Democratic ad makers think they’ve discovered Trump’s soft spot

After more than a year of polling, focus groups and message testing against the president, there’s a growing consensus about what damages Trump — and what doesn’t.

Donald Trump wasn’t halfway through his speech in Tulsa, Okla., and Democratic ad makers in Washington and New York were already cutting footage for an air raid on the slumping president.

They didn’t focus on the president’s curious monologue about his difficulties descending a ramp or drinking water at West Point, the small crowd size of the Tulsa event or even his use of the racist term “kung flu.” Instead, the ads zeroed in on Trump’s admission that he urged officials to “slow the [coronavirus] testing down.”

It’s a reflection of a growing consensus among Democrats about what kind of hits on Trump are most likely to persuade swing votersand which ones won’t. As in 2016, ad makers are focusing on Trump’s character. But unlike four years ago, they are no longer focusing on his character in isolation — rather they are pouring tens of millions of dollars into ads yoking his behavior to substantive policy issues surrounding the coronavirus, the economy and the civil unrest since the death of George Floyd.

You can’t chase the Trump clown car,” said Bradley Beychok, president of the progressive group American Bridge. “Him drinking water and throwing a glass is goofy and may make for a good meme, but it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things … What people care about is this outbreak.”

Until recently, it wasn’t entirely clear what, if anything, worked against Trump. From the moment he announced his presidential campaign five years ago, not even the most incendiary material seemed to cause significant damage. Not

  • calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” not
  • “blood coming out of her wherever,” not “
  • grab them by the p—y” — all of which were featured by Democrats in character-based ads attacking Trump.

By Election Day, most voters didn’t find Trump honest or trustworthy, according to exit polls. But they voted for him anyway. And throughout much of his first term, including his impeachment, Democrats struggled to find an anti-Trump message that gained traction.

In their preparations for 2020, outside Democratic groups spent more than a year surveying voters in swing states by phone and online. They convened in-person focus groups and enlisted voters in swing states to keep diaries of their media consumption.

Multiple outside groups said they began to test their ads more rigorously than in 2016, using online panels to determine how likely an ad was to either change a viewer’s impression of Trump or to change how he or she planned to vote. Priorities USA, a major Democratic super PAC, alone expects to test more than 500 ads this cycle. Priorities, American Bridge and other outside groups, including organized labor, have been meeting regularly to share internal research and media plans.

“One thing we saw in polling a lot before the coronavirus outbreak is that people didn’t think he was a strong leader or a good leader, they complained about his Twitter,” said Nick Ahamed, analytics director at Priorities USA. “But they had a hard time connecting those character flaws they saw in him with their day-to-day experience.”

Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and recent protests, he said, “really made concrete for people the ways in which his leadership has direct consequences on them and their loved ones … It’s easier to make ads that talk about his leadership than before the outbreak.”

The advertising elements that appear to work, according to interviews with more than a dozen Democrats involved in message research, vary from ad to ad. Using Trump’s own words against him often tests well, as do charts and other graphics, which serve to highlight Trump’s distaste for science. Voters who swung from President Barack Obama to Trump in 2016 — and who regret it — are good messengers. And so is Joe Biden, whose voice is widely considered preferable to that of a professional narrator. Not only does he convey empathy, according to Democrats inside and outside Biden’s campaign, but using Biden’s voice “helps people think about him as president,” said Patrick Bonsignore, Biden’s director of paid media.

But the ad makers’ overarching takeaway from their research was this: While Trump may not be vulnerable on issues of character alone, as he demonstrated in 2016, he is vulnerable when character is tied to his policy record on the economy and health care.

“What we’ve learned form a lot of previous experience … is that quite honestly, people who work in politics can be bad prognosticators in terms of which ad will work,” said Patrick McHugh, Priorities’ executive director. “You see a lot of times the videos that go viral on Twitter … you test those ads, and more often than not they backlash … they can move voters toward Trump.”

For the negative ad industry, the coronavirus has been a bonanza because it inextricably linked both the economy and health care. On the evening of his Tulsa rally, American Bridge, which had already been working on an ad pummeling Trump for his response to the coronavirus, bookended its material with Trump’s acknowledgment that he urged officials to “slow the testing down.”

Biden’s campaign rushed a video onto social media skewering Trump for the admission. And Priorities USA, the Biden campaign’s preferred big-money vehicle, was on TV within days with Trump’s testing remarks in the swing states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan.

Trump complained on Twitter that “the Democrats are doing totally false advertising.” But after the Democratic National Committee posted its first TV ads since 2016 — one asserting that Trump had “brought America down with him” and the other a more focused critique of his handling of China and trade — even the president acknowledged the effectiveness of the assault.

“On the campaign they’ll say such horrible things about me. It’s a very unfair business,” he said on Fox News. “But the ad [Democrats] did this morning, it’s a great ad for them.”

In one obvious way, assailing Trump is less complicated for Democrats than it was four years ago. Trump is the incumbent now, and for the first time he has a record of governance. Pointing out historic economic and public health crises in ads is not rocket science.

Trump’s approval ratings, both overall and on his handling of the coronavirus, have tracked downward since March, when outside Democratic groups began running advertisements against him on the issue. A Reuters/Ipsos poll last week put public approval for his response to the coronavirus pandemic at 37 percent, the lowest mark on record.

“There are more voters on the table now than there have been in a long time,” Becca Siegel, Biden’s chief analytics officer, told POLITICO. “Many, many voters who are persuadable and open to hearing these messages.”

And Trump keeps providing fodder. As outside groups began running ads featuring Trump’s “slow the testing down” remark last week, one Democratic strategist said, “Everybody is going to put this into their ads. This is something people are going to see on their TVs … for the rest of the cycle.”

For Biden, it is difficult to argue anything isn’t working at the moment. He is flattening Trump in national polls and running ahead of him in most swing states.

Yet voters still know less about Biden than Trump, according to internal polling from both parties, and there is an undercurrent of tension within the Democratic Party about how much effort to spend attacking Trump versus building Biden up.

In a study based on data from tens thousands of survey participants — and cited frequently by Democrats — researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Yale University found earlier this month that messages about the lesser-known candidate, Biden, were more effective at persuading voters than messages about Trump.

Echoing the study’s findings, David Doak, a retired longtime Democratic strategist and ad maker, said that while “the race is being decided right now by the negativity towards Trump … what I would do if I were the Biden [campaign] is to try and fill in that favorability, to strengthen what he’s getting there and move his favorability rating up.”

Jimmy Siegel, an ad maker who worked on Clinton’s 2008 campaign and for Michael Bloomberg this cycle, said, “You need more positive Biden stuff” — what another strategist called “more Biden cowbell.”

“I think Democrats have had a theory of the case against President Trump for a while, but it really hasn’t been until the last few months when it started finally getting traction,” said Mark Putnam, the famed Democratic ad maker who worked for Obama and also for Biden before parting ways with the campaign last year. “He almost seemed to have some kind of anti-gravity secret that allowed him to consistently screw things up and yet never pay a political price for it. And with just the way he’s handled one crisis after another in really the worst possible way, it’s finally sinking in.”

However, Putnam said, “That’s only half the battle … We also have to offer an alternative.”

Unite the Country, the super PAC that Putnam is working with, has released several TV and digital ads highlighting Biden’s biography and record on the economy, including a spot featuring Biden’s childhood home in in Scranton, Pa. — complete with the bed Biden slept in as a child that Putnam’s team found stored in the attic when they arrived.

And Biden’s campaign itself began working this month to define the former vice president — and Trump — for a general election audience, releasing two ads as part of a $15 million buy, his first major advertising offensive of the general election campaign.

Just as the outside Democratic groups did, Biden’s campaign tested those ads with online panels, finding versions that used Biden’s own voice performed “dramatically stronger” than those using a professional narrator, the Biden campaign’s Bonsignore said.

In one ad, Biden talks about the economy, offering only an implicit contrast with Trump.

But Biden’s other ad cuts a much sharper contrast — staying with Democrats’ relentless criticism of the incumbent. It includes footage of Trump posing with a Bible outside St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House after officials forced protesters from the area, as well as an image of Trump’s “both sides” reaction to the deadly violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. — an episode that has gained new resonance amid the racial unrest surrounding Floyd’s killing.

The ad recalled Hillary Clinton’s first ad of the 2016 general election, when Clinton used footage of Trump encouraging violence at a campaign rally and mocking a reporter’s disability to make a call for unity.

But there was one significant difference from the 2016 attack on Trump. Four years ago, said Tad Devine, who was a senior strategist to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, issues of character proved irrelevant in general election advertising “because people weren’t voting on it” — there was no connection to draw between Trump’s character and a record of governance that did not yet exist.

This year, he said, “That is absolutely the weakest front for Trump … Things have changed so dramatically, and the connection between the character of the president and that president’s ability to protect people, whether it’s from economic collapse or pandemic, is really important.”

The contrast works, Devine said, because “people are so desperate to turn the page from what’s happening in America today.”

On Some Things, Americans Can Agree

George Floyd’s killing was brutal. Good cops are needed. And Trump hurt himself badly this week.

There’s so much to say but my mind keeps going back to New Year’s Eve, when we watched the ball come down and knew the story of 2020 was the presidential election and whatever stray harassments history throws our way. No one that night guessed—no one could have guessed—that in the next few months we’d have a world-wide pandemic, an economic catastrophe and fighting in the streets. The point is not that life is surprise or history turns on a dime, it’s that we’ve been battered. We’ve been through a lot. And with economic and cultural indexes down, with the world turned darker and more predatory, we will go through more. We thought we’d be telling our grandchildren about the spring of 2020. Actually we’ll be telling them about the coming 10 years, and how we tried to turn everything around.

The painful irony of the protests and riots is that for a few days everyone was in agreement. We all saw the nine-minute tape. We saw the casual brutality as the dying man begged for mercy and the cop didn’t care. In the past there were arguments about similar incidents. Not this time. Most everyone concedes the problem—that black men are profiled and cannot feel safe in their own country. Walking while black, driving while blackTim Scott of South Carolina has been stopped for trying to impersonate a U.S. senator, which is what he is. In an interview a few years ago he told me that seven times in his first six years in Washington he’d been pulled over for “driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood.”

Following the killing of George Floyd, America would totally accept protests and demonstrations, would understand expressions of anger and pain.

What Americans wouldn’t accept was looting, violence, arson. They wouldn’t accept that shopkeepers just out from lockdown were pulled from their stores and beaten. They won’t accept this because they will not accept more battery.

