Support The Bulwark and subscribe today.
  Join Now

The Dreaded General Election Arrives

March 8, 2024
Notes
Transcript
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
    0:00:00

    This episode is brought to you by miracle made.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:12

    Welcome to beg Beg to Differ. The Bulwark weekly roundtable discussion featuring civil conversation across the political spectrum. We range from center left to center right, and I’m guest host AB Stoddard of the Bulwark sitting in for Mona Charen today. Joining me are Damon Linker, who publishes sub stacked notes from the middle ground Linda Chavez of the Nescannon Center, Will Saletan of the Brookings institution in the Wall Street Journal, and our special guest today is Philip Bump of the Washington Post. Guys, thank you so much for joining me today.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:46

    This has been the most amazing, I think really starting around the first week of February crush of consequential news that will not only shape the twenty twenty four race, but I think the country for years to come, we’re not gonna have Donald Trump going to trial beyond his porn star hush money case at the end of March. I don’t really know what that’s gonna do, but everyone who is hoping that they would on the Republican side. Impeach Joe Biden. It doesn’t look like that’ll happen on the democratic side. See a conviction for Donald Trump, but we are at the dreaded general election with the two people, that we knew would be the nominees and that the American public just doesn’t want to choose from.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:33

    So I wanna focus on what the race is gonna look like. And we all know that, since you last met, there was just horrible pulling out of the New York Times over the weekend, the New York Times Sienna poll for Joe Biden, but it was completely consistent. With all of the polling that we’ve seen for these general election match ups. So, no, they weren’t officially in control of delegates and nominees in waiting, but now we’re looking at this race for real. And those numbers, again, every trend line is the same.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:04

    So I wanna open with you, Bill. You just wrote about this Biden’s Coalition that he put together in twenty twenty, and that the Democrats hope have held together. The twenty twenty two midterms and all these special elections is really weakening. A dramatic swing, you wrote of six point six points nationally from his win to where he is in pulling now. But then some of the stretches, some of the swings are far worse with key subgroups, talk about what’s happened to the Biden voting electorate.
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:39

    One adjective to apply to the coalition is fraying but there are parts of it that seems seem to be collapsing altogether. On the fraying side, and this is really hard to believe, his his reported support among African Americans is down to sixty six percent, and twenty three percent of African Americans say they’re going to vote for Donald Trump. That would be an earthquake if it happened. And I’m not saying it’s going to happen would look just looking at snapshots, but the snapshots are are disturbing his margin Among young voters ages eighteen to twenty nine, down double digits, and astonishingly, the New York Times found that Donald Trump is actually leading Joe Biden among hispanics by six percentage points. I’m trying to find a noun to describe that outcome if it came to pass and, I have a pretty good internal thesaurus, but I can’t find one.
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:44

    And I am pretty sure that if the election were held tomorrow, Donald Trump will win it. And the polls on the swing states, although obviously, in many cases, less reliable than the national polls, Are dismal in the southern tier, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada? There’s been a swing of more than ten points against Biden in Nevada, and I suspect that reflects his weakness among Hispanic voters in heavily Hispanic Nevada. The northern tier, Wisconsin is within reach. He’s leading in Pennsylvania, but Michigan is a real trouble spot, and it doesn’t take advanced math to see that if the southern tier is in trouble from Biden, Michigan becomes the pivotal state in the election, which means that the issues that are creating difficulties for him become the pivotal issues.
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:44

    In Michigan in Michigan and nationally. So I wish I could find some good news in this poll for the fans and supporters of Joe Biden of whom I’m one, but I can’t see any right now. And they they will have to be betting a lot on the ability of the campaign and events to turn things around.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:07

    So, Phil, what we hear from the campaign. And we have for a really long time because the polls have been consistently bad since the summer. Is people aren’t paying attention. Oh my gosh. Donald Trump is a disaster.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:20

    It’s gonna be great. We have so much money. We’re gonna start our ad campaign. So there are things that Bill wrote about in the Wall Street Journal that could turn things around. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:33

    Events like Well, first of all, people were promised a recession and they’re not getting one. Perhaps there are rates that go down and make people feel better towards September. Joe Biden gets a ceasefire or maybe even gets closer to some kind of a two state solution, which is not only just stopping the bleeding literally, but maybe even looks like a win, whatever, things that could happen that could make it better. But just in terms of the power of persuasion, That is what they keep telling us that they just are getting started. Do you believe in twenty twenty four given the headwinds against him on real substantive issues that the power of advertising and surrogates and messaging is gonna I know they’re well resourced, but Do you think they can turn it around?
  • Speaker 4
    0:06:20

    Yeah. I mean, look, we’re talking about polling. I mean, this is this is a a standard response to these sorts of things. We’re talking about polling eight months in Right? Right.
  • Speaker 4
    0:06:27

    Sure. Fine. Great. Right. You know, I mean, there was I saw a thing the other day that reminded me that that, you know, John McCain was leading in the summer of two thousand and eight.
  • Speaker 4
    0:06:34

    Things turn around. Things change. Right? There there are a lot of ways in which one can look at the crosstabs of poles and and and if you are a Biden support or become particularly alarmed. I I understand was always gonna be a close race.
  • Speaker 4
    0:06:46

    I think it’s still going to be a close race. And, we will see the extent to which those numbers change over time that that poll were to come out in October fifteenth. Yeah. I feel like if I’m Joe Biden that I’m that I’m panicking. All of that’s set to answer your question.
  • Speaker 4
    0:06:58

    Yes. I do think it is true that a lot of Americans are not really paying attention. I think the better question is, will they be paying more attention by November? Or are they simply saying, here we go again? It’s the same two guys.
  • Speaker 4
    0:07:09

    I used to like Biden. I don’t like him at all anymore. I’m just not gonna show up. I think that this dynamic of Biden’s popularity dropping, particularly among black voters, particularly among younger voters, I think that’s really central to what’s going to happen over the course of the year. And I think one of the things that is under recognized is that Biden’s push in part on this democracy argument, which obviously is a very valid argument.
  • Speaker 4
    0:07:32

