S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership. Enjoy.
S2: Hello and welcome to the Slate Political Gabfest for September 9th, 2021. The 20 years since nine eleven edition. I’m David Plotz of City Cast. I’m in Washington, D.C. I’m joined by John Dickerson of CBS Sunday Morning and Face the Nation babies. Are you still hosting face guest hosting that?
S3: I’m not still hosting face, but but as you know. But after my foreign exchange student period this summer, I think I’m considered a a trusted member of the family.
S2: OK, that’s John Dickerson. And of course, Emily Bazelon of the New York Times Magazine and Yale University Law School. Hello, Emily.
S1: Hey, guys.
S2: This week it is the 20th anniversary of 911. How has America changed? How did it change America? Then the democratic budget and infrastructure bills are on a knife edge or a knife edge sword and knife edge or a knife edge. Not sure will the Biden administration get them passed? Then men are shunning college at an astonishing rate. There are million fewer men at college than there were just five years ago. Why is that? Plus, we will have cocktail chatter. And dear listeners, favorite time of the year are Conundrum Show is coming up every year. Regular listeners know we spend one week just talking about important questions like Would you rather be a fish or a tree? Or should you put dirty clothes on a freshly washed body or clean clothes on your filthy body? And we spend the entire show delightfully reveling in that, usually with a great guest. And we’re going to do our conundrum show, of course, this year and we need your conundrums. What are the things that have troubled you this year? What are the puzzles you’ve been dealing with? What are the ethical issues, the trivialities and the most serious issues that you have been grappling with around your dinner table? Go to Slate.com conundrum and please tell us your conundrum. Slate.com conundrum? 911 was yesterday, and it was also incredibly long in the past a quarter of Americans alive today were born after 911. Yet it lives with us every day. It’s in and misshapen our world more than any event, more than covered more than the rise of Trump, more than the rise of China. And we want to use today to look back at the event itself and how it changed us and what what has America has gotten right and wrong since then. So I want to talk first about what you guys remember from that day. Emily what’s the first thing you remember about nine?
S1: I was dropping my older son at daycare for the first time. And, you know, all nervous about that. And one of the daycare teachers said that he thought that that something had happened in New York. And the daycare director kind of shut him down from talking about it in front of the kids was just like, Don’t you know, we’re not going to be talking about that? And so I went home not really aware anything was going on, and then I went for a run. And when I was coming back from my run, someone was painting a house on a street in New Haven, and I heard the radio really loudly saying that all the flights in the country were grounded. And I thought, Huh? So I had this sort of like weird, layered awareness of what had happened. And then, of course, when I went inside, it all became all too clear.
S2: Did the daycare shut down?
S2: What what’s your first memory of it, John?
S3: You know, just on that point of the day care not shutting down Gary Graff, who has written an oral history of 911 and writes really wisely about the human side of it and then also the national security and kind of everything that happened that day, the security part and has in his piece in the Atlantic, a discussion of of how people reacted to the first plane hitting and how basically, there’s this one ferry captain who after the first plane hits, he docks the ferry in New York at the southern tip of Manhattan. Everybody gets off and goes to work. Even though the first building is burning. Like Bob Mueller had a meeting, he was just at the FBI. He went on to his next thing that that we were. We now think of how it’s changed us so much. We are so sensitized when we hear an explosion or a, you know, we think it’s either one of two things terrorism or a mass shooting. But we are we are twitch muscles have changed so dramatically. You know, Emily, you’re the what you’re describing like, the world didn’t stop immediately, and that was because that was a very different world. I was at home. I had gotten an email that morning or very closely before that. I was covering the Bush administration, chewing us out for not beating Robert Novak, the columnist on some incredibly infinitesimal detail about capital gains and what the Bush administration was going to do relative to the tax treatment of capital gains. And for me, that email. And so then I had the TV on because in my office at home, there was I always had the TV on. It was before I cured myself of having cable on while I worked. And so I was watching it in real time. And and then and was upstairs. And then when the second plane hit, I, I knew it was. So I drove into the office and as I drove in, I remembered the on the right. I think I remember this on the radio. There were reports or I was getting reports from the office that there might be another plane that was going after the State Department or that was there were more there was more of this to come. And I remember opening the sunroof and trying to look up to see if there were planes in the area.
