Until Donald Trump surfaced with his daughter last night in suburban Philadelphia, I had nearly forgotten one of the most hilarious moments of the Republican national convention.
Granted, hilarity was at a premium in Cleveland — what with the hatred being spewed by retread celebrities, and the dead-eyed white guys patrolling the streets with their mass-casualty weaponry — but when Ivanka took the podium and talked about government-guaranteed childcare, I just lost myself in laughter.
Daddy, she promised, “will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all!” There wasn’t a syllable about that in the Republican platform, indeed Republicans have opposed the idea for eons. In fact, the idea comes straight from the Democratic playbook — but no matter, the Trumpkins in the arena dutifully bleated Yay!
Daddy, she said, would enact government policies that would help working women “afford the childcare,” policies that would help these women “thrive” outside the home. None of that stuff appears in the Republican platform, indeed conservatives have generaly believed that mothers who opt to stay home with their kids are enhancing family values — but no matter, the Trumpkins in the arena dutifully bleated Yay!
And I remember thinking: Since when do Republicans cheer for Democratic policies? And of course the answer was obvious: This year at least, they have no ideological compass. They simply love whatever emanates from Der Leader — or in this case, Der Daughter.
Which brings us to Trump’s childcare policy, which he pitched last night in the hopes of wooing suburban women in the crucial burbs that abut Philadelphia. Never mind the fact that Trump has said that “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing,” and that the “big mistake” he made with Ivanka’s mother “was taking her out of the role of wife and allowing her to run one of my casinos,” and never mind that he once called a mother-lawyer “disgusting” for leaving a meeting in order to pump breast milk … the aim last night was to parade Trump as a compassionate big-government guy.
The childcare policy has lots of features, but one in particular cracks me up. It’s the provision that angry conservatives are calling “absolute horsecrap.” It’s Trump’s promise of six weeks of federally financed, federally guaranteed paid maternity leave.
Well. In any other election cycle within living memory, a Republican who called for government materity leave would be laughed out of the presidential race. But this year desperate Republican voters are apparently willing to jettison whatever they used to believe — that government-paid leave is wrong, that fixing the roads and bridges with federal billions is fiscally reckless, that Putin and his hackers should be viewed as enemies, hey, take your pick.
Not only is there nothing in the GOP platform about subsidizing childcare, there’s also the fact that as recently as 2009, House Republicans voted — almost unanimously — to oppose giving paid maternity leave to federal workers. Republicans have always believed (albeit not always in practice) that we should not create new entitlements that threaten to bust the budget and deepen the deficit. Yet now they’re tethered to a nominee who said last night that six weeks of maternity leave will be financed with money from the federal unemployment insurance fund.
Apparently his people think that if they can root out all the “waste and fraud” in the federal insurance kitty — an estimated $3 billion a year, which is about 3 percent of all the federal bucks paid out annually in jobless benefits — that $3 billion will supposedly pay for the six weeks of maternity leave. But experts say that the minimal amount of money needed for a federal maternity leave guarantee would be roughly $10 billion a year. So here we have Trump, threatening to deepen the deficit in ways that Republicans have long derided liberals for doing.
By the way, no Trump stump speech would be complete without at least one baldfaced lie. He mouthed a beaut last night, stating Hillary Clinton “has no child care plan.” That remark was dutifully repeated on Fox News; the correspondent covering Trump said on camera: “He has laid out his child care policies before Hillary Clinton has done anything in serious detail.” The con never stops. Inside the Trump-Fox bubble, what Hillary the policy wonk posted about childcare 15 months ago, and what she posted about paid maternity leave four months ago, apparently doesn’t qualify as “serious detail.”
But anyway. What’s most amusing is how so few Republicans have busted Trump for sounding like a Democrat. Desperate for victory, they appear to be just as conviction-free as their nominee. And don’t think for a moment that Trump cares a hoot about paid maternity leave; as he said yesterday, this is all his daughter’s doing: “She’s the one that has been pushing so hard.” And he mimicked her: “Daddy, daddy, we have to do this!”
There you have it. Trump doesn’t believe in liberalism or conservatism. His core ideology, egoism, is buttressed only by daughterism.