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Tom Nichols: The GOP Needs a Fake Joe Biden

March 7, 2024
Notes
Transcript
Republicans keep painting Biden as an antifa-loving, Iran-coddling communist as they try to create a moral equivalence with Trump. Plus, McConnell won’t even stand by his wife, the Russian wing of the GOP wants to defund the police, and Katie Porter: Give us a break. Nichols joins Tim today.
This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:08

    Hello, and welcome to the Bulwark Podcast. I’m your host Tim Miller. We’re here with a fan favorite Professor Ameritas at the Naval War College. He’s now staff writer at the Atlantic, and author of the Atlantic Daily newsletter. That’s a lot of writing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:21

    His books include the death of expertise, which has an updated and expanded edition, lots of fodder for that coming in April. We’re gonna get our grump on. Tom, thank you for doing
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:31

    Hey, Tim. Good to be back with you. How are you?
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:34

    Well, I’m filled with, like, hellfire rage right now, and I spent most of yesterday afternoon doing something that I kind of retired from, which was just like, quote tweeting just ruthless Twitter bombs on the pathetic quiz links that have decided to get in line with Trump, now that he’s officially the nominee, and, I just kinda wanna get out some of that rage with you today, if that’s okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:55

    I think it feels therapeutic. Rach is kind of my default setting, especially these days. And, I was I was right there with you, so I I know exactly how you feel.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:05

    Well, we’ve got a long list. We’ve got Mitch. We’ve got Mike Johnson. We’ve got the anti anti conservative writer class. Maybe he Mitch again.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:12

    Maybe Katie Porter, we’ll see. But first, I wanna introduce you to to my new friend. His name’s Eric Levin. Do you happen to see him, on the tube yesterday? This guy
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:21

    is a
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:21

    Mickey Haley. He’s a Nikki Haley donor. Yeah. And, I was blindsided by a panel with him on MSNBC yesterday. I was pretty mean to him.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:30

    People can find out on the if they want. But rather than, you know, play a highlight reel of myself, I I wanted to just kind of really get your dander up and make you listen to the arguments that he was making. Remember, this is a this is one of the normal Republicans. He’s a Nikki Haley donor trying to determine what he’s gonna do in the general election. Let’s play it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:49

    So I’m from the Reagan wing of the party. So one thing that’s not gonna happen is I’m not gonna support Joe Biden. The world is on fire. The catastrophic surrender from Afghanistan, the unforgivable appeasement of Iran, the separating the United States from supporting Israel. These are these are horrible things.
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:07

    They spike and explosion of anti Semitism on the left as an American Jew. I can’t possibly vote Democrat.
  • Speaker 4
    0:02:14

    So Donald Trump pulled out of NATO, Port, Putin. Charlesville?
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:20

    Yeah. Well, Charlie Sykes, if you play the entire clip, and this is telling
  • Speaker 5
    0:02:24

    you guys put us in
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:25

    the context of having to support and defend Donald Trump. If you play the entire clip of Charlottesville and not excerpt it, Donald Trump was clearly talking about people who wanted to take down the statues. Not not so let’s not get sidetracked to that. Joe Biden also called me a semi fascist, whatever that is. And he also accused Georgia of Jim Crow two when they passed their election laws.
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:47

    So let’s not pretend Joe Biden is some nice guy. He’s not.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:50

    Well, he’s attempted a coup. So there’s they’ve got that. He’s got that going from? Well Nobody’s charged the capital away.
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:56

    Well, hold on a second.
  • Speaker 4
    0:02:57

    So where does the vote go?
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:59

    Okay. But first, what was the Russia hoax? That was an attempt to Oh, god.
  • Speaker 4
    0:03:03

    Oh, okay. Where does the boat? Okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:05

    That’s enough. Roll is the Russia host. That was a coup. So this is these are the people we need to win over Tom. Oh, I don’t know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:13

    How does that make you feel.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:14

    Yeah. Well, you know, Donald Trump need, you know, does Nikki Haley so wisely tell us Donald Trump needs to, you know, win make win them over and other people outside the party because, you know, he’s an unknown quantity. I mean, this Donald Trump guy, he just burst on the scene here in twenty, twenty four and we’re still kinda getting our reading on the guy. He’s gotta introduce himself to the American people. I mean, this is all just I mean, leave aside any partisan preference you might have.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:42

    For anyone to talk this way about Donald Trump and Joe Biden, it’s hallucinatory. It’s as if nothing happened. You know, I keep saying it’s like the guy in Memento who keeps who wakes up every morning and doesn’t have any new memories in the start all over again. You know?
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:56

    Maybe we could write a note next to Nikki Haley’s bed with just kind of a list of a couple things Trump has done.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:01

    Don’t trust this person. Right? Little polaroids.
  • Speaker 4
    0:04:06

    Little little tattoos. Mitch McConnell
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:07

    is not your friend. You know? This is a movie script that would write itself.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:14

    The earned vote thing, I’m glad that upset you as much as I did. Like, what are you talking about Donald Trump could earn their And, like, this guy being like, I’ve I’ve counted out Joe by not considering him, but Donald Trump can win me back. It’s like, Donald Trump’s not changing. Donald Trump is Donald Trump. He’s been the same for six years.
  • Speaker 5
    0:04:29