We’re now supposed to hate cops. No. Hate bad cops, help good ones. A great cop does as much to help society as a great doctor or nurse, and is in the line of fire. In New York, one officer was mowed down by a hit-and-run driver; another was stabbed in the neck; two were shot. One cop was shot in Las Vegas and four in St. Louis, where the police chief said someone randomly shot at a police line. Also in St. Louis a 77-year-old retired police captain, David Dorn, black, on the force 38 years, was shot and killed during the looting.

Cops witness the worst things in America. They answer the 911 call at 3:20 a.m. and see things so horrible they can’t tell anyone because if it gets around there will be imitators. They see the violent parents and the kids watching television, checked out at age 8. They see what meth does. They’re often poorly trained and have to get everything right, and they assume between the pols and public opinion no one really has their back except the unions that too often keep cities from weeding out bad cops so that good cops can thrive.

There is a phrase among medical professionals, “moral injury.” Health-care workers who are strung out, stretched to the breaking point, suffer from moral injury.

So do a lot of cops. A lot of black men, too. The thing for all of us now is to keep our moral poise and intellectual balance, try to be fair and make things better. Some cops failed to do that this week—unnecessary roughness, targeting journalists. Some really came through. Among them were the police who were face to face with demonstrators and took a knee. This has been criticized as obsequious, bowing to the mob. No, it is how we are saved, by showing love and sympathy. It happened from New York to Los Angeles. Yahoo News reported on what happened in Flint, Mich., when Sheriff Chris Swanson told protesters, “I took off the helmet and laid the batons down. Where do you want to walk? We’ll walk all night.” Protesters cheered. In Fayetteville, N.C., there was a standoff between demonstrators and the police. The officers, some 60 of them, took a knee before marchers on Murchison Road. The department later said they wanted to show “understanding” for “the pain” many civilians are feeling. Witnesses said some officers and protesters had tears in their eyes.

To the extent things were contained this week, that’s how it happened.

That’s the big story, what happened in America.

As to the president, this week he altered his position in the political landscape. Something broke. He is no longer the force he was and no longer lucky. In some new and indelible way his essential nature was revealed.

It got out that faced with protests around the White House, he hid. Or perhaps let the Secret Service, which might have struggled with realistic threat assessment, talk him into going into the White House bunker. (Mr. Trump later said he was simply “inspecting” it.) He tweeted that he was protected by the “most vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.”

On Monday, he spoke in the Rose Garden. “I will fight to protect you,” he said. “I am your president of law and order.” This was unsubtle, and seemed more aimed at protecting his political prospects than your safety and property.

Then, upset that people might be getting the impression he was a physical coward, he set out to prove he is brave. Protected by a phalanx of police, Secret Service, sharpshooters and what looked like a Praetorian Guard with shields, he marched to St John’s, the church of the presidents. Aides said it was a Churchill moment. And it was just like Churchill during the blitz, if Churchill secretly loved rubble. Upon arrival with his friends, the people who work for him, he brandished a Bible like—who in history?—the devil?

In all this he gave up the game and explicitly patronized his own followers. It was as if he was saying: I’m going to show you how stupid I know you are. I’ll give you crude and gross imagery and you’ll love it because you’re crude and gross people.

And some would love it. But not all. Not most, I think.

He has maxed out his base. He’s got his 40% and will keep it, but it isn’t growing. His polls are down, he has historically high negatives. As for suburban women, they’d crawl over broken husbands to vote him out.

He is proud of his many billionaire friends and think they love him. They don’t. Their support is utterly transactional. They’re embarrassed by him. When they begin to think he won’t be re-elected they will turn, and it will be bloody and on a dime.

This will not end well. With his timing he’d know it. He should give an Oval Office address announcing he’s leaving: “America, you don’t deserve me.” Truer words have never been spoken in that old place. And he won’t be outshone by his successor. Network producers will listen to Mike Pence once and say, “Let’s do ‘Shark Week.’ ” But you know, America could use a shark week.

George Conway: Trump went ballistic at me on Twitter. Here’s why he reacts with such rage.

Americans died from covid-19 at the rate of about one every 42 seconds during the past month. That ought to keep any president awake at night.

Just days ago, the president flipped out at a detailed New York Times article that described how he watches television at all hours, obsessed about how he’s covered in the news. As though to prove the story’s thesis, Trump rage-tweeted that it was a “phony story” and that the media would say “Anything to demean!

And then, as though to prove the point again, at 12:46 a.m. on Tuesday, Trump went ballistic on Twitter — at me.

In a fourtweet screed, he attacked me and my colleagues at the Lincoln Project as “LOSERS,” “loser types,” “crazed” and “a disgrace to Honest Abe.” About me, he said, “I don’t know what Kellyanne did to her deranged loser of a husband, Moonface, but it must have been really bad.” Ten hours later, on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews, Trump was still enraged, ranting about us for nearly two minutes in front of the media.

What triggered his ire was a 60-second online ad we released Monday. Entitled “Mourning in America,” it’s an inversion of President Ronald Reagan’s famous 1984 reelection campaign ad, “Morning in America.” Reagan’s ad took credit for the resurgence of the American economy. Our ad puts the blame for the government’s failures in responding to covid-19 right where it belongs — on Trump. He dithered for 10 weeks, from January to mid-March, misleading the public about the severity of the crisis, pretending that the virus would never take hold here. History will record that each day of delay cost American lives.

It may strike you as deranged that a sitting president facing a pandemic has busied himself attacking journalists, political opponents, television news hosts and late-night comedians — even deriding a former president who merely called for empathy and unity in response to the virus. It may strike you as nuts that Trump bragged about his supposed Facebook ranking in the middle of a virus task-force briefing, asserted that millions would have died were it not for him, boasted that “the ‘Ratings’ of my News Conferences etc.” were driving “the Lamestream Media . . . CRAZY,” and floated bogus miracle cures, including suggesting that scientists consider injecting humans with household disinfectants such as Clorox.

If so, you’re not alone. Tens of thousands of mental-health professionals, testing the bounds of professional ethics, have warned for years about Trump’s unfitness for office.

Some people listened; many, including myself, did not, until it was too late.

Now, it’s more obvious than ever. Trump’s narcissism deadens any ability he might otherwise have had to carry out the duties of a president in the manner the Constitution requires. He’s so self-obsessed, he can only act for himself, not for the nation. It’s why he was impeached, and why he should have been removed from office.

And it’s why he reacts with such rage. He fears the truth. He fears being revealed for what he truly is. Extreme narcissists exaggerate their achievements and talents, and so Trump has spent his life building up a false image of himself — not just for others, but for himself, to protect his deeply fragile ego. He lies endlessly, not just in the way sociopaths do, which is to con others, but also to delude himself. He claims to be a “genius,” even though he apparently can’t spellcan’t punctuatecan’t do math and lacks geographic literacy, and even though his own appointees have privately called him a “moron,” an “idiot,” a “dope,” and “dumb.” Now, God help us, he fancies himself an expert in virology and infectious diseases.

But the jig is up. When Trump lied and claimed credit for “the greatest economy in the history of our country,” even though it wasn’t, and even though he inherited a strong economy, and goosed it up with trillions of dollars in debt, it didn’t matter to most people. The economy was good — so what? The debt? That won’t come due for decades.

When he tried to obstruct the Mueller investigation, that didn’t move them either. The rule of law and the violation of a presidential oath are abstractions; the Dow Jones industrial average and the unemployment rate aren’t. And when he used his presidential power to try to extort a foreign ally into smearing a political opponent, not enough cared then, either.

Now it all matters, painfully and concretely. Trump’s lying, his self-regard, his self-soothing, his lack of empathy, his narcissistic rage, his contempt for norms, rules, laws, facts and simple truths — have all come home to roost. Now he sees his poll numbers fall accordingly, and lashes out with ever-increasing anger. For deep in his psyche he knows the truth. Because he fears being revealed as a fake or deranged, he’ll call others fake or deranged. Because he fears losing, he’ll call them losers instead.

And while Trump’s mind roils in rage, too many Americans are losing their lives. That’s the losing that matters, to everyone but him.

