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David Frum: American North Korea

March 28, 2024
Notes
Transcript

Republicans have entrapped themselves with the promise of a massive surveillance state for American women. Plus, how Never Trumpers can put Biden over the top, the dangers of RFK, Jr.’s super pac money, Hamas may have gotten what it wanted, and a remembrance of Miranda Frum. David Frum joins Tim Miller.

show notes:

Frum’s piece on the passing of his daughter
Frum on Trump’s self-sabotaging campaign
Reagan’s “Morning in America” ad
Reagan ’84 ad with the Statue of Liberty

This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:08
    Hello, and welcome to the Bulwark Podcast. I’m your host,
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:11
    Tim Miller. I’m delighted to be here with my favorite David from. Yesterday, we lost Joe Lieberman at the age of eighty two. Obviously, vice presidential nominee for Al Gore, long time, Senator Bill Crystal wrote this in remembrance, a public servant of principle and decency. An American patriot, a proud Jew, a happy warrior, a kind man, an example to us all may his memory be a blessing, rest easy, Joe Lieberman.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:37
    David Frum, thanks so much for being on the Bulwark Podcast again. You get a green jacket for all all of your appearances.
  • Speaker 3
    0:00:43
    Thank you very much.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:44
    I wanted to start with you. It was about, well, I guess, eleven months ago now. April twenty twenty three, you wrote the coming mind and blowout. I’ve got some listeners who complain about rain cloud tendencies. And so I thought let’s let’s start on this Thursday with a little bit of hope, a little bit of uplift.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:00
    How do you assess that eleven months on, your sense that Biden was in good shape in the election. Alright.
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:07
    So it’s a rainy day here in Washington, so I will bring some sunshine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:10
    Okay. Good.
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:10
    The prediction of a Biden blow was not a prediction that Joe Biden would win a massive personal reelection win, like nineteen eighty four or nineteen seventy two. It was a prediction that Democrats were going to do well or rather Republicans would do badly up and down the ticket. And I based that on the working out of the logic of Republican positions on abortion and generally on the so called human life amendment. I keep thinking that the master key to understanding twenty twenty four is a story, but the filming the first Star Wars. George Lucas handed a page of terribly clunky dialogue to Harrison Ford who scanned it and said, George, you can write this shit, but you can’t say it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:48
    And that is the problem with where the Republicans are on in vitro fertilization. And these other issues, they have signed up for a massive surveillance state. For American women. They’ve signed up for a massive anti fertility state for American women. And American women have noticed this and are reacting.
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:05
    And that’s, I think, what is driving so many of these special elections in places where Trump and January six are all very far away. That the ballot question in January six is shall North American women live in an American North Korea Jonathan Last surveilled where they’re not even going to be allowed to cross state lines without a doctor’s note or somebody else’s permission, or or won’t they? Will they put up with this or not? And I think you’re seeing all of that working itself out. And the Republicans are just trapped.
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:32
    First, this is something that many of them sincerely believe in. And even those who opportunistically believed in it have signed up for so many pieces of legislation, there’s no retreat. There’s no way to alter this. George Lucas wrote the shit, but Republican candidates can’t say it. And then add to that all the trump factors, the January six, and the increasing strength of the American economy.
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:51
    Plus the dysfunction of the Republicans and the House of Representatives. And it looks like a year in which not that there’s gonna be a massive personal mandate for the president but Republican losses up and down the ticket state losses too, which are going to be very, very important in the rest of the decade.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:05
    So how do how do you square that with the numbers that do not show, the strength for president Biden showed show Trump doing alright. I show Trump basically stagnant with the same numbers he’s had in twenty sixteen and twenty twenty, basically, high forties. You know, Mike Donnelly will say that that the democracy choice hasn’t sunk in, that that maybe polling’s wrong. Concerningly, I’ve heard several Biden people express that they they think that their issues with the polling. What’s your assessment?
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:30
    Are there issues with the polling or is it just something that sunken in yet?
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:33
    The issue with polling is always you need to ask very literally, what is the question and what are people hearing? Not what is the meaning you are fusing into the poll. But how did the person to whom the poll was presented? So let me ask you a question. How do you feel about the dentist?
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:46
    Not good.
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:47
    Not great. Not good. Do you feel about gum disease?
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:50
    Really bad.
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:52
    If the choice is the dentist That
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:54
    means more dentist though.
  • Speaker 4
    0:03:55
    It’s gum more gum disease means more dentist.
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:57
    And that’s the ballot choice. And it’s gum disease versus the dentist. I mean, Joe Biden, his best and worst qualities are the same, which is he’s a throwback to a different American. And he’s not talking to the America of today for good or for ill, but he’s also reminding us of a time when politics seem to be more stable and more functional than it is today. But Donald Trump is going to insist that this election be a referendum on him.
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:20
    Back in gosh, the nineties, I I traveled with Phil Graham. When he was running for press.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:25
    This is my second Phil Graham mentioned this week. Bombs from last night at dinner said to us telling me about how terrible the candidate Phil Graham was. He was like, all my friends from and Crystal and all these guys liked Phil Graham, and I was saying to all of them. He has no personality. He’s never gonna win.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:39
    That was his story, at least.
