Wise Words From A … Republican?

It’s easy to become immune to the rantings and ramblings of one political party complaining about the words and actions of another.  Liberals, myself included, opined last week during the senate confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the ludicrous questions that were asked by senators on the right side of the aisle, and insinuations snidely made by the likes of Marsha Blackburn, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and others.  The selection of a Supreme Court justice should not hinge on petty partisan politics nor on personal grudges, racism, or other forms of bigotry.  So, when a man of intellect and a member of the Republican Party critiques the behaviour of those in his party, perhaps it’s time for the party members to sit up and take note.

Michael Gerson is a well-respected journalist and a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush … he is also a staunch conservative.  I don’t often agree with Gerson’s views, but I respect him for putting thought into his opinions rather than simply spouting from emotion in his column for The Washington Post.  One of his OpEd pieces last week caught my eye and I thought I would share it with you today, for his thoughts mirror my own — that the Republican Party is in need of a major overhaul …


The Jackson confirmation hearings show a Republican Party in decay

By Michael Gerson

Columnist

March 24, 2022 at 1:51 p.m. EDT

If the Senate’s current exercise of Supreme Court advice and consent needed a title, it might be “The puzzlement of Judge Jackson.”

When Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has fielded a question about the influence of critical race theory on children or has been asked, for the record, to define a woman, she has often reacted with a puzzled pause before offering a measured response. What must she be thinking? Should she advocate for sleeping infants rather than woke ones (a populist cause if ever there was one)? How current are Republican senators on their sex ed? Should she start with the birds and the bees?

Jackson’s performance during her confirmation hearing this week has been impressive for its restraint and general grace. But the deliberations of the Senate Judiciary Committee might be remembered for her understandable confusion about topics that make complete sense only among movement conservatives. On the evidence of Jackson’s most tenacious questioners, this is now what it takes to win prominence in the modern GOP: a quiver full of culture-war attacks and a stout willingness to look foolish in public.

It is sad and sobering to have seen the decline of the Supreme Court nomination process firsthand. I worked in the Senate in the 1980s and 1990s. When I wrote the floor statement of my conservative Republican boss, Sen. Dan Coats, supporting Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s nomination, we were applying an older tradition of confirmation that looked mainly at disqualifications. Did the nominee lack integrity, impartiality or a judicial temperament? Had he or she violated any ethical or professional standards? The power of appointing Supreme Court justices was generally thought to reside in the executive branch. The president was given wide latitude. The Senate acted as a filter of unfitness.

In the post-Robert Bork era — after a lot of mutual recrimination and a period of adjustment and (sometimes) inconsistency — this undoubtedly changed. The focus of conservatives turned to judicial philosophy, particularly the constraints of originalism and textualism. This was the ascent of ideology, in which Republicans grew very comfortable criticizing judicial overreach. Everyone knew the real game was Roe v. Wade. But the standard of public judgment was provided by the Federalist Society. (Rather slyly, Jackson defused this debate during her hearing. “I am focusing on original public meaning because I’m constrained to interpret the text,” she said. This “adherence to the text is a constraint on my authority.”)

What we have seen among Republican senators this time around — with a few notable exceptions — is a departure from what preceded it. And it says far more about the state of the GOP than it does about the views of the nominee.

Jackson’s main Republican questioners are not focused on qualifications, temperament or even judicial theory. Their clear objective has been to trip up the nominee by asking about the latest Republican culture-war debates. It is surprising to me how little Republicans have emphasized judicial theory. For now, the culture war is all.

This is not just change; it is decay. Republicans have gone from arguing about the intent of the Founders to reproducing the night’s lineup of questions from Tucker Carlson.

This has, no doubt, been favorable to the judge’s confirmation. In the comparison of intellectual seriousness, Jackson is the clear winner. She is a responsible judge of moderate temperament, as well as an admirable human being, who will often do liberal things on the high court. What else could Republicans expect in this circumstance?

The GOP performance is particularly disturbing because it is not the direct result of incitement by Donald Trump. The former president does not lack for provocation. As a district court judge, Jackson joined in decisions that limited executive privilege. “Stated simply,” she wrote in November of 2019, “the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings. … This means that they do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control.”

No one has issued a more direct assault on the philosophic basis of Trumpism — that one former president should effectively be king. But Trump has said next to nothing about the Jackson nomination. Instead, he talks endlessly about the illegitimacy of the 2020 election. So the approach among the senators is moving on its own power and momentum within the Republican Party.

