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The Rage and Joy of MAGA America (The Secret Podcast PREVIEW)

July 7, 2023
Notes
Transcript

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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

    Hey there. It’s JBL on the Secret Show with Mona Charen today. We talked about the rage and joy of manga America and how so many log at types, feel like it’s the end of the world and also they’re loving it. Here’s the show. Okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:22

    So what he his column is about the It’s called the rage and joy of manga America, and it’s it’s very profound. And it gets to the heart of something which, you know, I’ve I’ve noticed over the course of the years, I noticed when I started covering the twenty sixteen campaign and going to Trump rallies back in the day, but was never really able to put my finger on it. And he starts out by talking about a July four video message from Representative Andy Ocles. Who is a freshman Republican from Tennessee. And this is this is what Andy ogles put out for his constituents.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:02

    Hey, guys, congressman Andy Ocles here wishing you a happy and blessed fourth of July. Hey, remember our founding fathers. It’s we the people that are in charge of this country not a leftist minority. Look, the leftist is trying to destroy our country and our family and they’re coming after you. Have a blessed fourth of July.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:17

    Be safe, have fun. God bless America. Yeah. And David says, like, what is hold on a minute? They’re coming for your family.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:27

    Have a great day. Yeah. And this is the the trick of Trumpism, which it is this, you know, you you the good real American are besieged on all sides even though you never see these people because you live in deep red places where eighty five percent of the people are Republicans and your kids go to schools where all of their teachers are Republicans and even even spell that. Out there somewhere. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:57

    There’s a school board member in San Francisco. Who wants to do something stupid and they’re coming for your family. But but, you know, don’t worry. Everything’s great.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:08

    Yeah. So a couple things. One is I actually have a slight disagreement disagreement with you about the nature of the threat or or what how much the progressive agenda impinges on the lives of Trump people. Okay? So we’ll get to that in a minute.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:26

    Okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:26

    But but regarding the the one of the points that David makes in this piece, which is really correct, I I think. Is that and he he ties it to DeSantis because DeSantis very much misses this. Namely, that part of the Trump movement is you know, for the outsider, it looks like it’s cruelty all the way down in viciousness and hatred and divisiveness. But in fact, a big part of it is fun. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:55

    They have a great time, and Trump is an entertainer And he those Trump rallies, he makes people laugh. And they’re enjoying themselves and, you know, it it is It is half entertainment, half politics, and DeSantis sees only the vicious side of it, you know. Well, people seem to like the cruelty, so I’ll do tons of cruelty, and I’ll win them over. But he has none of the fun. None of the humor.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:27

    It’s so grim. Right? This is what what French says is, you know, can you picture Ron DeSantis leading a crowd of twenty thousand people in YMCA? I mean, of course not. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:37

    Right. Exactly. Exactly. And so yeah. I mean, you know, I I personally find Trump so repellent that it’s very hard for me to even watch him.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:49

    You know, he truly makes I’m just utterly, utterly appalled and and repelled by everything about him, and I always have been. I was Annie Trump before it was cold.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:02

    Back when I was living in New
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:03

    York city, and he was dominating the the tabloids. You know, I thought this guy is a total creep. But I do understand that for his fans, he is funny, and he can be kind of funny. I mean, you you have to acknowledge that, you know, when he does his little riffs about I remember one where he was talking about, you know, alternative energy and climate. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:26

    And leading aside, you know, he’s completely wrong, and this is a very bad message to send. But, you know, he imitates a husband and wife saying, you know, Can we watch TV tonight, dear? No. Can’t. The wind’s not blowing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:38

    Sorry. No TV tonight, you know, and the audience roars and, you know, and that element is is important. But at the same time, we can’t minimize the level of cruelty that he has normalized in politics. That too is a part of this. And you know, he’s kind of like the comedians who are really horrible and cruel.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:08