    You know, the concerns about Donald Trump, you know, coming back into office have real validity when we’re talking about the sanctity of democracy, It is also an argument though that takes the focus away from Biden, and it makes it a Trump focused election. We’re already seeing polls that show that people who support Biden, most of them are voting as a response to Donald Trump, which was the same thing that happened in twenty twenty and helped Biden win. But I think the democracy argument imparts targets that. If you are a young person, you are an independent, you’re not tightly associated with the Democratic party. You don’t really care about the party, but you recognize that the party shares your values more.
  • Speaker 4
    0:08:03

    But thank you for focusing on Joe Biden. You really don’t like Joe Biden. He’s too old. You don’t like me yada yada yada. You may, however, be compelled by this democracy.
  • Speaker 4
    0:08:10

    Area. You may be compelled by this other issue that is out there. And I think that’s the sort of thing that over the course of the next eight months, the Biden campaign is really gonna focus on. You may not like me. You may not think I’ve done a great job.
  • Speaker 4
    0:08:20

    Of course, I’m not gonna say that, but you get the point. You may not like me, but at the end of the day, here’s why this action is important. And that may be the thing that then compels people to come out. And of course, when we talk about, African American voters, when we talk about young voters, turnout is really the key. And if you can make that compelling argument and get people to turn out, then suddenly the ball game changes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:39

    Alright. So Linda, we’re gonna get back to that Americans focusing on the democracy dictator question in a minute, but wanna ask you about abortion and IVF. This this is another thing that the the Biden campaign has been saying for a long time since the twenty twenty two midterm since the job feed Jackson decision that this is it. This is it. They it’s kryptonite.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:02

    This is it. Republicans can’t come back from this. They have no answer on it. How potent do you think? Literally, if if you talk to to Democrats about this panic, about these polls, they go a Trump so bad and abortion.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:15

    It’s sort of like this their default. What do you think about the salient so that it has driven a lot of turnout It has energized a lot of engagement, money, voter registration, mobilization. I mean, there’s no question that it is delivered. What do you think about? It in a general electorate, which is different in a presidential year?
  • Speaker 5
    0:09:35

    Well, first of all, I think abortion issue is self is going to be on the ballot in a number of key states, including I believe Arizona. Their whole list of them where there are going to be ballot initiatives to try to protect abortion rights in in certain states. And that I think will be very helpful. Particularly with young women, but also young men. I think that the whole problem not the whole problem, but at least a part of the problem as Bill suggested is turnout and whether or not, young voters are going to actually go to the polls and show up and and vote as they did last time.
  • Speaker 5
    0:10:15

    If they don’t, the election is lost. And the same is true of black voters and others. So if abortion is on the ballot, in key states, I think it will drive voter turnout out and I think that will be helpful. But I have to tell you I am more pessimistic this week than I have I think ever been during about this election. You know, the problem is as much as Joe Biden would like to talk about how good the economy is, etcetera, how much he’s done, how much he’s accomplished, even in the face of a do nothing Congress, unless people feel in their own lives and they should be feeling it.
  • Speaker 5
    0:10:54

    I mean, real wages have gone up. And they’ve gone up more, for people at the low income. Sectors but if they don’t feel it, if they don’t have this sense that America’s on the upswing, I think it’s very difficult to persuade them of that. And so then you have to give them some alternative. And while I absolutely agree with Philip that to certainly to people around this table, the whole question of democracy and the future of our, republic, is certainly, enough motivator for someone like me who is not really in agreement with Joe Biden on a lot of his issues to get out there and vote again.
  • Speaker 5
    0:11:38

    For him because the alternative is so unacceptable. But I worry and I am pessimistic. Maybe it’s because I spend too much time reading Russian novels But I just finished, reading for the second time, the brother’s Karamatsov. And the very famous chapter in that book called the Grand inquisitor. Is an argument between Christ who comes back to Earth and the Grand inquisitor.
  • Speaker 5
    0:12:04

    And, in that argument, Christ loses, and he loses because the grand inquisitor understands that people don’t necessarily want freedom. This idea that we all want freedom, I’m not so sure that that’s actually true. That there are a great many of people who simply want stability and predictability and they feel like their lives, were more stable. They they feel like there was less crime that the economy was doing better. Until the pandemic hit under Donald Trump, than they do today.
  • Speaker 5
    0:12:39

    Now I think that’s irrational. I don’t think it’s it’s right, but if that is why we’re seeing these kinds of polls. And you know, I hate to throw in an anecdotal report on this because Bill, you know, has given us all this great data, and and Philip, of course, does it every every week. But, you know, I wrote in an Uber this week on my way to the airport, with a Bulwark Uber driver, a very talkative fellow who wanted tell me the world was going to hell in a handbasket. And he talked about crime.
  • Speaker 5
    0:13:12

    He talked about what’s happening in the schools and how he’s gonna have to take his kids out of public school because he can’t stand what’s happening there. And I started bringing up gingerly, you know, trump. And, yeah, I didn’t really say very much when I brought up. Trump, but when I mentioned Biden, he said, well, you can’t support Biden, can you? And I thought, oh my goodness.
  • Speaker 5
    0:13:33

    If, you know, I mean, if he is in any way emblematic of a guy in his late fifties or early sixties, who has an entrepreneurial spirit, and he is entertaining clearly the idea of voting for Trump then. We are in real trouble.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:50

    I think that’s clear, from the polling that Biden is gonna depend on older African American voters who still approve of him, but his hemorrhaging of support with younger black voters, it’s real because it’s in every poll. Now we are gonna return as as I promised to this question about democracy in a second. But Let’s talk about Nikki Haley. She’s out of the race. I think she’s a phony and I don’t trust her two inches in front of me.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:19

    She ran what I think was a incredibly disciplined and effective campaign for a year. And I will give her that. She is leaving us guessing on what she’s gonna do. You have a great piece out about how her campaign was fueled by the fading fumes of Reaganism and you want her to burn the GOP to the ground. Take the floor.
  • Speaker 6
    0:14:45

