Donald Trump has found a way to make something as heartfelt as a humanitarian appeal to save the life of a dying baby look self-serving.
Trump on Monday offered the services of medical experts in the United States to assist in the case of Charlie Gard, an 11-month old British child born with a hopeless terminal illness. Earlier in the day, Pope Francis had suggested that Charlie’s parents care for the child as long as possible, contrary to the advice of British doctors, who said Charlie should be removed from life-support equipment.
“To defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all,” Pope Francis said. It was a soulful message.
“If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so,” Trump tweeted. We believe it was an opportunistic and vain (tweet what you know) tug at the heartstrings, most likely initiated by a spin doctor or his wife Melania, who is fond of children.
It’s frankly hard to imagine Trump fussing over a sick child. In a 2003 appearance on the Howard Stern radio show, Trump joked about being talked into not having an abortion, timing of which would coincide with his marriage to second-wife Marla Maples and her “surprise” pregnancy. He was politically pro-choice at the time.
Had Charlie Gard been born in the U.S., he would not have received a minute of the president’s attention. Trump upped the ante on healthcare in another holiday weekend tweet, suggesting that Congress should forget about the repeal and replacement of Obamacare and just move forward with repeal. Replacement could be analyzed and debated at some unspecified time in the future, according to Trump. Trump campaigned on the promise of better, cheaper health for all and a simultaneous repeal and replace.
Trump should stick to something believable. Certainly not the care of pregnant women and babies, evidenced in his approval of an Obamacare revamp. Even his budget proposals slash services for young children and medical research for all. Once a Planned Parenthood supporter, he now agrees with Congress that any federal funding be cut, taking services from 5 million families. He has also argued against citizenship for “anchor babies” of undocumented immigrants, and refuses immigration to thousands of refugees, many of them children.
With Tea Party holdovers like Sen. Rand Paul holding out for eliminating all “entitlements,” that unspecified time could be until Democrats regain control of Congress. And years of Republican gerrymandering could make that difficult. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case on Republican gerrymandering this fall and whether it violates the Constitution. Trump, we recall, stole the presidency with the support of only a minority of Americans.
We’ve already seen Republicans turn a blind eye to the needs of low-income and disabled Americans, many of them children. House Majority Leader Rep. Paul Ryan even made a callous visit to critically ill children at McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple, Texas, in late May. Ryan, who had already shepherded a House healthcare bill that would take insurance away from 24 million people, brazenly beamed in a photograph with Logan Parker, the current Texas Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network. The message was spot on — better hope for a miracle because Ryan and Congress ain’t going to help you.
For his part, Vice President Mike Pence believes sick people somehow deserve what they get, it is their “personal responsibility” to live a life free from sin so they will remain healthy. Sone 582,000 people in Pence’s Indiana — presumably living a life of sin — would lose health insurance under Obamacare replacement measures authored by Republicans. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just wants a win at any cost, little matter that 22 million or 24 million Americans lose health insurance. McConnell’s home state of Kentucky would take a big hit under either the House or Senate versions of the bill, with the number of insured people climbing from 6.3 percent to 21 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. A cut in federal funding to Medicaid would be a big driver of that increase. Premiums for those with insurance would rise 74 percent.
And these are just the Republican leaders.
Trump’s bandwagon attempt at soliciting sympathy for little Charlie Gard is another con. Charlie’s genetic illness has already resulted in brain damage that has taken his ability to move his arms and legs, eat or breathe on his own. The parents have been given time to say goodbye to their son, but the limits of medicine are clear. An “alternative” therapy in the U.S. or elsewhere — Trump’s befuddled notion — is strictly experimental and hasn’t been tested on lab animals.
We’re making America great again at the expense of the next generation.
Or simply put, Trump is throwing the baby out with the bath water.