Trump Critics are Always Anti-Trump. How do we know this time it is significant

think that that’s in part because look
04:41
I’d be open to somebody making the
04:44
argument that Donald Trump is singularly
04:46
unsuited for this moment the problem is
04:49
is that most of the people that are
04:52
making that case including David Frum
04:54
who you just quoted or including Pete
04:55
Waner have been making the case that
04:57
Donald Trump is singularly unsuited for
04:59
office from before the time he was even
05:01
elected so it becomes kind of difficult
05:04
to separate out the uniqueness of their
05:06
argument in this case versus their
05:08
general view that the man should never
05:10
have been elected at all that just I
05:13
mean and that’s that’s I think and I’ve
05:16
made this case many times that for the
05:18
kind of Trump haters out there after a
05:20
while your repetition begins to weaken
05:23
your argument now holmen’s point I think
05:26
is very good are we making mistakes on a
05:29
daily daily occurrence in the middle of
05:31
this oh you bet you we are and one day
05:33
there’s gonna be a post-mortem that is
05:36
gonna be really ugly but I would argue
05:37
that that post mortem is going to be one
05:40
that looks at a lot of mistakes that
05:42
were made by a lot of administrations on
05:44
the road to coronavirus you know whether
05:47
it was prior administrations it didn’t
05:49
adequately restock her stockpiles
05:51
whether it’s health agencies that over
05:54
30 years have claimed to be preparing
05:56
for pandemics and yet seem to have no
05:57
plan when this came out sure this is
06:00
gonna require complete retooling of the
06:03
way we look at these things but to say
06:05
that it’s all incumbent upon one person
06:07
is just ridiculous back to the
06:09
coronavirus back to the substance of
06:10
what we’re dealing with right now is one
06:12
more frankly one more Trump question
06:16
we’ve got I quoted David Frum and Pete
06:20
Waner of course as you know I could have
06:21
quoted any number of dozens and dozens
06:23
of people but David Frum and Pete Waner
06:26
both worked in the administration of
06:28
George W Bush three and a half years ago
06:31
before Donald Trump three or four years
06:33
ago before he declared his candidacy for
06:35
president you and I would have thought
06:37
of David Fromm and Pete Waner as broad
06:40
speaking to put a crudely
06:43
on our side limited government free
06:47
markets Republican candidates overall
06:50
tend to be better for that than
06:51
Democratic candidates and now we have it
06:55
reminds me again and again of the OJ
06:59
Simpson trial where we had the jury and
07:02
those of us watching on television
07:04
looking at exactly the same set of facts
07:07
and coming to utterly opposed
07:11
conclusions what accounts for this I
07:14
mean this but this has been happening
07:17
again since a minute he wrote a whole
07:19
book I wrote a whole hook on it and you
07:21
know I make these examples it is
07:23
astonishing to me and this is my
07:25
favorite one that you continue to hear
07:27
people say today that Donald Trump is
07:30
some sort of autocrat or tyrant or a
07:32
dictator in the making because I’m sorry
07:35
when you stop back and you look at what
07:36
his administration has actually done on
07:39
a day-to-day basis and we forget the
07:41
president’s press moments forget the
07:44
things he puts on Twitter look at what’s
07:46
happened at the cabinet level at the
07:47
agency level one of the biggest
07:49
deregulations in the history of the
07:52
country if not the biggest a giant tax
07:54
cut okay you can’t become an autocrat by
07:58
cutting the size of your government by a
08:00
third okay I mean everything that they
08:02
have done is designed to take power away
08:05
from the federal government to devolve
08:07
it out to the states to make things more
08:10
free in the country but that’s an
08:13
example of what you’re saying and so now
08:14
we’re getting it here in the context of
08:16
the virus which is you know Donald Trump
08:19
is suitably you know uniquely inept or
08:22
uniquely unqualified for this moment I
08:25
mean I guess a question I would have for
08:27
a lot of these people is what exactly
08:29
would they be doing differently at this
08:31
moment and I think that guess it’s a big
08:34
questions about shutdown no shutdown but
08:36
again is that on Donald Trump or on this
08:39
kind of mass of so-called experts and
08:41
health community which is all over the
08:43
map itself on what the way is supposed
08:45
to be forward all right
08:47
the big takeaway here’s Kim Strauss all
08:51
on March 19th
08:52
this is just great because I get
08:54
I get to I get to ask you what you meant
08:56
about this or that of course I read your
08:58
column all the time now I get to talk to
08:59
you about it
09:00
that’s bad though Pierre it means I
09:02
wasn’t clear enough the first time no I
09:04
just asked you to elaborate here I’m
09:08
quoting you here’s the lesson of the
09:10
virus so far relying solely on
09:12
government bureaucracy is insane to the
09:17
extent America is weathering this moment
09:19
it is in norton enormous part thanks to
09:21
the strength and Genuity and flexibility
09:24
of our thriving competitive capitalist
09:28
players close quote
09:30
explain that well look to me whatever
09:34
you criticism you want a level of the
09:36
Trump administration the single most
09:38
important thing they did at the very
09:39
beginning was a philosophical decision
09:42
which is that they were not going to
09:43
attempt to deal with this on their own
09:45
they were going to embrace the private
09:47
sector and move forward in a
09:48
public-private partnership in dealing
09:51
with this brilliant because that is
09:53
exactly the way forward in this country
09:56
and it always has been federal
09:57
government when do we ever expect the
09:59
federal government to turn on a dime and
10:01
handle a major project I mean you cannot
10:04
reconcile that idea in your head with
10:06
for instance the DMB okay which is what
10:10
most of us think of in terms of
10:11
government so you turn to act as you can
10:13
and what’s unique about this partnership
10:15
is that you have players out there
10:17
wanting to do stuff and then the
10:18
government’s role is to get out of their
10:20
way right and so it was a CDC that
10:23
completely messed up that original
10:25
testing regimen it was we go into that a
10:28
little bit because that that gets laid
10:31
at Trump’s that Trump gets blamed for
10:34
that again and again and again that’s
10:35
still going on but just explain what
10:36
actually happened with yeah so what
10:40
happened is the CDC the the the World
10:42
Health Organization had its own way of
10:45
going forward with testing but lots of
10:47
different countries over the time have
10:49
always had different regimens testing
10:52
regimens the CDC has traditionally and
10:54
in this case it did it again decided it
10:56
wanted to come up with its own testing
10:58
regimen because it wanted to exert some
11:00
quality control over that the problem
11:02
was is that when all the scientists went
11:05
and did it
11:05
they must
11:06
it didn’t work and it delayed us for a
11:09
couple of weeks they then turned to the
11:11
private sector which got you know
11:13
luckily we had some incredible actors
11:16
out there who’ve been working on this
11:17
already themselves and they were able to
11:19
stand up an effective testing regimen in
11:21
a little less than a week
11:22
thank you private sector but you see
11:24
that replicated whether it’s on the
11:26
ventilator front whether it’s on
11:27
personal protection equipment whether
11:29
it’s on the vaccines that are getting
11:31
pushed forward I mean we have an amazing
11:34
resource the United States and just one
11:36
last thing on this it is astonishing to
11:38
me even as we are watching this and also
11:41
all of these corporations paying
11:43
employees even though they’ve got no
11:45
money coming in you know giving them
11:47
leave like we hear these stories of
11:49
small businesses bending over backwards
11:51
to make sure they’re not laying people
11:52
off at the same time we have Bernie
11:55
Sanders giving a farewell or drop out of
11:57
the race speech this week in which he
12:00
was unrelentingly horrid to the
12:02
corporate community and suggested
12:03
everything wrong in the United States is
12:05
laid at its feet amazing
12:09
Kim so big takeaway private sector is
12:13
saving us amazing let’s discuss a couple
12:15
of threats to the private sector that
12:20
the current crisis may be posing and one
12:23
is in one way or another if it happens
12:26
it’ll happen in a subtle way it’ll
12:27
happen press conference by press
12:29
conference probably a shift from
12:33
decision-making by the democratically
12:35
elected office holders to the unelected
12:39
public health officials and so there
12:43
have been moments when people have said
12:46
in conversations I’ve overheard the
12:50
Acting President of the United States is
12:52
doctor pouchy Donald Trump’s instincts
12:55
were clearly against shutting down the
12:57
economy but the experts talked him into
13:00
it
13:00
well actually by the way let’s start
13:02
with that with the threshold question
13:05
are you satisfied that the public health
13:08
experts did a serious and rigorous job
13:11
of weighing the costs of shutting down
13:14
the economy and throwing we now know
13:17
today’s figure is six point six million
13:19
Americans out of work and all that all
13:24
the pathologies that go with
13:26
unemployment that they did a serious and
13:28
adequate job of weighing those costs
13:30
against the benefits of the lives they
13:32
believed we could save by shutting down
13:36
the economy did they do that right of
13:38
course they didn’t but you know what in
13:40
fairness it’s not their job to do that
13:43
right I mean look public health
13:44
officials exist to worry about public
13:46
health and we have them and they’re
13:48
meant to be one part of a broader
13:51
government in which the president is
13:53
soliciting and getting the views of a
13:55
whole range of different experts and
13:57
that clearly didn’t happen here and you
13:59
know I blame a little bit the media I
14:01
blame Democrats who immediately came out
14:04
of the box with his mantra you need to
14:06
listen to the scientists you need to
14:08
listen to the scientists okay we do need
14:10
to listen to the scientists but we also
14:11
need to listen to the economists who are
14:13
talking about what the balance of all of
14:15
this will be in and and what they
14:17
similar devastation by the way to health
14:20
will be of people who are homeless who
14:23
can’t feed their kids who are having
14:25
mental health issues because of all of
14:27
this or the people right now I would
14:29
give this all the people who aren’t
14:30
going in and getting mammograms or
14:32
colonoscopies and we were potentially
14:34
missing other cancers a few that are
14:37
being delayed right none of this is
14:39
necessarily good overall for health so
14:41
yes we’re making a dent on one type of
14:43
fatality out there but at what cost
14:46
every other way that’s my one concern I
14:48
think the other concern but I really
14:49
have about this is when let’s say you
14:52
take the advice listen to the experts
14:54
why these particular experts you know
14:57
and I’m not again in any way diminishing
15:00
doctor foul here dr. Burks or or any of
15:02
the people that are working this
15:03
accomplished people full of goodwill
15:05
will stipulate that yeah but they it
15:08
also happens for you they just happen to
15:09
be there at this time it doesn’t
15:11
necessarily mean they are the most
15:13
qualified people or there aren’t other
15:15
experts out there that are similarly
15:17
like have a lot to supply here and maybe
15:21
a different view and so I think the
15:23
president’s obligation really needs to
15:25
be just step back and listen to everyone
15:29
and then make the decisions
15:31
so in questions of national security and
15:35
I’m thinking this through a fumble
15:39
because I’m the the thought is occurring
15:40
to me if as I speak in questions of
15:43
national security it’s the job of the
15:45
National Security Council to hold
15:46
debates right and and if necessary to
15:50
get the Secretary of Defense and the
15:52
Secretary of State in the Situation Room
15:55
to thrash it out in front of the
15:57
president no such debates have been held
15:59
among public health officials in the
16:01
current crisis that’s my fear right I
16:04
mean you know we have guys right out
16:07
there and you’re John Ian’s etus I think
16:10
under his name the right way you know an
16:13
amazing sort of look at the numbers sort
16:15
of person and he’s got a very different
16:17
view of all of this I haven’t really
16:20
seen anything either by the way that
16:21
suggests that that he isn’t onto
16:24
something or that his view isn’t as
16:26
valid as those that are being voiced in
16:27
the White House so in my perfect world
16:30
in the coming weeks we begin to have
16:33
that debate within the White House the
16:35
president would be soliciting the views
16:37
of experts across the country and not
16:39
just from the infectious disease area
16:42
but from a wide range of health and
16:45
public health disciplines because they
16:48
would all have very different here’s
16:50
another threat to the private sector to
16:53
the kind of vigorous private action that
16:56
you champion from the current crisis now
17:00
quoting William Galston in the Wall
17:01
Street Journal I do is read The Wall
17:02
Street Journal antic so here’s Galston
17:07
writing a couple of days ago quote no
17:10
Senate Republican not one voted against
17:14
the 2.2 trillion trillion dollar rescue
17:17
bill an unprecedented expansion of
17:20
government’s cost and reach close quote
17:23
and I recall the brief press conference
17:27
that Majority Leader McConnell gave
17:30
after they voted to move that 2.2
17:32
trillion package to the President’s desk
17:35
and Majority Leader McConnell was
17:37
crowing that the Senate had gone from
17:40
the bitterness of impeachment to the
17:43
common cause of this rescuing the
17:47
economy and of course you can get every
17:50
senator to vote for giving away billions
17:52
of other people’s money this feels too