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:41
    Well, I I liked him. He he was a considerable intellect. Is not wrong. It’s not a surprise that Phil Graham ended up as a successful banker rather than as president. He had a lot of incisive opinions.
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:51
    And on on this trip, we were talking to a loud mouth local politician. Who was contesting a seat. And Graham said to him, when you are running against an incumbent, as this loudmouth was, there are only two issues per record, and you’re not a cook. So that’s what Donald Trump should be talking about is the Biden record, and I’m finding some way to make himself acceptable. But instead, he insists on making the a referendum on him, not on the incumbent.
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:16
    What you want in an anti incumbent election is to say this question. Anybody here got any complaints. And if enough people have complaints as they did when Jimmy Carter ran against Gerald Ford, as they did when Ronald Reagan ran against Jimmy Carter and going back into the past, If enough people say, yes, I do have complaints, then the incumbent loses. Even if the incumbent like for it has many fine personal qualities. But Donald Trump is not allowing this to be an election on.
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:41
    Got any complaints. He’s making an election about do you all love me and do you agree with me that the constitution should be overthrown by violent mobs? And I just don’t think he’s gonna find an American plurality that says, you know, thinking it over. I’m with the overthrow of the constitution by violent mob scandal.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:57
    I hope that’s right. And I I appreciate you bringing up the dentist. I’ve I found a good pediatric dentist in New Orleans, but if anybody has a grown up dentist recommendation, this reminds me I need to take care of that. Want one more pushback on this idea of optimism though. You’re it’s compelling.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:10
    You’re warming my heart already. The Bill Crystal pessimistic view on this would be more that the parallel is ninety two. Right? That people do have complaints about Joe Biden. Maybe things are getting better.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:24
    Maybe things are improving, but just not at the rate that people are were hoping that they would improve or it hasn’t it hasn’t trickled down, so to speak, to their lives, their budgets, their impressions, and that people have kind of decided for whatever reason that the incumbent is feckless. The economy isn’t working for them. I I don’t agree with those arguments, but I there there’s a concern that that is the Sarah Longwell, and that’ll be hard for Joe Biden to break out of that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:48
    As I think about twenty years of sometimes agreeing with bill. It’s a little bit politics and sometimes disagreeing. I was the core of our systematic disagreements going back over the time. And we agree on we agree on many issues, but we’ve we’ve disagreed on predictions and recommendations of action is that bill tends to believe that candidates matter extremely, and I believe that candidates matter, especially the presidential level, not nothing, but much less. The political system convinces people to see attributes in the candidates that literally aren’t there.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:17
    So a lot of normie Republicans people who would have voted happily for Mitt Romney and reasonably happily for John McCain and very happily for George. I’ll be Bush. Seem up persuaded themselves that Donald Trump was a Republican, a normal Republican. Now that is so obviously not true. With the effort of belief of self delusion, you have to muster.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:37
    But lots and lots of normal Republicans, people own car dealerships, people are executive vice presidents and businesses convince themselves of this flakrantly false proposition. And meanwhile, lots of Republicans convince themselves that Joe Biden is a socialist antifa candidate. And that’s also crazy. But beliefs about the candidate follow from partisanship. They don’t drive partisanship, except at the extremist margin.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:02
    That is where I would differ from Bill and a lot of my political analysis. So, yeah, I think, people have qualms about Joe Biden, and those express themselves and express in doubts about the economy. But the economy is indeed strong. The election is not going to be about Biden. It’s going to be about Trump, and Trump can’t get north of forty six percent of the vote.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:22
    And except with a very lucky bounce like the one he caught twenty sixteen, forty six percent is not enough. If it were, well, John McCain had, I think, forty five, but Mitt Romney, John Carey, Al Gore, all got more of the vote than Donald Trump did, not to mention Hillary Clinton herself in twenty sixteen, his share of the electorate is just not sufficient normally to make you president.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:43
    Okay. Which is a nice transition into the other way that it could. Alright? So you’ve you’ve convinced us in a binary option that maybe Donald Trump does not is not able to get share that he would need. RFT Junior, I saw a very interesting rift that you are making about him on the merits on CNN and about his craziness.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:00
    I wanna get into that. But on the politics of it first, the thing I worry about with RfK Junior, and there’s there are a bunch of known unknowns still out there, is you gonna get on the ballot and and state which states, and and there’s some particulars. But if he were to get on the ballot, I’m kind of with the view that his core base is pretty trumpy. It’s like crazy, you know, vaccine, skeptic, and, like, anti establishment sort of weirdos. But then that next concentric circle out is some of the people that that we’ve talked about that are unhappy with Joe Biden at a low level that don’t like Donald Trump, that maybe he’s an off ramp for them, maybe it’s in some of the Biden constituencies where he’s weaker, black voters, young voters, traditional Biden constituencies.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:41
    So how worried are you about the RFK element of all this?
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:45
    I am quite worried about him, but not in the way that you’ve just described.