    Yeah. What is
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:30

    The minute she said that, I said, what does that look like? What he’s gonna step forward and say, I’m sorry. I’ve been a horrible person my whole life, and I didn’t mean to do a coup, and I’m sorry about my, you know, you know, many fences again that they can see. And I mean, what that’s just, you know, sort of, boiler plate speech writing one zero one, you know, Again, as if it’s a normal election. But I think what you’re hearing, and that whole clip from, Mr.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:59

    Levin is We know that once again, the SS GOP has struck the Trump iceberg. There is now a desperate attempt underway. And, you know, you and I both been seeing it among our former friends on the right, you know, I’m saying, well, Joe Biden is so terrible that the Republican part forget about Trump. We know he has problems, but the Republican Party is the only vessel of salvation against this communist anti semite antifa loving
  • Speaker 5
    0:05:33

    I don’t
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:34

    know, you know, Iranian coddling, whatever. First of all, they’re all saying, I mean, I don’t think it’s coordinated, but it’s obviously the same piece of sheet music of save the party at all costs. Save the party. Save the party. Save the party.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:48

    And to do that, you have to depict Joe Biden Who’s about the most ordinary American relative? I mean, it’s like, again, we need to define Joe Biden because, you know, no one’s seen the guy for fifty years. He’s a brand new, you know. Like, all this stuff is said as if Joe Biden didn’t exist forty five years ago. It’s a name.
  • Speaker 4
    0:06:09

    Well, and
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:10

    this is why you gotta bring in the other people. I mean, so you have to kind of create a fake Joe Biden. Right? And then you know, when we’re off air, this guy, Levin is is continues to shout at me. And he’s like, well, it’s it’s the Hamas Kids on campus.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:21

    It’s the pro Hamas Kids on Camp Like, they’re Joe Biden voters. And I’m like, I’m a Joe Biden voter. I’m not a pro Hamas. What are you talking about? Joe Biden has resisted these people.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:30

    I thought I thought that the talking point up until like, two minutes ago, was that Joe Biden was a Trojan horse and he was senile and the far left was gonna control him. It’s like, if that’s the case, why wasn’t Joe Biden out there chanting from the river to the sea, you know, with the promo? Alright. Like, he’s resisted that angle.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:47

    Well, and also, I’m sorry. You’re worried about the Hamas Kids on campus. Can we talk about the new nominee for governor of North Carolina?
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:55

    Or the guy that had lunch with Donald Trump. Nick Fuente. He was, like, in the the neo Nazi and Kanye, like, after his anti Jew rant had lunch with Trump. Is is Joe Biden inviting the students for Palestine to the White House I haven’t seen that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:07

    I mean, it’s an easy call, and I wrote about it myself, about campus anti Semitism, which I think is you know, exists and it’s insane and it’s and Ron DeSantis. And it’s a whole weird thing unto itself, but I I don’t think people are having to post arm guards outside of synagogues because college kids. There are bad people who are anti semites, who wanna do terrible things. And somehow saying, well, this all’s, you know, sort of Joe Biden is the sudden fountainhead of all this anti Semitism. Again, it’s it’s the rationalizations piling up.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:41

    Oh my god. Donald Trump is the nominee. How do I avoid the moral stain of Donald Trump being the nominee. And so now I have to develop all these alternative narratives about how, you know, Joe Biden is the leader of a violent cult. You know, it’s interesting when you, Tim, when you said about Levin continuing to yell at you and, you know, Joe Biden directing the Hamas kids and all that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:04

    He also told me it was my fault. Off stage. It was like we’re forcing him to go for trump by, you know, being condescending, etcetera.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:10

    We’re up to our hips in that already. Look what you made me do.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:13

    Yeah. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:14

    The it’s interesting that people now on the right because their movement is completely in the thrall to one man. They can’t imagine any other movement that isn’t. Right. I mean, look at, you know, what’s happening in the Democratic Party. They look at people like, you know, I don’t know, the former squad or Omar or the campus kids or whatever.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:35

    And they say, well, our party is completely directed from the center you know, by one unhinged terrible human being, theirs must be too. Or at least I have to depict it that way so that I can escape, again, this kind of dreadful moral stain.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:53

    Eric Ericson wrote this. So you have, you know, Dan McGoff on a national review. Right? In short, you help Trump destroy the party, or do you help Biden destroy the country? I guess that’s another question we can get to, whether the country’s destroyed, be of Eric, Ericsson, saying remember all the people outraged by GOP selecting Trump are siding with the party that went all in with BLM, excused riots, and vandalism, dismisses champlift inclined, claims violence doesn’t apply to property damage and is now muted in response to left wing anti Semitism spare me your lectures.
  • Speaker 5
    0:09:20

    Wow.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:21

    Again, it’s like Did Joe Biden do any of that?
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:24

    Well, Joe Biden clearly directed giant shopper in San Francisco.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:29

    And it’s like the the election is not between the people stealing from Walgreens on Market Street in San Francisco and Donald Trump. That’s not who the election is between. It’s between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, but you have to make it between those two to create a moral equivalent.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:42

    Exactly. Because again, imagine the agony of these folks, you know, twenty sixteen, twenty twenty, and not twenty twenty four, that, you, you know, you’re basically just scrubbing and scrubbing again to get that moral stain off of you. And the way you do it now is say everybody is so awful. And Joe Biden is the leader of an anti I mean, if you you get talking with, you know, guys like Eric, senator McLaughlin and becomes, you know, well, the Democrats are enemies of the Constitution as well. Well, I okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:13