17:55
good to those guys they’re going to want
17:57
to do it again is that not a danger it’s
17:59
a huge danger I mean as I pointed out in
18:01
the in the aftermath of that vote you
18:05
had all of these senators running around
18:06
saying oh look a hundred billion dollars
18:08
for hospitals and look we’re sending
18:10
this much money to individuals at home
18:13
and breaking out all of these little
18:15
categories what nobody was pointing out
18:17
was a single biggest category in that
18:19
bill six hundred billion if I recall
18:21
from your column more than six hundred
18:23
billion dollars went to government
18:24
itself and by the way that’s not even
18:26
counting the money that also went to
18:27
state governments as well too that’s
18:30
just the federal government’s payday so
18:33
you know they walked away with the
18:35
biggest slice of this pie and you know
18:37
that was partly Democrats demanding
18:40
saying you know we knew where the money
18:43
needed to go here look anybody did where
18:45
did we need we were having a beginning
18:47
of a liquidity crisis we needed money to
18:49
get to corporations and to small
18:51
businesses to thereby encourage them to
18:54
keep their employees on the payroll and
18:56
the spare us from having more people go
18:58
to government for help that’s a simple
19:01
simple concept but Democrats the price
19:03
of this was you know you got to give us
19:07
money for the food stamps turbo-charged
19:10
unemployment insurance
19:11
you should see the money that just flew
19:13
to every department in government and it
19:17
was very funny we’re not NASA God not
19:18
now all under this sort of vague term
19:21
like for the purpose of preparing and
19:23
dealing with coronavirus NASA gets sixty
19:26
million dollars you’re like sixty
19:27
million dollars but you’re like why for
19:30
what cause
19:31
so in the end Democrats demanded it but
19:34
Republicans willingly rolled over for it
19:37
because they like big government too
19:39
many of them and nobody wanted to seem
19:41
to be the spoil sport at this spending
19:43
sorry alright um the politics of it all
19:47
this is it’s may seem crass to say so in
19:51
the middle of what still feels like a
19:52
crisis but it is the fact that we have
19:55
an election in seven months yes
19:58
years William Galston again president
20:00
Trump had planned to organize his
20:02
campaign around two themes a strong
20:05
economy and a critique of the Democratic
20:08
Party for allegedly embracing socialism
20:10
that gives away Galston allegedly anyway
20:13
for allegedly creating socialism in
20:15
today’s radically transformed
20:18
circumstances neither of those themes is
20:20
likely to work the economy’s in a
20:23
recession and Republicans themselves
20:25
just voted for this gigantic budget
20:30
busting bill where did the politics of
20:33
this shape out yeah well if you look at
20:36
those two themes I think they’re gonna
20:38
obviously have to be modulated although
20:41
I think that there is there are
20:44
corollaries to them that you are likely
20:46
to see the Trump administration adopt
20:48
look with any luck we are going to come
20:50
out of the other side of this at some
20:52
point and the economy is going to start
20:54
back up again everyone’s having a debate
20:56
are we going to have a u-shaped curve on
20:59
the way back up a v-shaped curve the
21:01
bigger point is is that we’re going to
21:02
have a chance to rebuild I think what
21:04
you’re going to see the Trump
21:06
administration start to do is shift to
21:08
arguing that you need a sort of
21:11
conservative Trump like person in office
21:14
to maintain that that we’re at a risky
21:18
time period Democrats have just
21:20
demonstrated their own view of
21:21
governance which is to just throw more
21:23
money at it and
21:24
bash on the private sector we especially
21:27
right now cannot afford to have that
21:29
happen we will not come out of this for
21:31
a long time if they are elected to the
21:33
presidency in November that’s going to
21:35
be one of their arguments compelling
21:38
well I think it’s gonna partly depend on
21:41
look I mean it’s just simply the case
21:43
that the way people feel about their
21:46
pocketbooks plays a great deal into an
21:48
election so how bad is this how much is
21:51
the response that we put out they’re
21:53
gonna stem the losses how quick is the
21:55
recovery we just don’t have the answers
21:57
to that yet hmm
21:59
the journalists the question of
22:02
journalism I’ll come back to the
22:07
journalists and coronavirus in a moment
22:09
but first here’s something that nobody
22:11
it just it just disappeared the story
22:14
disappeared and you know where I’m going
22:17
with a subsequent to the investigation
22:18
of the FBI’s requests to the FISA Court
22:21
connected to the Russia matter the
22:25
Department of Justice’s Inspector
22:27
General inspected more than two dozen
22:30
other FBI wiretap applications the I G’s
22:34
office went in and essentially at random
22:37
pulled together 29 that had nothing to
22:39
do with a Russia matter just to see how
22:42
the FBI was submitting these things and
22:45
the IG s conclusion there were quote
22:48
apparent errors or inadequately
22:50
supported facts
22:51
close quote in every single one and as
22:57
they say the IG the Inspector General of
22:59
the Department of Justice issued that
23:01
report in late March as you and I speak
23:02
this is 1012 days ago it got this
23:07
biggest story in a few newspapers and
23:09
it’s gone what do you make of that well
23:13
I would like to point out we at the
23:14
editorial page The Wall Street Journal
23:16
did a big editorial on it because always
23:19
in all ways except the op-ed page go
23:22
ahead no but because this is a huge deal
23:25
right a hundred percent failure rate
23:29
okay and it’s important because it puts
23:31
the lie to guys like Comey hoops for the
23:34
past years have said oh you know what
23:37
you can’t bash on the FBI it’s nothing
23:40
but a bunch of people we are straight up
23:41
you know these applications are the most
23:43
serious things we do all the time you
23:46
know when the results in December came
23:48
out of the I geez Russia report he said
23:51
well I guess we were a little sloppy
23:52
well now we find out that apparently the
23:56
FBI is general attitude is that they
23:58
don’t need to follow any of the rules
23:59
and that we’ve got nobody watching the
24:02
shop you know and if the IG randomly
24:05
chose 29 applications and every one of
24:08
them was violating what are known as the
24:10
woods files procedures which are meant
24:12
to be the central mechanism by which you
24:15
keep the FBI on the straight and narrow
24:17
and make sure these applications are
24:19
what are known what that’s supposed to
24:21
be scrupulously accurate they don’t care
24:24
and then the other aspect of that idea
24:26
reporters they also found out that the
24:28
internal mechanisms that the FBI and
24:30
Department of Justice are spent supposed
24:32
to maintain to guarantee this are a joke
24:35
nobody looks at the results of the
24:37
reports that they do nobody goes back to
24:40
the individuals who filed the
24:42
applications and said hey you made
24:44
errors what’s up with this there’s no
24:46
consequences for anybody no
24:47
accountability and and the media doesn’t
24:50
want to talk about this because it
24:51
reminds them of the Russia story which
24:54
was a humiliating experience for both
24:56
them and the Democratic Party do they
24:58
feel humiliated well they should they
25:02
should feel humiliated because they got
25:04
it a hundred percent wrong they put the
25:06
country through torture for three years
25:08
on the basis of their own hatred of a
25:10
candidate not on the basis of any facts
25:12
so a quick little summary the media got
25:17
the Russia matter entirely wrong all
25:20
these months later not a shred of
25:23
evidence has turned up that now justice
25:26
Cavanaugh was justly accused by
25:29
Christine Blasi Ford not a shred of
25:31
evidence of which I’m aware that that
25:33
was anything other than a fabrication
25:35
from beginning to end
25:37
and what else and now we have the IG
25:40
report making unambiguous that the FBI
25:43
has been sloppy in one of its most
25:46
solemn duties
25:49
correct correct and the press has no
25:52
interest in any of that well I think
25:54
it’s really wise though that you bring
25:56
it up because it reminds us Peter I mean
25:59
look the press does this all the time we
26:01
are in the middle of the corona virus
26:03
you know everything all day long 24
26:05
hours seven days a week but it that’s
26:09
going to fade and people are going to
26:11
remember that there are other issues
26:13
that do matter in in the running of a
26:16
country and in elections and remember we
26:19
still have the Durham report to come out
26:21
at some point – that has not disappeared
26:24
and and I keep reminding people as well
26:27
that my belief my understanding is that
26:29
he is very conscious of not wanting to
26:32
go too far into an active election
26:35
period with his results he wants to get
26:37
that out so I’d wager that’s still gonna
26:39
come out sooner rather than later this
26:42
spring summer at the latest I think so I
26:44
would I would I would imagine he’d like
26:46
to have it done before the conventions
26:48
because that’s is often viewed as an
26:50
official starting gun for an election so
26:52
there’s a huge story coming of cacao on
26:56
the corona virus itself journalism even
26:58
on the corona virus I was thinking this
27:00
over here can I just give you a couple
27:03
of questions just questions off the top
27:05
of my head so dr. Fowler has been saying
27:10
that this thing is more lethal than the
27:12
flu and it turns out as best I
27:16
understand and I’ve talked to some
27:17
physician friends here at Stanford he
27:20
cannot know that he cannot know that the
27:24
lethality rate is a ratio it’s the
27:26
number of people who died if I did buy
27:28
something and you can’t know that it’s
27:31
more lethal than the flu until you have
27:33
much more widespread testing of people
27:36
who are infected so there he is saying
27:39
something that he can’t know in front of
27:42
a room full of reporters and no
27:44
reporters respectful I mean I’ve lived I
27:46
have to confess I have other things to
27:48
do I haven’t listened to every minute of
27:50
those White House briefings but you know
27:52
I dip in from time to time as you do and
27:55
the tenor is aggressive toward the
27:58
president aggressive toward pence and
28:00
fawning toward dr.
28:02
Algie and the public health
28:05
professionals even when there’s an
28:07
effete question seems to me obvious
28:08
respectful pertinent and unasked or this
28:12
question of there’s a new book out by a
28:14
couple of Princeton economists you’re a
28:17
Princeton woman the deccan
28:19
husband-and-wife team and they’ve done a
28:22
study I haven’t read the book but I read
28:24
the review in The New Yorker
28:25
and they asked what is the cause of
28:28
these deaths of despair and it’s not
28:31
related to age and it’s not related to
28:33
race and it’s not related to region it’s
28:36
a result of unemployment where people
28:39
are unemployed they abuse alcohol they
28:43
abuse drugs you get domestic violence
28:45
and you get suicide
28:47
well if serious economists such as those
28:51
that Princeton are studying this matter
28:54
and running studies and quantifying it
28:56
why aren’t we getting some modelling
28:58
about the the likely health effects of
29:02
throwing 7 million Americans out of work
29:05
that at least parallels the modeling
29:08
we’re getting every hour it seems on the
29:11
coronavirus now that’s again that
29:14
strikes me as pertinent respectful
29:16
obvious and unasked what is going on
29:20
with American journalism ya know every
29:25
day I watch those and it’s so
29:26
frustrating to me because I wish I were
29:28
there to get to raise my questions to
29:31
ask of these people here’s another one
29:33
that I think falls into that same
29:34
category but and you have probably
29:37
noticed this as well but everyone seems
29:40
to have a different term up there and
29:42
and I mean above among the scientists
29:46
about what it is exactly the endgame is
29:48
here what are we trying to accomplish
29:50
you know is it to slow the spread
29:52
because that’s very different from
29:55
stopping the spread ok are we attempting
29:58
to eliminate this all together and then
30:01
trace any new little case of it and go
30:04
out and extinguish that because if
30:07
that’s the case we’re gonna be locked
30:09
down for a very very long time and we
30:11
won’t have an economy at the end of it
30:12
or if we’re gonna slow the spread slow
30:15
the curve lower the curve flatten
30:17
whatever you want to call it let’s be
30:20
honest that if you were taking that
30:21
approach a lot more people are still
30:23
gonna get this just over a longer period
30:26
of time in which case why aren’t we
30:29
opening up some of these lockers I mean
30:31
I just think that there are some really
30:33
fundamental questions that the
30:35
scientific crew up there does not get
30:37
asked so so ok I guess there’s no
30:40
surprise that Peter Robinson and chemist
30:42
Rasul are in violent agreement but but
30:47
there is the larger question is these
30:50
guys have shut down the American he
30:52
can’t I don’t know what stories you’re
30:54
hearing in Alaska
30:55
but here I live in an older house we had
30:58
some trouble with the kitchen and I had
30:59
a plumber in the other day and it turns
31:00
out that kitchen sinks are considered
31:03
essential but he had three guys show up
31:06
for work the same day it was a gas line
31:09
that needed to be repaired and some
31:12
bureaucrat in City Hall had decided to
31:14
yank the permit because after all that
31:16
was non-essential so three guys went
31:19
home that day without getting paid this
31:21
is happening over and over and over
31:24
again a vast scale they have done
31:27
something grave and shutting down the
31:29
economy and they still can’t explain to
31:32
us quite what they think they’re doing
31:34
it for and I don’t understand why
31:36
journalists aren’t on their feet asking
31:39
ouchy to clear this up what what is what
31:42
what is the failure of American