  • Speaker 4
    0:09:49
    Okay.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:49
    When people talk about RfK, they talk about the RfK campaign. Then the RFP campaign is I think it’s going to be a boutique operation. He can’t not talk about the vaccines. His general views are are pretty crazy. He himself is not RfK senior, and there are people alive who voted in nineteen sixty eight.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:06
    I was just talking on the phone a few minutes ago to someone who got very vigorous person in American politics who cast their first vote in nineteen sixty eight. So there are people who are less attuned on the person The
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:16
    seventy five.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:16
    Yeah. They could well make a mistake. RfK junior will disillusion them or disabuse them of that, and he is not his father. But here’s what I think about with the RK campaign, which is the Super PAC. Which has raised tens of millions of dollars and could easily raise more.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:31
    Now the Super PAC is independent from RfK Junior. It is Republican money, run by Republican partisans. And as far as I can tell, and unlike much of the Trump operation, not run by thieves.
  • Speaker 4
    0:10:44
    That’s a pretty big, just important distinction.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:46
    So if they raise money, they use it for causes that are campaign related. So whatever RFP Junior campaign does, the Super PAC is going to be an anti biden weapon. It’s not gonna run pro RFP advertising. It’s gonna run anti biden advertising. And in an environment where the Trump money is being squandered or spent on lawyers or outright stolen, the RFK Super PAC could be important in twenty twenty four.
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:10
    In a media environment, that’s going to be dominated by much more Democratic money than Republican. But where the Republicans will have less than they usually do, the RfK anti Biden Super PAC. May be part of the equation. And so maybe the no labels super pack if that comes into being.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:25
    Yeah. Well, maybe there’s some overlap in our concerns then because with that RFK Super PAC, as you rightly pointed out, I don’t think I’ve mentioned on this podcast. I should have that it just the degree of which the Republican money that has been put into it already, eight figures. And, you know, what we saw in twenty sixteen was a pretty unsophisticated effort by nefarious actors. To tamp down core Democratic demos.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:48
    You know, that was a lot of what the Facebook, Cambridge Analytica stuff was. If there’s a well capitalized RFP pack, it’s trying to harm Biden more than it’s trying to help RFP, there does seem to be some ripe targets. For that. You know, as we’ve talked about the softness of the Biden support in some of these core demos.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:06
    Yeah. The core of the democratic, the fundamental democratic strategic problem. Is they are a larger, but bagier coalition made up of many groups that are at variance with one another. Biden appears both to some of the you know, most grounded people in American life. People with who are well educated who own their own homes who are very secure.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:23
    I mean, that’s who basically the never Trump Republicans are. And Biden also would normally appeal to some of the least connected people in American life. The young people who are new to the workforce who are renting, who are burdened by debt, So holding those two kinds of people in the same coalition is a much harder problem than the Republicans have with their smaller but much more cohesive coalition. And so Democrats are always vulnerable to campaigns that aim to break off part of their support. And that would be the smart play for a Super PAC.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:53
    That’s what Trump people and the super pacs and the Russians did in twenty sixteen. They tried to push away parts of the democratic coalition with highly targeted messages. And if you have an operation that’s run by smart people, it could make an impact. One of the things that Biden has going for them is a lot of people in the Trump ambit, and a lot of Republicans seem to have pretty stupid ideas about what’s motivating the democratic coalition. Raven Oroyo has disappeared from the Fox Airwaves for saying that black voters will turn to Trump because they like sneakers, which was too much to say even on Fox.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:27
    And mug shots.
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:28
    Yeah. Yeah. But a lot of people who write checks republican super pacs actually do believe that. And so they they are vulnerable to making appeals to black voters in ways that are probably going to be counterproductive But you can’t assume that everyone who’s running these super packs is a corrupt idiot. Some of them are corrupt smart people and some of them are honest idiots.
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:46
    And they may accidentally happen on themes that that are more powerful. And there are people in America who say at least during the pandemic, I was getting a stipend of some kind. That stipend is gone, and I can’t find the kind of work that I want to. Or there are young men who say that because of the changes in the American workforce, women have certain skills that are more valuable and my skills are less valuable. I find it harder to get a girlfriend or a wife than my father did when he was my age, and I’m really mad about that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:14:16
    That drives my politics more than anything. There are older people. Their their people were burdened by student debt. We’re unhappy that Biden didn’t get rid of more student debt than he did. They go to the grocery market, and they remember what bro groceries used to cost.