    I’ve had my share of, gripes. I’m a Democrats and congressional and presidential overreach, but I haven’t seen any coups lately. It’s like, well, on the one side, we have a guy who in dedicated, the violent overthrow of the constitutional order. And on the other side, we have some very bad public policy that’s resulted in some shoplifting and homelessness and some college kids, you know, being all bitched out about the Middle East. Those are not comparable, but they have to be I wanted to get to one other thing before we lose it when you started saying, is the country really on the brink of disaster?
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:51

    I wrote yesterday or two days ago. See, I’m old. I’m losing track of my days. Sometime in the past.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:57

    I texted my husband yesterday. Did you forget to take our daughter school of rock, and he was like, that was two days ago.
  • Speaker 4
    0:11:02

    Right? Like, what are you talking about?
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:03

    Exactly. It’s like, the old Steven Wright joke. So just the other day, no way, it was three years so I wrote that if you had stripped Biden’s name off of the current three year record of an incumbent president and handed it to any voter, That’s a formidable record for a candidate of either party. You know, just as a political scientist, I will say that rather, as as a as a scholar of politics, rather than as a, you know, an opinion guy. There is no way around it that if you took all of these things, took all of the economic data, took where we are in foreign policy, you would say, not perfect.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:39

    You know? Okay. Fine. But a pretty solid first term. I I said probably one of the most consequential and successful first term since Reagan.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:49

    And yet somehow this has turned into you know, these guys are all like, you know, madame defarge with, you know, the the blood running in the in the streets of Paris. And it and it’s It’s nonsense, but I think it shows you how desperate they are to get out from under what just happened on Tuesday.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:05

    I just kind of wonder, like, how do these people get through a day?
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:07

    I wondered that. Yeah. Fuck the
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:09

    same thing. They’re bad choices in life all the time. Right? Where you’re like, oh, what do I do? Like, okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:14

    There’s bad traffic. Alright? Like, do I go sit in traffic or do I wait in the office for an extra hour. Both choices I have complaints about, but, like, you have to pick one. You know what I mean?
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:23

    Like, I’m hungry. I I didn’t I forgot to go grocery shopping. Like, should I should should I order food?
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:30

    Thanks. Bye.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:31

    Like, how do these people fucking go through that? Yeah. Sure. The fine. You have I have complaints with mine, and president is gonna be perfect.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:37

    I didn’t like to have to get us to withdraw either. You can’t look at two options and say, I think Biden’s been frankly fine. But even if you think Biden has been bad, even if you would grade them as d. How many times in life do you have to make choices like this? Where you look at two options and one of them is an f.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:53

    One of them is potentially catastrophic for you. And the other one’s, like, not that great. Like, that happens every week for people. But
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:00

    having this argument since twenty sixteen. It’s like, well, the Democrats will put in some policies I don’t like. Yes. I agree. They’re gonna put in some bad policies.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:08

    They will I wrote about this back in twenty sixteen. They said the Democrats are gonna do things. They’re gonna make my head explode, and they’re gonna piss me off And there’s a whole bunch of stuff that I don’t like. On the other hand, the constitution, you know, I mean, it is gaslighting about, well, the, you know, the Democrats are, you know, dangers of the constitution and Joe Biden runs Antifa. How do you write something like that?
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:30

    And then, you know, at the end of the day, you kinda lay in there and say, did I say that knowing full well? How completely bananas that is? I mean, look, you and I were Republicans. We know that party loyalty is the totem at the center of the Republican Party, and I think that’s what’s killing now.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:50

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    0:14:09

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    0:14:48

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  • Speaker 1
    0:15:17

    Can we listen to Mitch?
  • Speaker 6
    0:15:19

    How do you reconcile your trump endorsement with the fact that you called him practically and morally responsible for January six and and the fact that he insulted and your wife repeatedly.
  • Speaker 5
    0:15:30

    On February the twenty fifth, twenty twenty one. Shortly after the attack on the cap home. I was asked a similar question, and I said I would support the nominee for president even if it were the former president.
  • Speaker 6
    0:15:48

    Mister McConnell, in April of
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:50

    last year, you
  • Speaker 4
    0:15:50

    indicated it didn’t really
  • Speaker 3
    0:15:50

    directly answer the
  • Speaker 6
    0:15:54

    and as to whether or not you were comfortable with Mr. Trump if he was in the middle of criminal trials and indictments, he was the nominee. Zoom, that means you’re comfortable with.
  • Speaker 5
    0:16:04

    I don’t have anything to add to what I just said. I said in February of twenty twenty one. Shortly after the attack on the capital. Okay. That’s a valid support.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:14

    The ultimate team player, the ultimate team player, caused your wife, Coco Chow, making a racist Asian attack on his wife. And, is responsible for an attack on the capital. And yet he looks at us just like, well, what am I gonna can you explain this one to me? Because I gotta tell you. Like, some of these other people, Marco.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:35

    I don’t defend them. I don’t excuse it, but I get it. They have future. Who knows what the future holds? Mitch McConnell is an old man.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:42

    Who, like, stroked out earlier this year. He’s retiring. He’s not going to lobby. It’s not like he’s going to K Street. Like, what is why?
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:50