S2: You know, I remember going into the Slate office in D.C. and Bryan Curtis, who was a colleague at the time, said, Man, you know, have you did you see? And I thought he was talking about there was a story that day in The Washington Post or there there was a story brewing about how Michael Jordan was about to return to the Wizards to play or he was just leaving the Wizards. I can’t remember which one it was. And I was like. And I said something about Jordan, and he’s like, No, no, there’s a plane that just is sticking out of the World Trade Center. And then I just spent the day walking around Washington trying to find chasing down rumors and. And then ultimately, like, the thing I really remember is getting my daughter from her babysitter, my daughter, who was then just, I guess, eight months old, just spending the late afternoon with her and how comforting that was just to spend the late afternoon with her. I did.
S3: Did I should add just one other thing is that my partner covering the White House at the time was Jay Carney, and he was the timing. He was the news magazine pool representative on Air Force One. So he was on that leg, that first leg from the president’s event at the, I guess, as an elementary school to whichever Air Force Base, I’m now forgetting they flew him to four to secure him. So he was on the plane. So we were trying to figure out what’s going on with him and trying to figure out what to get him. You know, like sending questions in and just trying to get information from him. They ultimately kicked him off the plane and reduced the entire press corps down to one person. But that was another, you know, part of the scramble of that day. And then I should note that John McKeon, my cousin or my wife’s cousin, was in one of the towers and made it out safely. But in the scramble of reporting that day, I talked to him about his experience. And I remember him talking about coming down the stairs with his arm on the shoulder of the person in front of him to get through the smoke and to get out to safety.
S2: Did you guys know anyone who died on nine?
S2: This one of the stories I really remember most reporting in my life was I didn’t either was I was surprised at the time. This is I wrote it at the time. I think when the belief was there were about 6000 dead and it turned out, you know, that fortunately, the number was less than half of that. It was only about a little less than three thousand. But it was a study of how how many Americans knew someone who died on 911. And the truth was that almost nobody did that, that the number of Americans, less than one percent of Americans knew someone who died on 911. But if you look at it, almost every American statistically knew someone who knew someone who died on 911. It was a tragedy at the second degree. If you study like how big our human social networks are and how they interact with each other, it’s like actually the chances that you knew somebody is really small and so it doesn’t personally, like, affect most of us. But almost all of us know someone who was personally affected by it, and I think that that made it a particularly vivid tragedy for lots of people.
S1: So my own view of 911 is that it pretty quickly developed that it was going to be a terrible event in terms of its political implications for the world and especially in the United States. You know, the sort of fear of lots more surveillance and this huge concern about anti-Muslim sentiment blossoming in this uncalled for scary way. But I can’t remember how that developed, like in the days after, like how much I just felt a sense of grief and mourning and, you know, like real concern for the people affected and for the country or how much it was just a parent from the very start that it was going to have this malignant effect on us as a country.
S2: I don’t think we realized that immediately, in part because a everyone was in a state of heightened anxiety for so long. And so we were just distracted by our own selves who were, I think, necessarily thinking about our place in the world. Be there was this global world support that mobilized for the United States and then this global support that mobilized for the attack on al Qaeda and on the Taliban. That was so universal. And so it took a while to realize that this was going awry. It took a while to realize that the crimes that were being committed in our name, particularly the torture that was going on. It took a while for, I actually don’t think until we went to war in Iraq or till the war drums in Iraq started beating, maybe six months before we went to war in Iraq. I’m not sure it was clear just how bad this was going to be for the national foreign policy. I think it took a while Emily. I don’t think it was immediate at all.
S3: I that’s my recollection as well. Is that the human toll? And also one of the, you know, one of the challenges and the people I think are wisely writing about now as we look back 20 years is there is the unanimity, not 100 percent unanimity, which means that may not be using that word correctly, but the overwhelming kind of collective view about what should happen in response to this militarily. You know, I remember a Saturday Night Live skit in which they’re at some party and everybody knows the names of of cities in Afghanistan that are going to be bombed, that it was that it was not the story of overreach that then came to be the case in Iraq. I mean, heck, even Iraq wasn’t the story of overreach until after mission accomplished. But the human stories and the picture of the falling man and the anguish of those posters or the pictures on the chain link fence and and at the armory of people wondering if their loved ones had just been lost as opposed to killed. I did a story on Richard Drew, the AP photographer who took the picture of the falling man, and what I didn’t know until I did the interview with him was that there was a man who had lost his fiancee, but hadn’t. They hadn’t found her body. And so he went to the AP and sat down with Drew, who took pictures of of some of the people who either jumped or were pushed out of the building and went through all the pictures and found his fiancee in the pictures. And that that was part of his closure. And there were, you know, literally thousands and thousands of stories like that. And I feel like that that was the overwhelming recollection for me of that period.