  • Speaker 3
    0:14:29
    And they forget that they’ve also had a race or maybe they they think about those in different ways. The raise I earn, but the the grocery prices just happened to me. And they’re mad about that. So there are lots of groups you could try to peel away, and that going to be a big part of the of the Trump plan in twenty twenty four, the Trump universe plan. The anti Biden plan, I should call it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:48
    Sure. Sure. Sure. I wanna throw one notion at you from my one of my brainchilds in the anti trump plan. I remember you one of your times you’re on with Charlie.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:56
    You talked eloquently and insightfully about how people who are victims of scams don’t like to admit that they’re victims of scams. Right? Then and right now, it’s, like, clearer than ever how big of a scam that Trump is running on his own voters as Deepgram barely do events, and they’re paying for all of his lawyers, paying for his lifestyle. I do wonder one of the advantages that Republicans have about being corrupt. They might be corrupt and stupid, but they also are nefarious.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:21
    Right? They’re willing to use these types of strategies to try to peel off you know, low info, black voters or young voters who who might be able to be tampered down by, you know, advertisements that aren’t dishonest or prey on them. Do you think there is any appetite or any reason for Democrats to think about ways that they can turn the tables and having outside groups try to talk about how Trump has you know, in in red areas, in rural areas with young men, you know, talk about how Trump has scammed them, talk about how the abortion issue might affect them if they’re not ready to be fathers yet. I’m not seeing a lot of that from the Democrats, but I I do think that there is potentially green shoots there, but the other hand of that is maybe these people aren’t reachable. Some people might say that to me.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:00
    That’s a waste of time, Tim. These people aren’t reachable.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:02
    I think we’re moving into a very different kind of of map. When Democrats talk about going after Republican voters, they say, we have to appeal to the guys who drive pickup trucks with Confederate Flex. I applaud this sentiment candidate should obviously try to compete for everybody, but you’re not gonna win the guy who drives a pickup truck with a confederate flag on it if you’re a democratic candidate Meanwhile, they don’t see who they are winning. So twenty eighteen, Democrats flipped the house seat that was held by George H. W.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:28
    Bush in one of the most affluent parts of Houston. They flipped the seat that had been held by New Gingrich in the Atlanta Exords. They flipped Eric candorsey in the outskirts of rich
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:38
    to see where w lives, because Colin Allred, now the Senate Canada, so they flipped.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:42
    Where are Democrats making their games? Not with people who drive pickup trucks and fly the confederate flag, but actually with the kind of people who fifty years ago were the heart and soul of the Republican Party. People own their home own homes. Who are married, who have IRS, who are basically content with life. Remember, if you watch Madman, all the partners in Don Draper firm are all Republicans, not because they’re super ideological.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:05
    They’re basically satisfied with their lives. So they’re Republicans and the Democrats are the party. The people who aren’t satisfied with their lives. And not to make a moral judgment about which is better. It’s just it’s just there are some people who are more content than others.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:16
    And historically, they tended to be Republican. Well, guess who Biden gets, but the way he gets them is not by saying, hey, you’re pretty smug. Vote for me. I just think of the ads that work on me. The ads that work on me are the ads that look like their old AT and T phone company ads, you know, people coming home and putting down their briefcase and hugging their kids and playing with the dog, you know, people working in a classroom with kids of every background, flags, statue of liberty, fireworks, American battleships.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:46
    I’m susceptible to all this too. Yeah. Same.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:48
    Yeah. Right? The morning and America ad.
  • Speaker 4
    0:17:50
    Yeah.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:50
    Now that ad, when you watch it today, it’s incredibly old fashioned like the shot are so long. You cannot believe that six seconds of the statue of liberty are you serious? You think
  • Speaker 4
    0:17:59
    we’re gonna live forever.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:00
    Yeah. But
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:04
    And Biden did that’s how he launched his twenty twenty campaign. It was, you know, do you love this country? Are you proud of this country? Do you think the country is basically right Do you think we built something worth preserving? Do you have more to defend than you aspire to acquire?
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:15
    Those messages are very powerful in the George H. W. Bush, newt gingrich, Eric Canter congressional seats. Those are the people who I think are going to put Biden over the top. And one more thing, and this is about the bower.
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:30
    I can remember having been at this Never Trump business for a long time back in twenty seventeen when it was a clever joke to say never Trump was a dinner party, not a political party.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:39
    Yeah.
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:39
    But in fact, we’re not the base at all, but we’re the people who are gonna put Biden over the top. And he needs his base and to appease them, he does things that never trump people don’t like when beef prices go up, he has to pretend it’s because of the machinations of evil meat backing companies. Which is stupid and false and untrue.
  • Speaker 4
    0:18:57
    They
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:57
    didn’t become better people when beef prices go down. Gas lean prices are not determined by the moral quality of oil companies. That’s childish. But the never Trump people who are the margin of victory are the people who would normally be susceptible to Republican messages, but who respond to patriotism, to unity, to pride and country, and to dislike of trouble making and resentment and violence and threats of violence. And the lack of emotional control that you see from the Trump people just this guy should be in a psych ward, not running for office.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:26
    Yeah. One data point in your favor on that, from this week. Is, there’s a special election for a state house race in the Huntsville suburbs, Huntsville, Alabama. That was a twenty five point flip for the Democrat, who is focused on the IVF ruling in Alabama. Another article that you wrote recently, that one to get in was, the good Republicans’ last stand was about the Ukraine funding.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:53
    There was a cadre of the remaining good Republicans. I believe at this point, Mike Gallagher was still, a sitting member of Congress. Maybe he was in this category. It was before Mitch McConnell had said that he was gonna step aside, but there were some Republicans doing the right thing. And yet, here we are a few months later, and still nothing has been done because of the bad Republican how do you assess the state of play now and the good Republicans’ last stand?
