At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Hugh Hewitt v. Donald Trump: A “Third Rate Announcer’s” Gotcha’ Questions

posted by Jack Kerwick

Radio talk show host and moderator of the next GOP/CNN debate, Hugh Hewitt, is the latest Republican pundit—and he is a pundit, not a “journalist”—to try to trip up his party’s frontrunner, Donald Trump.

While on Hewitt’s program on Thursday, September 3, the host—who Trump now characterizes as a “third rate radio announcer”—made the following remarks to his guest:

“I’m looking for the next commander in chief to know who Hassan Nasrallah is, and Zawahiri, and al-Julani, and al-Baghdadi. Do you know the players without a scorecard yet, Donald Trump?”

As anyone who has read my expose of Trump’s history of supporting Democratic politicians and their causes knows well, I am not a Trump-phile. But neither do I suffer from the Trump-phobia that has obviously seized his detractors, particularly his neoconservative Republican nemeses among politicians and the media punditry class alike.


Perhaps this explains why I can differentiate the reality of what transpired here from the spin that Hewitt and his defenders from The New York Times to Hewitt’s employer, Salem Communications, are laboring feverishly to put on this episode.

To be blunt: Trump is right and Hewitt is wrong: The latter did indeed blast the former with “gotcha’ questions.”

First, we must be truthful: Hewitt is as “establishmentarian,” as conventional, a Republican as John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Mitt Romney, the Bushes, etc.

Hewitt has been an enthusiastic, indeed, an ecstatic, cheerleader for George W. Bush’s wars to rid the world of “Islamists” by “democratizing” the Middle East—regardless of the incalculable costs in treasure and blood that such military-led crusades continue to exact for tens and tens of thousands of human beings, both here and abroad.


The “war on Terror”—the war on an abstraction—can only be a war without end. War is the crisis par excellence, and since a war on an abstraction promises to be a war in perpetuity, this “war” is a dream come true for proponents of Gargantuan Government everywhere.

The Iraq war proved to be a disaster of catastrophic proportions. Yet Hewitt has failed to express any regret, not just for having supported it, but for supporting it as zealously as he has.

So, it stands to reason that Hewitt, being the John McCain of media talking heads, aches just as badly for Trump’s downfall as McCain himself.

Second, to those who (incredulously) object that this first point is just speculation on my part, let’s rewind just a couple of months to what Hewitt himself was saying before Trump, astonishingly, began providing him with remarkably generous supplies of access.


While on Meet the Press, Hewitt was direct. When asked whether he thought that Trump had “the temperament” to be president, Hewitt replied: “No, no he doesn’t.”

Though he initially blamed both the moderators of the Fox/GOP debate and the candidates for having neglected discussion of important issues, Hewitt immediately proceeded to single out Trump for having “stepped on a lot of important stories.”

When on Sean Hannity’s television show, Sean asked Hewitt: “Hugh, as I know, you’ve been a bit of a critic of Donald Trump.” Without hesitation, Hewitt conceded the point: “Yeah.” He then immediately followed up by saying that of all the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, both of the present and of yesteryear, Trump is “the only one about whom it is likely a Broadway musical will be made.”


Trump, Hewitt declared, “is vastly entertaining.”

However, his tremendous support among Republican voters, Hewitt assured Hannity and his viewers, “won’t last.”

On another appearance of Meet the Press, Hewitt made the same “prediction” to Chuck Todd. When the host asked him if he wasn’t just “wishing” Trump’s vast support “away,” Hewitt, unsurprisingly, insisted that he was not.

Of course, anyone who’s in the least familiar with the media generally, and media coverage of politics specifically, knows all too well that when partisans in the media feign objectivity by either “describing” or “predicting” events, they are doing their best to determine the outcomes that they desire.


Hewitt, in other words, was as uninterested in expediting Trump’s implosion by way of his remarks as Charles Krauthammer was when he told audiences moments after the first Republican debate that Trump’s performance that evening spelled his imminent demise.

