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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):
You responded to BackPacker last week as to transitions in Dem leadership. I’d be interested in your thoughts on the GOP too? Is there anyone out there who can be “Reagan-esque” and find a way to present a common sense vision without the extremes we hear promulgated continuously these days? I cling to the hope there are still fellow citizens out there longing for such a message. — Paul M.
There are some good people on the Republican side but they’ll never be accepted by the fringe — and by that I mean the Trump diehards who will not vote for anybody who EVER said a bad word about their messiah. I like Senator Ben Sasse … and two Members of Congress — Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. The ones I like the most are the same ones the MAGA loyalists hate the most. That alone tells me I’m on the right track. Please go back and read my column posted last Monday. In it I say the GOP has to cut ties with the rabid Trump base. Go after a bloc that’s winnable: moderates in the suburbs.
I understand the frustration and anger over the events at the Capitol which were criminal and the perpetrators need to be prosecuted. However I strongly object to the whitewashing of the events this summer in Portland, Seattle and the numerous other cities throughout the country by the Fascist so called Anti Fascist Antifa. Are we to believe the silence of the Left was not incitement? I’m 86 years old and sick and tired of the inference that Leftist Totalitarial Fascism is more Noble than their Nazi adversaries and is not Fascism at all. If you believe that BS I have a Bridge in Brooklyn for sale. Lenin , Stalin , Hitler were the same coin. A Fascist is a Fascist no matter how you try to dress it up. Any comment ? — Joseph V.
The partisan hypocrisy on the Left, Joseph, is overwhelming. As I said in my Off the Cuff report this week, there will soon be time for me to comment on that. Soon. But I’ve focused my time on Donald Trump at the moment. Give me a little time to pick up where you left off.
Yes Bernie, I believe Trump’s finally realized the system is not going to support his efforts for re-election. Looking to the future, I believe the media and politicians of both parties have mis-read what’s actually going to happen. They make everything about Trump, and he does a good job of doing the same thing, but I believe the Trump phenomenon is more about the people than it is about him. Yes, he’s motivated lots of people to vote and participate in the election process, but I firmly believe that he actually tapped into the frustration of the people towards the elites (media and politicians of both parties, etc.). This frustration can be tapped into by other people, provided they have the ability to inspire and excite. It will be interesting to see what happens the next two years. Given that even if Trump wanted to go away, the media won’t let him as they need him as a punching bag to prop up their ratings Do you have any insights as to who you believe might have the ability to excite and expand the Republican base? –Thanks, TJ (the General).
Conservative ideas presented by a decent person could inspire the Republican base. A politician who talks about cutting regulations that strangle business, limiting the scope of government, emphasizing the dangers of censorship by the “woke” authoritarian crowd … but talks about these things not like a street thug but like a good man or woman. Trump had more than a few good ideas … but he was a horrible messenger … because everything was about him. He needed applause 24 hours a day. The GOP needs someone who, unlike Donald Trump, will try to expand the base. Those people are out there. They will appeal to most Republicans — not the Trump diehards — and many if not most moderate swing voters. There’s hope — but only if GOP pols lose their cowardice and stop fearing the Trump fringe.
Bernie, as a previously right-leaning Independent, I was alternatingly, smiling, and horrified, the way you had to twist yourself into a pretzel, to maintain your “neutrality” in regard to Trump and his Republican enablers. Trump at his best, is incompetent. At his worst, he’s dangerous. We know where we are, presently. I’m happy to see that you have finally recognized a significant threat to our democracy — Aloha, Mike
Aloha, Mike. Yes, I’m on record for most of his presidency saying Donald Trump is a very bad person but not a threat to democracy. I thought that those who said he threatened democracy and western civilization as we know it were engaging in partisan overstatement. But that changed — and I wrote about it — when he wouldn’t admit he lost the election. I said that in a democracy we must have faith in our institutions — and that elections were the most important institution of all. If we lose confidence in elections, I wrote, our democracy is in danger. And I put the blame for weakening the trust in the election squarely on Donald J. Trump.
I take issue with you, Mike, when you contend that I twisted myself into a pretzel to maintain some kind of neutrality. I supported conservative values. I criticized the partisan media. And at the same time, I criticized the president. I took issue with the hard right and the authoritarian hard left. That’s not an attempt to be neutral. It’s an attempt to be honest.