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:16
    Well, I think this is the issue when when I say why am I going to be in the line at five in the morning to vote for Biden in twenty twenty four. It’s it’s because of Ukraine. Biden has not been, by any means, perfect on Ukraine, I think he’s slow walked a lot of the weapons that they needed early on. He’s been trying to micro manage this war to give them the Ukraine of change just enough not to lose, but not enough to win. And who knows what that point is many, many, many mistakes.
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:39
    And twenty twenty three should have been the decisive year of the war, and because of bad choices by people in the Biden administration, it was not. And so We are suffering and bleeding through twenty twenty four. But the Republicans are selling them out, and that is just shocking to me. President Biden asked for more money for Ukraine on October twentieth the last year. We’re nearing the six month mark, and that has been stalled.
  • Speaker 3
    0:21:00
    And while there are majorities in both houses of Congress, for the aid. Because there’s not a majority of the majority in the house of representatives, the aid has been successfully stalled. And Republicans have not been willing to do what it takes to overcome their own leadership. Including, by the way, people who, and one of the people I single that was the ranking member of the Senate, foreign relations committee, Jim Rish, who is has been a strong support of Ukraine. But it just goes, Hey.
  • Speaker 3
    0:21:24
    Well, I mean, behind the scenes, he’s doing all kinds of things, but he doesn’t even cast a vote. Before the scenes because he’s so frightened of his own voters and Trump. There does seem to be enough assistance from Europe to keep the Ukrainians on the battlefield through the fighting season. They have found, thanks to the Czech government, the supply of artillery shells in Taiwan that does look sufficient to get and the Europeans are paying for them. So they can eke it out.
  • Speaker 3
    0:21:48
    And we hope that the United States will be back in its responsible position of world leadership after this election, and especially if the Democrats take it as a representative, but it is a terrible, terrible betrayal.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:00
    It’s rather astonishing the degree of the betrayal. I don’t I was talking at Stephen Hayes on last week, and we were discussing all this. And You know, there’s like a cadre of Republicans in the House and the Senate that are still holding on to the complaint that Biden isn’t doing enough, right, that they try to speak as if it’s you know, the early two thousands of the nineteen eighties and, like, that they are the real hawks here and want more, you know, thinking about your Mike McCalls, your Tom Cottons. But when it comes to actually trying to put pressure on Mike Johnson or actually do anything procedural. Did it I they’re totally AWOL.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:32
    Like, there’s nobody that is actually putting any real political pressure on Mike Johnson to get this to move on the Republican side. Right? Am I wrong about that?
  • Speaker 3
    0:22:40
    Yeah. No. You you don’t get to complain that your buddy is not giving enough charity if you yourself are going around town kicking homeless people.
  • Speaker 4
    0:22:46
    Right.
  • Speaker 3
    0:22:47
    And that’s that’s what’s going on here. I mean, Biden isn’t doing enough on Ukraine and more catastrophically did not do enough at a time when doing enough would have really brought the war to a speedier end, which is in the early part of last year. He didn’t do enough. He succumbed to the classic problem of democratic foreign policy, which is trying to be too clever, trying to specify the precise outcome that you’re trying to hit twenty four months out. And then twenty four months in advance trying to gauge precisely the degree of resource and effort you need to get to that marked instead of just saying send everything.
  • Speaker 3
    0:23:21
    Empty the arsenals. If the Ukrainians end up with too much stuff, well, that’s money wasted not lives law. Right. Send them everything. Send it fast.
  • Speaker 3
    0:23:30
    Don’t worry too much about how this is going to play out. You don’t know. When they see people say, what’s the end game? The end game is we win by applying maximum effort maximally early. You can make that criticism, but you can’t legitimately make that criticism.
  • Speaker 3
    0:23:44
    If Mike Johnson is saying, I’m going to withhold aid from Ukraine altogether because Trump tells me and Trump is doing it because Putin tells him.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:52
    Amen. I couldn’t agree with that more. Okay. Moving down to Gaza Briefly. We had a guest yesterday, those representing the view of, you know, that Biden should be putting more pressure on BB that we should have it on the table stopping providing weapons to Israel because of atrocities in Gaza.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:08
    I did not share that view. Also, I had a guest from a couple weeks ago that had the view that Biden was trying to distance himself from baby too much. That’s another view I don’t share. I mean, I have some concerns. I think that a lot of what Israel’s actions were in the first months after the attack on October seventh were totally defensible and understandable.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:27
    And if I’m concerned now that we have reached at a situation where they don’t particularly have a plan for achieving their objectives of eradicating Hamas. And to the plan that they do have, doesn’t make a lot of sense. You know, you had Jared Kushner going around, the other week talking with BB allies about how, you know, they’re gonna occupy Gaza and put condos there. I don’t know that Marilago Gaza is a solution that is gonna make a lot of sense in the region. So where do you kind of fall on this discussion about how Biden is calibrating this?