    Why not? Why not just say it? Why not just say, you know what? I’ve known Joe Biden for fifty years. We’ve disagreed on a lot of things, but nobody’s gonna storm the at all, and he’s never gonna make fun of my wife.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:00

    So I’m gonna be with Joe Biden. Why not do that? How hard is that?
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:04

    I don’t know. I don’t know. You know, there was that moment during an interview where Lindsey Graham blurted out that Joe Biden’s one of the nicest guys on god’s green earth, you know, and that he’s known him for years. And, of course, you know, immediately had to but when I said that, I meant, you know, one of the most horrible, you know, leprous, you know, first of all, with the other guys, you talk about their future, you know, Marco Rubio’s future and Nikki Haley’s future. That future They cannot envision just going back to being something else.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:38

    I think that’s just part of it. With Mitch, I don’t even know. I do I mean, I that’s there’s just a remember in Shawshank, the Shawshank redemption, where, Brooks, the guy with the bird, James Whitmore, he’s the old guy, and he he’s an institution man. He says, you know, that he doesn’t even doesn’t even know how to live on the outside of the institution.
  • Speaker 5
    0:18:02

    Okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:02

    And a lot of these guys are like Brooks. That was the character. They’re like Brooks. They can’t function, you know, outside of the institution. They’ve been in it so long.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:12

    And I think that’s you know, in part, they come to love being at Shaw Shank. You know, they wanna go back. Every time I see somebody like McConnell, I think of, you know, poor old James Whitmore saying, you know, on the outside saying, I don’t like it here. You know, I wanna go back.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:28

    I think it could be worse than that. I think that they’re the there are people around him that wanna be involved more and are advised pushing this. Because here’s the thing. Mitch McConnell didn’t talk to me, but I wonder if one person could get to Mitch McConnell. It’s too late now, but could have in the last three years and said, you know what, Mitch?
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:42

    You’re an institutionalist. If you had held the line beginning in January twenty twenty one and said, nope, I need to protect this institution. They’ve shit on the capital. They stormed the capital. They stormed my office.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:56

    I need to defend this to the institution of the Senate is more important to me. That’s why I went to the mattresses on the filibuster. And guess what? I will not waiver on this one. I will not.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:07

    And they kicked him out. They might rename one of those buildings after him. Right? That’s the thing that you get a building named after you four. You still get to hang out.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:14

    He still gets to hang out Joe Biden to have him over the White House support according to Evan Os knows, Joe Biden calls him. He’d be in perfect situation. He would have gotten his Supreme Court and he would be a legend. Why not do that?
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:25

    Yeah. Except that the culture of the Senate where other guys are coming to him and saying, Mitch, we can’t convict Donald Trump. I have to go home to, you know, my cherry red state And I’m getting threatening phone calls. Guys like McConnell and Collins, they love the institution of the Senate, but part of that institutional love is that you protect the guys in the club.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:49

    They were in danger though. I’m physical, did. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:51

    They were in danger, but you know what? They feel safer living in Washington than they do among their own constituents. And they’d rather be senators.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:58

    That’s true. And at
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:59

    least the phanuk, do you think at least the phanuk doesn’t know that the things she’s saying are completely bonkers? Of course, she does.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:07

    Of course, she does.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:07

    Ted Cruz, Ruby, they all know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:10

    Yeah. But they didn’t have any hope for the Statue. Mitch was on the cusp of having a statue, and they the people
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:15

    I think that’s a misunderstanding of McConnell. I think you say he’s like, if you had said to there won’t be no statues, but you can serve as the majority leader until the day you die. He just said soul.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:26

    These guys are so weak. And so one thing that Trump is right about and is so pliable. Like, Mitch has this reputation is he’s this hard ass, you know, and all of his little advisors that are around him, they have another podcast. They call it ruthless. We’re ruthless.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:39

    Mitch McConnell is tough. And it’s like some fucking two bit reality show host and real estate guy starts calling his wife names and, like, we’ll see how tough he is. He’s out just out there standing in front of
  • Speaker 5
    0:20:51

    the press will. I’ll just go to do what
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:52

    I gotta do. You know? That’s not ruthless. That’s not ruthless. That’s weak.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:57

    You know, you bring up staff, and I wonder I wonder if that’s a part of it too. The same reason that when there were people saying, you know, hey, McConnell’s clearly you know, doing that freeze thing. You know, I mean, I was a stafford at to a state level and a federal level politician, and, you know, you only exist as, you know, the samurai for your lord. You know, once your guy is gone, you’re you’re back on the street. So maybe some of this is just being driven by staff saying, I need to live in Republican world after you’re gone, boss,
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:30

    know, I just live in a fantasy world where someday I just wish that, you know, when they’re putting in the new pool at their house that they’re thinking, like, you know, what paid for this pool? The fact that I let Donald Trump just demean Elaine Chow. That’s what paid for this pool. I would like to read to you a, a quote from Mickey doubt. Age eighty in Richmond.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:52

    She was a Nikki Haley voter. Did you see her?
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:55

    Oh, I know where this is going.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:56

    I wanna get to my job. I wanna get to actual policy but I wanna do one more on this. I think Trump is so irrational and really very frightening. I think that if he allowed this January sixth thing to take place, he could try to take over the next time. If he doesn’t win this one.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:10

    I just think he’s dishonest and I don’t want that. But I think Biden is two voice trails off. Well, I definitely won’t vote for Biden. I will have to vote for Trump. Mickey Stelt.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:22