    Well, this is not, an example of a post or a column written from the position of hard nosed realism about what will happen. I think this is extremely unlikely, but I thought it was useful not only for my own sense of catharsis to write such a post, but to kind of think through the dynamics between the parties at this moment. I really have to say after eight years, I am very tired. Of people who are Republicans in that old school sense of people who strongly supported Reagan, the first bush, the second bush, then the campaigns of John McCain and Mitt Romney, who are still after eight years of this. Circus under Trump, trying to hold on to, like, some tiny outcropping of rock from which they fantasize, they will get their chance again.
  • Speaker 6
    0:15:47

    There will be a restoration. Nikki Haley. No. Oh, no. Not twenty twenty four, but four years from now, I’ll be back.
  • Speaker 6
    0:15:56

    Trump will lose and then I’ll have my chance and we’ll we’ll be back to two thousand four again. I think this is delusional and ironically Haley’s campaign has definitively shown that that this is a delusion at this point. Nikki Haley did run a very powerful campaign. She bested all the competition, came out on top as the alternative to Trump and then stayed in the race with considerable resources for a long time. And what did we learn?
  • Speaker 6
    0:16:31

    She won about a quarter of Republican votes in many places. But in the south, she won somewhere between fourteen to twenty percent. Of the votes of Republican voters. And then also did very badly in California and Alaska and other places. This is not the future of the Republican Party.
  • Speaker 6
    0:16:53

    This is the past of the Republican Party, and I would love it. If Nikki Haley would stop being cautious and self absorbed and self regarding. And instead of trying to somehow maneuver things so she can stay and play for the future. If she would just say, look, I don’t love Joe Biden. I’ve never voted for the Democrats, but this is a special situation.
  • Speaker 6
    0:17:23

    And the people in the party who voted for me, millions of them should for the moment vote for the Democratic party because this Republican Party is a threat to the United States and through that, the world. And it must burn. And so we’re gonna do that. And you know, when we move over to the Democratic Party, we will get some leverage because that’s a lot of people. And it will change the dynamic and lots of local racism state races to have us now tilting to the center left.
  • Speaker 6
    0:18:01

    And just as the rankin Revolution had the effect of sort of forcing the Democrats to hew to the center left for a generation with Will Saletan. Than even with Barack Obama and with Biden. I think that those forces will be strengthened if those voters actually move across the aisle. You know, not not promising to do it forever, but to do it for this and then we’ll see. How does the Democratic electoral coalition shift when you have this tilt over to the Democrats.
  • Speaker 6
    0:18:39

    That’s the only path where I actually see what could be a more positive future for the other party, the right leaning party, whether it’s a burning of the current GOP and it being reconstituted under the same name later after it loses, say, with forty percent of the vote, with all those Haley voters leaving, or it simply comes to an end like the old whig party, and then we get another center right party in its place. Maybe Haley could have you know, a hope for leadership in such a vehicle later, but thinking that this Republican Party that elected that guy what Mark Robinson, I guess, his name is the that would be a Republican governor of North Sarah Longwell, you know, the the hundred and forty odd Republicans who voted to not to certify by Biden’s victory in twenty twenty. The party that’s supporting, Charlie Sykes in Arizona after she lost. The governor’s race there the last time supporting her for the Senate That Republican Party is gonna be the future for Nikki Haley. No.
  • Speaker 6
    0:19:50

    That’s not gonna happen and I would like to see that faction stop pretending that it will, and it might have a good effect.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:58

    The twenty twenty eight thing is so hilarious. But just as you note, if Biden wins, it’s still Trump’s party. She’s not gonna be all of a sudden they’re gonna say, Trump, we’ve had it with you. We’ve lost too many elections. We’re gonna with Nikki Haley.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:12

    And then, of course, if truth Trump wins, we’re never gonna have another free and fair election anyway. There’s no twenty twenty eight for her. He’s not retiring. He’s not leaving. So that’s crazy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:21

    Phil, with regard to Republicans for Biden, we cannot count on these electives because they are all but for Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and Mitt Romney, they’re unwilling to throw their careers away. So he has no strength without their weakness. But they he has so much of their weakness. So he has so much strength. And well, looking at Chris Christie and Nicki Haley and Acea Hutchison and and how this sort of shakes out?
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:47

    What do you see? Cause I I look Christy and I think he wants to be relevant. Right? So he’s gonna come around and he’s gonna endorse Joe Biden just like list Cheney is going to. She’s telegraphed that she’s going to because he wants to be in the mix.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:00

    I don’t think he’s gonna just go home quietly. And he’s not pretending he’s the future of the of a Republican party like Damon described. So so what do you think Nikki Haley will do? What do you think this kind of weakness in Trump’s turnout, does. The thing I always go back to is in twenty twenty two, more Republicans turned out and voted than Democrats.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:23

    Just a lot of them voted for Democrats. So they’re there. They need people to come out and say something. And I see ASa scrumming around and Nikki being mysterious. And what’s what’s your sense of sort of how much Biden can pull in some public statements from Republicans, even if they don’t endorse him saying I’m just not gonna vote for Trump.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:44

    What’s your vibe?
  • Speaker 6
    0:21:45

    Okay. So, I
  • Speaker 4
    0:21:46

    think it’s unlikely. So let me I’m gonna I’m gonna be a bit of a contrarian here. I don’t think Nikki Haley ran a good campaign. I don’t. I went to Hampshire.
  • Speaker 4
    0:21:53

    She, you know, that was her make or break moment. She had nothing on the ground. She wasn’t doing anything. She got lucky. She stuck in the race, even though she’d already lost.
  • Speaker 4
    0:22:01

    And as a result of sticking in a race, she got a lot of people who wanted to send a message to Donald Trump to come out and vote. Right? In two of the three places where he had exit polls on Tuesday, most of her vote came from people who weren’t Republicans, was independents and Democrats crossing party lines to come out and send this message. And so that also is why I don’t think Donald Trump is as weak as people are portraying because those people were never gonna vote for Donald Trump. They came out to try and block Donald Trump.
  • Speaker 4
    0:22:22