31:44
journalism well would it doesn’t seem as
31:47
though bill Safire or Scotty Reston of
31:50
the old days in the New York Times would
31:52
have pushed these guys for answers well
31:55
they would have asked the tough
31:56
questions but they would have asked the
31:57
tough questions of those who are
31:59
actually driving this show which is what
32:01
you’re saying about the kind of public
32:04
health officials who are standing up
32:06
there on the stage look I mean this is
32:08
one of the jokes of journalism these
32:09
days is that they pretend to be tough by
32:14
being mean to Donald Trump as if there
32:17
is any effort involved in that
32:19
whatsoever
32:21
and and is doing so they kind of hide
32:25
beneath this this lack of willingness or
32:29
lack of bravery to ask some really hard
32:31
questions also because they don’t want
32:34
anything the other promise they don’t
32:36
want anything to impede any narrative
32:39
that looks as though it’s bad for Donald
32:41
Trump or that allows them to beat on
32:44
Donald Trump so that’s what happened
32:46
with the Russia thing right I mean look
32:49
it wouldn’t have been very hard to
32:50
unravel or even to just poke holes in
32:53
the ludicrousness of the ideas that they
32:55
were promoting right but it was so much
32:57
more important to them that it be true
33:00
in some way that they were willing to
33:02
spend two and a half years making things
33:04
up and that’s what’s weird
33:06
at today too and unfortunately when you
33:09
don’t have a functioning press when you
33:10
don’t have a press it does its job it is
33:12
bad for the country and so you know
33:14
people love to pile on the press I feel
33:16
find it more of a tragedy than I do
33:18
anything else
33:19
it’s because it hurts all of us in the
33:21
end hmm a few last questions Kim you’re
33:26
not only working at home but you’ve got
33:28
three kids to keep an eye on at home so
33:30
I won’t thank you for your time how does
33:33
this end we’ve even in New York which as
33:37
it seems to be the hardest hit we the
33:40
the the peak either has or has already
33:43
taken place or appears to be taking
33:45
place quite soon and a matter of days
33:47
not weeks who gets to go back to work
33:51
and when and who’s going to decide all
33:53
this that actually strikes me as a
33:55
pretty complicated sequencing problem
33:58
who gets to go first how do we sort this
34:02
out right well also who do we convince
34:05
to go first I think that that’s an even
34:07
bigger problem and it’s why you know in
34:10
some ways they’re crazy mr. president I
34:12
volunteer right now well but what I mean
34:16
is from look we live in a federalist
34:18
system and you know what everyone keeps
34:21
asking that the president when he’s
34:23
going to open the economy it’s not up to
34:25
Donald Trump to open the economy okay
34:27
every one of these governors and mayor’s
34:30
have made their own decisions and will
34:31
continue to make their own decisions
34:33
that being said I do think the federal
34:35
government is going to play a crucial
34:36
role in this regard it’s gonna have to
34:39
push people by putting out very clear
34:42
guidance about what it suggests being
34:44
done because it’s gonna take a little
34:46
bit of a prod to get some of these
34:49
governors to agree to move you know
34:52
there’s look we’re talking about
34:53
politics in the end here
34:54
okay I’m not in any way suggesting these
34:57
officials don’t care about the people in
34:59
their state and their economies but
35:01
right now it’s safer to be in lockdown
35:04
than not okay so from a political
35:08
perspective right if you’re a governor
35:10
of a state do you really want to be the
35:12
first one that says okay hey y’all go
35:13
back to work and good luck and hope that
35:15
works
35:16
so you know especially when you have a
35:20
federal government that again has not
35:22
been clear to people about what the
35:25
endgame is here you know if we’re in a
35:28
situation where we go back and it is
35:30
expected that this is still gonna run
35:32
through society people are still gonna
35:34
be going to the hospital we’re still
35:36
gonna have outbreaks they need to start
35:38
telling everybody that now and let
35:40
people get their heads around it you
35:42
know if the if we’re gonna be in la-la
35:44
land and pretend that the real goal here
35:46
is to stamp this out people aren’t gonna
35:49
want to go back to work right right
35:52
right
35:53
the president tweeted I guess it was
35:55
earlier this week that he expects the
35:58
economy to rebound very quickly maybe
36:01
even bounce back to a higher growth rate
36:03
than we were enjoying earlier we were
36:04
led a little over 2% when the crisis hit
36:08
we’ve been at 3% a year before that I
36:11
guess had six months before that I spoke
36:13
last week though – Kevin wash former
36:16
former member of the Fed – former Fed
36:18
governor and Kevin said wrong wrong
36:22
wrong
36:22
I think it’ll take longer than most
36:24
believe again I don’t think the economy
36:28
can be turned on as quickly as it was
36:31
turned off I think that’s in general a
36:34
great benefit of the American capitalist
36:37
system people are thinking of this
36:39
economy like a light switch we can turn
36:41
it off and then we can switch it back on
36:43
it’s a living organism it has been very
36:47
very badly wounded right and it will
36:50
take time to heal
36:52
so I said Kevin what do you mean weeks
36:54
months and Kevin said quarters what do
36:58
you think no I think that there’s that’s
37:00
right I mean just like remember – well
37:03
we talked about people going back to
37:05
work reopening the economy you’re
37:09
talking about a million different
37:10
sectors of economy some of which will be
37:13
able to get back to work
37:14
maybe relatively quickly maybe in some
37:16
areas of manufacturing for instance
37:19
there are gonna nonetheless be entire
37:22
sectors of the economy and by the way
37:23
not little ones either big ones Airlines
37:27
you know
37:29
you can’t expect to have a healthy
37:31
airline that depends on half of its
37:34
income or more or from overseas travel
37:37
which no one’s going to be allowing
37:39
anytime soon okay
37:41
and then you you you reflect that from
37:44
sector sector the hotel industry the
37:46
cruise industry you know B and B’s you
37:50
know I just saw something the other day
37:52
about some of the Airbnb
37:54
you know and different kind of these
37:56
groups that allow you to book in other
38:00
people’s homes who’s gonna be using
38:01
those so this is gonna be a slow rolling
38:07
reopening and it you know it could be
38:09
quite some time before where anything
38:11
anywhere near back to normal and the
38:14
politics of that are that’s why I’m
38:18
saying we have seven months seven months
38:21
I spoke not I spoke earlier this morning
38:23
to Senator Portman Rob Portman of Ohio
38:26
Democrats likely who knows he said who
38:29
knows but Democrats likely to keep the
38:31
house because Republicans face so many
38:34
more difficult seats in the Senate than
38:36
do Democrats the Democrats need to flip
38:40
four seats in the Senate and recapture
38:43
the White House and the day after
38:45
election day we will wake up in a
38:47
different country seven months from now
38:51
can you get that economy revving again
38:53
ken yeah I think it’s it’s almost
38:56
impossible just at this very moment to
38:58
look forward and know how any of this is
39:01
gonna play out politically it’s it’s
39:03
very very difficult you know look but I
39:05
will add one other factor in here that I
39:08
think is notable because you mentioned
39:10
it earlier about what the White House’s
39:12
original plan was going to be to talk
39:15
about the economy and talk about
39:16
socialists well I would point out that
39:18
while Bernie Sanders did give a kind of
39:22
concession speech this week and kind of
39:24
dropped out he didn’t really that was
39:27
sort of fake news he says he’s going to
39:29
remain on the ballot on all continuing
39:31
primary states and continue to collect
39:34
as many delegates as he can and the
39:36
purpose of this because we already have
39:38
newspapers reporting it is that he is in
39:40
negotiations
39:41
creations with the Biden’s camp about
39:43
what aspects of his agenda Biden has to
39:46
adopt before Bernie will allow his
39:48
people to support by this isn’t over at
39:51
all
39:51
this isn’t over and he says he’ll go to
39:53
the convention so this is all about
39:55
extracting pounds of policy flesh from
39:58
Joe Biden and they’ve already put out
40:00
their list of demands
40:01
he needs to support Medicare for all he
40:03
needs to support the green New Deal
40:05
he needs to support a 50% reduction in
40:08
prison populations
40:09
he needs to support free college tuition
40:12
a complete forgiveness of all student
40:15
loan debt and it’s well it’s unlikely to
40:18
see Biden doing all about he’s gonna end
40:21
up doing some of it and that is very
40:24
dangerous for Joe Biden if you’re trying
40:26
to get independents disaffected Trump
40:28
voters suburban housewives you know this
40:31
is a point at which he’s supposed to be
40:33
pivoting back to the middle and Bernie
40:34
made clear this week that his intention
40:37
is to make sure there’s no pivot and in
40:39
fact that Joe Biden becomes just as
40:41
unelectable as he was by the way did you
40:44
see the Babylon be headline Sanders
40:47
withdraws from race because goals of
40:49
doubling federal spending and destroying
40:51
capitalism already accomplished no I
40:55
didn’t I shouldn’t laugh laugh or cry so
40:59
I have I’ve got a closing question which
41:03
I’m lovely closing question but I can’t
41:05
close just yet do you I don’t know how
41:09
to articulate this one but Donald Trump
41:15
even people who like him can’t stand him
41:19
up to this point a lot of people the
41:22
position of many people has been oh my
41:26
goodness do we nevertheless on policy
41:28
he’s okay he’s better than the
41:31
alternatives the policy is okay and as
41:34
long as we don’t have to look at him
41:35
it’ll be all right is there some sense
41:39
maybe in which for the first time the
41:46
fate of the ordinary American is linked
41:48
to that guy as we go through this
41:51
there’s some
41:53
something this happens to some
41:55
presidents but not all to some of course
41:58
always to wartime presidents but you
42:01
begin to feel I don’t like him I don’t
42:04
but he’s my guy
42:06
he’s the country’s guy we need him to
42:08
succeed is that sort of is there some
42:11
sense in which there’s a kind of
42:12
deepening of support or beginning of
42:16
some kind of attachment to him as a
42:18
result of this crisis or am I just
42:20
talking romantic not unquantifiable
42:22
romantic nonsense no I mean look I think
42:26
the phenomenon you described is one that
42:29
you would expect to be seeing in a crowd
42:32
in a crisis right I think that as with
42:35
so many ID issues it comes down to
42:40
Donald Trump and it’s fundamentally
42:42
gonna be up to Donald Trump in that
42:45
regard as well to look I look for
42:47
instance just my own view I look at
42:48
these briefings and when I think they
42:50
first started I thought they were a good
42:51
idea it made the president look engaged
42:54
and they had things you know as they
42:56
have gone on and become a little bit
42:58
more the Donald Trump show you know and
43:02
and the drama of the fights with the
43:04
reporters that’s not what people want to
43:05
be seeing right now okay you know they
43:08
want him to get up there deliver the
43:10
news send the message that they’ve got a
43:13
handle on what’s going on and then let
43:17
the rest of the team talk and get on
43:19
with it
43:19
so I’m not quite sure he can help
43:22
himself and you know the thing about
43:24
Donald Trump is I don’t everyone says
43:26
it’s about his ego and everything I
43:28
think it’s more Donald Trump you know he
43:31
I think he thinks he’s you know fully
43:33
engaged in doing the right thing and
43:35
being there for the American people and
43:37
that sometimes a dividing line between
43:38
what Trump wants for Trump and what
43:41
Trump is trying to do for everyone else
43:43
is is is very murky okay
43:46
now we pull back from Donald Trump in
43:48
the current crisis let’s look let’s
43:51
expand our thinking raised our thinking
43:53
from weeks and quarters even two years
43:56
here’s Kim Strauss on The Wall Street
43:58
Journal on March 19th
44:00
the nation’s response to the crisis has
44:03
been made possible quote by free-market
44:06
policies that have under
44:07
written three years of economic boom and
44:09
put companies on a better footing to
44:11
confront hard times if the US is to
44:13
overcome this crisis and future ones we
44:17
need more of these animal spirits not
44:19
less that’s the takeaway of this
44:22
pandemic more animal spirits not less
44:25
are you optimistic well look here’s
44:28
something that I hope our side as you
44:31
were saying embraces we’re talking right
44:34
now about the threat of bigger
44:35
government given all of the spending
44:37
we’re talking right now about the threat
44:39
to the economy and our politics should
44:42
certain you know socialist candidates
44:46
win in November but what I see here is
44:50
also an opportunity for people to
44:52
realize the problems of government okay
44:55
I mean no one we need to make sure no
44:58
one forgets that the reason we’re
44:59
shutdown is because government shut us
45:02
down all right and we need to take a
45:04
look around I have been fascinated how
45:07
many times over the last three weeks
45:08
have we had a story about this or that
45:11
agency dismantling a regulation so that
45:14
something could proceed more quickly I
45:17
think this is an opportunity for us to
45:19
ask why they were there in the first
45:21
place and are they really serving any
45:23
purpose you know maybe we could come out
45:25
of this with a healthier view of
45:27
government and its problems and maybe
45:30
even a smaller more streamlined one if
45:33
we if we do things the right way
45:35
Kym’s Drossel don’t stay in alaska too
45:38
long
45:41
Kimberly Strasse love The Wall Street
45:43
Journal thank you thank you for uncommon
45:46
knowledge the Hoover Institution and Fox
45:49
Nation I’m Peter Robinson
45:52
[Music]
46:01
you