The MAGA world now has animating manias beyond Trump’s immediate priorities. The circus in the Senate is how ambitious elected Republicans understand the avenue to influence — with or without Trump’s direction. And they are probably reading the base of the GOP correctly. The problem, as usual, is deeper and greater than Trump. The shallowness and cynicism of the nomination process may well be previewing our political future.

57 thoughts on “Wise Words From A … Republican?

  1. Thank you for sharing!!… as I have said in the past, the issue is with the people, the supporters and their ideology.. the leadership (Trump, Putin, etc.) is a representative of that ideology.. and in order for them to get to power, the leaders will adhere to those ideologies… “Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely, absolute power attracts the corruptible.” ( Frank Herbert ).. 🙂

    And if one takes the time to do some research, one will find a great deal of similarities with the different world ideologies in their words, actions, etc… currently in Russia one can get sent to prison for saying “Fake news” about the military, sound familiar?.. currently in Russia they will use police wearing armor to disperse gatherings of opposing views, sound familiar?… currently in Russia anyone who comes forward to voice opposition to the government is ridiculed, threatened, etc., sound familiar?.. and on and on and on….. 🙂

    Have a great weekend and until we meet again..
    May the road rise to meet you
    May the wind be always at your back
    May the sun shine warm upon your face
    The rains fall soft upon your fields
    May green be the grass you walk on
    May blue be the skies above you
    May pure be the joys that surround you
    May true be the hearts that love you.
    (Irish Saying)

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    • You are so right, my friend … the problem DOES lie with the people and their ideology, if they can be said to have one. Mostly, it seems, their ideology is whatever they are told by the loudest voices. And thus, the people are giving away our foundation, allowing those in power to chip away at it, bit by bit, until soon we will have no voice, no vote, if something doesn’t change soon.

      Oh yes … sounds very familiar and not in the least bit surprising. Sigh. Thanks so much for the uplifting Irish Saying!!!

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  2. ‘Decay’ is the word. Starting off in one section resentful of losing White Supremacy of the Old Order, clinging to a hopelessly askew version of Christianity, insistent The Man knows more than ‘the little woman’ and of course that in the last resort Guns Solve Everything. Then they discovered what had been the preserve of the Radicals so far out they didn’t count as Democrats….. Conspiracy.
    This putrefying, nihilistic corrosion as all when untreated spread until the majority of the Republican Party infrastructure is infected, lost of all cohesive thought, rambling in its fever dreams.
    If you care for the future and you are not for this abomination then you should be against it. There is no middle ground, there can be no shrugging of the shoulder. You might try to avoid it, if you do, rest assured it will come kicking at your door.

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    • Seems you have hit the nail on the head, Roger. It begins with them trying to preserve a way of life that has as its foundation racism, homophobia, misogyny and xenophobia. White male good … all others inferior and should be dominated by white male. And no, there is no longer a middle ground. I think that began to disappear along about November 2008. I am still puzzled, though, that the GOP is in the minority nationally, yet have the loudest voices … and why the Sam Hell aren’t the Democrats fighting harder? Sigh.

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          • So many opportunities to shred the Right going begging….Pre-Vietnam LBJ and Robert Kennedy* the USA needs you.

            * Robert Kennedy was famous for never forgetting a slight and had a vindictive streak a mile wide (He bested Hoover after all). He would tear this lot apart en bloc.

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            • Yes, agreed on both counts, but also the U.S. needs those who once inspired us … the MLKs and Malcolm X, Soujourner Truth, and more. We need a voice or voices that speak loudly, not softly, that motivate the thinkers of this country to act, to do something to preserve what our forefathers fought for some two-and-a-half centuries ago, and again in the 1800s and again in the 1960s. Today, I just don’t hear those voices.

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              • I’m going to tread a minefield here. Based on the hysterical reaction by the racists to Obama’s election. Whereas in latter years African American’s of eloquence were viewed as either visionary or in the bigot section ‘uppity’. These days The Rightist Conspiracy wing will be squawking like there is no tomorrow, you can see this from horrendous display of ignorance and race-hate over one Supreme Court judge.
                The other side to the problem is that whereas I would love to see another LBJ and Bobby back on the scene, what the whole Community of the USA does not need is a ‘White Moses’ / Saviour’.
                Rainbow Coalition, of tough, realistic, focused folk from across the whole spectrum. That’s the mix which is needed. It’s a hard call I know.

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                • No minefield here … you are quite right in your assessment. I still believe that a large part of the reason Trump was made president (he actually lost the election by nearly 3 million votes, but the quirk of the Electoral College overrode that) was as pushback for us electing a Black president not only once, but twice! Racism and every other form of bigotry are alive and well in this nation, sadly. And it’s passed down from one generation to the next, so I see no end in sight. Sigh.