Hewitt is no different from any other neoconservative Republican in wanting Trump around just long enough to boost the ratings of their television and radio programs. His question was indeed a “gotcha” question.

Third, though Hewitt is adamant that he wasn’t trying to trap Trump, it certainly says something that figures as politically, professionally, and ideologically disparate as Rand Paul and CNN’s Senior Political Analyst, David Gergen, certainly believed he was.


Even more telling, Rand Paul has by now established that he is nothing if not an erstwhile critic of Trump. Yet while speaking with Sirius XM, Paul asserted: “I also do think that running through a list of every different Arabic name and asking somebody to respond to them is maybe a little bit of a game of ‘gotcha.’”

Candidates should certainly know the difference between Hamas and Hezbolla, Shiites and Sunnis, etc. But as for throwing out names of specific Arabic terrorist figures—not heads of state, mind you, but more obscure names of ever changing terrorist organizations—Paul concluded that “some interviewers like to play this game.”

David Gergen told Anderson Cooper: “…I must say, traditionally…that when reporters have asked candidates, you know, who’s the head of this African government or that African government, what’s the difference between Tajikistan and Pakistan…those are regarded as ‘gotcha’ questions.” This is “an old trick,” Gergen said, “and those are ‘gotcha’ questions.”


Gergen added that Hewitt’s “roll call…of terrorist leaders in the Middle East” is not “the standard.” Most “foreign policy experts” probably “don’t know all those names.”

Trump’s inability to speak to Hewitt’s “roll call” of Middle Eastern terrorists did not, and will not, diminish the Republican frontrunner in the least.

However, like Megyn Kelly, another GOP hired gun who attempted to undermine Trump with a tabloid-esque question at the debate at which she was supposed to be a moderator but wound up shooting herself in the foot, Hewitt does threaten to diminish himself by way of such transparently dirty tactics.

Trump is a rock star now, it’s a presidential election cycle, and because she was determined to get personal with him, Megyn Kelly, Fox’s “It Kid,” is now out in the cold, indefinitely denied passage on the Trump train.

Hewitt may very well find himself there as well.



Trump and the GOP’s Election Cycle Talking Points

posted by Jack Kerwick

During every presidential election cycle, both Democratic and Republican talking heads trot out the same tired conventionalities that they predictably use to promote their preferred candidates and undermine those whom they dislike.

Given the Big Bang that is Donald Trump’s candidacy, the political props posing as species of reason have been particularly visible this time around. Let’s look at some of them, and how they’ve been used in connection with Trump.

Candidate X lacks the experience to be President.

The old argument from experience (or inexperience) is patently disingenuous. And notice, it’s always and only the other guy’s candidate who allegedly suffers from a deficit of experience in regard to the office of the presidency.


Yet the cold hard truth is that no one who hasn’t already been President of the United States has the requisite experience for this office.

To be more exact: That an individual has been the CEO of a company; established a business empire; served in the military; or served as a US Senator or Congressman does not in the least qualify that person for the presidency.

However, neither does the fact that a candidate has years of experience governing a state bestow eligibility.

That’s right: There is no parity between governing a state of 8 million residents, say, and governing a country of well over 300 million.

None of this, of course, is meant to imply that such backgrounds are disqualifiers. What it does mean is that the only way to acquire the requisite experience for the presidency is by being the President.


The presidency is not unlike any and every other activity in this regard: Knowledge and skill—i.e. experience—comes from practice.

There is one other fact that exposes this phony argument for what it is. The argument from experience would have us think that the President is like the Wizard of Oz, a lone individual who spins ideas from his own noggin and effortlessly imposes them upon the world.

But no one knows better than those who tirelessly appeal to this argument that nothing could be further from the truth, for the truth is that every president is surrounded by an army of advisers.


Candidate X is “too extreme.”

