Ethics Quiz: Seriously, Mona Charen?

Mona Charen is, I think it’s fair to say, a Trump-Deranged conservative pundit. I recall her faintly from the days of CNN’s Capital Gang,which ended its run in 2005. She was one of the designated conservatives on the weekly panel after Pat Buchanan left, back when CNN wasn’t quite so left-biased and at least pretended to care about ideological balance. The election of Donald Trump sent her wandering in the wilderness with the likes of Bill Kristol and George Will, a bitter Never-Trumper, and now she edits that nest of Never-Trumpers, The Bulwark. Charen isn’t an idiot, or at least shouldn’t be: she’s an honors graduate of Columbia back when that meant something and a lawyer. And yet she wrote this for Time: “We Elected Biden to Be Better Than This,” which begins with the head-exploding assertions….

In 2020, America elected Joe Biden to be not-Trump—a role for which he seemed well-suited. In 2016, the country voted for burn-it-all-down upheaval. Trump was the tribune of those who felt betrayed and misled and mistreated. Four chaotic years later, alarmed voters fled into the arms of an aging former vice-president and senator—a man they had twice rejected as a presidential contender—who seemed the personification of the steady hand.

No one expected Biden to be transformational or extraordinary, but we did need him to be the anti-Trump in the most important ways. We needed him to be sober and responsible, to play by the rules, and to uphold the primacy of law and procedure. And he delivered. President Biden freed the country and the world from the tyranny of tweeted insults, conspiracies, threats, lies, fantasies, and reversals. And while naturally some will criticize his policies, Biden has conducted the presidency with dignity. He has gone some way toward restoring a sense that the system, whatever its flaws, is basically sound.

This Ethics Quiz is a bit different than most. I’m not asking what the ethical course is, or whether particular conduct is ethical.

The Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is this…

Is Mona Charen lying, or is she a ‘useful idiot’?

It is flat out impossible that any astute, long-time observer of Washington could believe that statement absent some kind of cognitive impairment.

  • Who, watching Biden during the debates and seeing his obvious decline from what had never been  what anyone would call whip-smart in the first place thought that Joe Biden would or could be the “personification of the steady hand”?
  • Who in their right mind would expect Joe Biden, cheap-shot artist, plagiarizer, serial liar, likely enabler of his son’s influence peddling, flip-flopper extraordinaire and open sexual harasser, to be “responsible, to play by the rules, and to uphold the primacy of law and procedure”? Was selecting a dolt like Kamala Harris as his running mate “responsible”?
  • “And he delivered”??? KABOOM! He upheld law and procedure by having his Justice Department raid his predecessor’s home! “Delivered” by allowing his party to mount an unprecedented partisan witch hunt in the House? By overseeing an open-border policy? By giving an unprecedented “my enemies are evil” speech after promising to unify the nation? By having his Justice Department threaten parents who oppose sexualized curricula in grade school? By installing policies that exploded the national debt, made the nation’s name mud after the abandonment of Afghanistan without preparation or warning? By triggering crippling inflation and refusing to take responsibility for it? What conservative would arrive at such a verdict? What objective observer could arrive at such a verdict?
  • OK, let’s give Mona the tweets. But calling half the nation and Republicans “fascists” isn’t an insult? Claiming  a one-day riot by middle-aged goofs was an “insurrection” wasn’t a contrived conspiracy theory? A compendium of Biden’s “lies, fantasies, and reversals” would fill a garage. Who has she been watching these past two years?
  • Who, exactly, besides her (maybe) believes that 2021 and 2022 have restored a sense that “the system, whatever its flaws, is basically sound?” His own party, presumably with his assent, is calling the U.S. Supreme Court illegitimate. Crime is soaring in the cities, “bail reform” is allowing dangerous criminals to roam free, Biden’s military is spending more time on woke indoctrination than defense; his administration lies outright that the border is “secure,” the transportation system has lurched from one breakdown to another; the health system has been exposed as incompetent, reckless and fraudulent, the President has unethically extended a “national emergency” to bypass Constitutional restrictions, he is autocratically allowing college grads to ignore their debts while those who have paid off their loans look like suckers, and, perhaps most ominous of all, there is wide-spread and justified suspicion that the President isn’t really calling the shots. Who believes that the “system is basically sound”?

She has to be lying or struck stupid by unrestrained bias. Is there any other explanation?

19 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Seriously, Mona Charen?

