Let me get this straight. Republicans in general argue that abortion is MURDER. Isn't that so?
In fact, don't Tea Party extremists sometimes rationalize attacking and even killing abortion providers because the latter are murderers pure and simple? Or have I been somehow misreading those pro-life posters along Interstate 75? "ABORTION IS MURDER," the signs announce all the way to Florida.
Yet, when Donald Trump argues that such criminality should be punished in the usual ways, the entire Republican establishment is suddenly shocked and appalled. Of course (they're now saying) abortion shouldn't be treated as murder. Who could possibly make such an insensitive misogynist argument?
Say what? Am I hearing that correctly? Or is there an acoustical problem in here? Doesn't all of that sound suspiciously "pro-choice?" Have Republicans suddenly found Feminist Religion?
To give my questions a finer point: Donald Trump seems merely to be drawing the logical conclusion from the continuously reiterated Republican position on abortion. Though no one (not even The Donald) is crazy enough to say it like this, the argument's syllogism runs as follows: (1) Abortion is murder. (2) But all murders are capital crimes deserving capital punishment. (3) Therefore abortion should be punished by execution or life imprisonment.
Though inevitable, such logic is scary as hell. So even crazies like Ted Cruz are running away from it.
What is the justification for the Establishment's sudden shift?
Here's why: the Republican Party leadership doesn't want Donald Trump to be the GOP standard bearer next fall. He's not electable, they think. And he's not orthodox enough on signature Tea Party issues like well . . . abortion. (Historically, he has waffled on the topic.) So they'll do anything to prevent his advance -- even if it means fudging on one of their signature positions. They evidently hope no one will notice the hypocrisy.
However, the fact that no Republican (except for Mr. Trump) is daring or logical enough to say out loud what Republicans have insinuated all along tells us that something is drastically wrong with not with The Donald, but with the "pro-life" position itself.
In Logic the sequence is called a reductio ad absurdum -- a method of proving the falsity of an argument (for instance that abortion is murder) by demonstrating that its conclusion is absurd or untenable.
In other words, when you put words to it and draw the logical conclusion, the contention of the pro-lifers that abortion is murder sounds absolutely crazy to everyone. Few in the electorate -- especially women -- will support it. That's the demonstration of falsity. Case closed.
In theology, we call such agreement the "sensus fidelium." It refers to people's conclusions about matters of faith and morals (such as abortion) based on common sense rather than the arguments of the experts. Catholic doctrine regards such agreement as infallible.