    They’re not gonna vote for him in November, right? They were never going to do that. They weren’t like, oh, I’m trying to decide between the two, they were trying to send a message. Right? And so I don’t think that weakness exists.
  • Speaker 4
    0:22:32

    And I think when we look at, you know, I mean, to go back to the the the the cab driver. Right? I think that’s a good example of a of a world view that’s out there that you are choosing between two people and there are a lot of people in the Republican Party who Yes. Understand that Donald Trump is erratic, maybe even find him dangerous, but also understand that on a day to day basis, what the president does is potentially sign into law legislation and appoint people to the Supreme Court and appoint point, you know, judges to the bench. And that is the thing that they’re looking so I don’t think there are a lot of Republicans who are gonna come out and say, yes, I support Joe Biden because Donald Trump’s dangerous.
  • Speaker 4
    0:23:08

    They’re gonna either say nothing or they’re gonna out and endorse Trump because they want those judges and they want that legislation signed. And I think that is fair. Right? It is fair to view the presidency particularly if you are skeptical that this long tail event of Donald Trump disrupting American democracy to significant extent will actually occur, which I also think, you know, it is a long tail risk. It’s not like if he’s elected immediately American democracy is gonna collapse.
  • Speaker 4
    0:23:31

    Like, we all understand that. If you are willing to take that bet and figure if we can get by for four years and get some more, you know, maybe get a seven to two majority on the Supreme Court and get more judges. Like, that’s the bet that’s being made. I don’t know that what Chris Christie’s gonna do Christy does like attention, but he’s also been quiet at times. Right?
  • Speaker 4
    0:23:47

    So maybe he’ll come out from behind. I don’t think he makes any difference. You know, I don’t think there are a whole lot of people who are waiting, you know, I mean, we saw that in a Republican primary. People Bublican scare with Chris Christie was gonna say they were gonna vote for him for president. They didn’t.
  • Speaker 4
    0:23:57

    And they didn’t in twenty sixteen either. Right? So, yeah, I mean, this is going to be a close election. And there may be things that happen at the edges which are significant turn out being one of them, people crossing lines being another. But to go back to this New York Times, Sienna College poll, Trump had more support from his party than Joe Biden did.
  • Speaker 4
    0:24:13

    I mean, it’s within the margin of error. It’s, you know, percentage point or two, but it is not the case that Trump is uniquely disadvantaged by dissatisfaction with his party in a way that Biden isn’t. And as such, I think there is a is to an extent, a lot of this focus on healing and so on and so forth, is just trying to figure out a scenario in which one can view the election as being more favorable to Biden than is probably warranted.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:36

    Okay, Bill. I wanna know if you agree with Phil. What is your assessment from the results of Trump’s weakness? I would like to believe that there are reluctant Trump voters who still can be shamed. What are your thoughts?
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:50

    I know that, there’s an old Maxim the effect that the wish is the father to the thought. And I’m afraid that that mental dynamic is at work here. I have to say I agree with Philip completely, and let me just put another New York Times finding on on the table. Trump voters in twenty twenty and Biden voters in twenty twenty. Of the people who voted for Trump in twenty twenty, Ninety seven percent say that they’re going to be voting for Trump again and zero percent say that they’re going to be voting for Joe Biden.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:28

    Shift over to Biden, eighty three percent of about twenty twenty Biden voters said I’m gonna vote for him again and ten percent. You know, ten percent, which is a meaningful number, say they’re gonna support Trump instead. So I think that you know, Philip’s bottom line, namely that they’re, you know, not only are there no particular signs of weakness in the Republican Coalition, but fact, there are more signs of weakness in the Democratic Coalition or at least the people who voted for Biden in twenty twenty, I think is absolutely correct. Now, There is one caveat here, and this goes to Phillips’s point about what can happen in the next eight months. There is a pretty consistent strand of polling to the effect that if Donald Trump were to be convicted of a serious crime, That would move enough people at the margin to make a difference potentially enough to make a difference in the in the outcome of the election.
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:27

    That’s not a trivial event. It wouldn’t be if it occurred. And a number of analysts have pointed out that Americans distinguish as they should between an indictment and a conviction. You know, and if a jury finds you guilty of something serious, that’s something that people who are not totally in the tank for Trump have to take seriously.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:50

    Okay, Linda. I do not believe that we will have any trial beyond Alvin Bregg trial starting on March twenty fifth, it will not be considered by a majority of this electorate choosing Trump in general election match ups, a serious conviction. Should he get it? We don’t know if he will. I just don’t think it’s gonna bum them out.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:10

    It’s not a serious crime. Republicans will tell them as they did before. It’s a bookkeeping error. And, so where does that leave us? Because I wanna believe that there are two time Trump voters who turned on him after January six.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:25

    There will not be a lot of them. And I know that Biden has lost I know Trump has new converts, new Latino, black, and young converts. And that these voters who are not politically addicted are making their choices as Phil described, especially the Republican ones. Well, I just need this regulation I I opposed and I just need this judge. I understand that, but I do believe because I know anecdotally that there are two time trump voters who will not support him.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:54

    Do you think that he’s weak and that these primary Ron DeSantis bore that out? Do you agree with Bill and Phil that actually know he’s unified the party And Biden is the only one with weaknesses.
  • Speaker 5
    0:28:08

    I would like to think that there are those two time trump voters who are going to switch and suddenly, vote for Biden. But I think the number, of of people who are gonna do that is probably so minuscule that it’s not likely to have an effect. And by the way, it would have to have an effect in those battleground states because that’s where the election is won and lost. So, they’d have to be in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, etcetera. So if, if they’re not there and they’re not is not a critical mass of them, that’s not gonna do it.
  • Speaker 5
    0:28:45

    I know this is gonna sound like I’m grasping at straws and I am. I mean, I’m I’m I’m I’m grasping at straws, but I do see a mental deterioration in Donald Trump. That is pretty striking. And I’m not just talking about his constantly, referring to president Obama said that president Biden, which he’s done so many times now that he has, decided that, he should say that it’s intentional. And that they’re indistinguishable because, of course, he’s, you know, doing the branding, the dog whistle there.
  • Speaker 5
    0:29:19

