Aspen Ideas: Reporters Notebook |

Aspen Ideas: Reporters Notebook

The Rev. Adam Hamilton has grown accustomed to preaching to thousands of people over the years, but the Kansas pastor didn’t expect much of a crowd to attend his interview with New York Times columnist David Brooks on Tuesday.

Hamilton told the nice-sized audience at Paepcke Auditorium he figured “we’ll have five people” at his second appearance at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Scores more than that would end up giving him a standing ovation.

Hamilton leads the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, which is comprised of 60 percent Republicans and 40 percent Democrats. It is the largest Methodist congregation in the United States.

Hamilton, who advocates tighter gun-control laws, said he doesn’t use the pulpit do espouse his political views, but instead to find common ground with churchgoers.

“We regularly talk about issues that are dividing this country,” said Hamilton, who said he visits news sites representing the entire political spectrum “to try to hear where people are coming from.”

The pastor said he views President Donald Trump in two biblical lights: “When I look at Donald Trump, I’m reminded of these two Adams.”

“The second Adam is narcissistic, wants everything for just him and is going to eat from the forbidden fruit,” he said. “And that’s not just Donald Trump, that’s every one of us. Will he become the first Adam or the second Adam?”

Trump’s agenda so far might be rife with problems, but “we can’t just pile on this person all the time,” Hamilton said.

“We fail to lift him up sometimes when he does something good. … (If you do) then it sounds like you are excusing everything else he has done, but sometimes you have to say, ‘I think he got it right this time,’” he said.

• Jon Meacham, presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, among other things, discussed Donald Trump and the new president’s recent affinity for Andrew Jackson.

But Meacham turned the tables on moderator and CBS News political director John Dickerson and asked about his April interview with President Trump, who abruptly ended the interview after being pushed about his claims that President Barack Obama had his phones tapped, leaving Dickerson standing uncomfortably in the Oval Office as the president went and sat behind his desk.

“We had a back-and-forth and then ultimately he just decided he didn’t want to answer any more and we were standing in the Oval Office and he moved on and I was just sort of standing there,” he said. “It was essentially ‘show yourself out.’”

Meacham, who has interviewed many presidents and written extensively about the office, had an analogy on the election that made the crowd erupt in laughter at 8:30 in the morning.

“It’s the first case of a hijacker boarding a plane and the passengers siding with the hijackers,” he quipped.

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