  1. “Is Mona Charen lying, or is she a ‘useful idiot’?”

    Neither; the last 6+ yrs have convinced me that most journalists, including so called “conservative” ones, are part of the same club, affiliated with and loyal to the establishment. Something like a Trump is never supposed to happen, and therefore he has to be taken out and made an example of. They truly believe that only swamp products are supposed to reach positions of power.

  2. I actually agree with most of what she said.

    Let’s look at it again;

    “In 2020, America elected Joe Biden to be not-Trump—a role for which he seemed well-suited.”

    I think this is fair. The 2020 election was actually pretty good for most Republicans that weren’t Trump. The point was that Joe Biden wasn’t Trump, not that Joe Biden was really good.

    “In 2016, the country voted for burn-it-all-down upheaval. Trump was the tribune of those who felt betrayed and misled and mistreated.”

    Yes. Trump was an anthropomorphized middle finger to progressive overreach and franchise candidates.

    “Four chaotic years later, alarmed voters fled into the arms of an aging former vice-president and senator—a man they had twice rejected as a presidential contender—who seemed the personification of the steady hand.”

    This is the first point that is shaky, as you point out, Joe Biden was not a steady candidate. But he was steady in comparison to Trump, and he was steady in comparison to Bernie, and he was steady in comparison to the squad. Mostly, he was supposed to be boring. He was elected to be boring for four years. Everyone, myself included, expected him to eat pudding cups and sign milquetoast bills as his administration coasted through what should have been the inevitable economic growth post-Covid.

    No one expected him to be as big a fuck up as he is.

    “No one expected Biden to be transformational or extraordinary, but we did need him to be the anti-Trump in the most important ways. We needed him to be sober and responsible, to play by the rules, and to uphold the primacy of law and procedure.”

    Yup. It’s what he ran on. Maybe we were suckers for thinking that there was any chance he might follow through on any of it. But he was literally billed as the “return to normalcy” candidate. He had the thinnest of mandates, and was expected to sit in the chair and not drool too much.

    “And he delivered. President Biden freed the country and the world from the tyranny of tweeted insults, conspiracies, threats, lies, fantasies, and reversals. And while naturally some will criticize his policies, Biden has conducted the presidency with dignity. He has gone some way toward restoring a sense that the system, whatever its flaws, is basically sound.”

    This however… Is certifiably insane. Fine, he doesn’t tweet. Put that on the list of things he doesn’t do. Frankly, I’m not even sure he breathes unassisted. And *that’s* a problem because some of the other things he doesn’t do are think his own thoughts, write his own speeches or set his own policies. The crazies prop him up as the front facing whipping boy of progressive excess in a way that’s both frightening and saddening… Saddening because this was elder abuse on a disgustingly public scale, and frightening because it looks like he was the test run… Fetterman’s wife is taking a very active role in her husband’s office.

    • I don’t think anyone underestimated how bad a thing a Biden administration could be for the country. John Kerry and all the EPA nuts were reinstalled. It’s been disastrous for the economy. Two words: Gina McCarthy. And that’s just the tip of the spear.

      • I think also most of the Republican Party, especially the establishment, was of the opinion that it was better to be rid of Trump, and that 4 years of a Biden presidency wasn’t that big of a deal, since he was a former senator and colleague who they could work with.

        In all fairness to Joe, his record in the Senate was hardly radical, and in fact he had been behind some of the anticrime legislation that was produced and signed fairly early in the Clinton administration. It didn’t seem like there was too much to worry about.

        I once said that Joe would have been an okay president during peacetime, when all he would need to do would be to let prosperity prosper and make sure small problems didn’t get big. I was wrong. Maybe the Joe of 10 or 20 years ago would have been able to do that, but the current Joe has shown that he is either a liar, a sellout (he used to be much more prolife), or allowing others to pull the strings. I think it is actually a combination of the above, plus the fact that he just is not there mentally anymore.

        I’m also of the opinion that the current classified documents scandal he finds himself in is quite possibly the doing of the same combination of the democratic party leadership and the deep state that worked so hard to hobble Trump. Had a bare minimum, they let this slip and didn’t try to bury it like they buried other scandals. They don’t want him out of office, because that would hand the reins to Kamala, and they know she is not competent to be president and would doom their chances in 2024. They want to damage him just enough that he decides not to run again in 2024. Then they can put up a new face like Gavin Newsom, who’ll be pretty close to needing to look for a new gig then anyway, or Mayor Pete, or another of the current crop of Democratic governors.

