Trump the indestructible: Not even his bizarre Planned Parenthood defense will do him in

As long as Donald Trump is making new enemies, he's winning

Published August 13, 2015 9:58AM (EDT)

So Donald Trump is going around saying nice things about Planned Parenthood.

It's hard to think of anything theoretically more damaging right now for a Republican presidential primary contender than to say anything remotely positive about Planned Parenthood. It's one of those moves that we'd call an instant death knell for any other GOP presidential aspirant. But because it's Donald Trump, he'll probably shoot up in the polls, for no apparent reason, since that's just how things work for him.

What is Trump saying about Planned Parenthood? Well, he certainly doesn't like abortion -- hates abortion! He doesn't care for the abortion-y stuff that Planned Parenthood does: very bad. Some other stuff they do, though: good.

Seriously, though, this is not far off from what Trump said:

“The problem that I have with Planned Parenthood is the abortion situation. It is like an abortion factory, frankly,” Trump said. “And you can’t have it. And you just shouldn’t be funding it. That should not be funded by the government, and I feel strongly about that.”

When pressed on non-abortion services Planned Parenthood allegedly provides, Trump said, “What I would do when the time came, I’d look at the individual things they do, and maybe some of the individual things they do are good. I know a lot of the things are bad. But certainly the abortion aspect of it should not be funded by government, absolutely.”

Trump continued, “I would look at the good aspects of [Planned Parenthood], and I would also look, because I’m sure they do some things properly and good and that are good for women, and I would look at that, and I would look at other aspects also. But we have to take care of women.”

Trump is saying that we have to weigh the pros and cons of Planned Parenthood in determining whether it should receive Title X funding from the federal government. The "abortion aspect" of it should not be funded, while perhaps its other family planning and women's health care services should.

In other words, Trump defended the status quo with regards to the federal government's Planned Parenthood funding. Federal law prohibits funding of abortion services; the Title X money that Planned Parenthood receives goes to its non-abortion operations. Conservatives don't buy this explanation, though, and consider all of Planned Parenthood's money fungible: Any dollar going to Planned Parenthood is a dollar that supports abortion.

Among the many conservative media figures who lashed out at Trump after these comments on Tuesday morning was Breitbart News' John Nolte. "Any money given to Planned Parenthood funds abortion," Nolte wrote, "Period."

Hmm... Breitbart News. Does that ring a bell? Ah yes, this is the conservative news outlet that flatters the hell out of Donald Trump. We wondered a couple of weeks ago what could possibly motivate that outlet to run interference for Trump so flagrantly. Our best guess was access, but it turns out it may be cold hard cash. Like, Trump giving money to Breitbart News. That... would be the simplest theory.

But Nolte's attempt to push back at those pay-for-play rumors by posting a condemnation of Trump's Planned Parenthood comments were canceled out from in-house, when trusty Trump sycophant Matt Boyle rose to Trump's defense in a very beautiful, very classy piece.

"In response to several folks seemingly misunderstanding what the 2016 GOP frontrunner said on CNN on Tuesday morning about Planned Parenthood funding," Boyle wrote, "Donald Trump has issued a statement to Breitbart News exclusively that makes it crystal clear where he stands: While the organization conducts abortions, they should receive no taxpayer dollars." The EXCLUSIVE statement:

While Planned Parenthood is engaging in the despicable practice of abortion — in addition to then selling aborted baby body parts to the highest bidder — the organization should receive no taxpayer dollars. The liberal left wing always claims that Planned Parenthood isn’t about abortion and that it’s about other general areas of women’s health. I am totally in favor of women’s health and if they can put their money where their mouth is, and stop the abortion services at Planned Parenthood entirely, we can talk about government funding for many of the other aspects of the organization that do a lot of good.

"What’s perhaps the most interesting development here is, now that Trump has set the record straight—and made clear that he supports no tax money going to the organization while it’s in the abortion business—he seems to have exposed the entire political class yet again," Boyle's hilarious article continues. "All his haters crawled out of the woodwork to attack him to argue he suggested he’d be okay with funding Planned Parenthood at all while the organization is still in the abortion business, and he just exposed them all yet again."

Later on Tuesday night, though, Trump appeared on "Hannity" -- his preferred Fox News vehicle -- and yet again seemed not "crystal clear" about where he stands on Planned Parenthood funding. He said "maybe" he would support eliminating all funding for Planned Parenthood until it ceased performing abortions, while reiterating all of the nice things he'd previously said about the organization. Here we quote a third Breitbart News article (love you guys!):

Trump was then asked if they should get any taxpayer money, he answered, “let’s say there’s two Planned Parenthoods, in a way. You have it as an abortion clinic. Now, that’s actually a fairly small part of what they do, but it’s a brutal part, and I’m totally against it, and I wouldn’t do that. They also, however, service woman, and one of the things that I thought was so terrible, when Jeb Bush…when he talked about women’s health issues, he was so bad. I mean, it’s like, what is he doing? We have to help women. A lot of women are helped. So, we have to look at the positives, also, for Planned Parenthood. You know, even a guy like you, you may be convinced that it does some positive things. I would look at it very strongly. We have to help women. As far as the abortion stuff, absolutely un –.”

He was then asked, “But if they are doing abortions, then they can allocate their other resources to other things. … why should the taxpayers pay for an organization that — ?” Trump answered, “Maybe unless they stop with the abortions, we don’t do the funding for the stuff that we want. There are many ways you can do that, Sean, because I’m totally against the abortion aspect of Planned Parenthood, but I’ve had many women, I’ve had many Republican, conservative women come up and say Planned Parenthood serves a good function, other than that one aspect.”

What's interesting here is not just the joy of watching the internal psychodrama of Breitbart News play out in article-length subtweets against each other. It shows how Trump manages to survive or even take advantage of each gaffe, whether it's saying that John McCain sucks at war for getting captured, or that Megyn Kelly was probably on her period during the debate, or now saying that Planned Parenthood is great. A bigger wave of conservative pundits come after him each time, but then he successfully converts those pundits into enemies of the cause and accomplices in the PC Police's takeover of our discourse. The more villains he creates publicly, the stronger he ends up. For now.

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

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