    Right. And, you know, he he he might get away with it with his two believers. But he’s not only made those kinds of mistakes. There was, the speech he gave in the last couple of weeks. A little blurred on when it was because I was overseas and I was watching things mostly in snippets, but he gave a speech in which he actually exhibited, I think, what, would be clinically termed aphasia.
  • Speaker 5
    0:29:46

    It wasn’t that he couldn’t remember the word or got the wrong word or, you know, malapropism. He tried to say Venezuela couldn’t get it out, and he literally babbled. He made incomprehensible noise into the microphone. And then went on. But, you know, I’m looking at that and, you know, I’m not a medical doctor, obviously.
  • Speaker 5
    0:30:08

    Although I live in a family of a lot doctors and I thought there’s something really wrong here and clearly the stress is building and I see that stress of the trial the Alvin BRAck trial is more significant than the testimony or anything that develops in this trial I think the stress on Trump, just as the stress on him from these really gargantuan fines that have been leveled against him. In both his financial, gets the company and for misstating on its financial forms, the actual value of his properties, etcetera, and in the Eugene Carol verdict, where he’s having to scramble for money. I mean, he calls Elon Muskin was hoping maybe mustel helped bailed him out at least poor enough money, which Musk now says not going to do in giving to the candidate, but he didn’t preclude giving money to a super pack, etcetera. But this is really getting to Donald Trump and it gets him where it matters in his pocketbook and in his definition of himself. So that’s my that’s my grasping at straws.
  • Speaker 5
    0:31:21

    I wish I could offer something, more encouraging with lots of data behind it like Billwood. But I can’t come up with anything.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:31

    I think him slurring his words is significant. And if it happens again, it’s gonna be a real problem because The Democrats are certainly up to using social media to spread that around.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:41

    One thing that can definitely interfere with a good night’s sleep is feeling too hot or too cold. I have to say miracle made sheets help with this. Inspired by NASA, miracle made uses silver infused fabrics to make temperature regulating much easier you sleep at the perfect temperature all night long. The self cooling properties are the key. This silver infused fabric, which was inspired by NASA, makes the sheets thermo regulating.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:14

    So you sleep comfortably and wake up feeling refreshed. Miracle sheets are luxuriously comfortable without the high price tag of other luxury brands and feel as nice if not nicer than sheets used by some five star hotels. So go to try miracle dot com slash beg to differ to try miracle made sheets today. And whether you’re buying them for yourself or as a gift for a loved one, you can save forty percent. If you use your promo code, beg to differ at checkout, you’ll also get three free towels and save an extra twenty percent.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:53

    Miracle is so confident in their product. It’s backed with a thirty day money back guarantee. So if you aren’t one hundred percent satisfied, you will get a full refund. Upgrade your sleep with miracle made. Go to try miracle dot com slash beg to differ and use the code Beg to Differ to claim your towel set, three free pieces, and save over twenty percent.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:17

    Again, that’s try miracle dot com slash beg to differ to treat yourself or someone else. Thank you, miracle made for sponsoring this episode.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:29

    So now let’s talk about this question of whether or not the democracy issue The threat of Trump as dictator, the promise he’s made, project twenty twenty five. He is an authoritarian. He wants a centralized power. He doesn’t wanna be checked. By congress or courts or the constitution.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:47

    The New York Times writes yesterday or whenever does the public have collective amnesia about Trump or did they just dig it, it’s fine. So we’re all grappling with that question. Right? How informed are people about things like his handling of COVID or his role in January six and whether or not he was staging a coup for two months beforehand. So the new republic writes the piece about the new polling that Jeff Karen did about how once presented, a lot of voters don’t know about any of this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:19

    Threat to the actual system. They think they live in democracy. It’s all over them every day, and they don’t think that they will lose it, and they don’t understand what separation from it would feel like or look like. And that when presented with these specific threats, the voters, their view of Trump change and his unfavorables went up. So that’s an opening for the Biden campaign.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:42

    So I want all of you to weigh in on this. Do you have to talk about the kitchen table? And when you talk about trump, you just make the voters more mad because he’s priced in. What are your thoughts? And let’s go down to Damon.
  • Speaker 6
    0:34:54

    Well, you know, I was a bit of a skeptic in twenty twenty about the decision of the campaign to emphasize the the demography argument as much as as it did, and this was, of course, before January sixth. And and, you know, given that Biden won and the popular vote, he did it by seven million votes. And so it it seems in retrospect like that was definitely the right call. I know the Biden people like to credit the decision of Biden and his people in the midterms to really emphasize the democracy argument is the big reason why There was no red wave. You know, of course, also dobbs, they they note that too.
  • Speaker 6
    0:35:39

    So, you know, Based on that history, I guess I should sort of sit back and be like, alright, Biden, people, if that’s how you think you’re gonna win. Maybe you’re right. Go ahead and do that. My instincts I will confess are that I think there are limits to how much good it will do. For the simple fact that I suspect You know, if you could sit down with an ostensibly neutral pollster with one to one with voters, across the whole country and explain the way democracy works and the process of of certifying votes and what exactly what Trump did and who he spoke to and the manipulation and what he wanted Pence to do and what John Eastman was saying and laid all of that out one to one with each voter.
  • Speaker 6
    0:36:30

    Do I think it could have a meaningful effect? Yeah. Probably. You probably could get a whole bunch of people say, you know, I didn’t realized Trump really is dangerous, but that obviously isn’t the way it’s going to be. And I think for low information voters, we’re dealing with what you might call, what if nine eleven never happened problem?
  • Speaker 6
    0:36:51

    So, like, remember, George w Bush received intelligence that there might be something going on. A potential terrorist attack, a really big one by Al Qaeda. And he didn’t act on it. Of course, there was intelligence noise. There are always threats of things swirling around.
  • Speaker 6
    0:37:08

    And so people ask like, well, god, what if you listen to that? And what if they, like, found the flight school and a a rest did Muhammad Attide, every and the other major hijackers, and we never get nine eleven. What would have been the political consequence of that? I would say nothing. It would have been like a blip in the news that nobody paid attention to because nine eleven is only this terrible thing we wish never happened because it it.
  • Speaker 6
    0:37:35