        • “It didn’t seem like there was too much to worry about.”

          Nah, making a proven idiot President after he begins showing signs of dementia is nothing to worry about! What could go wrong?

      • You want to say you saw this coming? Sure. Be that way. I didn’t.

        I mean…. Sure, his policies have been garbage and his administration is a clown show, but his policies and appointments ended up being very different from the platform he ran on.

        He was supposed to be a unity candidate, and we had good reasons to think he would be… He was Obama’s VP, but he was supposed to be the balance on the ticket to a lot of what we didn’t appreciate about Obama. His record in the Senate was almost reasonable.

    • No.

      If she does not know she is lying, she is not lying.

      She believes what she says.

      And what she says will help those she does not like.

      So, she is helping her opponents. That makes her useful.

      And she will gain nothing for it. That makes her an idiot.

      My Verdict: Useful Idiot.

      -Jut

  3. I would have gone with “plain oatmeal” rather than “a steady hand”, and “politics as usual” instead of that drivel about following the rules and upholding the primacy of procedure”, but apart from that I was with her up until “and he delivered”. He never delivered. He sold his candidacy as a moderate and as soon as he was inaugurated, he became the champion of the Democrats’ extreme left wing, casting Democrat moderates as renegades if not traitors.

  4. Quiz answer: She’s Trump deranged AND a Never Trumper. Frankly, I think she’s a David Brooks Stockholm Syndrome sufferer in reverse. She’s a lefty in the very core of her being. She’s only masqueraded as a conservative and the pull back to her lefty, NYC Acela corridor roots has overpowered her. She probably wants all her lefty friends to be nice to her again.

    • That’s a really good question. The whole field was embarrassing, but Joe had been VP, hadn’t lied about being a Cherokee (Warren), wasn’t a Communist (Sanders), wasn’t a vapid lightweight (Klobuchar), wasn’t a gay, pandering lightweight (Mayor Pete), wasn’t a self-evident idiot relying on her color and lady parts (Kamala), wasn’t obviously in the wrong party (Tulsi), wasn’t not-ready-for-prime-time (Booker), wasn’t too out-there (Yang) and wasn’t nuts (Williamson), and had some personal charm, unlike Bloomberg. It was the worst field either party has had for the nomination in my lifetime, and 23 candidates were in at least one debate.

      • I wonder if any of the powers that be in that party wanted to change their mind after they saw what Joe looked like when he had to speak publicly for an extended period of time.

      • I think there were 23 candidates *because* the field was that shallow. They all knew they weren’t top-shelf, but they knew that no one else was either, so it wasn’t impossible for any of them to pull ahead, given a perfect storm.

  5. … made the nation’s name mud after the abandonment of Afghanistan without preparation or warning? …

    To be fair, I and no doubt many others got that message loud and clear after the similar pull out from Vietnam – not the fact of it, which was clearly a sensible thing if done right, but the manner of it which clearly left many in the lurch by not being done right. Once that happened, I looked into the broader history of U.S. foreign interventions and I found a few similar things, e.g. undercutting the Palestinian Mandate, the post-Suez Crisis response, and what Kennedy did over West Irian. There is clearly a tradition at work here. Part of that tradition is that few in the U.S.A. even know that there is so much documented about this S.O.P., so they always dismiss cases as isolated one offs (which they are not).

    She has to be lying or struck stupid by unrestrained bias. Is there any other explanation?

    There is. That same unawareness also helps people like your target do as they do and think as they think, not least because it affects her audience as well as her.

    … there is wide-spread and justified suspicion that the President isn’t really calling the shots…

    The appropriate term here isn’t “justified” but “well founded”.

  6. Mona Charen wrote, “President Biden freed the country and the world from the tyranny of tweeted insults, conspiracies, threats, lies, fantasies, and reversals.”

    That is a bald-faced propaganda lie. I vote that Mona Charen is a liar and a willful political tool.

    Electing President Biden did nothing of the sort and the insults, conspiracies, threats, lies, fantasies, etc haven’t stopped, they’re just not coming from a Trump Oval Office. Trump is still insulting via social media and there are plenty of conspiracies, threats, lies, fantasies, etc coming from the Biden administration, but somehow the anti-Trump cabal, the political left and their Pravda media are basically ignoring that fact.