    Two town Trump voter, rich in Virginia. Lucky Virginia is not a swing state. Nikki doesn’t wanna be in the club. Nikki is a nice old lady and a little red sweater here, with an American flag. Kinda what do you call that a kerchief?
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:38

    It is an immense triumph of, messaging from Fox and from the right wing media ecosystem that has made old people deathly afraid of a politician that has been part of their life for a half century. Yeah. I mean, it is a remarkable kind of ability to bring people to a very clear state of knowledge. Let’s say Donald Trump’s very dangerous. He’s dishonest.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:04

    If he tries to get in, he’ll do another January sixth. She literally says this. And then says, but I’ll have to vote for him again. And I’ve had these conversations with people where I say, what is it that’s going on? That you think while crime’s out of control.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:22

    Well, no. It isn’t. Well, the border’s out of control. Yeah. It is.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:26

    And, you know, everybody agrees that that, of course, Trump trash to bipartisan, boy, okay. The world’s on fire. Yes. And who’s been holding that together? You know, and you kind of walked them through it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:38

    And that you eventually get to the point, and this has happened to me and discussions with people where to say, well, I just don’t think that’s true.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:44

    This is maybe your space, more respect for elders, but I feel like maybe we lost the deceased generation of folks like lived through the Spanish flu and the great depression and stuff, maybe losing that. Maybe there’s like not sense of how bad things could be. Right? So, like, I Fox has convinced these people that things are horrible that everything’s out of control, and they don’t have, like, a reference point to go back to and be like, well, are they that out of control? I mean, I remember when things were really out of control.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:11

    I don’t know.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:12

    You know, I’m old enough to remember that as well. And and it kind of blows my mind because if you’re eighty today, you were, let’s say, a form, let’s say, you know, as you were going into the last of your working years, you know, starting around fifty or fifty five, That was the nineties. And I think the problem is that your thirty year horizon has largely been And I wrote about this in my last book ding ding ding book plug, but in in our own worst enemy, I said, you know, this has been such a long stretch of peace and prosperity and rapidly achieving living standards that it’s easy to convince people that things are terrible just by showing them stuff constantly. I was watching the news last night. I’m I’m not being cute about which network.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:55

    I genuinely don’t remember which network. But it was a report about crime and why crime is down. And yet, the two hooks in the story were National Guard of the New York Subway, and, shooting in Philadelphia. So the message you took away from this news story was that it’s escape from New York. I mean, it’s, you know, Snake Pliscan is roaming the streets.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:20

    Even though the verbal, the narrative top line was crime is actually down. And I think people just don’t have any memory of the sixties or the seventies anymore. And I don’t know what to do about that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:33

    Yeah. Me neither. Okay. I, so this is gonna be my main theme of the year. I know that people don’t like to hear it, but like things are okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:39

    Things are okay. Things get worse tail risk. I wanna end with the thing on tail risk. But before that, we gotta get back to Mike Johnson. I was against to defend the police program.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:47

    How about you? That was a bad idea you thought? I assume we agreed on that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:52

    I was against it until Joe Biden told us we all had to be in favor of it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:55

    So Oh, did Joe
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:57

    Were you at the antifa meeting? You know, that’s a thing, Tim. You never come to meetings. But, no, of course, I was I’m my my brother and my father were both cops. To fund the police.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:07

    I was one of the people like you standing on the side saying, please stop saying this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:13

    So let’s hear Mike Johnson. Let’s see what Mike Johnson has is bragging about this week. Can we play that clip?
  • Speaker 7
    0:26:19

    We also advanced as you’ve seen the summary, cuts to some of the agencies that we believe are really overreaching.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:24

    That’s good.
  • Speaker 7
    0:26:25

    And and have been turned in some ways against the American people. We we’re gonna cut three percent from DOJ, seven percent from the ATF, six percent from the FBI, and ten percent from the EPA. And that’s just start. We have a lot more priorities and things that we need to advance.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:40

    DOJ, ATF, and FBI. What do they do? What do those what do those agencies do, Tom? What are we defending now?
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:48

    Tim, come on. They’re they oppress the rights of ordinary citizens.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:53

    That is the same thing that the left said about local ups. They oppress the rights of ordinary citizens.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:58

    Well, and also it’s where, again, if you’re of a certain age, it’s what the left said about the FBI. Right. You know, I was a teenager in the nineteen seventies and then, you know, I became a voting age. I turned twenty in nineteen eighty. And I feel like this is deja vu, you know, that the far right has now become where the far left was of, you know, the FBI is dangerous.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:19

    ATF is there to just you know, hassle people. The DOJ is a nest of agent Smiths that are out to, you know, destroy I mean, it’s it’s nuts. But again, in a time when you can’t find really defining differences between the parties about the immigration’s probably the closest you get to it. But it’s not nineteen sixty eight where you really are making a hard decision about law and order. Or, you know, riots and those cities literally burning, you know.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:49

    And I don’t mean small towns where there’s a a riot. I mean, like, Los Angeles, Bulwark, Detroit in flames, you know? If you don’t have those stark choices, you make them up. I’m waiting for Mike Johnson. I’m this is gonna be a deep cut from the Cold War.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:04

    When for Mike Johnson to say he’s finally gonna put an end to co Intel pro or something, you know, and go the full chomsky.
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:10

    It’s seriously. I mean, we are. We’re pro Russia. Russian gross stores are great. The Republicans.
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:16

