Support The Bulwark and subscribe today.
  Join Now

Susan Glasser: An Edifice of Lies

March 19, 2024
Notes
Transcript
Trump’s 2024 lies are not just the familiar ones about a ‘rigged election’ and ‘Sleepy Joe.’ He’s also unleashing a flood of untruths about Biden and his record that gets filtered through the media mill and reduced to background noise. Plus, Putin’s Potemkin victory. Glasser joins Tim today.

show notes:

Susan’s most recent column

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 Secret Podcast. I’m Tim Miller. I am here with the great Susan Glass or staff writer at the New Yorker, also co author of the divider, a history of Donald Trump in the White House, which she co wrote with her husband, Peter Baker. Her latest, I listened to Trump’s rambling unhinged Vituporative Georgia rally, and so should you. Hey, Susan.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:29

    Thanks for doing this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:31

    Hey there. Great to be with you.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:32

    I have to tell you I was at my brother’s Bachelor party this weekend. Little hungover on Sunday morning, and I was scrolling through the Sunday show clips. And I saw you going ham under this week panel, and I was like, we have to get Susan. We have to get Susan to talk about this. And the the context, I believe, was the bloodbath gate And, you know, there’s some back and forth in the panel about whether the media should be focused more on Trump’s tariff policies or whether I think your view was that maybe the actual most important thing are the threats to democracy and the threats of violence.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:06

    So, you know, talk about how you see that and what the media’s role in all this should be.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:11

    Yeah. Well, to be clear, Tim. I you know, my point was actually I wasn’t talking about bloodbath. I was talking about in a broad sense, trump’s challenges right now to the basic kind of pillars of democracy and how paradoxically impossible. It seems to be for people to focus on it because it comes out and is spewed forth in this series of two hour long Saturday evening rambling rallies.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:37

    And this was another great case in point of, and people wanna reduce it. I understand the impulse. Right? You know, obviously, it would be a terrible homework to inflict upon people to require them to watch Donald Trump for two hours every Saturday. I’m not recommending that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:51

    But in fact, once again, we see how the need to reduce it to a news cycle plays very much into Trump’s favor. And so you know, the entire performance, once again, in that Ohio rally, very comparable to the Georgia rally of the week before that I wrote about in which our need to reduce it to one. Well, he said bloodbath, and it meant bloodbath for the country and violence, or it meant a bloodbath for the auto industry. What a ridiculous kind of non story. And so I was trying to make the broader point.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:19

    And one of the panelists, who’s, you know, very smart, very reason not at all a fan of Donald Trump, But a Republican Sarah Isker says, well, no. He really was talking about the auto industry and tariffs. And I said, you know, I’m sorry, but I’ve been hearing this for eight years. No. He’s not talking about tariffs.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:35

    That’s not the reason why millions of Americans are supporting Donald Trump. And if you listen to what he’s campaigning on. It’s not some policy platform to differentiate himself from democrats or from president Biden, it is the most authoritarian dystopic vision of a really an anti democratic system that you could imagine.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:00

    I’m happy to complain about the Donald Trump tariffs, by the way, and I don’t really love that Joe Biden kept him, you know, so we can talk about That’s not what’s bringing the clicks. That’s not what’s bringing the click. That’s not what’s bringing people to the rally. I agree with that. Just one more thing on the bloodbath and then I won’t talk about Georgia is This is why I resonated so much.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:16

    Your comments was it isn’t like this old school politics, right, where it’s about the gaffe, right, where somebody said something that revealed something accidentally true, and and we’re gonna really focus on Mitt Romney saying fighters for women or forty seven. It’s not that it’s that this person when he last lost an election actually did spar a bloody riot at the capitol. And so when he’s talking about bloodbath in the context of these long speeches where he’s also talking about election denialism and all of that. It comes in that context. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:46

    It is not nobody would get upset if Bill Cassidy running for Senate talked about how it would be a bloodbath for the auto industry if Joe Biden won. Right? Because it’s not within the context of what his career has been about what he’s talking about and about his message at these rallies. I mean, isn’t that kind of what the point you’re trying to get across
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:03

    Yeah. I mean, that’s an important point as well, is, that this is, not a theoretical threat of violence from Trump and his supporters, but an one. And once again, what you have is many Republicans, even those who don’t particularly love Trump, they say, well, don’t really pay attention to what he says. You know, his rhetoric is just overblown. It doesn’t matter.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:25