    You see folks, the pure political obstructionists in the political left that opposed President Trump for four years straight could have been the adults in the room for four years and basically ignored Trumps trolling (yes, that’s what most of Trump’s tweets and statements were), but nooooooo, the political left had to flush their ethics, morals and rational thinking and react like a bunch of immature children to absolutely everything the political troll Trump did and said revealing just how petty, partisan, anti-Constitution and anti-American the Democratic Party really is. But of course, like the bunch of immature children they are, the Democrats had noooo choice, they had to react to Trump, Trump is to blame for everything, he made them do it, Trump is evil, etc, etc.

    Electing President Biden did nothing for the country as a whole, it’s been detrimental to the country in many ways, especially economically and a lot of people are waking up to these facts. What electing President Bided did do was to give the Democratic Party, and those that support it, a political reason to basically ignore Trump and his supporters active political trolling (like they should have been doing all along) thus relieving the Democrats from being forced to react in immature and anti-American ways, but old habits are hard to change. For four years straight, the Democratic Party made choices that revealed their true anti-American nature along with their lust for absolute power and now the party choices are hitting the American people hard in the pocket book and that could send the Democratic Party into a political death spiral. I’m seeing little glimpses that some people who were consumed by Democratic Party propaganda during the Trump Presidency are now starting to catch on to the fact that the Democratic Party took them for a ride. Now the Democratic Party is desperately trying to rewrite their anti-American history and put lipstick on a pig, I don’t think it’s going to work.

    An old adage comes to mind, “you can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”.

  7. From later in the article:

    “Trump’s message has been consistent. Everyone is corrupt. The system is rigged. No one is honest. No one really plays by the rules.

    Until now, it seemed that President Biden was defying that theme. His administration has been staffed by grown ups. There have been no scandals. The Department of Justice has been methodical and fair in its prosecutions.”

    She’s lying. She’s a spin doctor running damage control on Biden’s classified documents. “Oh Biden, you were so perfect, and then you made this single transgression. How could you? Shame on you! Everyone look and see how we hold Biden accountable! See how we have consistent standards, when we have no other choice! Once Biden atones for his sole misdeed, he will be pure once more!”

  8. Mona Charen is lying. She knows she is lying.

    People will do 10x more work to get out of doing something than just doing the something would require. They start out with the basic premise that they want something, but they don’t want to do some aspect of what it requires to get what they want. So they start cheating. At first the cheating requires little effort. A little bit of lying, a little bit of faking it. Over time, though, people notice what they are doing and so they have to work harder to maintain the illusion that they are not trying to get out of doing something. The cheating spirals. It takes more and more work to maintain the status quo of not doing the thing they are supposed to be doing. The more effort something takes, the more invested people are in the effort. At any time, they could give up and just do the thing they don’t want to do, but they don’t.

    The left decided to undermine the Trump presidency rather than honestly confront the reasons that he was elected. Acknowledge that those smelly Trump voters had some valid concerns? Never! So much easier to cheat by lying about stuff and making things up. Russian collusion! Steele dossier! Sexist voters! Oh, except then the smelly Trump voters started pointing out that that was all a giant, absurd pile of baloney. What to do, what to do? Cover up the original lies with bigger ones! Whip people into a frenzy!
    Turn that snowball into an avalanche so no one will ever figure out what happened! You don’t believe the media propaganda? Well, then we will just launch a phony investigation! You point out the investigation is phony? Impeach the motherfucker! You point out that the impeachment was a nakedly political farce? Do it again!

    Everything the left has done for the last two decades has followed this pattern. Its just a never ending escalation into hysteria, hypocrisy and insanity. Everyone knows they are doing it. People simply do not care. They want what they want, and if going along with an obvious pack of lies is what it requires then that is what they will do. This didn’t start under Trump. Trump getting elected was a reaction to the crap that the left had been doing already. Open borders, power grabs, cultural revolutions.

    If you are waiting for people to wake up and admit that the left has gone crazy, you are going to be waiting a long time. Everyone already knows. Roughly half of them simply don’t care.

  9. Depressing. Talking about the US as being ‘a great experiment’ used to seem just an intellectual game, maybe even ridiculously self indulgent. Now it seems scarily relevant. Is the ‘experiment’ failing and what can be done? Is the only answer as implied in Rachel Maddow’s “Ultra” podcast – a wonderful history lesson on the ‘America First’ movement in the 1930s. I read Rachel’s conclusion being that it comes back to ‘the people’ being prepared in extremis to act outside the laws and institutions – a very scary thought.

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