    That’s what they’re saying. The the tucker is out there. The re things are great in Russia. We’re cutting for the police. Maybe Biden needs to do better at this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:23

    Maybe it’s just too counterintuitive to get in people’s heads, but, like, as a literal matter, the Democrats are fighting the Russians. The Democrats are not maybe not at the prosecutory level, but at the federal level are increasing funding for law enforcement. And the Republicans are on the side Russia and on the side of defending the police. That is just a fact. That’s just a fact of what what’s happening right now.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:43

    They’re killing me smalls. Because, you know, again, being a cold warrior, I’m gonna go all mow green. I made my bones during the cold war, you know. But during the cold war, I was one of those happy warriors saying, you know, you weak need pro Russia, Kremlin fearing, Democratic, liberal, NATO hating, anti defense. Those of us that were young Reagan voters.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:08

    That was the kind of argument we had. Now I watched Tucker. I was thinking of this school when he was doing his supermarket thing. He’s like an SNL parody of the most left wing PBS documentary from, like, nineteen eighty one. You know, it’s like Ronald Reagan says they’re terrible, but here in a Soviet grocery store, the borscht is flowing, you know.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:31

    It’s I can’t even believe what I’m watching, and living in the world I live in, where the Democrats are you know, planting the flag for NATO. They’re sending weapons to a country under Russian. I mean, basically, the Democrats are are doing a modern version of the Reagan doctrine. And the people who hate it the most claimed to be, you know, Reagan Republicans.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:50

    Speaking of which that we have the state of the union tonight, we’ll be talking about that all day tomorrow. But is there anything Like, what do you have any advice?
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:58

    Oh, for the state of the union? Yeah. Don’t forget. We were gonna talk about Katie Porter too.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:02

    Oh, we’re gonna get there. We got I’ve got state
  • Speaker 4
    0:30:03

    of the union. I got Katie Porter, and
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:05

    I’ve got one last thing for you.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:07

    I’m not done being triggered. Okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:08

    Good. Here’s what
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:08

    I think’s gonna happen on the state of the union. Joe Biden is gonna come in. People are gonna shake his hand. The Republicans are gonna sit there and glower. Biden is gonna stumble over a few words.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:18

    He’s gonna read a little too fast. And he’s gonna have a couple of moments that people are gonna say, boy, sounds old, and the substance will be lost. I’ll write the headline now. There will be somebody who says did the state of the union laid arrest concerns about Biden’s age.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:34

    Yeah. I know. I know you can’t do this. It’ll be interesting. We’ll we’ll be going deeper on this tomorrow.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:38

    So I I don’t wanna belabor the point, but I sort of just wish she could go in there. And just pick two things. And just, Jake, we’re just gonna talk about two things right now. Like, we’re we’re gonna talk about the democratic threat, and we’re gonna talk about how I’ve put a proposal on the table to fund crane to stand with our allies and to secure the border, will the Republicans do it? This is it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:57

    You gotta do it. We gotta I gotta put pressure on it. And that would kind of force everybody because I do think he’s gonna talk about those things. And I think that he’s on the right side of those things, but but it’s like, how do you focus the conversation around it for the people that aren’t watching it, you know?
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:10

    I would love to have them walk in again, as you say, instead of a big, I hate the state of the union addresses where, you know, they’re this big smorgasbord of laundry lost. Yeah. Big you know, aspirational wish list of things that I wish I could do to say, look, this is a very dark time for democracy around the world, and even here in the United States. Here are the two things that I really want done. I wanna get this bipartisan border deal done.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:35

    I wanna fund the budget, and I wanna help our friends overseas defend their freedom.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:40

    And the Republicans are against all of those things.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:42

    And the Republicans are against Solomon, and I wanna turn to my Republican friends in the chamber. And many of you are my friends, Right. And you know you are. We’ve known each other for a long time, but your nominee is now telling you to do dangerous things. And I’m asking you to be legislators to work with me.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:59

    Whatever happens in twenty twenty five, that’ll happen when it happens. But until then, we have work to do, and leader of your party, you know, shouldn’t be controlling this from outside the building, man up. And that’s just not gonna happen, unfortunately.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:12

    I agree. I hope we get some of that at least, amidst the laundry list. Okay. I got two minute hate on Katie Porter, and then and then one more serious topic for you. And then, you know, people can enjoy there Thursday.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:23

    Katie Porter, for people who’ve missed it, she she got absolutely trounced by Adam Schiff in the California senate race. I think it’s kind of understated about the way that Schiff, again, going back to Eric Levin about how the Democrats are abandoning Israel. Schiff took a middle of the road approach on the an Israel question where it’s kind of Katie Porter, you know, lashed out and kind of took more of the lefty approach on that. Katie Porter loses substantially Porter plus Barbara So the progressive, if you will, vote share in this California Senate, first round runoff, did not even come I think together, they were twenty one and and Schiff is, like, thirty six. So it’s not even close.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:56

    Like, the the race is even close. Anyway, her statement, thank you to everyone who supported our campaign and voted to shake up the status quo in Washington because of you, We had the establishment running scared, I guess, with standing three to one in TV spending and an onslaught of billionaires spending millions to rig this election, rig is what she said. Then this morning, she tried to to correct herself by saying that by rigged, she meant manipulated by dishonest means. I don’t think that helped.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:23