Bernie, I know the easy answer these days is to blame the chaos on Trump, but violence is violence and it is wrong whether you commit it for the BLM or MAGA cause. Regardless of who is to blame for all that has happened (I am not referencing just the past two weeks), do you think we are missing an obvious instigator in the room, our social media addiction? It seems throughout history, society gets a little screwy when it finds a new addicting toy. For instance, the Civil War happened not too long after the proliferation of the telegraph which greatly sped up the nation’s news cycle. World War 2 occurred not too long after the peak of broadcast radio, and the events of the 1960s coincidentally happened after the explosion of television. Maybe, just maybe, one thing we could all do is put the phone or computer down, take a deep breath, and go talk face to face with someone who might seem a little different than us (feel free to stand 6 feet apart for now). Hiding behind a PC or phone is not healthy and all social media is doing is reinforcing people’s paranoia with a false belief that they are “liked” or “followed”. Who knows, maybe I am wrong and this is really just Trump’s fault and once he is gone peace will reign again…but just in case, is it time to put social media on the shelf? — Joe M.
What happened last week at the Capitol was Trump’s fault, as far as many of us are concerned. But peace will not reign when he’s gone. The polarization is too deep. The divide is too great.
You make interesting points, Joe. I think social media is a big factor adding to our divisions. Some anonymous idiot can go on line and call you all sorts of names and we don’t even know who the jerk is. I think cable news is also a factor. They also pour gasoline on the fire.
Donald Trump didn’t start that fire … neither did cable TV news … nor social media. But all three made things worse.
Question for you. Do you agree with Dennis Prager’s 12-22-20 article? Do you agree with EVERYTHING Dennis wrote in his 12-22-20 article?
Also, you SHOULD be happy, honored even, about being the lone diversity on “Real Sports”! THE ONLY reason I watch it, is to see if you’re in it that episode! Without you, “Real Sports” would be a non-starter for me. SO–keep on keeping on! You are one of the ONLY bright spots on cable TV! –Sincerely, Frank C.
Very kind of you Frank, but I may soon be disappointing you regarding Real Sports. Stay tuned.
Regarding Dennis Prager’s article: There’s too much there for me to agree with wholeheartedly. I think Dennis makes a lot of sense. That’s as far as I’m comfortably going. That said, I’m glad he had a good time at a bowling alley. I’m not taking that kind of chance — just to bowl or hang out with friends and family.
I agree with you that Republicans have to kick Trump to the curb and move on. The question I have is whether Republicans will be able to compromise with Democrats and help Biden get any of his agenda? Biden ran on being able to work with Republicans. Can Republicans spurn Biden and still be competitive? — John R.
Biden has to show some flexibility to work with Republicans just as the GOP has an obligation not to simply be what the Democrats were for the past four years — the party of resistance. But Republicans have no obligation to give in to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer simply for the sake of unity. Compromise is another matter. For too long, though, compromise has been seen as something akin to treason. Conservatives on talk radio hated compromise … and Democrats in the age of Trump felt the same way. And we wonder why we’re so polarized and why politicians are even less popular than used car salesmen?
What type of punishment/accountability do you believe Trump should receive for his role in Wednesday’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol? He won’t resign. Pence and the cabinet won’t enact the 25th Amendment. The House might get impeachment, but Trump’s term will probably be over before a conviction. Do you think he should be barred from never serving in public office again? It seems that a ton of people on the right want no accountability for him at all, with the explanation that it would create more division. Now they’re worried about division???… after saying nothing against, and even participating in, Trump’s endless lies about the election over the past couple of months? — Ben G.
Here’s what I think, Ben: Even if impeachment is warranted — I say “even if” because there are compelling arguments on both sides — I would rather the Democrats just let him slink out of town and let it go at that. And no, I don’t think he should be barred from ever serving in public office again. Not because I want him to ever run again — he won’t; imagine the TV ads the opposition would run — but I have a problem telling the entire American electorate they can’t vote for somebody — for almost any reason. I have faith they won’t ever elect him to anything — just as I have faith that he’ll never run for anything. But I don’t want him barred from running … and I don’t want voters barred from voting for him if — on the million to one chance — that he ever runs again. And consider this: FDR locked up over 100 thousand Japanese-Americans during World War II. If a president ever tried that today he’d be impeached and convicted. Should FDR have been banned from ever running again? The slippery slope worries me.
Danish physicist Niels Henrik David Bohr once observed “Prediction is quite difficult, especially about future events”. But I am going to ask you anyway to predict what I perceive to be fallout on both major political parties on the kerfuffle on The President Donald, the 25th Amendment, Impeachment. What are your thoughts lies ahead between now and 2022 and 2024?