“Extremism” is one of those catch-all charges that mean nothing other than that the accuser dislikes the person against whom he hurls it.


When some version or other of it is used against Trump—as it is leveled against him incessantly—it is particularly perplexing. And it is even more preposterous when his Republican opponents brand their party’s presidential frontrunner with this label.

Notice, because of, say, his remarks on illegal Mexican immigrants, the Mexican government, and his desire to build a wall along the southern border for which he’ll make Mexico pay, Trump’s GOP critics treat him as “divisive,” as too immoderate—too “extreme.”

This is rich for more than one reason.

For starters, Trump’s popularity continues to soar precisely because large numbers of Americans agree with him. In stark contrast, over the last decade, Republicans suffered dramatic reversals of fortunes exactly because large numbers of Americans have disagreed, and disagreed vehemently, with them over their party’s positions on, among other issues (including immigration), the Iraq War.


Yet Trump is the “extremist,” the “polarizer,” the “divider.”

Trump’s critics blast him for comments that he’s made about some brown people—even though Trump never so much as laid a finger on anyone. At the same time, his Republican (and Democrat) objectors are responsible for launching a war on false premises that, besides costing Americans trillions of dollars and the lives of thousands of her children and thousands more crippled, has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of brown people—men, women, and children—throughout the Middle East and the destruction of their communities.

Incidentally, this catastrophic foreign policy decision Trump opposed.


But Trump neither harms nor, much less, kills anyone, yet it is he, and not his critics, who is the “extremist” of sorts, the “racist,” the “polarizer,” the “divider.”

Candidate X is not really a Republican or “conservative”

Obviously, this accusation has been leveled at Trump with all of the fury with which his critics have charged him with being an “extremist.” And for more than one reason, there can be no question that this allegation is just as bogus and just as hypocritical coming from them as is the latter.

First, when Trump’s Republican critics claim that he’s not a “conservative,” they mean to imply both that they are conservatives and that Trump is really a “liberal” Democrat.


Their rhetoric notwithstanding, the first implication is patently false: Trump’s GOP rivals and detractors are most decidedly not conservative. The Republican Party is every bit as much a champion of Big Government and the Politically Correct ideology that it’s been used to promote as is its counterpart (To anyone who takes issue with this judgment, I pose one simple challenge: I defy you to identify a single government program, let alone an agency or department, that Republicans have cut. I’ll even be generous and allow you to go all the way back to the Reagan years. I guarantee that you can’t do it).

And as I’ve shown, Trump’s detractors among his rivals in the presidential contest are hardly conservatives. On most, virtually all, issues—immigration, social engineering (both here and abroad), war, affirmative action, tax increases, government spending, socialized medicine, the criminalization of drugs, NSA spying, etc.—their talk aside, they have proven themselves to be indistinguishable from Democrats.


Second, Trump certainly has a checkered record that lends itself to the charge that he’s more of a “liberal” Democrat than anything else. But as I’ve just noted, the histories of his Republican opponents are at least as checkered on this score and, truth be told, probably worse in some respects.

At any rate, Trump hasn’t spent years and decades manipulating voters into thinking that he was a “conservative” only to repeatedly betray those voters upon getting elected and reelected.

Finally, and most tellingly, Republican “experts” and commentators are forever preaching to the hayseeds that compose the base of their party that only those candidates that can appeal to “moderates” stand a chance of being elected to the presidency. Though they never say as much, what this means is that only “moderates,” or those who are perceived as “moderates,” can get elected.


And what this in turn means is that only “liberal” Republicans, or those who are perceived as “liberal” Republicans, can get elected.

Take note: By Trump’s Republican critics’ own lights, the objection that Trump is really a “liberal” Republican contradicts their objection that he is an “extremist,” for if he really is a “liberal” Republican, then, by their reasoning, he is the “moderate,” the one politician who can “reach across the aisle!”

