Good Trump vs. Bad Trump?
On today’s show, Glenn asked Ben Shapiro how conservatives can navigate the minefield of supporting President Donald Trump in the good things he does while still acknowledging when he does wrong.
We shouldn’t feel compelled to make excuses for bad behavior, and Trump doesn’t need conservative leaders to compromise their principles to cover for him.
“If we’re not willing to call out bad when we see it even from people [when] we like what we’re getting from them, then we can’t have an honest conversation,” Shapiro said. “It turns into simply fan-boying or fan-girling.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: Last hour, we were talking to a professor from George Mason and he was talking about how bad education is. And I was talking a little about the brainwashing that is going on and the activization of at least 10 percent of our college students that just want to be liberal activists. And who is doing that on the other side?
Who is activating today’s youth to be able to get them to defend the Constitution and conservative principles? The answer is sitting in my studio right now. Ben Shapiro. How are you doing, Ben?
BEN: Hey. Doing well. How are you?
GLENN: Good. I know you had a great time in Connecticut yesterday. One hundred security officers to protect your speech and zero protesters.
BEN: Yeah. That’s how it always goes. And you always think, why do we need these security officers, and half the time there’s a riot.
But it was nice. I mean, it was 500 students who showed up. They closed it to the general public, which was too bad. They should have allowed another 5, 600 people in, because they had another 700 reservations, is what I heard. But in any case, it was a really nice event. Everybody enjoyed it.
GLENN: Did you anybody on the left that has — because I have — people who are hard on the left, who say, I’m really concerned about what’s happening on college campuses?
BEN: I think that’s a growing concern for a lot of people on the left. And I think anybody who is an honest person on the left, has to look at the way that they’re cracking down on free speech and think to themselves, this is a problem. And it could reverse itself and bite us. This is not a single-edged blade.
BEN: It’s a serious problem, that they’re allowing the hecklers veto to prevail here. That somebody from the community will threaten something, and suddenly 100 officers are necessary. And we ban everyone from the general public. They’ve now done this at northwestern. They did this at UC Berkeley. They just ban people from coming in entirely from the outside community. Whereas, last week, Anita Hill spoke at UConn, and it was completely open to the public. They barely needed security. It was totally fine.
GLENN: All right. So you’re going to join us today for a few minutes on the television show. We’ll do some stuff for subscribers only on TheBlaze. We’ll talk about the future of the conservative movement. And what our principles are and how we navigate from here.
But I want to talk to you about kind of the news of the day. Get your point of view on, do we have the audio of the secret society? Or do you have the latest memo or piece?
Two days ago — was it two days ago or yesterday, Ron Johnson comes out, and he said, and we have — we have a source that says there was a secret society. Meetings that were going on. And we know we have this text message. And something didn’t feel right.
I want everything released because if that is happening, but I also said, I think it was yesterday, that kind of sounds a little like McCarthy saying, I’ve got the names of 250 people right in my pocket. If you don’t have it, you’re going to destroy everything.
And here’s what we found out yesterday, about what that — that memo — or that text message actually said. Here’s the clip. Go ahead.
But we’re going to have to decide —
GLENN: Sorry. Sarah, not that one. Go ahead.
STU: The single message — again, the single text message sent the day after Trump was elected was from senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page to Peter Strzok, the top counterintelligence officer at the FBI and a key figure in the bureau’s past investigation into Trump and Clinton.
Here’s the quote: Are you even going to give out your calendars, Page asked Strzok. Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society.
GLENN: Ben, that’s not a secret society.
BEN: No. No. The way all Republicans are talking it up yesterday was like, this is going to be the view from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where he looks down and there’s just a bunch of people chanting. Tearing the guy’s heart out and setting it on fire.
GLENN: Big fire. Cutting him up.
BEN: And what it actually ends up being is just a bunch of nerds who sit around and have beer and talk about work. But I really — this is my big problem, is no one is waiting for all the evidence to come out, before and their narrative conclusion is Donald Trump definitely concluded with Russia, and the FBI is in the midst of one of the greatest investigations of our time that is going to uncover the real source of Donald Trump’s victory. And any questions that are asked about that are completely out of line.
And then on the right, you have this counter-narrative, that the FBI is thoroughly corrupt. It has been completely run through with people on the left who don’t care about the truth and are simply out to get President Trump.
And my tendency is to think that there’s a lot of in between there, and it’s probably somewhere in the in between. Meaning, that there probably are people like Strzok and Page, who don’t like Trump. We don’t really know the impact that they’ve had on this particular investigation. One of the texts that people seem to be ignoring on the right is the text from Strzok to Page, saying, it’s going nowhere.