    It’s really that, Americans are upset at being left behind. And he is so authentic in in delivering this message of that, you know, enough. Enough. Right? The capacity to justify even the violent attack on the capital.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:40

    And that was the other point I made because in fact, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee was on ABC this week earlier, giving an interview in which he was talking about the bill to ban TikTok, which was something that he had supported and promoted. And he was asked about how January six has become, not just another grievance for Donald Trump, but has become core to his campaign. And this is someone who clearly is not a big fan of that, but even the most mainstream Republicans at this point refused to forthrightly Ron DeSantis explicit and clear terms. Because their leader, Donald Trump has decided that the January six criminals, and they have been arrested, tried, and convicted as criminals for storming our own capital that they’re not criminals, but hostages, murders, victims. Trump began the Ohio rally as he began, the Georgia rally as he is now beginning all his rallies with pledges not only to pardon these January six hostages, but singing of the January six choir from these arrested people talking in elaborate and even grotesque terms.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:54

    It’s it’s a direct challenge, the rule of law. And you can’t even get a Republican who claims not to like Donald Trump to say in very explicit and forthright terms. This is wrong.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:05

    We hear often times the echo, Donald Trump has serious advisors now, and these are only serious campaign. And I guess that’s true. But I they’re not so serious that they’ve been able to stop him from beginning his rallies with a salute to the January six Kremlin Right? And I think that that is something that you observed. And so, like, when you watch the Georgia rally, I think the context of this is that you know, everybody sees the clips.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:26

    You know, we see little snippets. You know, looking at it as a complete event, it’s a two hour package. Like, what was your biggest takeaway? Was that, like, just the the the unabashed attributes to the January six, rioters, the biggest thing that you noticed or or what what else struck you?
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:42

    No. Actually, it it wasn’t in part because the January sixth thing has been happening It’s another example of the the sort of slowly boiling frog phenomenon of Donald Trump, he dips his toe in the water more than a year ago. It was in December of twenty twenty two. In fact, when he first started floating the idea of the pardons for the January six people, and he gets more and more extreme. And I would argue that now we’re seeing a whole spate of news stories about January six and trump and how it’s at the heart of his campaign.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:12

    If people were more focused on these rallies and on what he’s actually saying over the last year, they would have caught on to this phenomenon a lot sooner. But, you know, many people pointed it out over the last year and a half, but I don’t think it broke through. So that’s one example But to me, it was actually the new edifice of kind of lies and untruth about Biden and his record and his personal malfeasance that, I think people have not fully paid attention to. It’s not just the name calling about crooked Joe, sleepy Joe, blah blah blah, Joe, it’s a whole vision of the country that makes American carnage look positively upbeat in contrast. He he basically directly accuses Biden of unleashing gangs of marauding criminal murderers let loose in the country.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:09

    And says that Biden is directly responsible for murder. Things things that had any presidential candidate of any party at any point in our lifetime said these things. Obviously, there would have been days and days worth of headlines about that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:24

    Yeah. I mean, a couple of them, you know, that you mentioned here, there’s fifty percent inflation under by then migrants are being let loose for prison in order to murder and steal jobs from native born Americans, everything Joe Biden touched turns to shit, everything.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:37

    That’s his slogan now, Tim. Everything Joe Biden touches turns to shit.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:42

    That’s something that you would have heard out of George h w Bush’s mouth. I don’t think. Doomsday will come if Biden is reelected. I do think that that is, like, what you’re getting at is important because it’s like this stuff washes over people. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:54

    And and it is it’s this asymmetry that Trump has benefited from from day one, you know, as somebody that used to be in charge of having to do these things. We filed communications director of Deb Bush, and we had come out and said that, oh, whatever, Barrack, or Hillary Clinton would lead to fifty percent inflation. You know, we would have had to deal with a spate of fact check and every reporter at our next gaggle would have just asked him to, you know, to support that, what the facts are. And we would have bungled it for a few days. And, eventually, you would have apologized.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:26

    Right? Like, that’s what happens to normal candidates. But this sort of stuff doesn’t even get noted. Right? And I guess that does tie into the bloodbath, like, kind of drama.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:34

