Trump: We stand ready to assist Charlie Gard -- just like the Pope asked

Donald Trump explicitly aligned himself with the parents of Charlie Gard, who have been prevented by UK and EU courts from taking their child to the US for last-ditch experimental treatment for a rare malady. Citing Pope Francis, Trump tweeted that “we would be delighted to … help little #CharlieGard.” The declaration raises the stakes in the Gard case, and perhaps offers new reason for Trump’s Twitter habits:

This may not get the same level of attention that other Trump tweets did this week, but the media hasn’t ignored it either. Politico, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and yes, even CNN picked up on the tweet within 90 minutes of its publication. Even some critics of Trump’s twitter habit seemed cheered by this exercise of the bully 140-character pulpit:

The coverage of the tweet in most outlets offers little analysis, although the Post notes that it’s unclear just what Trump and the US can do in this situation. Courts have prevented the parents of Charlie to take their son out of the jurisdiction of the UK’s National Health Service, and there’s little that Trump can formally do to change that situation. However, by taking up the cause as the head of state, Trump has raised the profile of the case even further, which could put pressure on NHS to allow the parents to use the £1.4 million that they’ve raised to bring their baby to the US for the last-ditch effort at saving his life. The remarkable part of this case is just how resistant the single-payer system is to allowing the parents that choice even when it does not involve using any of their resources — and how the European court has sided with the state over the parents.

Another notable point is Trump’s explicit nod to the pope in his statement. Francis appeared to rebuke the Pontifical Academy for Life with his explicit statement in support of the parents yesterday, and veteran Vaticanista Francis X. Rocca of the Wall Street Journal credits the Holy See’s diplomatic efforts with Trump in May as producing real fruit today:

Former Vaticanista David Gibson questions Rocca’s point, but Rocca points out the explicit reference to the pontiff:

That’s not the only potential reaction from Francis’ decision to conduct an about-face for the Vatican after the initial statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life. Its director, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, went on the defensive today in explaining the initial statement:

If nothing else, this shows that the cultural momentum has shifted significantly toward the parents of Charlie Gard. Whether that impacts the legal momentum is yet to be seen, but at least the effort has been made, and in a way that promotes unity over the rights of parents to determine what is best for their child rather than the state.