STU: Right. There’s no there there, right?
GLENN: No, they’re actually — yeah, the right is now starting to use that and say, look, even this guy said, there’s no there there. Well, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say he’s an evil guy trying to take him down, oh, and he didn’t want to join.
BEN: None of it makes any sense. And all of these propositions can be true. It can be true that the FBI was politicized by the Obama administration. Most clearly in the Hillary Clinton investigation. There’s no question that the FBI was political in that investigation.
GLENN: Yes, correct.
BEN: It’s also true there are bad apples in the FBI. It can also be true that the investigation right now is doing what it’s supposed to do. It can also be true that that investigation has gone beyond its original bounds and is now moving into obstruction, which seems to me a lot more of a stretch.
Right. All these things can be true at once. But people are not waiting for all the evidence to come out, before they jump to whatever facts support the conclusion that they want. Either the FBI is thoroughly corrupt, or the FBI is thoroughly pristine.
STU: And to find the real conclusion here. Doesn’t the theater hurt? This idea that everyone comes out and screams about how we know we have a security society. And we know Russia has colluded with Trump.
Doesn’t that really hurt the search for the actual truth?
BEN: It does. And one of the biggest problems that I have here is that there is information that could easily be declassified and is not being declassified.
President Trump is the president of the United States. He is the chief executive. That means that he actually gets to declassify, for example, the FISA application on Carter Page. One of the big complaints from people on the right, I think quite — quite — quite possible this is true — is that the FISA application on Carter Page was based on the Steele dossier, the Fusion GPS dossier that was funded by the Democrats and was essentially based on Russia disinformation.
Okay. If that’s the case, then why not just release the application? Right? The FISA application, Trump can do that. He can do that right now.
And I’ve been told by people, well, he doesn’t want to look like he’s politicizing the investigation.
How does he not look like he’s politicizing the investigation? I mean, the guy tweets about Jeff Sessions and Andrew McCabe and James Comey every five minutes.
All I want, you know, just as an American, all I want is more information and less conjecture. Because all I’m getting is conjecture and posturing. And now you’ve got — the Democrats are putting out their memos. So now we have a memo fight. We have these secondhand memos that are not even based on the classified intel fighting with each other. It’s all stupidity to me. I don’t understand —
GLENN: Yeah. The classified memos — even the people who are writing memos about them haven’t seen the classified memos.
BEN: This is what the DOJ says. And if that’s not true, then wouldn’t you expect Devin Nunes to say, no, I have seen the classified material, and my memo was based on that classified material? But the DOJ emailed Devin Nunes, sent them a letter yesterday, and they said, listen, don’t release that classified memo.
Because number one, a compromise to national security. But number two, you actually haven’t seen the underlying classified materials you’re talking about. So why are we reading a memo, not based on the classified materials that are actually at issue, especially when a lot of those classified materials could become declassified by the president?
All this says to me — here’s where I think this is going, based on the evidence that’s on the table. Where I think this is going is I think Robert Mueller is going to try to establish a pattern of obstruction against President Trump. He’s going to suggest that President Trump was trying to fire James Comey and go after his own DOJ and go after Andrew McCabe in order to stop an investigation into him. Because whether or not Trump is innocent, he thinks he’s innocent. And, therefore, he was trying to, quote, unquote, obstruct the investigation. This is the problem with obstruction as a charge, there doesn’t actually have to be an underlying crime in order for you to obstruct. Right? If you’re obstructing an investigation, it doesn’t matter whether there’s actually underlying anything that went bad.
The problem is, I think we’re going to get the worst-case scenario. Because I’ve become a pessimist, that we always get the worst-case scenario.
BEN: The worst-case scenario here is that, there is no actual legal obstruction. Right? Because the actual statutes and obstruction do not cover President Trump firing James Comey, or even saying to Andrew McCabe, who did you vote for? That doesn’t — obstruction is a legal charge.
As a lawyer, these charges in the US code do not apply to what President Trump has done. It doesn’t matter.
The left seizes on Mueller’s suggestion that there has been some sort of informal obstruction. And then they launch an impeachment push against President Trump. And then Republicans are forced into the position of having to defend some of the stupid and I think dismal things that Trump has done, from firing Comey, which I think was dumb, to demanding a loyalty oath. All these sorts of things that are not illegal, but are not smart.
And so we’re sitting around, defending those. And then the Democrats are browbeating us and saying they need impeachment. It just — it ends up being a battle over bad behavior, as opposed to a battle over criminality. And the left will charge that the right is fine with criminality. And the right will say that the right is trying to use the law in the wrong ways.