    Right? Is that he just advances this whole river of lies and, you know, this picture of the country that is so bleak and dark that is not based on any fact. And yet, how do you deal with that? Like, what is the right way for the media to and and maybe the Biden campaign to address, like, just all that intense amount of lies and deceptions in a single speech.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:59

    Yeah. I mean, that is the dilemma, unfortunately, over our times because I do think Trump’s kind of taking it into individual clips has become kind of the background noise of our times, and it’s very hard to or or, conversely, there’s also the permanent outrage machine that is generated by those clips. And in a weird way, then you have a status quo where both sides can generate a certain amount of anger, heat, excitement in their respective bases. And so I’ve noticed since the bloodbath controversy that both Biden and Trump are fundraising off of it. And so in a horrible way, there’s a codependency around this Donald Trump has turned it into the bloodbath hoax, you know, and he is now literally sending fundraising emails off of it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:46

    Meanwhile, Biden’s campaign newly, I would say more aggressive since we’ve moved into the official general election phase of this endless race between the two of them, they cut an immediate, you know, kind of quickie social media ad with those comments and said, here, we’ll give you the context, and they put it in the context of Charlottesville and both sides and, January six and things like that. So you know, they’re both get some advantage off the outrage. And, of course, we are all the collective losers there, but I I I don’t like the clip phenomenon because I think it just keeps us in a state of permanent agitation without really wrestling and coming to terms with the scale and enormity of the problem posed by Trump. And I don’t have easy answers. We’re eight years into this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:38

    And, obviously, if somebody had a brilliant idea, for how to cover this phenomenon, if somebody had a brilliant idea for how to counter it, it would have emerged by now.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:48

    Yeah. I do think watching the whole two hours is important and, because it’s just so weird. I you say it’s homework, but it is so maybe it shouldn’t be homework for liberal listeners of the podcast resistance, folks. But it is my homework for the quasi normal Republican. My former friends.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:06

    And I and I think that a lot of times, Jake and McGun, we’re on a we’re on a panel last year where I was on with you and Carl Grove and Mike Murphy, and, you know, Murphy does untapped. And it’s very clear eyed about this, but rove in that crowd, I think, live in a world that is very the Wall Street Journal Ed board. They hang out with rich friends. That don’t like this part of the Trump, and they sometimes see some of the clips when it pops up in their feed, but they don’t really live it. You know?
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:31

    And I do say to my friends in that world oftentimes, I’m like, I think you’re protecting yourself from from the craziness a a little bit and that it is a good homework assignment to go to a Trump rally or to actually listen. And Trump people will say this to you. You should go to a trump rally and see that Trump people are great. And it’s like, well, you know, there are some genuinely nice trump people, but I think that most of the establishment Republican world. Somehow they’ve managed to protect themselves from seeing the reality of what is happening in the base.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:03

    I don’t know.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:04

    Tim, that is such an important point. Thank you for saying that. I think that is an important point. And in some ways, it’s it’s what motivated my column the other day. You know, I did read a piece that Rove wrote a column he wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:18

    I should say He is no fan of Donald Trump. He has made that clear for for the whole time. He is also absolutely not. You know, I don’t mean to single him out. In any way No.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:29

    Because, he is, completely, you know, consistent with what we’re seeing of the the kind of anti anti trump republicans. They focus on their policy differences with Democrats. They kind of avert their gaze from the unseemliness or they peddle you know, essentially don’t listen to what he says. Just look at what his administration will do. At any rate, Rosecom was about Biden’s state of the union address, which had taken place just a few days before Trump’s Georgia rally.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:59

    And in that address, Biden, it was a very, I thought, partisan address. It was effective to a certain extent at shoring up uncertain wavering Democrats who weren’t looking for proof of, Biden’s ability to vigorously prosecute the campaign against Trump. And in the course of that, he made thirteen references to Trump, not by name, only calling in my predecessor. This was seen as a big break with tradition, and, you know, there was much tutting about it in the Republican you know, kind of commentary on, including in this column where Roe said that Biden lowered himself, essentially, and that he had sort of demeaned the presidency by lowering so to, you know, criticize Trump and it wasn’t, you know, worthy of him in the state of the union address. And then you have just two days later, the Washington Post counted more than five dozen references to Biden in Trump’s nearly two hour Georgia rally.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:55