S1: Right, and New York was just so wrenched, and all the people who, you know, were not sure where to go that day and just like the chaos of that was so overwhelming.
S2: The most remarkable fact to me about 911 is looking back is that it was followed by almost nothing here in the U.S. that I was sure when it happened. Oh, there’s going to be this kind of terrorism is going to be a daily occurrence, a monthly occurrence. And it’s it’s not that we’ve avoided. It’s not that we have a war to terrorism is not that we avoided mass death or avoided, you know, terrible people doing acts of violence against civilians. We’ve had it. We’ve had school shootings. We’ve had we’ve had plenty of people who’ve died pointlessly murdered by by terrible people. It’s that this particular thing of the outsider, the outside foreign terrorist act has not been repeated here. Effectively, I can’t even I mean, has there even been one example there were the attempted shoe?
S1: Sure, there were things. They just weren’t mass events in the same way, and the notion that it was going to become periodic and regular just never came to pass.
S3: But it was, I mean, and that we we obviously will talk at some at some point about the accounting of all that’s happened in the 20 years. Because the question is whether, you know, I mean, whether that’s a interesting coincidence or whether it’s the result of policy. I mean, obviously, the places like Times Square and and where there was a, you know, an attempted bombing and all that domestic attempts at bombing in the U.S. and there were ones we didn’t even know about, including around the time of the shoe bomber. There was the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber. There was the idea that somebody is going to put plastic explosives in printer cartridges for several weeks during the Bush administration. Every morning, they thought they had intelligence that there was an Al Qaeda plot to blow up a plane from London to New York or London to Washington. But the Brits wouldn’t let them take measures to announce it or take any measures that would. That would identify that they knew because they wanted to follow the intelligence they had back to the planners. And so for several weeks, the Bush administration spent the first six hours of every day worried that the flights from London back to the states. One of them was going to one of them was going to blow up. But one other quick point the bookends of the 20 years when you think about the greatest threat to America in terrorism now is domestic terrorism. And you think of the events of 9-11 and the lawmakers who joined on the steps of the Capitol in a sign of unanimity. And then the riot of January 6th on the steps of the Capitol, just in terms of the bookending of this age. Those are two things that that stand out for me.
S2: Yeah. And I think that it’s people have said and I think credibly that the misinformation, the way misinformation spread about 9-11 and this lies and crazy conspiracy theories spread about nine 11 are prefigure and are important to the way misinformation has spread since. In the wake and particularly conservative media networks have spread misinformation of whether about elections voting or about COVID. The ecosystem of misinformation began to blossom in a serious way in this country after nine 11 Emily. Do you think that going to this this point that we haven’t had these attacks and clearly reasons that we haven’t had these attacks are we have hardened the country. We’ve made it much harder for people to get in. We have a much stronger surveillance state. We’ve allowed law enforcement to be much more aggressive about pursuing leads regarding people who are potential terrorists and pursuing networks. And we’ve we’ve just gotten a lot better at surveillance. We’ve also become more brutal and we’ve murdered people with drone strikes all over the world. Do you think? These prices worth paying.
S1: Well, I mean, let’s continue thinking about the prices for a minute. So we have all these hundreds of people in Guantanamo Bay who essentially became, you know, received affect. Some people have been repatriated, but a lot of people who received effective life sentences with almost no due process or certainly like real important due process, there was the Patriot Act, the expanding of the government’s police powers in this way that added to all the surveillance. There was a lot of anti-Muslim prejudice and watching and suspicion. I mean, I wonder if our own sort of dawning awareness would have taken place more quickly if you know, we were Muslims and had dark skin because I think that people really experience the fear of a lot of other Americans in a profound way because of that. So I feel like it’s important to have a full accounting. And you know, one thing I just find deeply frustrating about terrorism, you know, I understand how terrifying it is. Like, I share that feeling. It’s incredibly dramatic and scary, but it also takes us away from doing the much more sort of boring, cost effective things that allow us to calculate risk that would actually save more lives and cause a lot less loss of blood and treasure abroad. I mean, it sort of changed our priorities in this way that I think has been enormously destructive. And so without, you know, I don’t want to. I’m glad that we’ve prevented some of these attacks. I don’t want to take that away from law enforcement. I think it’s really hard to do that work and we often don’t credit it enough. But I also think like the overall effect has has warped us and not in some overall rational sense saved the most lives.