(Full disclosure: I did not vote for Trump, Hillary, nor Biden; Condi Rice in 2016 & Nikki Haley 2020 as write-ins as none of the clowns in contention deserved my vote. So I do not have a horse in this race, and as always very interested to hear your thoughts. ) –Gregg H.
My crystal ball remains broken, but I’ll give it a shot. If Biden is pushed to the left by Bernie and AOC, Democrats will pay a price in 2022. That’s how things work, historically. The party out of power picks up seats … and if Joe gives moderates a reason to fear the leftward movement … he’ll lose more than he would have. And that could easily mean that the GOP takes control at least of the House. As for 2024: I cannot see Donald Trump running. And if he does, he won’t even win the nomination. There will be more than a few credible GOP candidates. But … and this is an important ‘but’ … if the true believers refuse to support anyone who hasn’t kissed their savior Donald Trump’s rear end … or if Donald Trump makes trouble (as I suspect he will) … enough Republicans might sit home on Election Day 2024 and cost the GOP the election. But remember, I said my crystal ball was broken.
When Obama said he was going to “fundamentally transform the USA” did you ever think he meant what we are seeing now? And it happening so quickly? Because this change is obviously embraced and dare I say fueled by a liberal media, how can the legitimate Right ever recover and regain some semblance of balance? What is needed to shift the biased press, media & the tech billionaires back toward the center? Do we have to just wait for them to all expose and eat each other before normal folks achieve the “I told you so moment” for leverage to start the correction? Or are we screwed for at least a generation or so? — A very concerned ScottyG
Big Media and Big Tech are hopelessly left wing in their thinking … and as long as they can make money spewing their biases, they will. In fact, even if it cost them money, I think they will. Because in the world of media, anyway, ideology trumps even money.
Is it easier to find a “healer” in a tent than in Washington DC.? — Michael F.
Is that a biblical reference, Michael? As long as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are in DC … as long as there are a few hard-line, true-believers in the ranks of the GOP, there will be no healing. I hope I’m wrong.
Bernie, you’ve said many times (and I agree) that profiles in courage are extremely rare in today’s politics. But I think what Liz Cheney did the other day, by strongly condemning Trump (the leader of her party) for his role in the U.S. Capitol attack, and endorsing impeachment and removal, was indeed a principled profile in courage. Do you agree? — Jen R.
I agree 100 percent. I’ll add Ben Sasse and Adam Kinzinger to the list, too.
Bernie, are you sick and tired of politicians constantly making Nazi comparisons? The Nazis were most hideous and vile people who committed the most unimaginable and horrifying crimes in the past century. It seems everyone from Joe Biden to Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats along with TV talking heads and entertainers paint President Trump and other Republicans with the hideous comparison far too often. While Trump is not saint, he’s certainly no Hitler or Himmler or even a member of the SS. Seeing Biden slip in a Goebbels reference last week was over the top for someone in his position I believe. To me, the Nazi reference been overused so much it’s lost all of its shock value or the meaning that it’s meant to convey. It’s just an easy crutch for these people to use. Of course it’s not going to happen but wouldn’t a bill by Congress to force everyone from making the wretched analogy be welcome? Thanks for your input. — Warren
I agree with everything but your last sentence — unless you’re kidding, of course. Comparing Trump to Hitler is repulsive. It shows no understanding of Hitler. It demeans the memory of those killed by that madman. But … I don’t want Congress passing laws telling us what we can say and what we can’t — beyond the obvious bans on falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater, and laws on libel and slander.
The best way for me to process these violent social/political events of the past 10 months is to take it out of the political realm. I was opposed to the violent actions of antifa and BLM when attacking and overtaking police headquarters and federal buildings in various U.S. cities. I was especially appalled at local politicians’ acquiescence to such actions. Arbitrary toppling of statues goes into the same category. I was equally appalled at last week’s stunning events when Trump supporters overtook and overwhelmed the Capitol. No politics in my thinking, just a reaction consistent to both sides. The common denominator among all these events is mob mentality, where individuals are influenced by their peers to adopt dysfunctional behaviors they never would have as individuals. There is much documentation of lynchings and other such events from the Jim Crow era where out-of-control mobs ruled over violent actions. Human behavior doesn’t change. It is ingrained in us. How do we avoid the glorification and encouragement of mobs in the future? We have done a poor job of it throughout American history. — Steve R.
A good start, Steve, would be for all decent people to condemn that kind of violence without regard, as you say, to politics. The problem in a word is hypocrisy. The Left rightly condemns the storming of the Capitol … but remained silent during the violence last summer. And some on the Right — some — were quick to condemn the left wing violence but aren’t quite sure that what happened at the Capitol was so terrible. Excuse the cliche but a plague on both their houses.