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  3. I tip my hat to him for not being bullied into silence by his own party. He spoke of so many great points about KBJ and her temperament and qualifications. That should always be what matters, but we are living in a sign of the times. Can you imagine what the history books for the next generation will say… if we haven’t gotten struck by an asteroid by then? *sighing with all of you*

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    • You’re so right … qualifications are no longer the measuring stick, at least for the GOP. Jackson will, unless I am far off base here, be confirmed and Republicans will continue to bitch and moan. I’ve often said the same … that I would love to see how history treats the last decade or so of politics in the U.S. How they treat Donald Trump, who I think will go down in the history books as the closest thing to a dictator the U.S. has ever had in the Oval Office. Gerson proves that not every Republican has been brainwashed by the Trumpeters, but far too many have been and that, my friend, is frightening.

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      • It’s very frightening. I think democracy in this country is falling apart, and people won’t care until it’s gone. The grass is greener on the other side complex is what it is.

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        • I think the foundations of democracy are crumbling, for sure, and I’m fairly certain that we will not see that foundation restored in our lifetime. Too many people have given in to their greed, believing that they ‘deserve’ wealth and that said wealth will bring them the happiness they think they deserve. Most are not deep thinkers who would lie awake at nights questioning their own values … if, that is, they can be said to have ‘values’. Sigh.

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          • I agree with all of that, especially the part of the lack of deep thinkers. If we go back a generation and look, wisdom was more transparent, and there would always be something that could be quoted within that wisdom. I hate to always put blame on the last presidency, but that is when things went downhill in my perspective. They began sloping when folks attacked (with words) President Obama and Michelle. I remember that is when I was able to see the divide. It especially showed up in Arkansas when Obama was elected.

            This wave of the branches are too focused on personal agendas rather than working for the folks that elected them, but even then…the human perspective on humanity is broken. We are doomed. I say that honestly. (sighs with you)

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            • Ah yes, wisdom was indeed more transparent, more obvious, say 20 years ago, but think about this — what will the next generation be like when they are our age? We are failing in a major way by allowing the fanatics to stop the teaching of history, stop teaching young people to think for themselves … I cannot imagine where the next generations great leaders will come from! And as for putting the blame on the last presidency … thing is, it could never have happened if the people of the nation hadn’t been already seeking something different. The populist movement has many roots, but the two major ones are mass immigration largely due to the Arab Spring movement, and … the election not just once, but twice, of a Black man to the highest office in the land. Much as I hate to say it, I’ve come to realize that a large portion — enough to almost elect a madman (he did lose the popular vote in 2016 by nearly 3 million) — are very much bigoted. Racism and xenophobia play a very large role in what happened in 2016 and what is still happening today. Almost every single thing the Republicans are fighting for has its roots in racism.

              I don’t necessarily think we are doomed, but I think that climbing our way out of this hole we’re in will take time … perhaps decades and generations. The first step is to educate our young people … they must understand the past in order to help bring about a better future.

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              • I am scared of what the next generation will look like because of the bad choices that have been made in previous generations. My grandbaby is little, and I often wonder what the world will look like for her when she is my age, or even my daughter’s age.

                You always speak so much truth and make me think about things. I appreciate that. I think it was that “Well he’s not a politician…he’s a business man” mentality because of the point of not trusting politicians (not that the people ever have…but worse now than when I was a kid). My awakening to him was the fact that I saw him be a racist jerk in the OJ trial (not that I was on OJ’s side either), but his racial views were evident. I never saw the businessman…I saw the masogynist and racist. The rest of the world did too, but they were so sure that he would do better than the previous. I literally bawled my eyes out when the Obamas left on AF1.

                I am babbling for the most part, but I definitely see the racism taking center stage again. I am happy about the Emmitt Till legislation, but it should not have taken this long to say that lynching is a crime in this country.

                I agree about educating the youth. The problem is that the parents are resisting and even schooling is political these days. People are making life harder than it has to be.