    And so I think a lot of low information voters hear the Democrats coming on and on about the danger of Trump And maybe in twenty twenty, you know, in the swirl of the chaos of the Trump administration and and COVID and everything and all the invest people were sort of receptive to this. And then ironically, even though we had January sixth which was so much worse than anything that had happened before, Most voters are probably like, yeah, whatever. Like, you know, Biden became president, and he’s president. And and nothing terrible happened. In fact, I felt richer then, and I got all these great checks with Donald Trump’s signature on them, and Like, and and so they sort of I I fear a a kind of chicken little problem.
  • Speaker 6
    0:38:22

    Of people saying like, yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re always saying that that it’s gonna be so terrible, but he was president four years and then what terrible thing happened? Actually my life was a little better then, and so I’m inclined to say, yeah, yeah, yeah, stop stop saying that. That’s what I worry about the kind of and it just being a little like not sufficiently salient to to change these underlying trends that we’ve been talking about on the show up till now. But then again, I’m I am Damon Downer, and that’s my
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:57

    Hey, man. Yeah.
  • Speaker 6
    0:38:58

    Take it for what it’s worth.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:00

    Yeah. I I’m your grim twin. Okay. So, Phil, we do know in twenty twenty too that these Republicans who went to the polls and voted for, like, popular governors, obviously, in Texas and New Hampshire and Georgia and and Ohio in swing states voted down election deniers, specifically all of them. Secret Podcast, gubernatorial candidates, they discerned.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:27

    This issue was salient. So where do you come down on whether or not I mean, how the Biden can use it, abuse it, overuse it. The pulling, the Jeff Karen Karen pulling thing is interesting. And Damon is right. We can’t set everybody down and like do like, you know, how bill becomes a law with them.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:47

    But is there a way to I know they’re gonna start talking about it. Right? We were told that the the Biden administration is gonna try to like market project twenty twenty five.
  • Speaker 4
    0:39:56

    Do you
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:57

    think that this will make a difference?
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:01

    Yeah. Two things I’d say. The first is that the central question is that communication. Right. I didn’t even use the expression, low information, voters.
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:10

    I think it’s more accurate to say bad information voters. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:13

    Right.
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:13

    That there are people who listen to Fox News and are immersed in right wing social media and just get bad information. Get lies all the time. Get dishonest representation to what’s going on in the world. They believe that crime is soaring. They believe that all these various things happened.
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:26

    Right? And it’s just not true. And but it is presented over and over on Fox News, presented over and over in the in downstream Junior’s Twitter feed and whatever it happens to be. That these things are going on. That’s the impermeability that I think is the challenge.
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:38

    Right? So even if you had a pollster sit down and we see this on Fox News, Bernie Sanders. There’s this very very striking example. Bernie Sanders sat down with Fox News. I think it was in twenty twenty.
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:48

    It might have been even after that. And had this town hall meeting with him for an hour. And then the next two hours straight were them picking apart what Bernie Sanders had said. And so he’d like, he went on the show and had this conversation then Fox and you just rip the park. That’s what they do.
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:59

    Right? So this is the universe in which Biden is trying to make traction. I wrote a piece after he won that his main opponent, the right wing media universe, was still undefeated, that he had beaten Trump, but there was still this thing that he had not managed to conquer. The other thing that I’ll say is that Biden is different than a secretary of state in the state. Right?
  • Speaker 4
    0:41:18

    No one knows who the secretary of state no one cares who their secretary of state is until it’s election day and they do a little googling. They say, oh, you know, that’s that’s different than the presidency. People have views of Biden and Trump. Informed well, poorly informed. It doesn’t matter.
  • Speaker 4
    0:41:32

    They have a view. They understand it. Right? And so you’re already working against an understanding of who Joe Biden is. Joe Biden just have to come out and say, Hey, I’m Joe Biden.
  • Speaker 4
    0:41:40

    You never heard of me. And here’s what I stand for. He’s gotta come out and say, Hey, I know you don’t like me. Maybe you like this other guy who I’m also running into and who you also have preconceived notions And here’s my presentation of why he’d be bad and I’d be good within this universe where Donald
  • Speaker 6
    0:41:52

    Trump is is
  • Speaker 4
    0:41:52

    robustly bolstered by all this chatter that is just nonsense and misinformation. Right? So, yes, I am sure to Damon’s point and to the point of that poll that if you tell people, here are the things that happened and here are the concerns that expert have about what might happen should Donald Trump be renegotiated in twenty twenty five? The people say, oh, those all those sound bad. Right?
  • Speaker 4
    0:42:13

    The challenge is not only would you have to sit down with everyone with that pollster, you’d also have to do it two seconds before they vote, because otherwise, they’re just re immersed in the bad information universe, and then things go sideways again very quick.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:25

    So true. Bill, what do you think?
  • Speaker 3
    0:42:28

    I have a slightly different view. I know two things. Number one, the threat is real. It’s not paid up. And it is easy to show, you know, based on publicly released plans.
  • Speaker 3
    0:42:42

    For twenty twenty five that the the think tanks and the senior aids that that have rallied behind Trump I’ve been thinking very carefully. For example, about the use of the Insurrection Act, you know, which is a perfect illegal vehicle for what in effect is the declaration of martial law in the United States. And there are various other things that can be documented. The second point is that Joe Biden believes it. Right?
  • Speaker 3
    0:43:15

    And so this argument passes the authenticity test. Right? He could be passionate about this. And the same way that he was passionate in twenty twenty, about, you know, the conflict between democracy and autocracy being the major issue issue in the world. I think it’s always better.
  • Speaker 3
    0:43:36

    When a candidate says what he passionately believes to be the case, right? Because I think it was you who used the word phony about Nikki Haley. I mean, if people can smell phony arguments, they can smell purely political arguments that are jammed up. You know, for political purposes. The third point is this.
  • Speaker 3
    0:43:59