If they’re not careful, in their desperation to discredit Trump, his Republican critics will only discredit themselves—if they haven’t already.




Thinking Seriously About the Virginia Murders

posted by Jack Kerwick

On the morning of August 26, Vester Lee Flanagan, a former employee of WBDJ, shot and murdered WBDJ TV’s Alison Parker and Adam Ward on live television. He shot a third person, Vicki Gardner, who Parker was interviewing. Fortunately, the latter will survive.

Just as fortunately, the gunman is now dead (Too bad, though, that his fatal bullet wound was self-inflicted).

The 20th century philosopher Hannah Arendt maintained that there was a connection between the “inability to think” and morality. Upon observing Adolph Eichmann during his trial, she was stunned by two facts: The first was that Eichmann, in spite of being responsible for great evil, wasn’t particularly demonic or wicked at all, and, secondly, he was incapable of thinking beyond the stock phrases, clichés, and conventionalities available to him.


In other words, Eichmann was not unlike the vast majority of human beings.

Yet this “curious, but quite authentic, inability to think” accounts for much evil in the world. The reason for this is not difficult to grasp. Morality requires judgments about good and evil, right and wrong, and sound moral decision-making demands informed, critical judgment. Moreover, in making moral judgments, we must be sure to honor particulars as such even while we evaluate them in light of general rules and principles.

In beholding the chatter over the Virginia shootings, one is struck by how many otherwise (presumably) intelligent people are seized by the inability to think.

Revealingly, yet unsurprisingly, before any details regarding this outrage were known, the usual suspects on the left were decrying, not the murderer, but some abstraction they call “gun violence,” while calling for more “gun control.” And, along with some Republicans, they wasted not a moment in drawing from the Zeitgeist’s inventory of stock concepts in depicting this as a “mental health” issue.


Equally unsurprisingly is that the left has not (as of yet) spoken to the racial dynamic involved in this double murder: Not only was the killer black and his victims white, but Flanagan left behind a 23 page “manifesto” in which he explicitly identifies his sense of racial victimization as a premiere reason for his actions. He as well purports to have been victimized because of his homosexual orientation.

Let’s dare to do the unthinkable and actually think about this.

First, the notion that this double murder was “caused” by “gun violence” is patently offensive. It’s offensive to the victims, certainly, and even to the victimizer.


Alison Parker, Adam Ward, and Vicki Gardner were shot with a gun. They were shot by Vester Flanagan, a man who could’ve killed them in any number of other ways, or chosen not to kill them at all. We divest individuals of their humanity, their uniquely human, indeed, divine-like moral agency, when we ignore the reasons for their actions while instead attributing the latter to such impersonal “causes” as “gun violence” or “mental health.”

Our penchant for citing “studies” of one sort or the other doubtless proves politically and ideologically convenient, but such scientific (and pseudo-scientific) references constitute a black hole insofar as they swallow up the individual.

Second, allusions to “gun violence” and “mental health” are especially pernicious inasmuch as they obscure the evil nature of the deed being explained. To see just how egregious an offense this is, consider some analogies.


Imagine if, while discussing the Holocaust, we spoke about “gas chamber violence,” or while discussing Islamic State mass beheadings, we talked instead of “machete violence.” Or suppose that discussions of the lynching of blacks were peppered with references to “rope violence.” None of this would sit well with decent human beings, for it is clear, or at least it is thought that it should be clear, that such descriptions miss entirely that which is fundamental to the phenomena being described—the perpetrators responsible for these wicked deeds.

The perpetrators deserve to be recognized for the moral agents that they are, and their victims deserve an honest account of their fates.

Or imagine if we spoke of militant Islamic terrorist murderers, Nazis, and Klansmen, not as evil or wicked people, but as those in need of “treatment” for “mental health.” This too, you can bet anything, wouldn’t fly with most folks today. The reason is clear enough: If these notorious murderers are in need of “mental health treatment,” then they are sick.