David Frum, “Trumpocracy”

political communications those of you
47:59
who remember the 1992 election may
remember the third debate between Bush
Perot and Clinton the town hall debate
moderated by Carol Simpson then at ABC
they took questions and the questions
have settled the election was the this
is the I feel you’re paying moment a
woman was called on an older woman
obviously not very well educated and
obviously extremely nervous at being on
television for the one and probably only
time in her life and with a quavering
voice she asked I’d like to ask each of
the candidates how you have been
personally affected by the deficit
panic
no one’s personally affected by the
deficit and I’ll cut the story short
Bush flubs the question Perot gives a
characteristically insane answer and and
then Bill Clinton steps forward with
that huge body of his and said and says
to them I will answer your question but
first I have a question for you how have
you personally been affected by the
deficit and as she answers it becomes
clear that either she forgot or else she
never knew the difference between the
deficit and the recession
that was
taking place at the time and once Bill
Clinton understood what she was asking
out 400 feet into center field but it’s
important to remember that the language
of politics is a second or third
language for most of your fellow
citizens that it is hard for them to
tell you what is on their minds and they
use words that they’ve heard from other
people they’re trying to express
themselves in ways that they hope will
be intelligible to others and or and
when they use their private language
their own language it often seems rough
or crude or insulting or insensitive
and
so the challenge for those with
advantages in life is to hear the
question behind the question and to be
able to understand what people are
really concerned about with a language
doesn’t come easily to them
thank you I was wondering if you have
suggestions on how we could find
conservatives who don’t identify with
trumpism so that we could form
communities in person there’s no because
I think associations are broken yeah and
not focused on politics but protecting
rule of law and our norms that’s a great
50:15
question I think to some degree it is
50:17
happening I mean there are such
50:18
discussion groups I know I’m participant
50:20
in a couple of them here in Washington
50:22
right now Trump has the glamour of
50:25
apparent success and that is especially
50:27
true after the passage of the tax cut if
50:30
he looks a little less glossy I think
50:33
you’ll hear from more of these people
50:34
but the place where the work can really
50:36
be done most fruitfully is at the state
50:38
level and where I think it’s possible
50:45
especially in the one-party states like
50:49
California that I think that we’re going
50:52
to need to see work between reform
50:54
minded Democrats who are not Tammany
50:55
Hall people and their Republican
50:57
opposite numbers to try to say how do
50:59
you do in a state where things are as
51:01
lopsided you deliver good honest
51:03
government and make sure that elections
51:05
remain competitive not for the sake of
51:07
the Republicans but for the sake of
51:08
those states yes sir David thank you for
51:13
coming tonight so I have a question
51:14
about symptoms and causes so you know
51:18
we’ve talked about Trump being kind of a
51:20
symptom and not so much cause the sick
51:22
current system we talked about
51:23
gerrymandering being kind of a symptom
51:26
and not a cause or or dark money being a
51:28
symptom and not a cause of the system as
51:30
a student of politics in history can you
51:31
talk a little bit about what some of
51:33
these causes are it might be um you know
51:35
I mean I read your piece on the seven
51:37
guardrails of democracy
51:38
I’m reading Nixon Ilyn right now and a
51:40
lot of this seems pretty similar so if
51:41
you could share some some of the causes
51:43
you’ve seen and maybe talk a little bit
51:45
about that well I think the the master
51:50
causes of trouble in this in this kind
51:52
of this new situation and we always have
51:55
troubles by the way so we do but this
51:56
new situation are the following the
51:58
first is the slowdown of that economic
52:00
growth since the year 2000 there’s less
52:02
to go around the next is the aging of
52:05
the baby boom
52:06
which means that the people who are now
52:08
in their 60s are arriving the point
52:10
where they’re going to make the biggest
52:11
claims on the state at exactly the
52:13
moment when they feel there is less to
52:14
go around and so much of the Tea Party
52:16
and things like that should be seen as
52:18
the baby boomers are the white baby
52:20
boomers they’re sort of their last
52:22
hurrah of their role in politics making
52:24
the politics of group generational
52:26
assertion of their claims on the state
52:30
immigration and rising ethnic diversity
52:33
which is always difficult to manage and
52:36
which governing elites have tended to
52:38
think is easy to manage is automatically
52:40
managed I think the end of the Cold War
52:42
which has destroyed a lot of the best
52:46
habits of American elites especially in
52:50
Congress of give-and-take because the
52:51
country was engaged in in a generational
52:54
in this kind of epic struggle and and
52:57
then this and it’s not driven by the
53:01
economy that’s connected by this kind of
53:03
cultural collapse in the face of
53:05
globalization in the middle of the
53:06
country which has left people gripped by
53:09
a despair and looking for solutions the
53:11
best description I’ve ever heard of a
53:13
trump voter is a successful person in an
53:16
unsuccessful place that the unsuccessful
53:19
people give up on politics they they
53:21
don’t they don’t believe they can make a
53:23
difference but imagine like the vice
53:26
president of the high school the vice
53:27
principal of a high school and the coach
53:28
of the football team in a small town
53:30
facing deindustrialization he believes
53:33
that he can make a difference and he
53:34
believes things your members and things
53:36
were better and he believes the things
53:37
should be better but he sees nothing but
53:40
worry around him and he’s ready to
53:43
embrace extremist answers and into that
53:47
steps demagogic figures Trump in this
53:50
country are the people in other
53:51
countries thank you thank you thank you
53:55
for an interesting talk the founding
53:57
fathers were suspicious of the pure
54:00
forms of government kingship aristocracy
54:04
democracy because they thought that each
54:08
of them had characteristic flaws and the
54:11
floor they saw in democracy is that it
54:14
tends to throw up populist demagogues so
54:19
they designed a system of separation of
54:22
powers to control that my question is is
54:26
it going to work well they wrote a
54:30
system of government and it’s been
54:32
written rewritten and rewritten again I
54:35
think one of the important of the
54:39
benefits of a really close study of
54:41
history is you come after a while to
54:43
know these people as people you might
54:46
have known in your own life and that
54:48
there’s this there’s this way of talking
54:50
about the founding generation as if they
54:52
were demigods and by the way as if they
54:54
were all one thing people talk about the
54:55
founders forgetting they hated each
54:57
other a couple one of them killed
55:01
another and and and then another one
55:06
tried to hang the one who killed the
55:07
other and they and through the Civil War
55:11
and through reconstruction we rewrote a
55:14
lot of their system and the New Deal we
55:15
rewrote it again
55:17
and while we inherit the system and it’s
55:19
continuous that the answers there’s a
55:26
the the answers are in us we can’t just
55:30
look backwards but I’ll tell you one
55:31
thing that they did anticipate is that
55:33
there’s a lot of discussion in the notes
55:37
of James Madison about the 1787
55:39
Constitution about the risk of
55:41
corruption in the presidency they were
55:43
intensely aware of this problem and they
55:47
had seen it they had seen Republic’s
55:49
snuffed out in their time in 1787 you
55:51
know the Polish Republic was about to be
55:54
carved up they had seen Sweden which had
55:57
a kind of which was a monarchy that I
55:58
did republic ripped apart by the
56:00
intervention of foreign governments in
56:01
his politics and the thing they worried
56:03
about a lot was the United States
56:04
comparatively small and weak in poor
56:06
country with three powerful neighbors
56:07
Spain France and England on the in the
56:09
Western Hemisphere would they try to
56:11
bribe the president and at the at the
56:14
convention they talked twice of what the
56:16
example of charles ii he was the King of
56:18
England and Scotland at the time of the
56:20
grandparents and great-grandparents of
56:21
the authors of the Constitution who took
56:23
bribes from the King of France in order
56:25
to allow the King of France to make more
56:27
on the Netherlands without England
56:28
intervening and who surrendered land on
56:30
the continent to France and the Charles
56:33
second example the corrupt president in
56:35
the pay of a foreign power that is
56:37
something they thought about a lot and I
56:39
think their remarks have some
56:40
instruction to us because I think that
56:42
is the part of where we are now that
56:43
would not surprise them
56:44
it was 230 years good run but the
56:48
problem did eventually show up I think
56:49
this is the last question I want to tell
56:51
you I really enjoy your appearances on
56:53
Bill Maher thank you very much I think
56:55
you saw the last one I thought you were
56:58
very principled and didn’t you say you
57:00
had voted for Hillary and I wrote that
57:02
um you know one of the things that has
57:04
been a rule of mine I have no illusions
57:07
about how interesting or not interesting
57:09
my personal thought processes are but I
57:11
do feel that when you’ve taken any
57:13
position in public if you change your
57:15
mind about anything you owe the eleven
57:17
people who care some kind of account of
57:20
why you’ve done it so so I wrote I did
57:23
vote for Hillary it was a difficult
57:26
thing to do I wasn’t actually I was not
57:28
in DC on election day I cast an absentee
57:29
ballot and got in the mail I filled it
57:31
out and then it sat in my outbox for
57:33
about five days as I hesitated but in
57:39
the end I believed you know I have a lot
57:40
I have a lot of problems with her maybe
57:43
others do too but I believe in the end
57:47
two things about her one was that she
57:49
was a patriot and the other was that she
57:55
would she knew the job because one of
57:59
the things I’ve really come to believe
58:00
is there such a thing as being good at
58:02
the job of president independent of
58:04
whether you’re delivering the right
58:05
answers I’m just do you have the ability
58:07
to run a meeting where you make sure the
58:11
the most junior and least important
58:13
person the meeting always talks first do
58:15
you know that do you know how to manage
58:17
the staff process do you know who did it
58:20
had a staff and administration so I
58:21
believe she knew all of those things and
58:23
I also believed and this is one thing
58:26
that I try to impart to my conservative
58:27
friends one of the habits of mind of
58:30
people on the right is the belief that
58:31
we’re always five minutes from midnight
58:34
on the tipping point which are Paul Ryan
58:36
gave that speech and I believe politics
58:39
never ends and when you lose it’s the
58:41
setup to the time you win and when you
58:43
win is the setup to the time you lose
58:46
that you have to play for the the long
58:47
game and the belief and what threatens
58:50
democracies maybe almost more than
58:51
anything else is the belief that this
58:53
moment of decision is so important that
58:55
anything anything you can do to win is
58:58
worth doing because you will never get
59:00
another chance and we have to preserve
59:02
the system which makes sure there’s
59:04
always another chance and that you know
59:06
in a under president you don’t like your
59:07
present your rights are still protected
59:09
and under president I don’t like my
59:11
rights are still protected and that we
59:12
can continue to follow these rules
59:14
together for decades and centuries thank
59:17
you so maybe you’re gonna have a
59:20
following well I didn’t really ask a
59:22
question I just I thought that was the
59:24
I’m sorry all right sorry III don’t mean
59:29
this to be patronizing but why are you a
59:32
Republican what attracted you to two
59:35
conservative principles I’m not putting
59:38
that I’m not saying you can’t be
59:40
principled but yeah you don’t seem like
59:43
your average I’m a pretty weird do
59:47
generally sir but why am i Republican
59:51
I’m first on the core question of are
59:56
you someone who has more to lose from
59:57
politics than to gain I’m that person do
59:59
you are you someone who is in the are
60:01
you concerned with markets and business
60:03
and private property that that’s me do
60:05
you want to see the private sector
60:06
bigger and the public sector smaller yes
60:08
if I said if I live in California I be a
60:11
very enthusiastic supporter of the
60:13
Republican Party of California against a
60:15
Democratic Party that I think cost too
60:16
much but one other thing that and why
60:19
I’m especially Republican now because
60:20
these are like they’re proud in any the
60:22
history of any party they’re proud or in
60:24
less proud moments and like it was 1864
60:26
up here and there’s 2016 down here but a
60:32
political system doesn’t work very well
60:34
if there’s one party committed to
60:36
democratic norms and only one party you
60:38
need to and I think that those of us who
60:40
believe in both conservatism and
60:42
democracy are more needed than ever
60:44
inside the Republican Party and you
60:45
should run to where the trouble is not
60:47
away from where the trouble is that’s
60:49
true
60:52
thank you all we actually have one one
60:57
final oh I’m sorry
60:58
I bungled that this is a follow-up to a
61:03
previous question tonight concerned
61:05
about religious fundamentalism in its
61:09
influence of America I share that
61:14
concern very much and I don’t like the
61:17
way religious fundamentalism is emerging
61:22
in politics I don’t like the granting of
61:26
religious freedom to corporations or to
61:29
freedom of speech for corporations
61:32
especially with political financing I
61:35
really don’t care for so-called
61:41
self-appointed religious evangelicals
61:45
supporting a child molester wackadoodle
61:50
judge in Alabama all right again he said
61:54
I’m really interested in what you think
61:55
about if you could assess the move
61:59
currently underway in gathering steam of
62:04
religious fundamentalist Christian
62:07
Sharia law okay okay well let me say
62:11
you’re in for a treat because you have
62:14
now in office the least religious
62:16
president in American history running an
62:19
administration in a White House that is
62:21
less hung up on religious morality then
62:25
they do everything I mean it’s just
62:27
unbelievable you know when Hillary
62:34
Clinton was asked that question the
62:35
debate is there anything good you can
62:36
say about Donald Trump she answered I
62:39
like the way he raised his kids which is
62:40
an answer she might want to take back or
62:42
rethink but here’s the thing I can say
62:45
that is good about Donald Trump is that
62:47
he’s not a hypocrite that he never
62:49
pretended to be a good man and he’s not
62:50
a good man he doesn’t pretend to be
62:52
otherwise and he doesn’t protect their
62:54
people who around him he will tell you
62:55
that he’s religious he’s so obviously
62:56
not but here’s the thing that is
63:00
happening the Trump years and I think
63:01
Trump himself is going to accelerate
63:02
this that he
63:04
in the 1990s if you surveyed American
63:06
religious attitudes you saw a country
63:08
that was dramatically more religious
63:10
than any other developed country I mean
63:12
Americans 90 percent or whatever was
63:14
believe in God believe him life after
63:16
death
63:16
huge huge huge overwhelming almost
63:20
unanimity answering religious beliefs
63:23
then when you observed religious
63:25
practice what you two saw was a country
63:27
that didn’t look that different from
63:29
other developed countries where if you
63:30
looked at how many people went to church
63:32
or other behaviors there’s this huge gap
63:34
between what Americans said and what
63:36
Americans did and in the 21st century
63:39
that gap began to close and close very
63:42
very fast and you saw this huge increase
63:44
in Americans who said they had no
63:45
religion you didn’t see a decline in
63:47
Americans going to church that was a lot
63:50
of people had been sort of weekly
63:52
religious before identified as religious
63:54
without doing it stop doing so and I
63:57
think that trend I’m guessing the people
63:59
like Roy Moore and the attitude of
64:01
evangelicals to Donald Trump may
64:02
probably accelerate that and that you’re
64:05
going to see a more validly secular
64:06
country in future whether that’s a good
64:08
thing or not however I really have to
64:10
question because religious faith as a
64:14
way of guiding individual behavior is a
64:19
POW is the most powerful tool we talked
64:22
I talked with general last question but
64:24
Islam of it at religion as an ability to
64:25
bring out the bad it’s also force that
64:27
can bring out the good when we wish it
64:28
and when we lose it and we are losing it
64:31
fast
64:32
I think we’re gonna lose something
64:34
something precious and that religious
64:38
people I think one of the ways that
64:40
younger evangelicals will speak about
64:42
their about the the grams and the fall
64:45
Wells is that they have failed them is
64:46
that they have seen religion as a system
64:49
of political power and not as an
64:50
inspiration toward greater goodness and
64:53
kindness and in human beings
64:55
[Music]
64:59
[Applause]
65:13
you

