March 22, 2016

I am not always kind to the Washington Post.

On more than one occasion I have joined the #WapoMustDie bandwagon.

But on this occasion, they tried. They really tried.

In a meeting with Donald Trump, the Washington Post editorial board questioned Donald Trump repeatedly (and respectfully) about specific policy proposals he might adopt concerning libel laws, as well as his statements about reducing the US commitment to NATO.

True to form, Trump repeatedly brought the conversation back to himself, his coverage, what he saw on the television. Wapo's conclusion? We, as a nation, just can't.

An empty policy basket makes almost impossible the kind of substantive debate on which democracies depend. And while it is true that ambiguity sometimes can be useful in diplomacy, a lack of clarity also can be dangerous, enticing rivals to be aggressive and allies to seek new friends.

Given Mr. Trump’s belief that we don’t treat him fairly, we invite readers to read the full transcript or listen to the audio recording of our conversation, both of which we’ve posted online . He answered questions about violence at his rallies, ...and the seemliness of trading insults and threatening critics. His defense of the latter was telling: “I mean, actually I think it is presidential because it is winning.” Which suggests one more difference between us: our definition of what is presidential.

Listening to these conversations, my thoughts about Trump were only confirmed. He is not a reflection of crazy Uncle Liberty, though there is obvious appeal to that persona. No, Trump is your opinionated grandfather, the one who sits at the head of the table at Thanksgiving, and who only knows what he sees on the tee vee or reads in the doctor's waiting room. With Uncle Liberty, there's ideology there, though it may be straight out of Sean Hannity's pie hole and completely based on who is in the White House. With Trump, there's no ideology at all, liberal or conservative, just reaction to what is all about him. That's why he can freak out the neocons when he talks about NATO, and why "true" conservatives like Ted Cruz think he's a "sekrit librul." He only knows what makes sense to his brain stem. And nailing him down on specific policies? He knows nothing about that. Just what's "terrible" and what's "good," like a child picking out breakfast cereal.

The Washington Post editorial board really tried. But everything Trump said, and the way he said it, only reinforced Wapo's earlier editorial statement that "Mr. Trump must be stopped because he presents a threat to American democracy."

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