Conservative scholar Arthur Brooks talked with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett on "The Takeout" podcast this week about a range of topics, including the president's disagreement with him about the treatment of enemies (and why the president is wrong), the president's political gifts, and life advice from the Dalai Lama:
- Trump's disagreement with Brooks at National Prayer Breakfast: "What amazes me about that is not that Donald Trump repudiated what I had to say, he was actually really nice to me, it's that the president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, and I disagreed on national television and nothing happened to me."
- Why Trump is a successful politician: "He says what he thinks. There's nothing that's being hidden, there's nothing that we don't know. And you could say that's valuable on its face too, whether we agree with him or not."
- On treating politically opponents with contempt: "When you're treated with contempt, as worthless, that's actually a threat. That tears people apart, that tears societies apart, and that's exactly what we're doing in our politics today."
- On the life advice he received from the Dalai Lama: "Pretend to be the person you want to be and you will become that person."
Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Harvard Kennedy School and a conservative scholar, received some national attention last week after he spoke before President Trump at the National Prayer Breakfast. The theme of his address was "love your enemies," a position with which Mr. Trump playfully disagreed.
"Arthur, I don't know if I agree with you. I don't know if Arthur is going to like what I'm going to say," the president said to laughter at the event, before criticizing the impeachment process, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Mitt Romney in his speech.
Brooks believes that exchange with the president exemplifies his freedom of speech, one of the reasons he loves America.
"What amazes me about that is not that Donald Trump repudiated what I had to say, he was actually really nice to me, it's that the president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, and I disagreed on national television and nothing happened to me," Brooks told Garrett. "God bless America. I have to say, it's great."
Brooks also noted that he was quoting the teachings of the New Testament in his address.
"A lot of commentators pointed out that when the president said, 'I disagree with you,' it actually wasn't me, technically, he was disagreeing with, it was Jesus," Brooks said.
He acknowledged that Mr. Trump's criticism of Pelosi and Romney was "ad hominem," meaning that it assumed the two had vindictive motives.
"You have to ask whether or not the prayer breakfast is the best place to do it. But Trump is successful for a reason. He transgresses lots of boundaries," Brooks said. "And it is his view. He says what he thinks. There's nothing that's being hidden, there's nothing that we don't know. And you could say that's valuable on its face too, whether we agree with him or not."
Brooks, who has written a book called "Love Your Enemies," said that political polarization in the country has caused Americans to treat those with opposing viewpoints with contempt. When treated with contempt, such as an eye roll, the limbic system of your brain responds and categorizes the other person as a threat.
"When you're treated with contempt, as worthless, that's actually a threat. That tears people apart, that tears societies apart, and that's exactly what we're doing in our politics today," Brooks explained.
Brooks said that Americans need to remember their "shared love" in order to come together again.
"When we forget the loves that we have in common about our country, why we love our country, then it's easy to rip us apart, it's easy to turn American against American as if we had never known each other and have nothing in common," Brooks said.
Brooks acknowledged that it can be difficult to love your enemies, but he shared some advice he had received from the Dalai Lama about loving others: essentially, fake it until you make it.
"Pretend to be the person you want to be and you will become that person," Brooks summarized.
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