Mona and Jay are joined by Tom Nichols – known on Twitter as RadioFreeTom – professor at the Naval War College, NeverTrumper extraordinaire, Jeopardy champion (though that didn’t come up), and author of the forthcoming book The Death of Expertise. If you think there might be a connection between the KXgUhEzsdeclining respect for expertise and authority in America and the rise of Trump, you’d be right. Can he pivot for the general election? Why do people even ask that?

Jay and Mona then mull why Trump’s attack on Judge Curiel had purchase when so many of this other offenses slipped by, and ask what will become of the Republican Party. They close with some praise: Jay lauds Bernard Lewis on his 100th birthday, and Mona raves about Jung Chang’s book, The Wild Swans, that she’s having trouble putting down.

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There are 21 comments.

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  1. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Having read Wild Swans twice and the Mao bio by Jung Chang, both of which I enjoyed enormously, this was a near perfect podcast. Tom Nichols is marvelous. He supplied that needed bit of reminder as to why Trump is so totally unacceptable. As a former teacher, now in my early 70s, I, too, have experienced the arrogance of the all-knowing youth. I grew up with the classics, studied Latin and Greek before getting into Romance languages. I had what was considered a liberal education. Most of my learning since leaving schools has been at the knees, as it were, of great mentors. I am totally appalled at the self-described autodidacts whose assumed expertise spans a range that all of my work and education could not possibly accomplish. I look forward to The Death of Expertise, it cannot arrive too soon.

    • #1
  2. Mona Charen Contributor
    Mona Charen
    @MonaCharen

    Thank you Mr. Kriesgsmann!

    • #2
  3. Wolverine Inactive
    Wolverine
    @Wolverine

    Have not listened to the podcast yet but one thing that confuses me: conservatives tend to be critical of the administrative state, which to me has always meant the rule of experts. Does this not conflict with the thesis of Tom Nichols?

    • #3
  4. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    Mona and Jay, thank you so much for this podcast. Even here on Ricochet being a Cassandra on the issue of Trump can feel lonely; I needed some moral support by people I respect such as yourself. Below is what I posted for Peter Robinson when he made his peace with Trump:

    I’m aware of Godwin’s Law, but when I first heard Peter acquiesce to Trump I thought of one of the most depressing scenes in Schindler’s List – when one of the older, more senior Generals counsels Oskar Schindler that he should get with the program, “This isn’t just old fashioned Jew hating, this is official policy now. ” This man wasn’t one of the boorish Wolf’s Head SS officers, he was supposed to represent the old Prussian nobility that should have retained the core of German values. When Peter, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio throw in with this Birther, this con man, this fraud, this racist bigot who should have been spiked the way the Dems would have spiked the candidacy of Lyndon LaRoushe I can not express how depressed this makes me.

    When you have your convention please ask the party to change it’s name from The Republican Party to The Mobacracy Party.

    • #4
  5. Hydrogia Inactive
    Hydrogia
    @Hydrogia

    Hillary has certainly already left our foreign policy in a smoldering heap of ruins. Take a look. It is contrived to mock Trump for his low level of support when you not been helpful. Trump has addressed the debt and the border  invasion and the corruption and incompetence, basically every issue molly-coddled and enabled by the PC  republican losers in explicitly conservative terms. Anyone who chooses the known quantity of Hillary Rotten Clinton over the potential of Donald Trump to reverse our declining fortunes and slide into a stratified third world pit of class stratification and unequal justice and PC zombie culture is completely missing the point and blowing smoke.

    • #5
  6. SpiritO'78 Inactive
    SpiritO'78
    @SpiritO78

    A quick word on ‘experts’.

    Experts have told us:

    Salt is terrible for health you should never eat it. The earth is warming at an incredible rate and melting the ice caps. “If you like your plan you can keep it.” The science and truth are all in question with new research.

    We don’t despise ‘experts’ when they contribute to the national conversation and bring to light new theories. What we resent is public policy proposals that treat them as fact. What seems like anti-intellectual sentiment is just a push back against a growing nanny state posture.

