The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens joins to pay tribute to his late colleague Daniel Pearl and consider the state of truth – and dedication to it – in our time. Pearl gave his life for it.

Jay and Mona then consider the Attorney General’s predicament, the state of nationalism around the globe, tribalism and Balkanization at home, President Trump’s much-lauded joint session speech, the “Blacksonian,” and “opera in the outfield.”

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There are 7 comments.

  1. HeavyWater Inactive

    Mona and Jay,

    I appreciate your concerns and the concerns of Bret Stephens that many conservatives have become uncritical towards Donald Trump in ways in which they would not have been towards previous Republican presidents. It is true that many conservatives try very hard to pretend that the deficiencies of Trump are positive qualities if only we could see clearly.

    I was Never Trump during the primary and the general election last year.

    On the other hand, I think those of us who were extremely skeptical of Trump should acknowledge where we misjudged. For example, in an October 8, 2016 interview, you were asked by Michel Martin of National Public Radio about whether the importance of the US Supreme Court would persuade you to vote for Donald Trump. Part of your response was as follows:

    The notion that you can believe that he’s going to appoint people that are acceptable to conservatives is a prayerful wish, but it may not come true at all. There’s no reason to believe him. He’s so dishonest.

    I agreed with you back in October and that is why I did not vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. My view at the time was that the Clinton vs Trump contest was a contest between two New York Progressives.

    . . . . continued on next comment . . . .

    • #1
    • March 4, 2017, at 4:37 AM PDT
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  2. HeavyWater Inactive

    . . . . continued from previous comment . . . .

    Many of the arguments that you made in that October 8, 2016 interview with NPR are just as valid now as they were then. For example, since Trump has become president he has continued to occasionally present the United States as morally equivalent to Putin’s Russia.

    But it’s also true to say that when Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill Antonin Scalia’s vacancy he proved you and I both wrong. When Trump nominated Betsy DeVos to be secretary of Education and when Trump in his speech to a joint session of Congress mentioned school choice, Trump proved you and I wrong. When Trump nominated Tom Price as HHS secretary and when Attorney General Jeff Sessions reached an agreement with several states over how the states handle the transgender issue you and I were proved wrong.

    We were not proved completely wrong about Trump. But we were proved partially wrong about him. Trump may still be a disaster for the country, for the Republican party and for the conservative movement. But can we acknowledge that our worse fears about Trump have not been realized without becoming uncritical Trump supporters?

    • #2
    • March 4, 2017, at 4:44 AM PDT
  3. Leslie Watkins Member

    The name calling over Trump among conservatives has really devastated movementeers, on both the pro and con side. As a non-pundit, non-column writer who doesn’t have to hear such blather, it makes me sad because neither side can seem to acknowledge that what they view as pure criticism is taken by others as offensive push back. And I fear that this division is making those I most believe in (the never-Trumpers) focus more on their intramural rage, however justified, than on what the Deep State is apparently trying to do to get rid of this president. Call Trump out for lying by all means, and take apart his silly policy pronouncements, but be aware that there’s plenty of that on the other side. What we don’t have enough of is acute criticism of all this leaking going on. John Podhoretz has described these women’s marches as a grassroots movement, when, believe me, nothing could be farther from the truth. My twin sister has been going to “meetings” ever since the election to do nothing but organize against Trump before he’s done anything except shoot his stupid mouth off. Even Anne Applebaum seems to think the Russians skewed the election, but I have as of yet seen no credible reporting to such such a treason, and I speak as a big fan of hers and a big critic of Putin and his Eastern European company. (Part 1)

    • #3
    • March 4, 2017, at 10:09 AM PDT
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  4. Leslie Watkins Member

    (Part 2) Please try to let go of your anger over the great injustice that has befallen you by your so-called friends. No one has real movement friends, if history is any guide. And remember that in both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian scriptures the message is clear: those who love God (i.e., principles) are not loved by the world. Thus, speaking truth has to be its own reward, and that reward should makes one merry, not angry.

    On a different note, I am very concerned about the health care issue, about which no one will speak honestly because, well, see immediately above. Having recently gone through radiation and chemo as well as two surgeries for the treatment of colon cancer, I have come to realize that people are simply not aware that insurance is very helpful but insufficient to pay for a serious injury or illness. I have good insurance through the state of N.C. but have nonetheless paid more than $10,000 out of pocket (helped by non-interest payments). The cost of premiums is minor in comparison. For Deep State Democrats to try and keep this plan no matter what by destroying Trump (by sieve leaking) is far more damaging than anything Trump has done or said ( I did not vote for him). While conservatives fight the good fight with each other, the Democrats are trying to force us to follow their dear leader, and we all know how that will turn out.

    • #4
    • March 4, 2017, at 10:27 AM PDT
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  5. Lois Lane Coolidge

    I’ve long read–and continue to read–Bret Stephens. Our ideals are similar. Though I did not know him at all, I also remember how very heart broken I felt way back when Daniel Pearl was executed. It seems his wife was pregnant? I don’t remember exactly except that whole thing was horrific.
    I also continue to listen to this podcast and think much of the opprobrium heaped onto Mona and Jay is ill founded. But I do agree with the other two posters here.

    I say cheer when cheers are warranted but criticize when criticism is warranted. Stay the same this way because that is who you are. Substance matters more, but tone goes a long way in getting one heard, too. I recall Bret’s article a while back acknowledging his own bubble. That was good. It made me think he could see beyond the blinders of his own experiences, and that makes his observations more valuable.

    • #5
    • March 4, 2017, at 3:07 PM PDT
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  6. Leslie Watkins Member

    (Part 3) After rereading my final paragraph I want to do what Sessions should have done and try to clarify a couple of points, which are unclear. I do not mean to suggest that what I’ve had to pay out-of-pocket is in any way unfair to me–I paid a trifle amount of what it cost for them to save my life. It’s just that no one I know who’s never had a big illness realizes this. (I didn’t either.) And I have several friends who say, well, at least my so-and-so now has health insurance, to which I reply, “I’m glad, but I sure hope she never has to use it because she’ll find that the premiums (subsidized) do not tell the whole story.” I also tell people: “Buy the cancer insurance [offered at our workplace]. It really helps.” (People look at me quizzically and ask, “Really?”) Meanwhile, the Democrats act as if they’re giving life to people when what they’re really giving them is inevitable disappointment. Leadership in this area would mean telling people that life-saving stuff is always going to be expensive and that we should live and act accordingly, after which any leader who told that truth would be summarily voted out of office. Americans are being coddled. My hope is that revisions to the ACA will help stop that, both because of and in spite of Trump being president.

    • #6
    • March 5, 2017, at 7:37 AM PDT
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  7. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    My main problem is summed up by the guest. “These people are nothing more than Buchanites and not really conservatives.”

    Except you were happy to take the Buchanites vote and money and volunteers. You just never suspected they would ever be in charge of the party.

    Conservatism is a big tent ideology and has many factions. Be they neo-cons, social conservatives, paleocons, the mushy middle, red tories. I could go on. Sometimes our faction loses and we should smile, nod and work with the winning faction. Not uncritically, but with understanding.

    The left are the ones who demand purity and like to purge people out. A lot of the anger I think comes from the fact you basically wanted the Buchanites to shut and stay on the back of the bus. Give us your money and votes and be happy to take what crumbs we give you.

    • #7
    • March 6, 2017, at 7:41 AM PDT
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