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:56
    And frankly how BB is calibrating it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:59
    First, I wanna make clear. I I’m no kind of military expert, and particularly not on the most difficult form of warfare, urban warfare. I have no idea. What is the right strategy and what is the right tactic. To the extent that I had views, they’ve turned out to be completely wrong.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:12
    I I worry that Hamasset booby trap got in all kinds of ways. And it really seems like, actually, one of the big surprises of the wars, how little effort Hamas is made to fight and to defend the people it supposedly represents. I mean, its its plan seems to be to save itself and expose the civilian population to maximum harm in hope of generating a response on TikTok, which is also not a good plan because a lot of people suffer while you’re waiting for the TikTok brigade to bail you out, which they’re they’re not doing. I would say first, I’m gonna repeat what I said about Ukraine. Don’t micro manage these things.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:43
    The reason wars are to be avoided at almost any is because they are big destructive wasteful, cruel, unpredictable animals. Once from us, made the decision to wage this war of atrocity against Israel. It unleashed responses that were just incalculable, but that were bound to be horrific. And because wars are so horrific, the most important thing is to get them over as fast as possible. And that means not needing out your violence.
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:09
    At the same criticism I have with the Biden people on Ukraine, you do not meet out your violence with a exact measuring caliper hoping to hit precisely the right quantity. You do too much too early in hope of bringing it to an end as as fast as possible getting them to the work of restoration and peacemaking. Benjamin Netanyahu was pretty obviously fighting this war with one plan of mind, which is he knows, the the moment the war is over, his political situation begins to wobble, so he doesn’t want the war to be over. And he’s then adopted maximalist goals that can never be reached, so the war will never be over. And so he will never be so I to my mind, one of the the biggest Israeli mistake was saying at the beginning, okay, that we are caught by surprise, and we’ll change the government as soon as the war is over.
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:53
    They should’ve the government had to be changed immediately.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:55
    Were you on the Schumer speaking out about about that? Did you think that was appropriate?
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:59
    I didn’t think it was smart. No. And also it’s late. I mean, yahoo should have reside on the ninth of October. And if he wouldn’t, he should have forced out, but he should’ve been forced out by the Israeli public.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:07
    And once the Israeli political system reached its consensus, we’ll change him afterward. You sat in motion very perverse incentives. On the American side, I think Biden has been stalwart. Some of my friends in the pro Israel community, are comparing Biden to their idea of what they would like rather than to what has ever existed before. The situation that where this is very reminiscent of, because the nineteen eighty two Israeli war in Lebanon.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:33
    Thank you very much.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:34
    It began when the PLO assassinated the Israeli ambassador to the UK in the streets of London, a a really shocking crime accommodating a decade of of terrible PLO atrocities, the attack on the Israeli Olympic team at the Munich Olympics, atrocious hijacking. Some of them PLO, some of them PLO affiliates. And then this, attacking a diplomat in the on the swell of a NATO country. So Israel entered Lebanon to try to drive the PLO out. The war was very brutal.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:58
    And the Reagan administration at first back is and then flip flopped and began putting enormous pressure on Israel and, one point somebody in the administration, I don’t think president Reagan himself, but a senior used the language of Holocaust and genocide from the unnamed source of the White House against Israel, which is something that’s so shocking and offensive when, you know, back bench congresspeople do it, but the idea that somebody in an administration would do If that’s your benchmark, if Reagan eighty two is your benchmark, then Biden has been a stalwart stalwart friend, and it’s unrealistic to ask him to do any more than he has done. And I think they have been able to be very generous with Israel with information, with weapons, with high technology. Israel needs different things from what Ukraine needs. And Israel’s needs have been met better than Ukraine’s needs have. Now maybe it’ll be different if the war goes on for two or three years, but but for right now, I don’t think there are any reasonable complaints against the Biden administration.
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:50
    But as to giving them advice, I don’t have advice. I’m there facing a lost track of the account of living hostages. But there’s still more than a hundred Israeli hostages in Hamas’s hands. People have been killed and maltreated in the most horrific ways on video with the intention of provoking the reaction. I don’t know that there is any way off this
  • Speaker 4
    0:29:12
    path until we get to a true outcome of the
  • Speaker 3
    0:29:15
    war.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:16
    I totally agree with you on Biden and and, obviously, I mean, the hostage should be freed. And this is all on Hamas. I was encouraged for all the negative things that are happening on campus these days. I’m at USC this week, and I was encouraged that there was a free of the hostages gathering, on the quad at USC that was unperturbed. And there’s a a rather big group that was, you know, I I think there’s some reasonable concerns that they might have been at least shouted down.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:40
    Not that their safety would be, in question. And so I was encouraged to see that. My one just follow-up on this. The one area where I think I would pick a net with what you said is it is not about so much, like, the military strategy that I military strategist. I’m not gonna tell BB.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:54
    You should do it this way. You should do it that way. It is if you are going to engage in a offensive actions such as this that is gonna have the number of casualties that we’ve seen in Gaza and the tragedy that we’ve seen in Gaza. I would like for somebody to to be able to enunciate what the endgame is. I don’t think that they have offered one that makes a lot of that’s like, well, question mark, question mark, Israel’s gonna occupy it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:19
    No. There’s gonna be a foreign group that’s gonna occupy. Who is that? The Egyptian, they don’t wanna do it. The Saudis, they don’t wanna Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:26
    And so we’re gonna continue to go in and to bomb without, I guess, maybe the only answer to that as well. We’re just gonna do it until is released. And then, and then we’ll see kind of where we sit. But that’s the element of this that gets me a little bit that wishes we could bring it to the negotiating table. And and I know that that again, that’s on Hamas, but That’s the part that I get queasy about.