S2: Right. And and it has economic cost, too, which is when I think about one of the big costs of 9-11. I think about the students who don’t come here, that it became much harder for you to become a student, particularly from certain parts of the Muslim world, but in general became much harder for people to come to this country to study and then to stay and to be to be contributors to the American economic growth. And that’s a loss for all of us, and we don’t account for it because we instead were accounting for the the attacks prevented and also the the cost that each of us pays in time and stress for having to to endure certain forms of surveillance and certain forms of intrusion when we want to travel or when we want to go in a building. And those are genuine costs that we all endure. And you put that you weigh that against the attacks that don’t happen. And it’s sort of like, Well, yeah, and you know, you never want to say, Oh, we should have had more attacks so that we can all be a little bit freer. But there is a way in which I think we it would be better if we were all a little bit freer. And there were there were we accepted certain and certain higher risks than we were willing to accept, right?
S3: That one seems a closer calculation than some of the other ways in which I mean, if you think militarily there were obvious successes, the bin Laden raid, which I’ve just spent some time going over again, was an extraordinary operation, not just in a military sense, but also in terms of the effective use of several different branches of government over the course of an extremely long period of time from within the White House to the CIA and so forth. And that plus decimating al Qaeda are would be considered military victories. But when you think about losing essentially two wars and warping America’s place in the world, not just relative to where it was on September 10, right? But as General McChrystal points out in his thinking back about this period of time. It’s not just measuring America’s place in the world relative to the 10th of September, it’s measuring America’s place in the world relative to how it could have seized on the goodwill on the 11th of September. And his argument is essentially that in retrospect, and he admits, this is hindsight, obviously, that if America had gone across the world as the aggrieved party and built relationships in Muslim countries and exhibited some restraint before going into Afghanistan, that it would have been able to lock in that that all of that goodwill or not all of it, but some major portion of that goodwill. So you have to look at that. And then the other part is our moral standing in the world, which is that when it came out that America was engaging in torture and then when it came out, the ways in which America was without going through the regular process, engaging in surveillance of of its own citizens and all of those things that America dealt away, such to the point that ISIS could behead prisoners in Guantanamo jumpsuits as a way to underscore, you know, this moral debate that was going on in the world and regardless of where you fall on that America’s moral position now, even as it leaves Afghan Afghanistan is. It is a much more modeled picture than it was for America after the 11th hour on the 11th.
S2: Slate Plus members, you get bonus segments on every SlateGabfest, you also support the great journalism that Slate does when you become a member of Slate, plus our Slate Plus topic. This week, following the death of Michael K. Williams, the actor who played the indelible, indelible Omar Little on the TV show The Wire. We’re going to talk about TV characters who have been indelible to us who’ve met them. Most of US President Biden has until the end of this month, more or less more or less to try to get his $3.5 trillion spending and taxing reconciliation bill through Congress through the narrow Democratic majority in the House and the 50 50 split in the Senate. He also has that time to get the House to approve the one trillion dollar infrastructure bill that has passed the Senate. So John these things, you know, back in May or back in March, I somehow, because I’m an idiot thought like, Oh, this is all going to be done and dusted by June. And here we are in late September and unclear whether any of this stuff is going to happen at all.
S1: But it’s not late September. All right.
S2: Here we are in September. It’s I can tell you that it won’t be done before late September. Let me put it that way. How are these? First of all, how are these bills linked and why are they? Why are they struggling or are they actually struggling? Or is this just this just kabuki?
S3: No, no, they’re they’re struggling. I mean, we should just fly up into the clouds for a minute to look at two of the big things at stake here. One is not just on the infrastructure bill. This was the creation of a bipartisan effort, has plenty of flaws, but it is what people say they would like when they talk about bipartisanship in Washington, both sides coming together, giving up some things, the president being engaged with Republicans. Now there are lots of caveats here. A lot of the Republicans that are involved are not up for reelection, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But something got through the Senate, and the president claimed that this was not just success for this particular bill, but it was a success for his ability to get Congress and and whole shooting match to work again and that democracy can work again. I mean, he really loaded a lot of chips on that, and it was always premature because bills can’t just go through the Senate and then get him to sign it. It had to go through the House, too, and he had in fact linked before taking them apart the infrastructure bill to this other sweeping now $3.5 trillion, a budget reconciliation package trying to stitch together and repair the social safety net. So everything from universal pre-K to Community College Child Tax Credit also huge climate peace, an attempt to get 80 percent of electricity emissions free by 2030. There’s a paid family leave, there’s dental benefits in Medicare, there’s immigration reform. I mean, it’s got everything in there in the most sweeping sense and the greatest tension here comes we in two places one in the house where moderates want to pass this infrastructure bill before the big, sweeping budget bill. But Nancy Pelosi has would like it to go the other way around because she knows that only if you use the leverage of the popular thing popular among members of Congress, you have to use that as leverage to get the budget through. But in the Senate, you’ve got two Democrats cinema and Manchin who don’t want to spend three point five trillion dollars on this budget, maybe they don’t even want to spend a trillion. And if they don’t vote, you can’t pass it. Even though you might have 48 other Senate Democratic votes for something that just takes 50 votes to get through the Senate.