    And I thought, well, wow, what if we had covered these two things side by side? What if this column in the Wall Street Journal, which was written after the Georgia rally had made mention, he’s criticizing thirteen references to Donald Trump and says nothing about five dozen of the most grotesque. That’s the thing. You know, it is outside any bounds of acceptable political rhetoric in a democracy. To call your opponent, a criminal, a crook, a killer, an idiot.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:25

    You know, I mean, every kind of one word in in the English language.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:31

    I agree. And I want Carl to come on this podcast for us to continue hatching I do I don’t think it’s not a personal thing. I do I think he’s representative of a class of folks, and this is something that I disagree with him on, but maybe a couple other things we agree on certainly with regards to Trump. And what is one other note? I feel like I have to mention.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:46

    The Biden say the union was certainly anti trump, and it was partisan, I guess. I he he quoted Reagan And he was he was pretty nice to make you hate me in the NATO folks. So was partisan in the in the sense of his current political interests. Right? And I guess that’s my one more thing, and then I wanna move on to Russian and some other topics.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:05

    But the question for the Biden campaign, so when you were talking about how It’s just getting noticed right now. You can sense the trend about all this January six. Apologia, and Apologia isn’t even the right word, kind of promotion, frankly, of Trump. And I think part of it’s related to the fact that the buying campaign has been calling him out on it. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:24

    And there is, I think, an sense among reporters that’s like, oh, okay. Right now if Trump’s getting criticized from this, then this is a trend and now we have to cover it. And I hate to, like, put the onus on the Biden campaign. But I do wonder, you know, what your kind of thought about that is because I hear your point about how it’s kind of like buying it in fundraising on bloodbath only exacerbates the problem of this click date kind of coverage. But on the other hand, aren’t they responding to what the media incentives are.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:52

    Right? Like, the more that they highlight random trump craziness, the more the media will talk about it again. I don’t know. What do you think?
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:58

    I think you’re right about that. And by the way, it’s not a criticism at least on my part. It’s an observation that this is the dynamic in our politics now. And certainly, what we are seeing and hearing from the Biden campaign is a much more explicit joining of the battle. With Trump right now.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:17

    There was clearly a decision, okay, the state of the union, and going forward, now that they both locked up their respective party’s nominations. This is a new phase of the campaign, and we’re seeing a new set of responses to that. By the Biden campaign. I can’t say whether it’s more effective or less effective. I think it’s now the the reality that we’re living in.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:38

    And as always, you are right to you know, you understand the dynamics, I think, of how these, you know, the kind of news cycle works where the White House or its circuits talking more about Trump or confronting him day in and day out in ways, creates it back into a news cycle in a way that it hasn’t been. And that was one of the things that was I found very eerie about the earlier parts of the Biden presidency is that there was all this kind of endless hand wringing. Remember, oh, well, you know, now that, Biden is in office and Trump is gone, we don’t, you know, we shouldn’t cover him. We shouldn’t plug for him. We’re not gonna put him on the front page anymore.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:16

    We’re not gonna write about him. He’s done. And my point was It doesn’t matter if the New York Times puts him on the front page. He still got his constituency. He’s still in effect the de facto leader of the Republican Party.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:31

    Now he’s simply addressing his supporters without us listening in on it. And, you know, that that was a whole set of debates that, to me, missed the point, and I think it’s why many people were very surprised to discover that Donald Trump was going to steamroll over the Republican field and, you know, once again, take the nomination. I don’t think that was a surprise to anybody who had been kind of watching and paying attention to more right, meaning news outlets and what Trump was actually doing for the first couple of years that Biden was in office, but you get a sort of endless debates among ourselves, some of which aren’t necessarily all that relevant to how politics is gonna play out.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:13

    I would be energetically snapping an agreement if I was a New York time staffer to that Okay. A few other Trump, news items. Don Trump’s efforts to secure a bond to cover the four hundred fifty four million dollar judgment in the New York Civil fraud case has been rejected by thirty companies. His lawyer said on Ron DeSantis seeing him close to the possibility that he could have his properties seized by New York. Wonder your thoughts on that story, but I’m I’m most I’m particularly interested in your thoughts on the national security implications of this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:41

    I I mean, I do think that having a guy running for president that’s struggling to pay his bonds and is getting national security and is getting secret service detail and is getting national security briefings This is uncharted territory, and I think that there should be some national security concerns that interested in any thoughts you have on that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:00