RICK WILSON: SAVING AMERICA FROM TRUMP (AND DEMOCRATS FROM THEMSELVES)

Rick Wilson built his career as a star Republican political strategist. But following Donald Trump’s ascendancy during the 2016 campaign, the lifelong conservative became a vocal critic of the new Republican Party. His Twitter feed and columns for The Daily Beast give his followers a hilarious and refreshing take on national politics.

In his new book, Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump, Wilson gives Left-leaning and anti-Trump voters a guidebook to win again in 2020. As a conservative strategist against Trump, Wilson critiques what he sees as Democrats’ inability to run the campaign and candidate needed to beat Trump. Wilson analyzes the damage that Trump has done and predicts the prospective damage Trump could bring in the next four years. Drawing on his plethora of political experience, Wilson exposes the tactics that brought Trump to victory in 2016—and the tactics that he will use again in 2020.

Throughout Running Against the Devil, Wilson gives Democrats the tools to avoid the impending catastrophe of Trump’s 2020 victory. In this way, Wilson provides essential and much-needed advice for progressives, conservatives and civic participants to change the course of America’s future.

America’s Great Divide: Steve Schmidt Interview | FRONTLINE

Steve Schmidt served as a political strategist for George W. Bush and the John McCain presidential campaign. He is a political analyst for MSNBC and NBC News.

Schmidt’s candid, full interview was conducted with FRONTLINE during the making of the two-part January 2020 documentary series “America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump.”

