parenthood (PP), an organization he has said does “good things.”
Ivanka’s increased influence on her father also suggests Trump may back away from his pro-life campaign pledge. As reported last week, Ivanka Trump met with PP head Cecile Richards soon after her father’s election in an attempt to find common ground on the abortion issue. According to a spokeswoman for the first daughter, Ivanka Trump and Richards had “a cordial and informative meeting shortly after the inauguration.”
“The purpose of the meeting from Planned Parenthood’s perspective was to make sure that Ivanka Trump fully understood the important role Planned Parenthood plays in providing health care to millions of people and why it would be a disastrous idea to block people from accessing care at Planned Parenthood,” the spokesman clarified.
Meanwhile, the task of defunding PP has been put on the back burner in Congress. On March 28, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that PP funding would not be handled in the general budget bill. Instead, the issue would be dealt with in a separate bill. This move avoided a confrontation with Democrats, who threatened to shut down the government over funding the abortion giant but angered congressional conservatives who wanted to force the issue of defunding PP.
Now that defunding PP is a stand-alone issue, it’s unclear if anyone in Congress or the White House has an incentive to pursue the matter or the political capital to get it passed.