While I agree what Trump did was horrible (and certainly could be worthy of impeachment), how does this country heal if we keep rehashing prior wounds? The truth is that President Trump will be an ex-president in less than ten days regardless of whether or not a second impeachment proceeding/trial is held. Why are we doing this other than for political theater? Does either party even care about our country anymore? I know the Democrats are taking the lead on impeachment, but why aren’t more Republicans looking to shut this down for the good of the country as opposed to looking good for their future political careers? — Frank T.
Whether Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense or not — as I have said before, there are smart people who differ on this — with him leaving office in a matter of hours, I thought impeachment was unnecessarily widening the rift in this country. As for Republicans shutting the process down: Good luck with that. Thanks to Donald J. Trump the Democrats now control both Houses of Congress and can do pretty much what they want on this matter.
Several conservative commentators (Guy Benson and Noah Rothman to name a couple) have said that a number of Republicans in congress have told them that many more than 10 of them favored impeachment for Trump, but voted ‘no’ out of fear for their lives and personal safety [threats from Trump supporters]. I’m sympathetic, but it seems shameful for them to let those 10 do the heavy-lifting, and it seems un-American that important political decisions are being dictated by what is probably a genuine fear of being attacked or killed by their fellow Americans. Your thoughts? — Max the Great
I agree with you, Max, on all counts. While I understand the fear I don’t admire it. I do admire, however, those who as you say did the heavy lifting. Liz Cheney being at the top of that list.
I condemn what Trump supporters did at the Capitol. It was treasonous. Send the guilty parties to prison! While I’ve heard McConnell and Crenshaw unequivocally condemn this violence from their own party’s supporters, I did not hear Maxine Waters, Ted Wheeler, or Jenny Durkin do it during the ANTIFA/BLM “Protests”/RIOTS. So, for all the left wingers who are justifiably outraged and fearful of Trump supporters because they pulled these horrible actions, I would like to offer some observations:
The actions of January 6th 2021 are…
“…something some people did… an equivalent to the summer of love… from a group of disaffected people who were frustrated by the lack of fairness and objectivity in the mainstream media…from a group of people who should be allowed to vent out there frustrations…Trumpers are an IDEA, NOT AN organization”
You get the picture. To paraphrase the late great Christopher Hitchens, “Liberal Democrats and their media cheerleaders, I just wanted you to hear what your arguments sound like once they’re played back to you. I thought you deserved that.”
I’m also hearing that if the protesters had been BLM supporters, they all would have been shot. I think this is a bunch of baloney since I didn’t hear of any black rioters or protestors getting shot during the riots in Portland, Seattle, and Baltimore… well, not by the police anyway..
What are your thoughts Hitchens’ “Hitchslap” analogy, and how do we bring the light of truth to the people hearing the lies that if it had been black protestors that they all would have been shot, but because they were white Trump supporters the cops supposedly spared them?
“We Conservatives Condemn OUR Violent Insurrectionists—WHY Can’t Prominent LIBERALS Do The Same For THEIRS?”===Regards From The Emperor
I think two things, Your Hiney-ness: Many on the Left have been hypocrites on the matter of riots. So you’re right about that. They rightly condemned the rioting at the Capitol but were pathetically silent about the riots, the looting, and the arson when the perpetrators were thugs more to their liking. That said … too many on the Right use liberal hypocrisy as an excuse — in an indirect way — to play down the mayhem that too many of Trump supporters caused. What they’re in effect saying is that, “Yeah, but they — the liberals — did it too.” I get it, I understand the frustration … but let’s not take our cues from the other side, especially when they’re being hypocritical.
And the second thing: I think your questions are too long.
Bernie, Do you think it hurts Mike Pence’s feelings that 197 members of his own party (including his brother, Greg) decided that the act of inciting rioters to try and kill him wasn’t an impeachable offense? Also, can you imagine having a brother who’s as big of a jerk as Greg? — John D.
Let me address your last sentence, the one in which you call Greg Pence a “jerk.” Such vulgar language may get you banned from ever asking another question here on this site. We, at BernardGoldberg.com don’t tolerate vulgar language. Jerk, Mr. John D, is a four letter word and we don’t tolerate four letter words here. Do you understand you dumb ass Mother-Fu****?
Editor’s note for members who are new to the weekly Q&A: Bernie’s always unreasonably hostile toward “John D.”, who — from what this impartial editor understands — is actually a tremendously nice guy who should really be admired by all.
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