    Oh, that’s better. Yeah. I didn’t mean cheat. I meant not follow the rules.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:28

    And, you
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:29

    know, look, I don’t want it to be a two minutes hate on Katie Porter, but I hope Katie Porter now understands it. You know, when you say things like rig, when somebody’s been running for the past five years saying all elections are basically rigged except the ones I win, You know, you’re not helping. You know, you got outspent three to one. Well, welcome to the real world of politics where, you know, sometimes you get outspent. I hope people understand that getting outspent does not mean that you always lose.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:58

    Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump. That did not go well for So
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:02

    did Jeb, by the way. I was on that one. So did Ron DeSantis by the way.
  • Speaker 4
    0:34:06

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:06

    You know?
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:06

    Oh, Ron DeSantis is, I mean, that’s a that’s bonfire. That’s a joker lighting the palette of money on fire moment that is gonna be tough to equal anywhere in modern American politics.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:18

    This happened. I wrote about this this morning for in the morning shots newsletter. This happened in these house races where you had Ken Griffin and these big money donors on the right that came in in in these deep red districts and tried to support, like, kind of pretend mega candidates against real mega candidates. Right? They all got swamped.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:35

    Alright. Because the Republican voters wanted the Maga freak shows. They wanted Denesh DeSouza’s son-in-law who’s like an election truth there. Like, that’s what they wanted. And so money helps, but especially in these high profile races, if California voters wanted what Katie Border was selling, then then she wouldn’t have gotten fourteen percent.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:52

    Part of the problem with the progressive wing and the Democratic Party is they really have not and this, I think, does undermine a lot of what Joe Biden’s been trying to do in the campaign. But I think a lot of people in the progressive wing of the party just haven’t internalized what a minority of the country they are. In the same way that the Magafokes who are always like, we’re the silent majority, we’re the real Americans. The Maga movement is actually a pretty limited minority of people, they just have outsized influence because of the structure and culture of the Republican Party. And because of primaries, There’s nothing wrong with Katie Porter.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:26

    She you know, I watch her in Congress. Hard working member of Congress, you know, don’t agree with her on a lot of stuff But when you lose my twenty points, you shouldn’t be throwing around words like rigged. That’s horseshoe politics. That’s where the far right and the far left touch that, you know, all elections are rigged. And then and so well, not two minutes hate.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:44

    Let’s have a two minutes of come on, Katie. That was not the right thing to say.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:49

    That’s a good correction. Thank you. Two minutes of come on, Katie. Please. So let’s stop with the rig.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:54

    Okay. Final topic. Again, I also don’t want this to be a hate because I got nothing to respect for my friend, Joan and Goldberg, and the people at the dispatch. We had Jamie Weinstein on this podcast. If you missed it, I thought it was a really good conversation.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:04

    We we export some of our differences, but this newsletter yesterday I wanted to get your take on. Basically, it says, let me skip ahead five years from now. America will be okay. You’ll probably be okay. And if you’re not okay, it will in all likelihood have nothing to do with who is elected president in twenty twenty four.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:19

    There’s a part of me that that agrees with that. I’m not a doomer. I think that probably we could survive another trump term. We survived one. I think that there is a epidemic right now of people that are just not willing to just accept tail risk and understand the elements of tail risk.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:36

    And I, like, listen, say, I read that and I was like, you know, I guess one part of me says, okay. I hear what you’re trying to say. The other part of me says, even if there’s only a five percent chance that Donald Trump gets in power and then uses violence to stay in power or literally rigs, you know, the system to stay in power. If there’s even a five percent chance of that, that’s insanely too high, a one like, since since World War two, we’ve never had a one percent or one of the major candidates might literally end democracy. And so so this is where I get frustrated with kind of that attitude, which is a more which is more main street, which I, respect more than, like, the Eric Ericsson stuff we were talking about at the top.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:18

    But I just I think still think it’s a fundamentally flawed logic.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:22

    There’s a couple things going on. One is a normal c bias. Normal c bias is the idea that nothing could really change that much. It’s the same shock when you have a life trauma. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:34

    Yeah. One day you’re living your life, and then suddenly you’re hit by a car and you’re crippled or you have a cancer diagnosis or you go broke or you lose your job or something. It’s just unimaginable until the point that it’s actually happening. There’s an old joke, the comedian who says, hey, I like to live every day like it’s my last. Wake up, call my lawyer, write the Will Saletan funeral home by a coffin.
  • Speaker 4
    0:37:55

    Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:55

    You know, nobody lives that way. Right. The problem with the normalcy bias is that there’s an element of truth in it. I mean, look, I live in New England. For all the talk about how, you know, Wilde died lefties.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:07

    You know, Massachusetts, Rhode Island. I mean, I live in the one of the most Catholic States and the union. I mean, we are a strange combination of, you know, progressivism and old school Catholic machine politics. You know, it’s My life will not change that much. But if Donald Trumpingham’s president and uses force and changes the DOJ, life’s gonna change a lot.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:27

    Especially for women, for people of color, for lgbt
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:32

    immigrants.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:33

    Immigrants. And in places, not like Massachusetts, but in Alabama, and in Wyoming. And in potentially, you know, Texas or other places, the the country won’t fall.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:44

    And if it’s a blowout, maybe Massachusetts, by the way. I mean, That was always my thing on the filibuster. Republicans could win a trifecta this year. It’s not impossible. Like, it’s not impossible.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:54