And, you know — both will be half right, and both will be half wrong. And it will just be awful. It will be awful all the way around.
GLENN: That’s good. Good. Good.
STU: That’s optimism.
BEN: The good news is I honestly don’t think the impeachment tribe will go anywhere. And I think people will survive.
Honestly, I don’t think people care that much about this, other than the diehard political fanatics on the right who think Trump is absolutely innocent of everything and has never done anything wrong. And people on the left who think that Trump is absolutely guilty of everything and is going to be impeached. They’re waiting for the deus ex machina to come in and just remove Trump from office, which is not happening.
GLENN: So I think we’re in the same area. I talked about it a few weeks ago and said, I don’t think anything is going to happen with the Trump information. But sadly, what I think is going to happen is we’re going to miss the mark on Russia. This whole investigation —
BEN: Russia, we haven’t mentioned that in 15 minutes.
GLENN: Russia. I know. This is not about — look, I think Hillary Clinton was absolutely corrupt. And the FBI has mountains of evidence of lots of people in — in our government in Washington, that were corrupt with Uranium One. Why haven’t we seen any of that evidence? Now, whether she was personally corrupt, sure looks like it. But I don’t know.
When it comes to Donald Trump, I don’t like the meeting in Trump Tower, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But I don’t know if there’s any crime there that’s been committed.
I do know this, the FBI has known things about Russia. And they have not — they have not followed through. Why? Is there someone that is saying, you know, kind of like, what’s his name that went in and took the documents out of the library of Congress, or the —
STU: Sandy Berger.
GLENN: Yeah. The national archives. Both sides were kind of like, no, that’s pretty okay. I’m pretty okay with that. Because both sides are dirty with Russia. We need to know, can we trust our Justice Department? Yes or no?
Can we trust them to do independent investigations? And the second thing is, how bad are things with Russia? How could is the influence and the bribery and the scandal with his Russia? And let the chips fall where they may. I don’t think it’s going to happen.
BEN: I agree with a lot of this. And I also don’t think it’s going to happen. I think everyone — if you’re on the side of what the FBI is doing right now, then you’re going to stand up for the FBI no matter what.
If you don’t like what the FBI is doing right now, then you’re going to suggest they’re a nefarious institution in the pay of the opposite side.
GLENN: How do either of these not accomplish the goals of Vladimir Putin, of destroying our republic?
BEN: Well, I mean, I think that Putin was very smart. He realized that all he had to do was drop a hint of conspiratorialism into American politics, and everybody would jump on it with both feet.
And he was right. It’s worked. We’re at each other’s throat over essentially — I’m not sure there’s much there there. And I think that’s particularly true. If you look in another area, where Russia was supposedly nefarious, I really don’t think that Russian bots were manipulating people’s information hold during the last election cycle. I think people are jumping on that because they find it politically useful. So Russia interfered in the election. But I think what they’ve done even more — to more success even, is they’ve allowed that impression that they interfered in the last election cycle to now create the basis on which everything else moves.
So, for example, the release of the memo hashtag that was trending last week, suddenly Dianne Feinstein and Adam Schiff are suggesting the reason it’s trending is because of Russian bots. And they’re calling on Facebook and Twitter to actually crack down on these nonexistent Russian bots that were supposedly sending this trending. Daily Beast did a report yesterday, and they said it wasn’t Russian bots. That was just a bunch of Republicans who were hashtagging — the point that Dianne Feinstein and Schiff are doing is — what they are doing is they want Facebook and Twitter to crack down on right-wing media outlets, claiming that’s a way of cracking down on fake news. So they’re using the Russia bot stuff and they’re using the Russia stuff as a proxy of getting to a political goal they want to get to. I swear, every day, I wake up and I think — I’m cynical enough about politics today. And then by that night, I’m thinking, my God, I need to be twice as cynical as I was this morning. Because it just doesn’t work.
GLENN: Back with more Ben Shapiro here in a second. Markets are beginning to price for potential interest rate hike in March. If you missed the show last night. I did a chalkboard. And it was really interesting.
Because I know I did this chalkboard a couple of times when I was at Fox. One that was similar. And I said, look, this is what I’m looking for. This is where we’re going to start to have trouble. If these things happen.
Well, now, these things have happened. If you missed the chalkboard last night, make sure you watch it on TheBlaze.com/TV. Become a subscriber. And please, watch the first ten minutes of last night’s show, because you will be prepared for what I believe is coming. And it’s all due to math and history.
GLENN: Talking to Ben Shapiro, who I think is the leader of the future movement of the conservative — of conservative thought in America.