    • #6
  7. J Climacus Member
    J Climacus
    @JClimacus

    It’s just not true that “everything you can say about Hillary you can say about Donald.”

    Hillary has an ongoing criminal history that Donald just doesn’t have. Hillary has taken hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign governments through the Clinton Foundation, which would be prosecuted as bribery in any Republic with a functioning rule of law. Her private email server is an obvious violation of law that has endangered national security and possibly cost lives.

    And as far as foreign policy and national security, the one time Hillary got the “3 am phone call”, she fled her State Dept. offices, huddled at home with her political advisors, and left men begging for help to die in Benghazi.

    That is just the most obvious items. Donald has nothing like the above on his resume. I don’t like him either, and I’m not saying I support him – but the idea that you can say everything about him you can about Hillary is obviously false.

    • #7
  8. GirlWithAPearl Inactive
    GirlWithAPearl
    @GirlWithAPearl

    What a great conversation. I’m so happy you invited Tom Nichols. Everyone should follow him on Twitter -@RadioFreeTom. Didn’t know about his Jeopardy career but not surprised he is some sort of legendary champion.

    I’ve never been so grateful for all the writers at Natl Review, Commentary, The Weekly Standard. Honestly, it’s the only reason I am still sane, because here in Alabama where I live, I feel trapped in a trumpkin village, sometimes afraid to fall asleep for fear I’ll wake up in a pod wearing a red hat and suddenly see Casino Donny as a brilliant orator. If the day ever comes that his gibberish makes sense and his racist rhetoric and insane mumblings re: national security, trade, GWB, vaccines, etc. etc. etc. doesn’t make me instantly appalled and offended with every fiber of my being, my husband has orders to lock me in a closet and get immediate assistance.

    I agree with Jay about the #NeverTrump phrase, it sounds a little petulant. But I agree more with Tom that it’s a time saving, character-shaving shorthand that communicates a lot with just 11 characters. I’ve only recently activated my Twitter page and discovering the value of the limited real estate per tweet – 140 little bitty spaces. By the way, someone needs to “storify” Jay’s excellent election tweets from the Indiana primary forward. He is a master of high impact character management!

    • #8
  9. EEM Inactive
    EEM
    @EEM

    My only question for Mr. Nichols is, If Clinton is as reprehensible as Trump, why would you cast a vote for Clinton? To me, this isn’t an either/or proposition. It’s neither/neither (or nayther/neether, if you like).

    • #9
  10. GirlWithAPearl Inactive
    GirlWithAPearl
    @GirlWithAPearl

    EEM, every once in awhile the Internet does something really cool. A new thing called “storify” allows ppl to gather a bunch of tweets on a given subject or theme in one tidy place. Someone has done just that with Tom’s thinking on the very question you’ve asked. I found it very helpful and utterly persuasive. See below:

    —> A conservative’s epic #NeverTrump tweet storm – Tom Nichols can’t stand Hillary Clinton. Let him explain why he’s voting for her anyway.

    A conservative’s epic #NeverTrump tweetstorm (with image) · dankennedy_nu · Storify

    • #10
  11. EEM Inactive
    EEM
    @EEM

    GirlWithAPearl:“Tom Nichols can’t stand Hillary Clinton. Let him explain why he’s voting for her anyway.”

    GirlWithAPearl: I read his tweets, and they’re mostly arguments about why he’s not voting for Trump (all of which I agree with). But I don’t see any arguments about why he’s voting for Clinton. I think Jay Nordlinger himself even said in an earlier podcast that to cast a vote for someone is to actually endorse that person. Tom Nichols may be willing to “endorse” Clinton, but to me, they’re one and the same. She’s the A-Side to Trump’s B-Side, or the tails to Trump’s head. Flip a coin: Trump or Clinton, Clinton or Trump. Either way, America’s in trouble. I’ll make my own hashtag: #neither/neither.

    • #11
  12. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I believe Mr. Nichols said if he were required to cast a tie breaking vote in the Electoral College he would vote for Hillary, not that he is doing so otherwise. Jonah Goldberg said just the opposite for Trump. Mr. Nichols is focused on national defense issues so I think that makes some sense that Hillary would be moderately more hawkish than Obama, while Trump is totally unpredictable.