    Joe Biden in my judgment is not going to win the economic commitment. And I have all sorts of reasons for believing that, but that would take us too far afield. And my information what it’s for what it’s worth is that he’s going to punt on immigration tonight. That is to say that he is not going to announce a bold step. That he is going in effect to say the Republicans should have passed the the bipartisan bill that was worked out in the senate.
  • Speaker 3
    0:44:30

    He’s gonna call on them to do that, which the house won’t. And then he’s going to lay out the elements of his his own preferred program. I’m afraid that the reaction to that is going to be very negative because there are a bunch of Democrats who believe that he ought to announce a temporary border closure and should already even announced it. And he will be seen as having flinched in the face of pressure from the advocates, including the advocacy groups in his own administration. So what’s he gonna campaign on?
  • Speaker 3
    0:45:05

    I’ve just ticked off the two top issues in the minds of the American people, I don’t think he has any choice, but to emphasize democracy and abortion slash IVF because I don’t think he’s in a particularly strong position to engage on the other arguments that are top of mind for the American people.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:30

    Linda, what do you think? I think it’s been effective. But I understand why voters tune it out. Campaign consultants say it’s not gonna work. You gotta talk to them about the price of eggs.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:42

    What what do you think? They should do?
  • Speaker 5
    0:45:44

    Well, I I think actually that there has to be a combination. I actually think the democracy issue is a winning issue. But it has to be presented as a kitchen table kind of discussion. And that’s where abortion Bulwark. Because you have all of these people including, a couple that were forced to leave the state of Texas in order to have an abortion the pregnancy that was going to fail and that endangered the mother and in which the baby if it were actually born alive would live a maximum of a week.
  • Speaker 5
    0:46:19

    When you can make those stories real and you can try to get people to understand that this isn’t a theoretical discussion. This isn’t, you know, going back to Philadelphia and and discussing the difference between democracy and republic and representative government and two houses of Congress. They’re not the kind of academic very abstract kind of discussion. This is something that affects your life and abortion does that. I would disagree a bit with Bill on immigration.
  • Speaker 5
    0:46:48

    He and I have disagreed. We’ve we’ve sort of reversed roles, Bill is to my right. I’m on the left on this issue on the podcast. But I would talk about immigration. First of all, I think talking about the way the Republicans killed what was necessary in order to give Joe Biden, the the tools to be able to act more forcefully.
  • Speaker 5
    0:47:09

    But there’s another issue and that leads us to this project twenty five. Americans are worried about those people flooding in, but throughout America, whether you’re talking about you know, even red states, places like Iowa immigrants have revitalized rural America. They buy homes, they buy cars, they start businesses, and people have in their community, people whom they know They may go to church evangelicals, very, very strong presence of evangelical, Hispanic in various parts of the country, particularly in rural areas. If you can dramatize what Donald Trump wants to do, it isn’t just that he wants to stop people from coming in. He wants to take people who’ve been here twenty years, establish lives here, own their home, started a business, are actually employing other people.
  • Speaker 5
    0:48:07

    He wants to round them up. He wants to put them intents in the desert. And he wants to with absolutely, no due process at all, shift them back to the country he thinks they ought to, be living in. And sometimes that’s going to involve people who are not even here illegally because that’s what’s happened every time we’ve had those kind of mass roundups. People who are either legal residents or, were born in the United States, but may not have, you know, their birth certificate.
  • Speaker 5
    0:48:38

    I don’t carry mine. Or my passport with me most days, they’re gonna end up, in these camps. I think you can dramatize that and get home the message. That these are your neighbors. These are the people whose restaurants you go to.
  • Speaker 5
    0:48:54

    These are the people who you sell cars to, etcetera. And understand that somebody who is going to take dictatorial power to do something that is not within the law. In order to get rid of these people. I think that kind of message could play and I think it’s going to take Hollywood to do it. And by the way, the last time I checked Hollywood was very much in democratic, side of the ledger.
  • Speaker 5
    0:49:20

    And I, believe that they could come up with some very, very effective ads on abortion. And even on the immigration issue that could be effective.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:30

    Okay. It’s time for our, low light or highlight of the week, and I’m gonna start with Bill.
  • Speaker 3
    0:49:36

    Well, it won’t surprise the faithful listeners of beg to differ that I have yet another low light and it won’t surprise them either that involve that it involves the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While we dither about renewing aid to Ukraine, it is literally the case that Ukraine is running out of the ammunition that it needs to hold the lines that it has held at such extraordinary human price for the past year. The Russians are moving forward in a number of areas where They are outgunning the Ukrainians ten to one in artillery shells where Ukrainian soldiers have been told to save their ammunition from their guns and their, you know, and their rifles and their machine guns for large groups of Russians. And if you see One or two Russians moving forward, don’t waste your bullet. You know, it makes me want a howl and it makes me want to cry.
  • Speaker 3
    0:50:43

    Right? These are people who are prepared to surrender their lives in defense of Freedom and independence and democratic self government, they’re not asking us to shed a drop of blood, all they’re asking us for is the tools to do the job. And we’re not giving them to them. Shame on us and shame on the speaker of the house.
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:11

    Oh, man. Damon?
  • Speaker 6
    0:51:13

    Well, here’s, gonna be a case where I’m gonna give you a highlight, and I suspect it’s a highlight that, a plurality or majority of our listeners will consider a low light, but, hey, it’s all called beg to differ, isn’t it? This week, it’s really amazing what a big news week it was for politics that we had this really huge Supreme Court decision on Monday, and it not even come up. The Supreme Court ruled nine to zero that we cannot disqualify Donald Trump for presidency using the third section of the fourteenth amendment. And I have to say, thank goodness. I and I have been deeply ambivalent all along about the kind of law fair approach to trying to save us from Donald Trump making the case over and over again that he is a he is a political problem who must be defeated politically.
  • Speaker 6
    0:52:10

    And if he cannot be defeated politically, then will be tied the United States. But this particular gambit of using the fourteenth amendment to kind of rid us of Trump. I have found from the moment it was put forth. I’ve thought it was completely indefensible and just unpersuasive. And I hoped and prayed and suspected that the Supreme Court would agree with me.
  • Speaker 6
    0:52:39