    Yeah. I mean, look, of course, it’s a good point. You know, Donald Trump has always intertwined. For him, you know, the business and the politics are there’s no dividing line. There’s no separation line.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:11

    One of the most extraordinary aspects of his presidency that people somehow, you know, mostly just kinda moved on from was his refusal to disentangle himself fully and to obey, the conflict of interest provisions that apply to every other official of the United States government except for the president. And, you know, so you had this remarkable, bizarre aspect of him owning a hotel in the, you know, blocks away from the White House that was used by foreign governments seeking to curry favor with him. You know, I know people like Congressman JV Raskin always very exercised over the, constitution’s emoluments clause, which seems to explicitly prohibit behavior like that for exactly the kind of national security reasons that you’re talking about, it didn’t go anywhere in terms of a legal challenge, but I think the broad point certainly applies, and, you know, just the other day, terrific reporting in the New York Times about his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, seeking to, with, along with Rick Cornell, who has been tagged by many as a a potential very senior diplomatic or national security official in in a future Trump administration working, on major real estate projects in the Balkans with officials who obviously would be very eager to curry favor with a future president Trump, especially one who is potentially enormously indebted and seeking to pay off hundreds of millions of dollars and fines and judgments against him.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:40

    Yes. And another example of, intertwining business interest. I guess this one wasn’t Trump’s business interest, but from Trump officials, which the campaign. We had Paul Manafort. I wanna read a very good sentence by somebody that you know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:53

    Trump may bring in convicted tech cheat and fraudster Paul Manafort, who made a fortune working for pro Kremlin interests to help run his convention with your husband, in the New York Times, I mean, again, if we I I feel like every question I’ve asked you, every item on this podcast, it would be like, this would have been a week long front page news story if it was any other politician in our lifetimes, but talk about the Manafort element of this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:18

    Yeah. I know to anybody who cares about the rule of law. This is like, you know, do your deep breathing because it’s hard to know where to start in this conversation. The Manafort thing really talk about, a gut punch to, people who care about the rule of law. I mean, this guy was, flagrantly influence peddling in the most shameless sense of the word as an outgrowth of the Mueller investigation He was arrested, tried, convicted, served time.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:48

    You know, this is amazing for Donald Trump to say he wants to bring him back. And remember, that it was Manafort who was a key conduit of information from the twenty sixteen campaign, actually passing secret internal detailed polling information to Constantine Kalinic identified by American officials as a, Russian intelligence, contact, and what was man for doing in the twenty sixteen campaign? When the guy who is expert for money. And he also was indebted in a very problematic way to a series of problematic foreign actors, offering to work for Donald Trump for free We all understand that, you know, if you are doing something for free, then perhaps you’re the product. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:34

    You’re the thing being sold. And I found that to be just a gut punch and a real reminder of the stakes involved in Trump twenty twenty four.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:45

    This is another thing that’s kind of in memory hold. Right? Because of all the controversy around the mobile report, but there was a bipartisan Republican led Senate intelligence report that identified Manafort. As having been a conduit for Russian intelligence assets. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:58

    Like, this wasn’t resistance stuff. It was a Court of law. Was the Republican senate. And then he gets pardoned. And now now to bring him back in, and all of this is happening, and this is obvious, but it’s just bears mentioning.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:11

    Also, it’s happening amidst Russia attacking Hillary’s campaign. Right? And so it’s just like, well, with Calimnek and Deripaska, you know, you cannot you can get the whiteboard up where you have all the, you know, different pieces of ribbon, you know, connecting everything. I you know, were they connected to the Russian intelligence operation? It kinda doesn’t matter.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:29

    Right? Like, in the context to me, my view always was was Trump and Manafort are condemned for going along with this while it was happening. Right? Any other responsible campaign, any other patriotic campaign that cared about and interests would be absolutely condemning a hostile foreign powers effort to hack their opponent’s campaign And meanwhile, Trump is cheering it on in Manafort as as the Republican said is actively working with Russian intelligence.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:56

    Well, that’s right. Look. I think the bottom line is it does matter in the sense that it has been absolutely established, as a factual matter in a court of law, in investigations. And, yes, it is something that the American people should care about. Paul Manafort, the two politicians that he is most associated with in his career are Donald Trump and Victor Yankovic, the Russian supported leader of Ukraine who had to flee and run away from his country of Ukraine and run to Russia because his corrupt regime toppled after he unleashed violence against his own citizens.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:35