    • #12
  13. mildlyo Member
    mildlyo
    @mildlyo

    I wonder if Mr. Nichols would agree with me that part of the loss of respect for experts in society comes from the information age. It is very easy to find the primary sources for oneself nowadays.

    For instance, I found the basis of the claim for President Obama’s birth in Kenya less than twenty minutes after first hearing the charge. It was nonsense, and reliance on expert analysis was unnecessary.

    Maybe there truely was a time when a well rounded gentleman of the elite could spend evenings reciting Wordsworth and the daylight hours doing structural analysis in longhand. Many of the earliest scientists were wealthy men with the leisure to pursue intellectual pursuits. Though even Mona must admit there were Bertie Woosters in amongst the pack.

    Today knowledge of the spread of “critical theory” in academia and the infectious spread of regulatory bureaucrats in the business world has given the layman no lack of reason to hold “experts” in contempt.

    Do not think that the lower orders are the only ones who can see that education does not cure idiocy. Sneering at the bubbas may make you feel good, but well credentialed fools are easily seen for what they are. Only fools reading teleprompters believe them.

    Jay mentioned in a recent podcast that the worse sin of communism was forcing people to say publicly things they knew in their hearts “wasn’t so”. Uncritical acceptance of expert opinion is a step in the wrong direction.

    • #13
  14. Tyler Boliver Member
    Tyler Boliver
    @Marlowe

    Petty Boozswha:Mona and Jay, thank you so much for this podcast. Even here on Ricochet being a Casandra on the issue of Trump can feel lonely; I needed some moral support by people I respect such as yourself. Below is what I posted for Peter Robinson when he made his peace with Trump:

    I’m aware of Godwin’s Law, but when I first heard Peter acquiesce to Trump I thought of one of the most depressing scenes in Schindler’s List – when one of the older, more senior Generals counsels Oskar Schindler that he should get with the program, “This isn’t just old fashioned Jew hating, this is official policy now. ” This man wasn’t one of the boorish Wolf’s Head SS officers, he was supposed to represent the old Prussian nobility that should have retained the core of German values. When Peter, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio throw in with this Birther, this con man, this fraud, this racist bigot who should have been spiked the way the Dems would have spiked the candidacy of Lyndon LaRoushe I can not express how depressed this makes me.

    When you have your convention please ask the party to change it’s name from The Republican Party to The Mobacracy Party.

    You are not alone Petty. #NeverTrump still lives.

    • #14
  15. mildlyo Member
    mildlyo
    @mildlyo

    Okay, so that was a bit of a rant. The sneering in this podcast rubbed me in the wrong way. I suggest this example of the great courses to those who would like to see a true expert employed in educating laymen.

    • #15
  16. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Mona and Jay, this was of your finest Podcasts (and they all are good). I believe that this egalitarian nonsense (of people feeling that they know more about everything then people who actually study these things) has been a long time generating. It started in the sixties, when the people who should have known better, gave into the punks who tried to tell us they knew better than people two and three times their age. Now we have polls asking people to comment on things they can’t possibly know. I think this ship has sailed, that we will never get back to knowing what our Founding Fathers wanted this country to be. Populism is all the rage now. It is given us Donald Trump. I want to be optimistic, but I feel the continued winding down of our great republic.

    • #16
  17. Sleepywhiner Inactive
    Sleepywhiner
    @Sleepywhiner

    mildlyo:Okay, so that was a bit of a rant. The sneering in this podcast rubbed me in the wrong way. I suggest this example of the great courses to those who would like to see a true expert employed in educating laymen.

    I am with you.  I found this edition pompous and the preening of the #nevertrumpers (with whom I flirt) is getting just too much to take.  It’s driving me right to Trump.

    When I see Nichols on Twitter and here advocating for Hillary, I see it as playing in the two wrongs make a right universe.  If you’re that morally opposed to both – oppose both.