  • Speaker 3
    0:30:47
    I am give you a very candid answer to this and maybe too candid for my own good, but
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:52
    Please. I
  • Speaker 3
    0:30:53
    think the reason people don’t talk about the end game is because there isn’t a good one. There really isn’t. Hamas did this thing on October south and did what they did in the way they did it with the video with the goal of making it impossible for Jews and Palestinians to live together side by side in neighborly state by state relationships. And I think for a generation, they’ve I think they succeeded in that goal. So we have these impulses, which is okay.
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:20
    We have to get back to negotiating the the two state solution. But hamas, what we wanna do is we want to video and tape ourselves or go pro ourselves doing things to the Israeli so they can never ever trust us and not just us hamas. But us, the fifteen thousand people who came into their country every day from I think that was the number, from from Gaza to work who were trusted people, who worked on the kibbutzes and who gave away the identity, and who participated. It looks like in the rapes and robbery. Wanna make it possible for them to ever cross those
  • Speaker 4
    0:31:48
    Right. And
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:48
    in the same way, our military plan is one where we have no bomb shelters. We have no plan we’ve noticed we’ve stockpiled no food and water for what is technically our population. We’re going to expose them to the vengeance of a highly advanced technological military state, which is seeking vengeance. For what the terrible crimes we did to us, and they will inflict that vengeance in ways make it impossible for our people ever to forgive them. And When this is over, I I so you say, what is the end state here?
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:19
    That’s a technocratic question about a war that was designed to stoke so much hatred. And the authors of that weren’t were Hamas, but the Israelis are the counter authors because they behaved in exactly the way they had no human possibility of not behaving And it leaves behind only wreckage. Who is going to police from us? No one. Anybody who does come in is going to be like Iraq, two thousand three, early two thousand four.
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:41
    If an Arab force or a European force go in, a Moss will commit terrorist atrocities to drive them out. And they will probably succeed. So there’s going to be no law in order in Gaza except in the tiny zones that Israel retains, which means there’s going to be no reconstruction. There’s just going to be tense. There’s just going to be poverty And that was the goal of the people who started this war.
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:00
    And I don’t know that you can outsmart that or outcompassion that or or bring anything good. Sometimes malign people get their way at least in the immediate term. And I fear very much in this case, they have, and to say, well, let’s come up with a plan to outsmart them. Is just asking human intelligence to do more than I think human intelligence in this situation probably can do.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:22
    It’s thoughtful of quite depressing response but on on theme for, this podcast at times. Final topic’s not gonna be much easier. So when I took over this podcast from Charlie Sykes couple weeks ago, months ago now. Time flies. I said to Katie Cooper that in the first week, I wanted to make sure we had my favorite recurring guest, which was you.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:42
    And, that was our plan until you got what I imagine was the worst call of your life that your daughter Miranda had collapsed. I imagine most of our listeners know by now that, she died a few weeks ago at the age of thirty two. You wrote beautifully about her life and her final gift to you in the Atlantic last week. I recommend everybody read that with some tissues. Many in the board family have had the privilege of knowing her, Mona, and ABy and others.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:09
    I did not have that privilege. I was hoping maybe you’d share a little bit about her for for those of us who who had never got the chance to meet Miranda.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:16
    Well, it it we do have this intimate bond of this coincidence of time. I was to speak to you on the sixteenth of February. Our call was to be at eleven o’clock. And at ten forty AM, that morning, I got what was, as you say, the most horrific call. And my wife and I raced to New York or Mandel as we live in Washington.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:37
    But, of course, all we could do is was was plan a a burial. There’s a lot to say. And I I can take a lot of time to say it, and I I won’t because one of the things that I’ve you go through this, you have to host, is suffering is the great human equalizer. And different people have different kinds of suffering and some have it in their past and some have it in their future, but we we all do this. And as a writer, you can only claim attention to your suffering, which is so raw to you, to the extent that you’re able to make it part of the universal human condition and to speak to everybody’s.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:15
    This is a world full of suffering. So what I tried to do when I when I wrote about it was to well, first, I didn’t directly write about it because can’t. It’s it’s like the sun. You can’t look at it. It’s like rock this to have you can only approach it indirectly.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:28
    And so I talked about inheriting my daughter’s dog who’s at my feet right now. And so I talked about that experience as a way to make make things a little lighter, but also to try to talk about something that I think is was the universal part. And this is what I talked about, which is when you’re a parent, you’re a parent. You’re bringing these human beings along. You’re pulling them into the world.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:48
    And that means you’re not always their buddy. You try to be fun a lot of the time, but you can’t be fun all of the time because you’re the person who’s in charge of saying no when they need to hear no. And I’m saying, saying, yeah, you have to apply yourself in certain way that they may not want to. And what you hope is at the end of a long and full life, that the parent and the child can agree while it was worth. I understand now.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:10