Watch Part One here: https://youtu.be/SnMBYMOTwEs
And Part Two here: https://youtu.be/l5vyDPN19ww

 

 

50:57
And so when you see Donald Trump and you see the servility of the coequal branch of government,
51:05
the absolute unwillingness to confront him, to confront his excesses, his dishonesty, his degradations of the office,
51:14
his attacks on the institutions, is an utter, complete, total abdication of a responsibility and duty that’s historic.
51:26
The “zero tolerance” policy, the family separation issue, you’ve written a little bit about this, I think.
51:34
What’s at stake here?
51:37
I think you sort of pointed to the fact that this was an important point to understand,
51:42
that Trump basically owned the GOP at this point.
51:45
Explain—explain what you’re thinking.
51:46
This is a question of national honor.
51:49
The United States of America should not separate mothers and children
51:55
and lock the children into cages, into detention facilities.
52:00
Should not.
52:02
And it recalls the worst excesses in American history: the separation of African American mothers and children
52:11
during slavery; the separation of mothers and children who were Native Americans.
52:20
We have had great injustice in the country,
52:26
but the greatness of the country is the ability to make great progress combating it.
52:31
It’s wrong.
52:32
When you see a government official with an American flag on their shoulder committing that act, it’s disgraceful,
52:45
it’s dishonorable, it’s cruel, and it’s inhumane.
52:51
But we have become desensitized in this era of Trump to cruelty, to inhumanity, to indecency, to dishonesty,
53:03
to all of our great detriment.
53:06
Why did you leave the party?
53:08
Because the Republican Party—well, I’ll say this.
53:14
I think the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are both broken institutions, the Republican Party more so.
53:24
But while broken, they also are two of the most important institutions in world history
53:32
for the advancement of human dignity and freedom despite all of their flaws.
53:38
For me, I could no longer be a member of a political party that was so corrupted by Donald Trump
53:47
that he consumed lock, stock and barrel, and the leadership of the political party fundamentally capitulated to him.
53:59
The Republican Party’s not a conservative party anymore.
54:02
It’s a party that’s populist, that’s nonsensical at times, that’s illiberal a lot of the time.
54:12
And all of the things that I’ve believed in and have steadily believed in, I still believe in,
54:20
but that institution is no longer the vessel for them.
54:25
… The 2018 midterm elections.
54:28
So Trump uses the [Brett] Kavanaugh story and immigration as a way to excite the voters.
54:37
The media, Fox, stokes it, supports it totally.
54:46
There are a lot of lies that are told about exactly what’s going on.
54:50
What’s—what’s the result?
54:53
As a man who believes in the system and in politics and the way it needs to—how campaigns are run,
55:01
what was your view of what was taking place?
55:04
Well, there was only one issue in the 2018 election.
55:07
It wasn’t immigration; it wasn’t Brett Kavanaugh.
55:10
It was Donald Trump.
55:11
And the question before the nation in 2018 was, are we going to put a check on Donald Trump and the party of Trump?
55:19
And the answer to that question was a decisive yes.
55:23
And part of that decisive yes were millions and millions of Republican voters
55:28
who voted Democratic for the first time in their lives.
55:31
Right.
55:32
This election was also fascinating in the Democratic Party because there was a split within the Democratic Party as well.
55:37
And you’ve got progressives like AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and others who are—
55:44
who rise up and are elected and become very important voices and define the divide within the Democratic Party.
55:52
What’s going on within the Democratic Party, and in the end, how does it—how does it play out from your perspective?
56:00
Well, you’re seeing a rising extreme in the Democratic Party that is the mirror opposite
56:10
And I think Democrats make a big mistake if they answer Trumpism with dishonest progressivism.
56:16
If you go out and say that we’re going to give everybody free health care, free education;
56:22
give everybody reparations; … we can go and spend hundreds and hundreds of trillions of dollars—this is all fantasy.
56:30
And in a political contest dominated by dishonesty and fantasy—
56:35
and I would suggest that competing against Donald Trump is the equivalent of running a foot race against Usain Bolt.
56:42
Not going to win a dishonesty contest with Donald Trump.
56:45
And so in this moment, what Democrats, in my view, should be focused on is the assemblage of a grand coalition
56:55
that is fidelitous to small “L” liberalism, to our democratic values,
57:01
that Americans of all different types of political persuasion can come into and feel at home in.
57:09
The progressive agenda represented by AOC, a, won’t pass; b, doesn’t have a national constituency;
57:21
and c, could well be the reason that we see a second term for President Donald Trump.
57:27
You think that’s a real possibility?
57:29
Sure do.
57:29
Trump’s rhetoric has been blamed for rising tensions, white supremacists sort of being more blatant in their demands
57:41
and their marches and such, and it is tied directly to the El Paso massacre.
57:47
What is your overview on the power of rhetoric and the repetition of that rhetoric, especially if it’s based on falsities?
57:58
Well, Trump has debased his office; he’s debased the culture; he’s debased our political conversation,
58:06
and he’s done it thousands and thousands and thousands of times over the last three years.
58:11
He’s a racist; he’s a race baiter; he has worsened racial divisions in this country.
58:18
He has energized the white supremacist movement in the country,
58:22
and we know that’s true because the white supremacists thank him openly for doing so.
58:29
Now, we see a president who divides, who stokes, who incites, who appeals in almost every instance
58:40
not to the better angels but to the worst impulses,
58:43
the worst instincts and the basest, darkest aspects of American history and American life.
58:51
And what does this mean long term for your GOP, your party that you used to belong to?
58:58
Well, the Republican Party will be completely transformed, probably fatally, by its contact with Donald Trump.
59:08
And that may play out over five years, over 10 years.
59:13
But when you look at the demographics in the country, there will always be a market for a conservative message.
59:21
But Trumpism is cancerous, and everything it touches will ultimately be consumed by it.
59:30
But far more important than the effect of the Republican Party is the effect on the country.
59:38
It weakens American democracy.
59:42
And I think it’s also important to understand that the Democratic Party will not remain untouched by Trumpism also.
59:52
How so?
59:53
Well, if crudity, if meanness, if vulgarity, if inhumanity become mainstreamed,
60:02
if the lesson of this generation of progressive politicians is to be like Trump but with different policies,
60:11
then the Democratic Party will be consumed by it as the Republican Party has.
60:16
The—both sides coming up to the upcoming elections warn about apocalypse.
60:26
The consequences if the other side wins are just unfathomable.
60:32
Is this the new norm?
60:35
Each election has always been the most important election in American history,
60:41
and the men and women running for president have always made it clear that their candidacy represents
60:48
the decisive moment and the last chance to avoid the apocalypse.
60:56
It may be true in this election.
60:58
This country will be changed in ways that will be difficult to unmake if Donald Trump gets a second term. …
61:10
Donald Trump is cruel, vile; he’s debased his office; he’s incompetent.
61:17
But it’s a mistake to dismiss him as inconsequential.
61:21
We are at the end of the long life spans of the people who stormed the beaches in Normandy,
61:28
who survived the death camps.
61:30
And what Franklin Roosevelt’s goal when he envisioned the world that we live in today,
61:35
when he architected the post-World War II U.S.-led liberal global order that was maintained
61:43
from President Truman through President Obama, his aspiration wasn’t that it would endure forever.
61:51
What he said is he wanted it to endure so long as every person
61:57
who was living in the country during the war was alive on the earth.
62:04
We’re at the end of that era.
62:06
And we see Donald Trump unraveling that U.S.-led liberal global order.
62:13
We see a regression of democracy all over the world.
62:17
We have an illiberal president who assaults our institutions, our values, our democracy, who debases our culture.
62:29
Another term for Donald Trump will validate his election; it will validate his behavior.
62:36
He will be unchecked, and the damage will be much, much harder to undo if it can ever be undone.
62:44
So we’ve talked about two presidents that were change candidates,
62:51
that the public turned to because they were so angry with the status quo in Washington and in the country.
62:59
What did we learn from that, and where do we go from here?
63:07
Another change candidate but in another direction?
63:12
I mean, as [David] Axelrod says, you always go to the opposite on the next election
63:19
because the people are tired of what the last guy did.
63:22
What’s your take on American politics and where we go from here?
63:29
The Democratic Party’s obligation in this election is to produce a political leader who can defeat Donald Trump
63:40
and to defeat Trumpism, not to defeat Trump by being a mirror of Trump, but to assemble a coalition
63:49
that can inspire the nation to move past this depraved era
63:54
and to face the challenges that the country has to face full-on, head-on.
64:00
And so when we look at the Democratic Party right now, it’s no accident that Trump is labeling Democrats,
64:07
and some of those Democratic politicians are making it easy for them when he calls them socialists,
64:12
because Trump understands this: In America, the socialist loses to a sociopath in every election,
64:21
every day of the week, and twice on Sunday.
64:25
I just have one question about Trump’s use of social media.
64:30
Some have said he’s the first politician to ever do that,
64:34
but it seems that Sarah Palin was really pretty instrumental in using Facebook as a way to reach her audience.
64:39
Can you just connect those two ideas?
64:42
Well, I don’t—look, I don’t think they’re analogous.
64:51
IPhones were invented in 2007, so the ubiquity of social media, the portability of social media, the instant nature
65:03
of social media is something that didn’t exist in 2008 but certainly does now, and he uses it to great effect.
65:12
… One other small thing is the use of divisive issues that he—that he falls back on, like the NFL.
65:24
How powerful is that, and why does he do it?
65:30
Well, Trump understands—Trump understands the power of symbols,
65:38
and he understands the emotional resonance of those symbols to millions and millions of Americans.
65:46
And so he is a—he is a very talented demagogue.
65:55
He is a very skilled liar.
65:59
He is an excellent communicator, and he speaks in a language that people can relate to and that people can understand.
66:10
That’s an important thing for his political opponents to understand also.
66:14
And this immigration issue, which is so central to—I mean, does it remain central in the upcoming elections?
66:22
I mean, why?
66:24
Does the potency wear off at some point?
66:28
Well, what you’re seeing now is a reciprocal extremism from a lot of the Democrats.
66:34
Now you watch the Democratic debates, it’s fair to ask, well, do you believe there should be a border at all?
66:41
And so most Americans, overwhelmingly, Republicans and Democrats, believe yes, there ought to be a sovereign border.
66:50
We should know who’s in the country.
66:52
And so there’s no constituency for the most extreme positions that you’re seeing on the Democratic side.
66:59
Trump understands that.
67:01
And so we have an immigration debate that’s not just venal; it’s completely detached from reality.
67:08
When the debate is we’re talking about Mexican-built walls,
67:12
we are sending military to the border in publicity-stunt exercises as if there was a Panzer division
67:20
about to break through the southern border en route to Washington.
67:24
It’s a theater of the absurd playing out as opposed to an issue that needs to be reckoned with
67:31
and dealt with in a humane, responsible and commonsensical way.