But if they are “sick,” then they are to be pitied and made well, not condemned and punished. A mentally “unhealthy” person no more deserves blame, contempt, and punishment than does a physically unhealthy person.

To repeat: Either a person is evil or he is “mentally ill.” He can’t be both. Either his actions are evil, or they are symptoms of an illness. They can’t be both.

The reason that we would recoil from language suggesting that Nazis, Klansmen, and ISIS militants were “mentally ill” and/or that their murderous actions were a function of some abstraction or “root cause” is that once we enter this verbal territory, we leave morality behind.  The language of “causes” is the language of science. The language of morality is the language of good and evil, right and wrong.


The verdict is clear: Three innocent people were shot, and two are now dead, because one man, Vester Flanagan, freely chose to shoot them.

None of this, of course, is meant to deny that environment influences our choices. To be sure, our political environment today, and that particular strain of racial resentment and envy that currently finds expression in the Black Lives Matter movement, doubtless got inside Flanagan’s head. His “manifesto” revealed as much.

But here’s where things get really murky for the left:

If, as the left is forever assuring us, America is a land of incorrigible “white supremacy” and “racism”—if, in other words, “racism” is “institutional,” “systemic,” “structural;” if, as the left insists, “racism” is the greatest of all evils; and if, as the left further maintains, whites are never eligible to judge whether blacks who cry “racism” are sincere or not, then it would seem that one conclusion follows:

Vester Flanagan, who claims to have been the victim of racial oppression, acted justifiably in gunning down three white people who, by virtue of being white, belonged to the oppressor class.

Thinking is hard.




Trump Is No Conservative, But Neither Is…Chris Christie!

posted by Jack Kerwick

Donald Trump hasn’t the most conservative of track records. His opponents in the GOP presidential field and in segments of the so-called “conservative media” have sought to discredit Trump on this score.

But they are dishonest, for neither are their favorite candidates at all “conservative.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a classic case in point.

Christie has acknowledged that up until about 20 years ago, when he heard his daughter’s heartbeat while she was still in her mother’s womb, he was “pro-choice.” He even gave to Planned Parenthood. Now, Christie self-identifies as “pro-life.” However, he believes that up until the 20th week of pregnancy, abortions should still be permitted.


And, of course, not unlike most other Republicans (Marco Rubio is a notable exception here), Christie holds that abortion is morally permissible in cases of rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is endangered by her pregnancy.

In other words, Christie is still “pro-choice.”

To see that this is so, consider his stance on abortion in light of an analogy with capital punishment. A person who claimed to be against the death penalty while supporting it only for, say, murderers, rapists, and attempted murders, would be recognized immediately as self-delusional, deceitful, hypocritical, or some combination thereof.

Similarly, one cannot claim to oppose abortion—the killing of innocent, defenseless human life—while simultaneously claiming to support it if the human being is of a certain age (under 20 weeks old), conceived under such-and-such circumstances, etc.


To his credit, Christie, as Governor, did indeed cut, on five different occasions, funding for Planned Parenthood. Still, we should bear in mind that until he threw his hat into the presidential ring and began addressing conservative-minded audiences, Christie has always insisted that the cuts were due solely to the fact that those monies “would deplete the state’s fiscal resources…and significantly alter the policy and spending priorities” of New Jersey.

Not unlike Ohio Governor John Kasich (and a whole lot of other Republicans), Christie insists that he objects to “gay marriage,” but now that the Supreme Court has declared it a Constitutional right, Christie regards it as a non-issue, the law of the land. The Pulse scores Republican candidates on their response to this unprecedented ruling: Christie received an F.


And in 2013, when a Jersey court legalized “gay marriage,” Christie refused to challenge it on behalf of his state.

It’s hard not to think that had Christie really been morally opposed to “gay marriage,” then he would be as about as willing to surrender to a government ruling on it as an abolitionist would’ve been willing to acquiesce to the government’s stance on slavery.

