Indignity Vol. 2, No. 60: What Bret Stephens gets right.
MEDIA RELATIONS DEP'T.
The Art of Setting the Record Straight
The New York Times gave a batch of its opinion columnists a writing prompt to revisit something they'd been wrong about. Farhad Manjoo wrote about how foolish he'd been to tell everyone it would be great to join Facebook. Gail Collins shared her regrets about goofing on Mitt Romney's boringness and his dog pooping on his car while darker shadows were gathering around the Republican Party. Thomas Friedman apparently couldn't bring himself to face his old, ever-receding forecasts of success in Iraq, but he did gamely try to reckon with the fact that his predictions about how commerce would liberalize China have yet to come true.
None of those, though, were what greeted me in my DMs and on my Twitter feed when I woke up. The part of the package everyone was goggling at was Bret Stephens' contribution:
The worst line I ever wrote as a pundit—yes, I know, it’s a crowded field—was the first line I ever wrote about the man who would become the 45th president: “If by now you don’t find Donald Trump appalling, you’re appalling.”
Who but Bret Stephens could manage to be wrong while confessing what he was wrong about? Not only did he glide over an extraordinarily "crowded field" of things he genuinely ought to regret—scoffing at global warming, disparaging Arabs, threatening people who make fun of him, using his column to call someone who'd made fun of him a Nazi after threatening them didn't work—but he was trying to take back one of the rare things he got right.
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