S2: So Manchin? Seemed to stick a knife in the bill this week, he wrote a Wall Street Journal piece saying he wouldn’t go for $3.5 billion. He called for a pause pause. While we assess the impact of Delta variant and the impact of inflation like is it? Is it wise to spend all this extra money if the economy is overheated, is that can overheat the economy too much? Do you think Emily this is this is pose that he really is, wants it to be a $1 trillion package? Or do you think this is just him setting up for him to be get 500 billion cut out of it and then and then claim a victory? But but still go along with the overarching democratic goal here?
S1: I mean, I guess the latter, but who knows, it sort of seems obligatory like his job is to not go along with what the first ask is and to set himself up in opposition to progressives. And that’s how he both sees his role. I think genuinely and also appeals to his constituents in West Virginia. And then he he likes spending money, right? I mean, he believes, I think in a lot of these actual platforms, a lot of what they’re actually going to do with the money. What I find kind of frustrating about this, especially after Jamelle points last week about when you spread this money out for 10 years, it’s not actually such a gigantic amount of money. And when you look at what they’re actually spending it on, what are the specific objections, right? Is this just kind of like you have to knock some of the money out because three and a half trillion dollars sounds like a ton of money? Or is mansion really going in very carefully and editing out the inefficiencies and waste which surely are there somewhere because that’s how the government operates?
S2: It’s definitely the latter.
S1: Emily Blunt doubts it like what he wants to take away dental coverage for some particular person who already has it in some state anyway. I just write it just feet has this sense of like, OK, this is what Joe Manchin and Christine sent him to do the senator from Arizona. And like it feels almost like a scripted move.
S2: Yeah. I mean, John, I just want to push on that is that is Manchin cinema’s job to make it as hard as possible to pass the bill, but to also ensure that the bill get passed, it gets passed at a reasonable level. Or are they not really in this as it feels? Manchin always feels to me like you can analyze him by thinking about, like, what would a politician from the 1970s be doing right? And so he’s acting like a regular old politician, which is like, I’m I’m just making things difficult, but I’m going to go along with it. But I got to make it really difficult and get as many concessions as possible and then pass it. But is that risky a game to play?
S3: Well, I think just have to sell up what I was rambling on about before. The reason is if something if the only thing that can pass the Senate is some anemic version of the three point five trillion dollars spending, let’s say it’s less than a trillion. Then what happens is you lose a lot of your liberals people who say if it doesn’t have the environmental provisions I want, it’s not going to pass. And so then you have a situation where Schumer and Schumer needs a bunch of Republican votes. So is he going to get Republican votes to pass something with only 50 votes? Doubtful, given the way the Republican Party works right now. So the more Republican votes you need and Nancy Pelosi faces a similar challenge there, more Republican votes you need, the more you have to give away, because the more Republicans are going to say, Hey, if you want my vote, I want this in the bill and John Boehner used to complain about this, too. So it happens in both parties. I have no idea what Senator Cinema’s motivations are there. They’re pretty amorphous and abstract on Manchin. I think you’re generally right. I would turn it in this fashion, which is he has a set of impulses that are driven by his views and also by his voters. He does believe in a lot of these things he he did during the Trump administration push back on all of President Trump’s efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act because he believed in health care for his constituents, on the other hand. It comes from the second largest coal producing state in the country. The environment environmental provisions are an issue on the question Emily you raised about specificity versus general. I mean, obviously, it’s always better for for candidates or for politicians to raise generalized boogeyman because then they don’t get trapped, you know, not giving elder care or not giving child care for families and so forth. So this question of the end of inflation and the budget, what will be interesting if it can get argued in public in a way that isn’t deeply stupid is it’s a really interesting debate this question of inflation, is it broad and widespread or is it as a result of pockets relating to the pandemic that has nothing to do with the availability of money? And it’ll be interesting to talk that out because a lot of people remember inflation from the 70s, but this isn’t like that. As economists explain it, then the question is OK, yeah, but geez, do we does America really want to go into greater debt? Well, debt ain’t what it used to be. The Republican Party said almost zero and based on where they had been. They said negative amounts about the debt when Donald Trump was ballooning the debt. So it’s obviously not something they’re that worried about. So when they suddenly become worried about it again, when it becomes a Democratic president, then it’s obviously not something they really care about. They’re using it just as a tool. And will that be effective? It would be really nice to have that debate out loud. And the final point is the one Bernie Sanders has made for a long time. And will it gain new currency, which is when the banks wanted to get bailed out? Nobody said, Oh, the deficit, that’s not exactly true. Some people, in fact, in the House, Republicans voted against TARP. But by and large people, yeah, by and large. I mean, it did fail in the house first. So. To be fair, there are some people, but by and large, when when moneyed interests are on the chopping block, they find the money. And so the argument is when caregivers and those who need help with two years of college are asking for some help. And this is this is help in theory to sustain the economy and build growth in that kind of thing. They somehow get get the short end. And does that has that argument changed post-pandemic when so many of the cracks in the American social structure were illuminated by the pandemic?