    In a peaceful revolution in the maidan. And he was Russia’s proxy in Ukraine, period full stop. That’s just a factual matter. Those are the politicians that Paul Manafort worked with supported and promoted.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:52

    Yeah. We had trump people on cable last night I was watching. I forget what surrogate it was. I don’t wanna quote him wrong. You know, saying, well, we don’t really he might not be part of the convention We don’t exactly know what his role is gonna be.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:02

    So, like, trump talking to this person, getting advice from this person at any level is an absolute scandal and an outrage. Going back to the end of coverage takes us to the Russia element of it all, and I always wanna get your take on this, having a lot of experience if he lived over there. Kathy Young wrote for the board this morning a fake vote for Putin that he won, I guess, eighty seven percent of the fake vote. But there are also these noon against Putin protests that, you know, seem to, I guess, given the threats facing these folks, you know, any sort of gathering of this nature is a huge risk. And so, you know, that was some sort of green shoot and encouraging.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:42

    I’m I’m wondering what your thoughts were on the news out of Russia, and then I wanna get into the the Trump and Putin of it all.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:50

    Yeah. I mean, well, so first of all, I think it’s right not to call it a a real presidential election in any conventional sense. You know, I saw one German expert was using the phrase authoritarian plebiscite, and that seems to me to be possibly a better way of thinking of it as a plebiscite in which you force as many of your people as possible to come out and essentially ratify your continued tenure and power. That’s something more akin to North Korea or Iraq under Saddam Hussein. It’s a form of legitimizing your regime, but it’s not really an election.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:26

    If no one can even say who your opponents are and anyone who was an actual opponent, is not allowed to run, or in the case of Alexei Navalny, the leading opposition politician in Russia over the last more than a decade, you know, he literally is essentially killed by the government in prison just weeks before the voting. And those protests you mentioned, those were basically Alexei Navalny’s last will and testament. They were his last wish for the Russian people to come out at noon on the day of this publicite and at least show a certain solidarity in doing that. And, you know, it’s an act of incredible bravery in ways that American might not fully appreciate that in parallel and in tandem with Putin’s full scale invasion of Ukraine in twenty twenty two, he’s used that as a cover for, completing the authoritarian, takeover of Russian society, the stifling of the remaining space for political debate and discourse and has arrested thousands and thousands of Russians for the simple act of doing something like wearing a blue and yellow pin or sending a text message that was perceived as supporting Ukraine. You know, he is putting people in jail now for thought crimes in a way that even they didn’t do in the later years of the Soviet Union.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:51

    The, dictatorship that Putin has now established is much more intrusive fuller. It goes along with the militarization of Russian society that has occurred as a result of this invasion of Ukraine. And it means that it’s hard to see to be honest, Tim, any green shoots out of this election, and that in a way, it was the election that was meant to tell the Russian people that there is no hope here for any kind of Democratic small d overturning of the government. It means that the war will go on. It means that Putin has continued with his maximalist aims for the war in Ukraine, that he is continuing to press forward, not for some negotiated peace.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:34

    That’s a fantasy for right now, but he’s still looking for a victory. He’s still looking for a victory. And remember, he defines victory essentially as dismantling Ukraine as a viable independent state.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:46

    Yeah. And, medvedev just called Latvia fake country the other day, which gives you a sense for where the victory might go from there. You wrote recently about Trump’s threat to NATO being the scariest kind of gaffe. Obviously, This is all related. I was talking to some senior administration officials that were in Munich.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:05

    And, like, the sense that I got was that there is just a very palpable concern and much higher even than it was during the Trump administration from European officials and allies about, you know, whether America will continue to be a reliable partner at all if Trump wins and what that means for Putin And what that means for threats? So I’m wondering how how you kind of assess all that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:31

    Yeah. I think that’s right. The level of shock, concern, dismay, and anxiety among European officials I’ve spoken with the last few months is is really off the charts when a senior European officials referred to it as the, quote, American scenario being groomally discussed and planned for in in the bowels of their national security bureaucracy. And the idea of the United States as a national security threat to our allies in Europe is really something to process. It’s it’s kind of breathtaking.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:02