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                • There was one other factor that I forgot to mention about how & why Trump managed to worm his way into the White House in 2016 … Hillary Clinton is … wait for it … a WOMAN! {GASP!!!}. In addition to being racist, much of this country is still very much male-dominated, believing that women are emotionally unfit for any position of great power. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

                  Yes, it is frightening to think of what our grandchildren and their children will face, the world they will see when they reach adulthood. But, we must all keep fighting the good fight. For me, that is through my writing and this blog, for you it is your work with the ACLU. Others may be in a position to do more than you or I, but we are doing what we can with the resources we have … every little bit helps, my friend. And our children will grow up smart because we will teach them what they don’t learn in school! Because she had Tourette’s Syndrome as a young child, we homeschooled Natasha and to this day she amazes me with her knowledge of history and her understanding of people, politics, and humanity in general. I have some regrets about homeschooling her, mainly that she doesn’t do well in social situations, but as far as the education she got … it was far above what she would have gotten in the local schools!

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                  • That definitely played a part. I had forgotten about that until you mentioned it. I agree with you about the male domination. It seems as if we all have traveled back in time.

                    I’m sorry that happened with Natasha. It reminds us that people don’t like different, and it’s a shame. I bet she is as wonderful as she is beautiful. It’s amazing that she loves the same things you do! I homeschooled my daughter that is with me also. She is bipolar and impulsive, like me. I always say that she’s her mother’s daughter, until it comes to football and politics 😀

                    We will keep up the good fight, my friend. Even if we fix one thing or change one mind, tomorrow is a better place.

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                    • Oh yeah … all you need to do is look at all the bills being passed around the nation restricting a woman’s rights to decide what is best for her own health. Funny, they don’t want insurers to cover birth control, but they are okay with them covering Viagra for the guys … grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

                      Natasha is well-adjusted now, she just doesn’t like to be around strangers, but then … neither do I! I retired in 2008 in order to be able to contribute much more to her education. Chris taught her science and math, and I covered everything else from history to social studies to Spanish (I am bilingual) to literature and philosophy. Yes, she is much like me … she has my fire, but she also has her mother’s gentleness — a good combination, I think. So, I do hope that you aren’t going to tell me your daughter is … oh, I can’t even say it … please don’t tell me she’s … a Trumpeter?

                      Yep, the difference we make may be small, but who knows how far and wide it will spread? We just keep giving to the best of our ability.

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                    • Hi my friend! I have missed you! Sorry I am just getting sat down and catching up with you! It was spa day after the few days at the beach 🙂

                      I don’t like being around strangers either, so that’s another way we are alike…and Natasha too! I am not one that likes a big crowd around me. Thankfully my daughter is not a Trumpeter 🙂 She always has my back, but my son ended up being turned into a Trumpeter. We definitely do not see eye to eye there lol

                      I hope you are getting some good rest! I need to get caught up on your posts! Good news of Ketanji getting confirmed though 🙂 Woot!

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                    • Hi dear Amy!!! Yes indeed, I have missed you too! But, I knew you were having a beach vacation with your sister and I hoped you were enjoying every last minute of it! Spa day, eh? Would you believe I’ve never even set foot in a spa? So, did you enjoy your time at the beach? Catch up on rest?

                      No, I much prefer a small group of 2-3 friends than a large group where everyone is trying to talk over everyone else and nobody can follow a conversation! Oh you poor woman! I can thoroughly relate, because by all indications my son is also a Trump fan, but we rarely communicate, so I cannot say for sure. I will tell you more about Michael when I email (no, I still haven’t! Been a bit under the weather these last few days, but I will!!!)

                      I’ve not been getting much good rest, but maybe tonight Our weather has reverted to winter … this evening we had sleet and snow! Ah well … soon enough I’ll be complaining about the heat and humidity … never satisfied, am I?

                      Yes, that was great news about Judge Jackson and the 3 Republicans I predicted might vote in favour actually did!

                      Hugs ‘n love, my friend!

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                    • 🙂 It was a good holiday away, and it was my first time at the spa also. I felt so spoiled lol. My face feels much better and clearer today.

                      I hope you feel better! I had a little gallbladder attack the first day of the vacation and into the middle of the second day. My rest has been all over the place this past week or so.

                      I always find a way to grouch at the rain when it comes too 😀 I am anti-precipitations I guess haha! It gets so cold when it rains because the wind is really gusty and cold here. I like this night time that we are having though. It’s perfect to open the window and let the fresh air in.

                      Hugs and love and blessings, my friend ❤

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                    • I’m glad you had a good holiday! I doubt I’d like the spa if I ever tried one, for I am funny about people messing with my skin or hair! I’m sorry to hear about your gallbladder attack, though! I’ve never (knock on wood) had one, but I had a friend who had them pretty frequently until they finally removed her gallbladder.

