Most weeks, liberal columnist Gail Collins and conservative columnist Bret Stephens, both of the New York Times, publish an online back-and-forth that seems designed at least in part to show that it’s possible to disagree agreeably. I often enjoy it.
During the Trump era, it was perhaps an awkward exercise because Stephens made little effort to hide his disgust with Donald Trump. Stephens is an actual, sincere and deeply intelligent conservative, which gives him almost nothing in common with Trump.
Perhaps this awkwardness will subside, now that Trump is out of office, but perhaps not. Trump still takes up a lot of oxygen and less intelligent conservatives than Stephens may believe that under our system Trump, as the recent ex-president and titular head of the Republican Party on the basis of his 2020 nomination, gets to define conservatism pending future developments.
But I actually laughed out loud, in the privacy of my workspace, when reading this exchange from the most recent Collins-Stephens colloquy, kicked off by Stephens asking Collins whether she thinks Trump will run again in 2024, which led to this (italics are mine):
“Gail: Sigh. I presume so, but that’s in part because I always expect him to do the thing that’s worst for the country. If he’s feeling up to it, why would he let somebody else have the spotlight?
“Bret: Michael Wolff had an Opinion piece in The Times on Friday that contained the revealing tidbit that Trump isn’t planning on building a presidential library, which is the usual thing for an ex-president. Wolff seemed to take this as an indication that Trump doesn’t see himself as a political retiree, though it’s equally plausible to interpret it as Trump having no interest in a building stuffed with documents he didn’t read the first time and rooms he can’t rent to the government.
“Gail: There really is something deeply wrong with the name Trump Library.
“Bret: The Homer Simpson Chair in Analytic Philosophy makes about as much sense.”