    And Randall lived long enough that we did have that understanding, but not so long. That I wasn’t left with a lot of self doubts about things that I had had done when I could have done better, been more understanding and more insightful. And in particular, the nature of her death was one. She had she died because, she’d had a brain tumor operation and it required constant interventions to adjust the hormone. The brain tumor had ravaged her endocrine system.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:37
    And so she had to take pills to manage everything from her thirst to her sleeping habits, hours to her immune system. And if you didn’t hit that right and had to be changed every few weeks, you are terrible risk, more risk than any of us that think understood. So you’re left with, well, what if we had paid a little bit more attention to this medical clue and and it moved the knobs a little bit this way? Could would she be alive today? And so like many people in my situation were very tortured by those thoughts.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:03
    And so I wrote the piece to talk about what that dialogue at three in the morning of self doubt. And then the punch line of the piece was, on the other hand, she left us this really quite not a good dog, dog. I I I refer the piece to, like, ringel bites everything. He bites rocks, like, who does that? So I talked about living with ringel and just saying that She loved him so much.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:26
    And when I feel these tournaments, I think, well, I’m taking care of ringo. So whatever else I did wrong, I’m I’m doing that right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:32
    Okay. I mean, I could ask you a million things about her. I there’s one thing that I really wanted to, though. I I know that at least one of our listeners also had a child die not so long ago. And, I it’s it’s just a situation I just can’t imagine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:47
    I could just hard for me to wrap my head around. So this kind of wonder for any others who are struggling through this have been going through this. If there’s anything that’s been a balm or a buoy amidst to grief.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:58
    There are many things in the long run, but in the short run, I’ll I’ll let me capitulate a conversation I had with somebody that was weirdly helpful to me. I had a conversation with someone who had lost his daughter at age thirty three, two years ago. And, similarly, very tight family, I was talking to this person, my wife and I Bulwark. And he said, look, if the angel of death were to come to you and say, if you and Danielle agreed to jump off the top of this building, we can bring Miranda back. Would you take that?
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:26
    Would you do it? And he said, of course, you do it. You do it in a heartbeat. You do it with a smile on your face. He said, this person was this person was, Hollywood agent type.
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:36
    He said, but that’s not on the table. And and This phrase, but that’s not on the table. That has been the best crutch we have. We just keep, like, whenever we use it, say, but that’s not on the table. We can’t have that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:51
    So what can we have? What can we do? So that’s the bomb I would is there there are things you can do. In my case, I could write a memorial case, we can hold our family more closely together. We can, in our hearts and in to the extent you do it in public memorialize the person.
  • Speaker 3
    0:39:07
    You can make sure that that their story is known to the people who wanna know it. And you can you can try to live more by their values. Miranda was She’s not a fearless person. She had fears, but she was very, very, very brave. And I’ve done some TV things since, We lost Miranda.
  • Speaker 3
    0:39:25
    And one of the things I’ve gone at every show is saying, I I always had an idea of things I might say and things I shouldn’t say. And one of the things I’ve been doing since February sixteenth is saying. When I go on, the things I might say, I’m gonna say This Miranda would have said. Yeah. So I’m gonna say them.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:43
    I love that. Well, thanks. Thanks for being willing willing to share that with us. And The article was Miranda’s last gift. I don’t know if I said that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:50
    You also posted the Eulogy, that you and Danielle did on on your social media feeds. If people wanna find that, and, Boy, that’s it was a tough one to watch, but it was full of love.
  • Speaker 3
    0:40:01
    Thank you. Cool. Yeah.
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:02
    It was
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:02
    full of love. And, and at the beginning of the EOG, you recounted a memory of her singing hauntingly lovely karaoke rendition of the passenger. So I’m gonna leave folks with that song as a tribute, and, to the extent that we’re able to know that many of us are trying to ride with you on this. And, I hope to have you back on the podcast soon. Thanks so much, David
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:20
    Crow. Alright.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:22
    We’ll see y’all tomorrow. This.
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:34
    I am a passenger. And I ride. God. You know, it looks so good and I am a passenger. I stay under glass.
  • Speaker 4
    0:41:10
    I look through my windows so bright. I see the stars come out tonight. See the bright and hollow sky. Over the city, the redback sky. And everything looks good.
  • Speaker 4
    0:41:53
    We’ll be in a passenger. We’ll ride through us at an Let’s see the city and ripped back sides. We’ll see you in the Sky. We’ll see the size that shines hold, right? A size made for us to night.
  • Speaker 4
    0:42:40
    Through his window. What does it say? It says the side of hollow sky. It says the south go out tonight. It says sit in ripped back sides.
  • Speaker 4
    0:42:57
    This is the one in OSHA Drive, and everything was made for with me. All of it was made for you and me, but it’s just a belongs to you and So that’s to take a ride and see what’s
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:40
    The Bulwark podcast is produced by Katie Cooper with audio engineering and editing by Jason Brett.
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