    And then they always when they’re called on it, they retreat and say, well, it was just a joke. I’m just kidding. Right? I mean, he introduces making fun of handicapped people, you know, you know, being incredibly vicious about racial minorities, about, you know, about Mexicans about foreigners, whatever. And then when he’s called on and he’s like, oh, you can’t take a joke.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:33

    You know?
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:35

    It’s a it yeah. I have to say, the humor was not lost on me. I, you know, I again, I’d go to these rallies. I’d be like, I see why these people are here. Like, it’s he he is funny.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:47

    Not always, but his you know, when he’s trying to be funny, his sense of timing quite good. Like, you know, it’s a guy who understands television and understands performance. Yep. And I I get it. Mhmm.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:00

    I get it. What I don’t
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:02

    There’s a good side to that. Isn’t there? Because what we’re saying is that Trump is unique.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:09

    I think that well, I hope that’s right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:11

    I hope it’s right too. Because Trump is unique and therefore, there isn’t really Trumpism there is just Trump. And when god willing, the good lord is ready to call him home or he’s ready to give up his ambitions, it isn’t gonna be easy to replace him, and it isn’t going to be just another worse version. It’s not gonna be Trump junior.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:34

    Do you know who’s really funny, Mona? What? Tucker? Ugh. Yes.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:40

    I’m sorry to say it. Tucker’s deeply, deeply funny. I’m not saying I think it’s harder to reply. You can’t just plug DeSantis in there. Right.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:51

    Right? You and and in a way, it probably has to be somebody who doesn’t come from traditional again. Right. It has to be somebody who is who is a performer first. I I don’t know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:03

    But to but here’s what I can’t square though. Do the manga people really believe that it’s a battle for civilization? Or is that just like a fun thing they get to is it like larping? You know? Like, the people who, like, go to renfairs who
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:22

    So I mean, what a red fair? You need a renaissance fair?
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:25

    Yeah. It’s like play acting. Right? You know? Like, wanna pretend that we’re in some grand ideological battle on the side.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:31

    I don’t think that’s fake. I don’t think that’s fake. I think they genuinely believe it. And now I’ll come to this point that I that I teased a minute ago and didn’t didn’t get to. And that is that I do think I listen to your secret podcast all
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:46

    the time.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:46

    I don’t think you listen to just between us. Right? You’ve said you don’t.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:49

    Often. I’m sorry. It makes me it just give me performance anxiety.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:55

    That’s okay. But so here’s an area where I think you and I see things a little differently. I do think that the progressive worldview, the progressive agenda, does impinge on people’s lives more than you think it does. You know, just in the schools around here, you know, suddenly, it’s, you know, bathrooms for, you know, the kids who identifies trans are going to be allowed to use bathrooms according to the sex they identify with, that’s new, that’s something very radical. You know, the whole pronoun thing, all of those kinds of things they do penetrate even into areas that are not deep blue.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:41

    And so because because, you know, there’s a lot of cultural power that progressives have. And there is, and so there is a reaction you know, to that from from the right, and and they it’s not as if it’s imaginary. They do have thing they do have their grievances.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:03

    They have grievances, but, again, I maybe I’m wrong about this. Right? So I can understand that in purplish states. Right? Or purplish places.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:14

    But you know, Tennessee, Alabama, these are not places. Where and this is where the hardest of the hardcore manga comes from. Right? These are not places where that is the case. And it’s just the knowledge that’s someone somewhere out there is passing a policy that you don’t like.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:33

    And that’s weird.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:33

    You said that Was it the you know, that a a puritan is afraid that somewhere someone is having a good time.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:42

    Yeah. Something like that. But this is I mean, I I mean, one way to look at all this stuff is that this is what federalism is, and a progressive state like California is gonna have a different approach to all of these things than a conservative state like Alabama. Right? And what why should Alabama care?
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:00

    What the school board in San Francisco does when they rename their schools?
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:04

    Yeah. Well, of course, there are also conservatives in California, even if they’re not in power and they resent the and and then, you know, the the strength of the progressives is demonstrated, and this is why for decades the best way to appeal to it any conservative audience was to go after the media. Right. Because they perceived that there was tremendous cultural or that progressives had in television, newspapers and magazines, and, you know, the movies, entertainment, And they’re not wrong. I mean, that is where progressives have their power.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:46