    And the fact that John Roberts was able to get, all nine justices on board with at least the per, per curium portion. Of the decision. I think is very good. I very much support it. And, I say, Xnate, all of the Ney Sayers out there who kind of were, rending their garments about this, in a display of peak this week.
  • Speaker 6
    0:53:04

    I was pleased by it, and I think it is. Even if it means, we get Donald Trump reelected. I think that is better than trying to remove him from political scene by, summarily declaring him, invalid as a candidate. Then, obviously, that’s a big a big thing. We could debate for a long time.
  • Speaker 6
    0:53:26

    We’re not gonna do it, but that’s where I come down, please.
  • Speaker 3
    0:53:29

    Phil.
  • Speaker 4
    0:53:31

    So the the real highlight of my week was my seven year old coming home from school with this assignment saying that, you know, explaining what he’s gonna be like when he’s a hundred years old and saying that he wants to be a surfer in California with blue hair that wears sunglasses. That was the actual highlight, really. From a work perspective, the highlight of my past seven days to use week more loosely, has been the second collapse of the house impeachment probe. Right. The first collapse was the, obviously, people probably know this by now.
  • Speaker 4
    0:53:58

    That the the supposed informant to alleged that Biden and Hunter Biden taken a bribe was revealed to have made the whole thing up and indicted by the Department of Justice. The secondary collapse was the interview with Hunter Biden that occurred last week, the transcript four came out and made very obvious that not only was there no real case, but the Hunter Biden was was very able to sort of brush things away. And it’s sort of fascinating now to watch Republicans, particularly James Comer, the head of the oversight committee trying to scramble and figure out how they’re gonna resuscitate thing that there’s so much demand for. Even just last night, he’s on Hannity and, you know, trying to really pump pump the pump the machine here and try and get get people engaged in this idea that something wrong happened. And he just keeps tripping over his own toes just because he has nothing to work with and he never has.
  • Speaker 4
    0:54:41

    And so I think it is good there is now more evidence that this whole thing, which was obviously contrived from the outset, was in fact contrived and that it is making Republicans have to deal with the embarrassed same scenario of they haven’t gotten way out over their skis on this thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:54:56

    It’s gonna be an interesting, a part of the next eight months, which are so dreadful to watch them not be able to have a vote on the house floor because they don’t have the goods and they have to sort of keep the investigation going, but they don’t really know why or how. Linda, how about you?
  • Speaker 5
    0:55:12

    Well, you know, this show is called Beg to Differ. And, if a listener is is hearing the show for the first time today, they’re gonna have a very confused picture of which of us is left of center and which of us is right of center because I beg to differ strongly with my friend, Damon Linker, on this week’s Supreme Court decision. I was, that was my real low light of the week. I am a tech Dwoolas and an originalist. I believe the text, the words matter, and what they say.
  • Speaker 5
    0:55:43

    I believe the history matters. And I think Donald Trump is and would be, Jefferson Davis, if he could. And in fact, he, tried to lead an army into the capital to take over. I think it was his bone spurs that prevented him from marching up the avenue to to lead, that attack. But I I think that was a low light and it was further exemplified in an art I’m going to recommend to our listeners the fallout of Trump’s Colorado victory by John Hendrickson that appeared in the Atlantic, and it’s all about, the Secretary of State Jenna Griswold, who, you know, was sort of front and center on that even though I think she was a defendant.
  • Speaker 5
    0:56:27

    In, the suit because it was, you know, she was the one who was gonna have to put the name on the ballot or not. And this was an article about how Jenna Griswold’s life has changed and it was shocking. The kinds of abuse that she has had to put up with I will read you a, an edited, version of one of the calls that she received hoping that some effing immigrant from effing Iran cuts the heads of her kids off and that somebody shoots her in the head. That was one of the milder of, the kinds of things she had to put up with. Just for being somebody who had to ultimately make the decision.
  • Speaker 5
    0:57:14

    Keep Donald Trump on the ballot or not. And, I think this shows what terrible state, our democracy is in. When people who do the ordinary jobs going to the polls on election night and helping count the ballots end up like Shay Moss and and, and her mother, miss Ruby, Lady Ruby, end up having their lives turned upside down. This to me is really one of the scariest things that we’ve seen. I don’t recall a time in all of my political life.
  • Speaker 5
    0:57:54

    When I have seen this kind of animus directed, this kind of violent rhetoric, directed to people that disagree, on a particular, candidate. And I I think that’s that’s my love life for the week.
  • Speaker 2
    0:58:09

    And no doubt Nikki Haley will be considering when she decides what to say about Donald Trump. How much she’s gonna spend out of her personal finances on security per day for Mitt Romney five thousand. Mitch McConnell can afford it, but he still endorsed Trump. It is literally now.
  • Speaker 5
    0:58:30

    And that was my other low. I forgot. I’m glad you mentioned that. I was hoping against hope that, the reason that he was stepping aside from his minority leadership position was so that he could not endorse I got proved wrong on that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:58:43

    I I was grasping with you Linda on that. Well, my, low light is My favorite exit poll finding from Nikki Haley’s final night on Super Tuesday of North Carolina Republican voters Does Nikki Haley have the physical and mental health needed to serve as president? Fifty eight percent. Yes. Thirty nine percent.
  • Speaker 2
    0:59:06

    No. Does trump? Yes. Seventy six percent. No.
  • Speaker 2
    0:59:11

    Twenty two percent. And anyone on Twitter this week has seen some very interesting, misogynistic interviews about whether or not Nikki Haley or a woman could serve. The only one I can repeat is the woman in the diner who openly told the Fox interview interviewer that she was concerned about Nikki Haley being in menopause. So, that’s that’s, I just wanna know, I just wanna emphasize that The cruelty is the point, but the misogyny is also one of the baked end points of Mega that, is truly still in twenty twenty four. Just staggering to me.
  • Speaker 2
    0:59:46

    I love this conversation. Thank you all for joining me. It was a delight to fill in for Mona. She will be back Next week. Thank you all for joining us.
An ad-free version of Beg to Differ is available exclusively to Bulwark+ members. Learn more here.