    And they could kill the filibuster. And they could make federal laws that do apply to Blue States.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:00

    But this is a great thing about going back to our, you know, previous Republican days. Isn’t it nice see liberals rediscovering the joys of federalism. Yeah. It’s like Yeah, man. Something we were banging the gong about, you know, thirty years ago.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:12

    Right? You know, about, hey. Hey, you know, it’s good to have state legislators that do their own thing, you know.
  • Speaker 4
    0:39:17

    Good.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:17

    But I think that when people talk about, you know, Trump will end democracy, It’s not all gonna end the day he’s inaugurated. It will fall in a patchwork. It’s like infrastructure collapse Right? It’s not like the whole air traffic system shuts down and all the roads become undrivable. Bridges start collapsing here and there.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:36

    A plane crash here and there. Water pollution here and there until, you know, finally one thing after another, and then you find out that, yeah, the infrastructure has collapsed. You are living in a, you know, dangerous country. And I think that the people that are making this point of it say, oh, five years from now, you’ll be fine. Five years from now, god willing, not as me knocking on wood.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:57

    Five years from now, I’ll be sixty eight years old. I’ll probably be retired for the second time in my life. You know, I’m already collecting a pension, and I live you know, near the beach in super blue Southern New England. Okay. Fine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:10

    I’ll probably be okay. That doesn’t mean the country’s gonna be okay. It’s a meaningless thing to say you personally, you know, a white male of means will be okay. That’s a meaningless statement about democracy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:25

    Yeah. And it also, I think, to your point about the patchwork, I the or you can just look at Orban. In their heads, I I guess I think that you’re kind of batting down a straw man where people are saying, well, if Trump wins, it’s not gonna be Nazi Germany. It’s like, yeah, it’s probably not gonna be
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:38

    Nazi Germany. Trump wins.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:40

    I I think that that seems like there’s gonna be mass deportations of Trump wins. So there’s gonna be some really bad outcomes for folks that are being deported. But what really is, like, a much higher chance than five percent of total democratic collapse, which is possible, is this soft democratic stuff that you’ve written about. You know, you written recently Act democracy’s dark winter. You know, Trump’s autocratic tirade.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:00

    Look at his proposals. It looks a lot more like what’s happening in Hungary. Where it’s not like overnight people woke up and, you know, in Hungary and we’re like, oh, like, my life really changed dramatically from yesterday today, but slowly, there’s an erosion.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:13

    But over the years it has, if you start from where hungry was ten or fifteen or twenty years ago and look at it now, that’s when you kind of step back and say, wow, you know, it’s kind of like it’s like watching someone grow up, right, that, you know, you you see them when they’re kids and then you run into them when they’re eighteen and say, wow. How did that happen? I wasn’t looking, you know? But I think the when it comes to the erosion of Democratic norms, I think of Saint Castle. The beach comes in and kinda washes a little of it away, but it’s still there.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:40

    You know, and you kinda fix it. And the tide comes in again and washes a little more. And then, you know, an hour later, you’re like, there was a sand castle here. And and it just happened one little wave at a time. That’s how it will happen just to be, you know, to make sure that our hate is bipartisan and our curmudgeonliness and our anger is bipartisan.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:58

    This is why I really have a burn in my saddle about the resistance. You know, like, these are people in berets to scorting down flyers to the channel. You know, give me a goddamn break. You’re not living in occupied territory. This is something that’s going to happen in these kind of gradual erosions of your freedoms.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:19

    The one place I Will Saletan fast and where I’m Let me just be, you know, epistemically humble about this and say the one place I didn’t think it would happen was reproductive rights, which really did happen fast. But again, spread out throughout the country. The situation of reproductive rights in Massachusetts is not the same as in Alabama. But it’ll as you say, it can happen, and it is happening. But I think the rest of that democratic collapse happens much more.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:47

    It’s a frog boiling at sandcastles frogs, it’s metaphors that I will run out of if I keep talking. So
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:54

    Tom Nichols, your most recent one right to to end the election wishcasting. Everything’s at stake in the Atlantic. People are gonna check it out. You’re working at Atlantic has been awesome, brother. I’m jealous of your output.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:04

    Thanks, man.
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:05

    And, I hope to come back again soon. I appreciate it. The people love you.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:09

    Thanks, man. Good to be with you.
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:10

    Alright. We’ll be back tomorrow. With another addition, do a little seed of the union recap. We’ll see you all then. Peace.
  • Speaker 4
    0:43:19

    It slammed the door in the trunk of place. And now it stands outside, and all the neighbors start to gossip and droop. He cries, oh, Bill, you must be mad. What happened to the street? Love you and me, Hank, a door he and starts a scene, and his tears fall a burning garden.
  • Speaker 4
    0:43:41

    And so Castle’s made and fall in the scene eventually. Whether any embrace who before he was timid, who led new games in the woods, was in here praise, and he built a dream. That when he grew up, he wouldn’t be a fierce warrior in the energy. Many moves past. Motor dream grew stronger to the moon.
  • Speaker 4
    0:44:12

    He was saying his first wordsong and the saddest first battle is something went wrong. Build him in his sleep that night. And so castles made the sand melts into the sea. Invention. The board podcast
  • Speaker 1
    0:44:44

    produced by Katie Cooper with audio engineering and editing by Jason Brett.
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