    It was a little too precious, and solidifies for me the bubble some of our punditocracy live in when Mona explained to Jay that there were these things that could turn lights on and off.  Wow!  Who knew.

    That seems to me a GHW Bush scanner moment. Christ, those things have only been available for about 50 years, and now, did you know, you can do it from the Internet?

    I guess for a #nevertrumper who always needs their nevertrumpism validated, NTK still serves a purpose.  To me, it has become a weekly whine session.

    • #17
  18. Sleepywhiner Inactive
    Sleepywhiner
    @Sleepywhiner

    While I am ranting, I get that intellectuals and “experts” have a franchise to protect.  No one would want to get into a deep philosophical discussion of arms control treaties with Tom Nichols, but to claim that people of reasonable intellect (and yes, I count myself among this group) can’t rapidly understand complicated concepts and speak intelligently to them is a bit of hubris that I find distasteful.

    Sure, an “expert” may have more experience, and may have more actual knowledge, but it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily correct all the time.

    In today’s world, where so much knowledge is available right at your fingertips (cue The Great Courses ad), intelligent people can quickly come up to speed and apply their own perspective to complicated problems.

    To think that only the anointed ones should make decisions, or can deliver the correct decision is an argument of the Left, who actually believe this, and use that as an argument to grant power to them.

    • #18
  19. Wolfsheim Member
    Wolfsheim
    @Wolfsheim

    I look at the problem of expertise and its discontents from a cross-cultural perspective. Americans are for the most part egalitarians, at least on the intellectual level. One picks up one’s Bible, interprets it as one wishes, and, if one feels sufficiently convinced of one’s findings, goes about establishing yet another sect. Recently I encountered on the Internet one tirade after another by irate American atheists, condemning (typically with gross misspellings and bad grammar) Christians for their bigotry, ignorance, and superstition. One commentator sneered at the latter for “believing in a mythological book that’s a thousand years old.” Educational levels are down, while self-confidence is clearly up…But even among “experts,” strident one-upsmanship is not uncommon. Some years ago, at an international conference, I approached a famous American linguist, one who ought to be better known for his big mouth than for what he actually knows. He had given a talk in which he acted as though he knew something about two languages of which I am, I may modestly say, a genuine expert. I politely approached him, made a brief complimentary remark, and then started to comment about what he had said. “No, no,” he said, “let me tell you about Language X and Language Y.”

    • #19
  20. Wolfsheim Member
    Wolfsheim
    @Wolfsheim

    I hold a US passport but am a dual citizen and live abroad. I almost wish that I were ineligible to vote in the upcoming presidential election but comfort myself with the thought that my choice won’t matter, as the state where I own property and am registered is overwhelmingly blue. That is to say, I feel the temptation to vote for Trump, even though I loathe the man in nearly every way. I can understand #Never Trump, but at the same time I wish that Tom Nichols had not said that if someone put a gun to his head and made him choose, he’d go for Hillary, whom I utterly detest. One can argue that it’s wildly irresponsible to “take a chance” on DT. Fine, but then one has the option of voting for the Libertarians or for the Prohibitionist-Vegan Party. (My own choice would be Vito Corleone: At least he’s a traditionalist gangster, with, for example, old-fashioned views about the family. Alas, he was born abroad, is fictional, and, worst of all, is dead.) It’s bad enough that Hillary will turn the Supreme Court into a rubber stamp for the “progressive” agenda, continue to make corrupt deals, and undermine liberty. What’s worse is that her election will mean that a majority of Americans don’t care about the law, the truth, morality, or even common sense. The argument that boils down to “yes, she’s crooked but at least she’s not insane” does not persuade me…Trump is a liar and a blowhard. But, unlike Hillary, he is not demonic.

    • #20
  21. Funeral Guy Inactive
    Funeral Guy
    @FuneralGuy

    Mona,

    The essay on gun ownership is titled  A Nation of Cowards.   I read it every few years to remind myself how essential the right to defend ones self and family is.

    http://www.rkba.org/comment/cowards.html

    Bill Carroll

    • #21
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