    And I think in part, it’s because during Trump’s four years in the White House, there was a view of many Democrats had it as well, that it’s problematic, it’s regrettable, but it’s very likely that the US and its partnerships in the world can survive four years but not eight. And I think with the Biden victory, but the dawning, the realization that not only was Trump not gone from the scene, but that, there was no returning to the status quo anti. I think that this phenomenon has already kicked in where European allies, Asian allies, as well, have come to realize that there’s no going back to America as the superpower that it used to be. And that, for example, when President Biden says, America is gonna be with Ukraine as long as it takes that are sclerotic politics and the nature of the Republican Party today in the US, and its continued reliance on the cult of personality around Donald Trump means that no American president, no matter how responsible an actor, how committed to these alliances, can actually make a firm commitment that America will be with you as long as it takes because of our own extremely divided internal politics.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:17

    I’m wondering, we’ve had a running kind of conversation on this podcast with the question of, the specter of a Trump next term Ron DeSantis stakes and the threat. And you’re just so well versed in kind of the examples of these regimes in other countries. Like, what do you see? In in the second term, when you look at a model, And maybe if the range is from, I don’t know, Burlusconi to Putin. Like, we’re we’re on the threat at level.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:44

    Are you on the threat assessment of the, you know, democratic backsliding if Trump was to win.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:50

    Yeah. I mean, look, I think that because Trump is not a policy person because he is highly manipulable because he is not a super organized and disciplined leader of a government. It really depends very much who is around him, who he’s talking to, who he’s relying upon, and the sort of constraints and guardrails that did come up especially in terms of foreign policy and national security in the first term those people are simply not going to surround Donald Trump in a second term. And I think that’s one reason that I and many others have said this would be a much more radical break and departure from kind of American policy than we saw in the first trump term, number one, number two, Trump’s grievance, revenge, retribution campaign has really focused like a laser on making sure that he essentially takes over the American justice system and uses it to his own end. And I think that that is the part that will be very personal for Donald Trump that he will be very focused on.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:57

    And I think that you can do quite lasting damage. In my view, I know there’s a kind of self soothing that people have and they say, well, the institution’s held, and it’s okay. But I think a reasonable examination of the record of Trump in his first four years does not support that argument. In fact, what it supports is that there were vulnerabilities. We didn’t even know were vulnerabilities in the system.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:20

    And that in many times, we were just one vice president, one chairman of the joint chiefs, one defense secretary, away from really extreme and radical things happening that that Donald Trump demanded.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:33

    Yeah. Well, there’s a little dessert. One of that he said he’s gonna have around to be floated yesterday, Viveikramaswamy to head up the Department of Homeland Security. So that department would go becoming a response to nine eleven to having a nine eleven truther in charge in one generation. It tells you a lot about the way that this thing is degraded.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:51

    Susan Glass I, I really admire your Bulwark, and I’m so grateful you took the time to come on. We will be reading you and, hopefully, we’ll be talking again soon. And maybe a little more cheer I’m gonna try to come up with a cheerier topic for for our next gathering, if that’s okay with you.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:03

    That sounds fantastic. Maybe I’ll come down there to New Orleans, and, we can, we can do it over a relaxed sending to him. But thank you for having me And congratulations on the podcast. It’s it’s really a terrific contribution to have you doing this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:15

    Very much appreciate it, Susan. We’ll be back tomorrow. We’ll see you all then. Peace.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:19

    Crazy god with matted beard. Stand down on the corner.
  • Speaker 4
    0:35:21

    Shouting out anytime so
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:29

    and nobody knows. But I can’t be here in loud and clear. She is gone now. They know seems like end times are here.
  • Speaker 4
    0:35:55

    I walk around on the
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:58

    puddle in the street and head on home. And said my window, there’s a cannon, shut up, cat, and leave me alone. Do they no heat around you. I don’t feel nothing now. Not even fear.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:38

    Everyone’s crazy and lost their lives. Just look at the wall. Could all be the world is ending. They want to She’s gone, and times are here.
  • Speaker 4
    0:37:15

    The board podcast is produced by
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:23

    Katie Cooper with audio engineering and editing by Jason Brett.
Want to listen without ads? Join Bulwark+ for an exclusive ad-free version of The Bulwark Podcast! Learn more here. Already a Bulwark+ member? Access the premium version here.