                      I sometimes love a rainy day, but of late it seems we’ve rarely even glimpsed the sun, so I’m about sick of clouds ‘n rain. Sleep well, my friend … talk to you tomorrow! ❤

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  4. Jill, Michael Gerson, like David Brooks, is one of my favorite conservative pundits. They both advocate their opinions, but in a respectful, thoughtful manner. Gerson was the first conservative to publicly condemn the candidacy of then presidential candidate Donald Trump. Others like Brooks, Erickson, and Will followed, but Gerson was the first to stick his neck out and speak the truth about Trump. So, the above piece is in keeping with his concerns and style. I agree with his conclusions in this case.

    He used the word “decay” whereas I tend to use the word “adrift” to define the GOP. Current members of the GOP are using RINO as a weapon to whip moderate Republicans. Yet, to me the folks using that term are the ones leading the departure from the party’s norms. It should be noted, the 2020 convention did NOT adopt a party platform, which means it a self admission that they do not stand for anything worth committing to paper. Keith

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    • I didn’t realize that Gerson recognized the dangers of Trump so early in the game. I think George Will was the first one I heard speak against the former guy. Yes, I agree fully with Gerson’s take on the Republican senators’ shameless behaviour during the confirmation hearings and it’s encouraging to realize that not every Republican is blind to what the GOP is becoming.

      I think I’d side with Gerson on the use of the word “decay”, for adrift seems to kind, too much like they’ve just wandered a bit, but still have a sense of decency. I don’t think they do … well, at least not the likes of Cruz, Cotton, Blackburn and the like. Oh yes, I do remember they decided not to even have a platform! No ideology, only to be against anything that the other party is for. Oh, and to be as bigoted as possible. Sigh.

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      • Jill, Gerson’s criticism of Trump was the first I read from a conservative pundit, and it was pretty early on. It is amazing the power of populism, as long time Trump fan, Ann Coulter, turned Trump critic, she became persona non grata. And, Coulter is just shy of two standard deviations of being on the extreme end of the conservative movement Keith

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        • Wait … I’ve missed something here! Ann Coulter turned against Trump???? I had no idea … I thought she was an avid and forevermore Trumpeter! I don’t pay much attention to her or her cronies, but I sure did miss this one. I can only hope it is a sign of things to come, that at some point he’ll become too toxic for even the folks over at Fox!

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  5. Pingback: WISE WORDS FROM … A REPUBLICAN. |jilldennison.com | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  6. Too damn true and sad. The GOP continues descending into conspiracy theories and decaying as leaders of responsible government. How strange it’s become; and yet, the base and most of the Republican party is onboard with this. They think they’ve seen the light on how to get ahead, not realizing that they’re following reverse lights. How can you ever move ahead by going backward? Yet, that is what they advocate.

    It’s as bizarre and strange as the ‘trickle-down theory’, mutual assured destruction, and ‘separate but equal’. None are sustainable, and all have proven flawed.

    Hugs and cheers, M

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    • I wish I knew the answer, my friend. I am truly amazed, and not in any good way, by the level of b.s. the people in this country are willing to accept. Are they truly so uneducated, so ignorant, or have they simply thrown away their values? I do know, though, that this nation is on a perilous path and it’s 90% down to the Republicans. Best thing that could happen is if the majority of them are voted out of office in November, but it doesn’t seem likely. Sigh. Hugs ‘n cheers to you, Michael!!!

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      • They have simply grown to love a sh!# show, Jill. From Duck Dynasty and The Bachelor to Survivor and the Real Housewives installations, this segment of the population thrives on discord, dissidence, disagreements and disaster.. as long as they can steer clear of the fallout. Most feel they are untouchable, an unspoken magic spell cast upon them by the Former Guy. The antithesis to all that is loving and productive, chaos is fighting for its place on the world stage with a vengeance. I’m sharing this on my Twitter feed. I hardly go there but do share worthy information. Thanks.

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        • Good point … the only ‘news’ they care about is that which has ‘entertainment value’, that makes them laugh or gawk, that takes them out of the real world, gives them a feeling of … what? … superiority? Thanks, Cheryl, for sharing!

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  7. Michael was one of my parents favorite guests at their dinner parties. Erudite, compassionate, driven and HONEST to himself and others. He brought about an ability within us kids (well. we were all adult “kids” but at a parent’s table you are always 6 years old!) to debate thoughtfully on questions we had never considered …not just politics, but religion, social justice, racism, etc.

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    • Wow! That must have been some seriously stimulating conversation! I’m glad to hear that you found him to be compassionate and honest … I agree. I don’t always … in fact rarely … agree with him, but like George Will and others, I think he is a man of integrity and conscience, which is more than I can say for so many others today.

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