He is everywhere on college campuses and everywhere online, where it counts with the youth.
We were — we’re in a weird situation right now, to where we have a president who is, in many ways, giving us as conservatives, things that we haven’t seen since maybe Reagan. Okay? We have a great Supreme Court justice. Israel, for the love of Pete. Reagan didn’t even do that.
GLENN: So we have some great things. And then we’re also in this position of having a guy who we — is real — lives a despicable life, if those porn star things are true. Okay? And I tend to believe they’re true.
So you look at this, and for some reason, we can’t say, I — bad Trump, good Trump. Don’t like that Trump. Like that one.
GLENN: You have to buy into all of it. And I think that’s killing us.
BEN: I totally agree. I mean, during the last election cycle actually coined the good Trump, bad Trump framework. I actually had sticks with faces of Trump on them. And when he would do something good, I would hold up the happy Trump. When he would do something bad, I would hold up the sad Trump.
We had — we actually had the jingle on my podcast. Good Trump, bad Trump. Which one will it be today?
And that is — I think the biggest problem I have right now with the way American politics are going, it really is not about Trump. It’s about us. Because if we’re not willing to call out bad when we see it, even from people that we like what we’re getting from them, then we can’t have an honest conversation.
It turns into simply, fanboying or fangirling for a particular political figure. You see this on the left too. They can’t call out — they couldn’t call out Obama when Obama was engaged in obvious corruption with the IRS, for example. While saying, we like Obamacare. But we don’t like what he’s doing with the IRS. You see this on the right now, with regard to Trump’s character.
Look, Trump is character deficient. There’s just no question that the man is — you would not have him babysit your children. Right? You have a list of people. He’s near the bottom of the list in terms of people he would be responsible for like my one and a half-year-old son.
GLENN: Yes. My 13-year-old son.
BEN: May be more dangerous for the 13-year-old actually. You don’t know what will pop up on the pay-per-view.
GLENN: Let’s not even talk about him. People I really respect and like. Tony Perkins. What the hell was this?
STU: Interesting phrasing of that question.
BEN: Yeah, so do I.
I think, again, we have to learn to live with cognitive dissonance. You can like a lot of the things he’s doing. And as an evangelical Christian, or as an Orthodox Jew, as I am, I think you can stand and say, listen, this guy is standing up for religious liberty, with the judges that he’s appointing. He’s standing up for Israel. He’s standing up for — he spoke at the March For Life. He’s standing up for a lot of religious priorities that I really like. And all of that is wonderful, and all of that is good. Also, you shouldn’t have sex with porn stars while you’re married and your wife just gave birth.
GLENN: If you’re a religious leader, I think you should leave it at, you shouldn’t have sex with porn stars, unless it’s your wife.
Then you should talk to her about not being a porn star.
BEN: But the fact that we feel compelled to make excuses for bad behavior is something that I think leads people who are in the middle, not even on the left, people in the middle to say, well, you’re not being intellectually honest about your own side. And you lose your own moral credibility in that line.
I’m not worried about Trump losing his credibility. Trump is a big boy. He can protect himself. He’s shown that he’s fully capable of kicking back of kicking back against people who criticize him. He does it all the time. He doesn’t need people playing defense for his personal failings. And, by the way, his personal failings don’t damage him politically.
I mean, I have an entire theory of what damages Trump politically. And the answer basically is what we call the — the — the strong efficient markets theory. Right? That when it comes to the stock market, there’s a theory. That you cannot beat the stock market because everything is already priced in. Right? You have analysts who are all day sitting there and looking at companies and determining what their value is.
So unless there’s a new piece of information, it’s not going to change the stock price of any given stock. So you can’t beat the market. I think that that holds true, particularly for Trump, even to the extent that new information doesn’t change what you feel about Trump.
If you think Trump is despicable, you’re still going to think Trump is despicable. If you think he’s wonderful, you’re still going to think he’s wonderful.
Which suggests to me, that when he does something bad, we don’t to have stand around and defend him. Like this is going to destroy his political career. The man won an election after being caught on tape, talking about — bragging about grabbing women by the genitals. I don’t think he requires your defense at this point. I think he’ll be just fine. But I’m not sure that you will be just fine. Right? It’s really about you. It’s about what you are willing to say is good or bad. And what your friends think about you, and what people think of as a person, based on what you are willing to condemn and what you are willing to accept.
GLENN: But you can accept the policies and despise the actions in personal life.
BEN: 100 percent.
GLENN: And it’s perfectly okay. But people aren’t willing to embrace that. Tonight, 5 o’clock, Ben Shapiro will be joining us on TheBlaze.com/TV.