    You know, somebody said that that that conservatives have political power and want cultural power, and progressives have cultural power and want political power, And but, anyway, it’s it is and, of course, that’s a little very oversimplified. But I do think that the perception of cultural power isn’t wrong. It’s just these days, it’s gotten a little muddier. So twenty five years ago when you spoke to a conservative audience and you went after the media, maybe you had a bit of a point, you know, that there was a little bit of a monoculture Now the biggest channels are Fox News and, you know, other and and the Internet is dominated by conservatives. So It isn’t true anymore that that the progressives control the media, but but there is still that perception.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:40

    It’s very, very strong.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:41

    So I I want a swerve to talk about this even though I I didn’t plan on it because this gets it something that I’ve wrestled with before. So I came from Conservative Media. You came from Conservative Media. And the the The idea behind conservative media was the mainstream media has certain biases and blind spots and we need a corrective to that. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:08

    Is that a fair
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:09

    Absolutely. Right? Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:11

    And What happened is that conservative media never quite or maybe that never quite is not is the wrong way. Conservative media became a dead end. And I would I would offer the following point. So today the New York Times has like a four thousand word reported expose on Hunter Biden’s unacknowledged kid. Down in Arkansas.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:39

    And it is a very, very tough piece of reporting. It is very hard on the Biden administration on Joe Biden himself. It’s, you know, it’s it’s for reals. Right? There is literally no analog to that in conservative media.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:59

    Right? There there is no long piece in the Wall Street Journal about Donald Trump. Right? And there is there there is The American Spectator did not do a deep dive on George w Bush and his Texas Air National Guard Service or anything like that. And worse than that though, is that the conservative media never actually wound up doing any original reporting.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:28

    It would just chew over the actual news being broken by the liberal media. Right? Because the liberal media would, for whatever its faults and biases, would still go out and report stories. And contribute to the general fund of knowledge and information about the state of the world as it was happening around us. And the conservative media never did that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:49

    And there were there were places that, you know, tried to do it, and there were reporters and writers who would do a little bit of it here, a little bit of it there. But that was, like, two percent. Right? That’s two percent of the output, maybe, globally. And I at the end of the day, I think conservative media was a mistake.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:07

    And that the the world would have been better off if all of the energy that went into National view, weekly standard, the American Spectator, all all of the various conservative outlets. If those people had just gone and worked at the New York Times and Bloomberg business week and the Associate Press and and all that, and just, you know, transform those places five percent from the inside.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:36

    So that’s an interesting idea. I would draw a distinction between the weekly standard and national review at its best. Wall Street Journal editorial page at its best and what happened at Fox. And by the way, those publications reached a tiny fraction of the number of people that Fox reaches. But But, yeah, I think I wrote a piece a while back about how, you know, for all these decades, conservatives have been grinding their teeth about the lack of conservative media?
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:14

    And then and how biased the mainstream press was? And, you know, every single day, Russia Limbaugh was thundering about how biased the media was, and he was the alternative, etcetera, then they get it. They they finally get their own. And what do they do? They become far more biased and unbalanced than the thing they were railing against.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:35

    So in that sense, it was a complete failure a dangerous failure, I would even say, because because of what they have stoked willingly and what complete and shameless liars they’ve become. So, so there is there is that. I’m not ready to say that the weekly standard was an stake or any, you know, any of those other things because, you know, there is a place for a lead opinion too. And — Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:04

  • Speaker 2
    0:16:04

    you know — Fair.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:05

  • Speaker 2
    0:16:05

    kind of thing. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:06

    I’m speaking the most broad conceptual generalizations. I I you know, again, very proud of many of the things that the weekly standard did, I think we just did more reporting than most. But just as a general thesis — Mhmm. — like, you know, the the way to correct problems with mainstream media is alternative institutions versus staying within those institutions. I think maybe some of the institutions want something better.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:32