In 2014, Christie signed off on legislation that would prevent employers from conducting criminal background investigations of prospective employees. The Governor now brags over having put an “end” to “employment discrimination against people with criminal records.” Only after an applicant has had his or her first interview would the employer be permitted to conduct a background check.


“This will make a huge difference to people who have paid their debts to society and want to start their lives over again,” Christie declared.

In 2013, Christie brought Common Core to New Jersey. “We’re doing Common Core in New Jersey and we’re going to continue.” So that there wouldn’t be any confusion as to where his sympathies lay, he added: “And this is one of those areas where I’ve agreed more with the President than not.”

When Common Core justly earned its now infamous reputation, Christie began to backpedal away from it, and when he launched his presidential campaign, he expressed “regret” over having endorsed it. In February, he expressed “grave concerns about the way this is being done, and especially the way the Obama administration has tried to implement it through tying federal funding to these things.”


This remark is telling for more than one reason:

First, Christie gives the same reason for the disaster that is Common Core that communists give for the failure of communism all over the world. The problem isn’t the program itself, but its implementation.

Second, it is stupendous that anyone, let alone a politician, could not have anticipated that there would be enormous problems with the imposition of a federal program, any federal program, but particularly an educational program imposed upon a locale.

Third, did Christie seriously not expect that President Obama would not attach strings of “federal funding” to, well, a federal program?

Christie boasted about having presided over the largest amount of aid—$8.9 billion—to New Jersey’s public schools in the state’s history. When it is considered that no small portion of this is money derived from the federal government, it is obvious that Christie is interested in reducing the size of neither the federal nor state governments.


Christie expanded Medicaid under Obamacare.

When it comes to the NSA’s massive surveillance of American citizens’ data, Christie refers to objections as constituting a “strain of libertarianism,” and accused “libertarians” of engaging in “esoteric, intellectual debates.”

He also supports the federal government’s searching to see which library books Americans check out under the Patriot Act.

Christie, though claiming to oppose amnesty (who doesn’t say as much?), favors “comprehensive immigration reform”—i.e. amnesty. He also granted illegal immigrants in New Jersey the right to pursue a college education while paying in-state rates of tuition!

Trump may not be a conservative.

But Chris Christie definitely is not a conservative.



Previous Posts

Ben Carson, Islam, and "Progressive" Bigotry
I don’t think that there is any activity that more powerfully reveals the human being’s intellectual and moral defects than that of politics. This is especially the case when it comes to the one time— presidential elections—when ...

posted 10:59:28pm Sep. 21, 2015 | read full post »

The Philosophy, and Theology, of "Breaking Bad"
Walter Hartwell White, an (exceedingly) overqualified middle-aged high school chemistry teacher, despite never having smoked, is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer on his 50th birthday. Sorely lacking the financial resources to see to it that ...

posted 10:35:57pm Sep. 17, 2015 | read full post »

Hey Jonah, hey Ben: What IS a "Conservative?"
Regarding Donald Trump’s domination of the GOP presidential contest, National Review’s Jonah Goldberg has recently remarked: “Well, if this is the conservative movement now, I guess you’re going to have to count me out.” In ...

posted 7:52:08am Sep. 10, 2015 | read full post »

Trump's Loyalty Pledge and the Curse of Rand Paul
GOP loyalists may have finally gotten their wish. Since Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, Republican politicians and their apologists on Fox News and in some quarters of “conservative” talk radio have been laboring ...

posted 11:20:46pm Sep. 04, 2015 | read full post »

Hugh Hewitt v. Donald Trump: A "Third Rate Announcer's" Gotcha' Questions
Radio talk show host and moderator of the next GOP/CNN debate, Hugh Hewitt, is the latest Republican pundit—and he is a pundit, not a “journalist”—to try to trip up his party’s frontrunner, Donald Trump. While on Hewitt’s program ...

posted 11:14:49pm Sep. 04, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.