Donald Trump, Social Conservative?

Donald Trump addressed the National Rifle Association’s Leadership Forum today. Just before he spoke, the NRA announced its endorsement of him. Trump’s speech was good. He contrasted his support for gun rights with “Heartless Hillary”‘s effort to disarm women and render them unable to protect themselves. He said that Mrs. Clinton wants to repeal the Second Amendment, which is essentially correct since Clinton says she will appoint justices who will vote to overturn District of Columbia v. Heller. He denounced the stupidity of gun-free zones and pledged to do away with them as president.

This is Trump’s speech in its entirety; it runs just over a half hour:

The speech was good, and gun rights are a winning issue for Republicans. But how sincere is Trump’s pro-gun commitment? As a laughably biased Newsweek article points out, Trump hasn’t always been so bullish on the Second Amendment:

Americans might remember that Trump wasn’t always such a strong supporter of gun ownership. Before he was a presidential contender, he called out Republicans who “walk the NRA line” and “refuse even limited restrictions” on firearms laws, in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve.

“I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun,” he wrote.

And the Guardian says that “[m]any of Trump’s properties, including the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, are gun-free zones.”

Then there is abortion. I was struck by an article this morning in the Telegraph that identified Trump with a bill that recently passed Oklahoma’s legislature, making it a crime to perform an abortion. The Telegraph’s unwieldy headline reads: “Oklahoma just made Donald Trump’s dream come true by banning abortion. Welcome to America 2016.”

Donald Trump’s dream has just come true. No, I’m not talking about walls across the Mexican border or the ultimate Miss Universe line up.

I’m referring to politicians in the state of Oklahoma who have just passed a bill that would make abortion illegal – the first time that’s ever happened in the US. [Ed.: This is a ridiculous statement.] The state’s Senate voted by 33-12 on Thursday in favour of the legislation….

This is almost exactly what Donald Trump – the man set to be crowned as the Republican candidate for the Presidency – most desires.

I doubt that any of Trump’s most profound desires relate to abortion, one way or another. In fact, Trump was once rather vociferously pro-abortion, as John McCormack pointed out in the Weekly Standard:

Trump himself was “very” pro-abortion not so long ago. In 1999, Tim Russert asked Trump if he would support a ban on “abortion in the third-trimester” or “partial-birth abortion.”

“No,” Trump replied. “I am pro-choice in every respect.” Trump explained his views may be the result of his “New York background.”

There is a long tradition of Republican politicians moving to the right on social issues when they seek the presidency, but Trump’s case is a little extreme.

Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is insincere. And political positions initially taken out of expediency tend to harden and become more genuine when they come under attack from opponents. My guess is that if Trump wasn’t wholly sincere when he first started talking like a social conservative, he will be by the time he takes office.

And, in any event, the president generally has little to do with the social issues. Social issues usually become issues only because they are forced on us by the Left, often through court decisions. On guns and abortion, President Trump’s tangible input will come through his judicial appointments. And there, he appears to be solid.

The bottom line is that Trump is enough of a social conservative for me.