    Sorry. Can can I make a confession?
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:34

    Please.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:35

    This is a really hard thing that I struggle with myself even to this day. So, you know, we, at the Bulwark kind of pride ourselves on not being tribal and you know, we’re we’re trying to tell it like it is. We’re trying to see the truth as much as we can. And we try to listen to people on all sides and all that. And yet, even though I know that’s the right way to think of things and it’s the right way to be.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:04

    I struggle to do it in my own life. I have real problems listening to somebody like Tucker Carlson or reading people, I don’t that I vehemently disagree with who make me angry. It’s really hard. I and and on the other side, you know, because I’m on an ice flow in a weird position of being not left and not right anymore. So for example, I thought the, you know, the three zero three creative case was rightly decided because I thought it was Coer’s speech.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:36

    And I didn’t particularly wanna hear people. I did listen, and I think Tim made some good points, actually. But no. That’s not a good example because I did think Tim made good points. But, like, on the affirmative action cases, do I want to listen to a whole podcast full of people saying this is the end of the world because I don’t think it is, you know?
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:55

    And even though I probably should have listened, I probably would have learned things, but I didn’t. And in that case. So it’s hard to get people to be open to a point of view they don’t agree with. And I struggle with it myself.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:12

    Yeah. Well, do I mean, look, we all do. Right? This is this is human nature and the it’s the idea is that we try. You know, you you try and you fall short and then you wake up the next day and you try again.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:24

    Try again.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:25

    Yeah. This is the one of the distinctions is between the people who try and the people who don’t.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:29

    That’s true.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:30

    Right? It’s it’s not the distinction isn’t between people who are great at doing it and people aren’t. It’s the distinction is between people who try and people who don’t Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:38

    That’s fair.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:38

    Yeah. Yeah. I and I should say I understand fully the irony of me saying that it was a mistake to set up alternative institutions in the in the media while we have set up an alternative institution within the media. I get fully get fully cognizant of this this tension here. It’s just something I have I have struggled Will Saletan let’s go back to
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:02

    the Oh, wait. Can I just say one more thing about that? Because all institutions tend to replicate themselves. And so you say it might have been better for people, you know, like Andrew Edgar or whoever, you know, weekly standard graduates to just go to the New York Times of the Washington Post, they might not have been willing to have them. Wasn’t so easy to break into institutions like that if you weren’t sympatico.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:27

    Yeah. I guess that’s that’s true. I mean, I I remember David Remnik giving an interview at some you know, he was on some panel somewhere and talked about how he found conservatives interesting, but of course, he would never hire one.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:37

    There you go.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:38

    And I was just like, you know, f u pal. I worshiped the New Yorker, and you would never hire me. That’s great. Yeah. Thanks so much.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:46

    Yeah. So I wanna I wanna I just can’t let this line go because it’s so good in the David French piece. He talks about He talks about the boat parades. He says the Trump boat parade are one part battle for the future of civilization and one part booze cruise And this is what I, again, I can’t really untangle and figure out because I look you know, I I think it is fair to say that both sides have a semi apocalyptic view of what’s going on right now. Our side looks at the twenty six twenty twenty election and the storming the capital in an attempt to hang the vice president to prevent him in order from certifying the count of the electoral college and says, So this looks to us like a real existential problem, and like a sitting president attempting a coup to overthrow democracy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:46

    This makes us very concerned. And the other side says, you know, my aunts, sisters, brothers, cousins, said that someone on Facebook said that kids at his school are using litter boxes because they identify as cats. And so we’ve got to support Donald Trump. Let’s go on a boat parade. And I don’t I I look at it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:08

    This again, I Do they believe that it’s a battle for the future of civilization? Or is it just like lifestyle brand stuff? Like I hate the lives. I love triggering those lives. I’m gonna drink my liberal tears.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:20

    There’s a lot of tricky liberal tears in this, but I I don’t think it would go quite the way you said. I think it would be more like They’re making such a big fuss about January sixth. And, you know, it really wasn’t that big deal. And what about the I don’t think they would go to the the litter boxes there. They would go to look at what happened in Portland you know, during the Black Lives Matter protests.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:44

    Look at all the violence in the cities that the Black Lives Matter people did. Nobody’s talking about that And
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:52

    parts Hundreds of those people were sentenced to jail.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:54

    So first of all, exactly.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:56

    Most of
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:56

    those people were sentenced to jail. And second, they were not attempting overthrow the government. So and they did not have the support of leading members of the Democratic Party. Either. So there are huge differences, but that’s the way it would be presented is that, you know, oh, there’s a double standard and, you know, we or, you know, we we had fun with this at the Bulwark.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:20

    I mean, how many different explanations did they offer for January sixth.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:24

    Oh, it was a Tifa. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:26

    For It was a Tifa. It was inside job. It was the deep state. It couldn’t have been Trump people. Because as Marjorie Taylor Green instructed us, if they’d been in charge, they would have come armed.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:39

    Yeah. And then and then it was you know, finally of of course, these were great patriots who were fighting for our freedoms and to pardon them. Right? This is, you know, all these things to say that this thing didn’t happen. It didn’t happen.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:50

    It didn’t happen. And then it did happen, and it was glorious. Yeah. And we’re gonna we’re gonna pardon them and do it right the next time. Gaslighting.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:58

    Gaslighting. It’s just enough to make you insane.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:02

    But I you know, it is it is of a peace with this tendency to look around and say that everything is terrible, which I, again, If you are wealthy enough to own a boat to go out and do these boat parades and, you know, like these weren’t canoes, Like, you’d see people out and, like — Oh, true. — sizeable sizable boats.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:24

    Both
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:25

    boats are expensive. Boat insurance is expensive. Marina fees are expensive. If you are you you you have a boat and you’re driving a Ford Raptor f one fifty or, you know, the the the butcher’s like God knows why I think those are seventy thousand dollar trucks. Or you are these guys who show up to the rallies in, like, thirty thousand dollars worth of tactical gear, you know, with the the the special scopes and the the kevlar and, you know, you are larped out Are you really gonna tell me that America’s going to hell?
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:58

    Because it seems to me like you’re doing okay. Right? Things are things are okay. You’re on your boat. You got your nice truck.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:05

    Like, you you got your two kids, Madison, and Hehar, whatever, like I don’t know. It seems like life is okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:13

    So I think this actually afflicts everybody not just the MAGA world namely that because of our media system now, where getting clicks and getting media attention and social media attention, involves ginning up hatred and outrage and shock. We’re all bombarded with that, and it is So everybody’s more keyed up, more angry, more agitated than they used to be. But I also think there is a reaction out there against it that people also feel on all sides of the political spectrum that they’re dying to feel a little bit normal and not be so keyed up all the time. And so those things are intention. You know, if you ask people the state of the country, they’ll give you these terrible answers.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:06

    And but in point of fact, for most people and their personal lives, and there there’s polling to to support this. You know, how’s the state of the country? It terrible. We are going into a ditch. How’s your personal life?
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:20

    Great. Love my family, love my work, love my neighborhood, you know? And
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:28

    My kid’s school was great. They love it. They got good friends.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:31

    Exactly. Yeah. And so I do think that there is that cognitive dissonance there that is an opportunity. And there are groups out there who are more in common and others who are attempting to bridge that divide. And but at some point, you know, there’s an opportunity there for some, you know, nonprofit or for or for some politician to be able to say, look, we are more angry than reality reflex, and we have to be able to find some peace in this country.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:04

    This is basically the Biden campaign. Right? I mean, the the the but I I joke about this all the time, but the Biden twenty twenty election slogan should basically be, things are pretty okay. Hey, again, it’s JBL. The conversation goes on from there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:18

    If you want to hear the rest of the show, head on over to work plus and subscribe. We’d love to have you.
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