S1: Right. We have exacerbated inequality so vastly that you would think that the Sanders argument would resonate, but maybe it won’t. I mean, listening to you makes me think John that one obvious target for Manchin would be renewable energy funding because that would play well at home. And I can I ask a very mean spirited question which has been nagging at me, even though like it is very Scrooge like. So one of the provisions potentially is to expand Medicaid coverage in the states that have refused to do so. Right? I mean, this goes back to the Affordable Care Act and this very generous offer Congress made of paying something like 90 percent of the cost for Medicaid expansion over a period of years. There were states, conservative states that denied this benefit to their folks. So is this like bad politically because it takes those conservative politicians off the hook? I mean, the obvious response is like, well, no, because the years have gone by and people are being denied Medicaid benefits and those are poor people and they don’t have the majority of votes in the state and they should get their benefits. And you know, at this point, these state legislatures and Republican governors have failed to provide them, and it’s time for Washington to step in. But there is this part of me that just feels like there’s a way in which our Federalist system, the state politics are let off the hook by Washington stepping in here.
S2: Well, but it’s not as though in those states there, there are now possible Democratic majorities because right, because of what’s happened, it hasn’t. It hasn’t been a political particular political gain for Democrats to do. You have the Republican governors be Scrooge like?
S1: Right? I mean, I think the answer is that the
S2: answer is you should help people
S1: have the political power and so they should get their benefits. I just. But right, like it’s a the incentives are misaligned here.
S3: Well, or it’s it or it’s admitting defeat in the incentives not working. So if two million or so it’s got to be more than that, I saw a figure that said two million people would have been would be affected by having Medicaid in the 12 states. That feels feels low to me anyway. If the millions of people who were denied coverage because of the choices of these governors puts no pressure on those governors. That would seem to be a problem in the system, and this is just basically accepting that as a problem in the system, as it sounds like what you’re saying.
S1: No, come.
S2: I’ve been spending a bunch of time on home health care issues with my parents, and it is it is to me stunning. And they’re, you know, fortunate they are in a position where they have money and they have the right kind of insurance and so forth. But it’s just it’s just such a terrible system in that it’s if you do not have money or you don’t have insurance or both. It’s it’s almost impossible to get decent home health care because that wages are too low and even the wages are too low. So there just are not that many people working, but even if the otherwise it’s just there are very few people who can afford to hire somebody to care for someone who is sick. It just it’s it’s
S3: it’s prohibitive, totally. And also, by the way, if you as as we had two of you, if you look into Medicaid coverage in nursing homes and I mean, that is its own disasters and thicket of and the court and the quality of care that you know your beloved parent has to engage in is quite shocking in in what your basic care that they can get in certain institutions. Having gone through and looked at a lot of this, it’s really hard. And the fact that there’s not a. Greater outcry about that and the low wages, I mean, part of this is linked to the low wages for those who work in home health care, who are these angels who where the wages are quite low. The New York Times had an amazing piece following along one of the home health care workers. Or maybe she was at a nursing home and now can’t remember. But you know, the jobs are are incredibly low paying and the fact that with aging baby boomer parents, there isn’t more push for this surprises me. Yeah.
S2: The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times this week noticed and commented on a really remarkable trend in American higher education, which is that colleges which have been increasingly dominated by women are increasingly women are are are prevalent in on college campuses. This has become extreme in the past five years. Women are now 60 percent of college students. They earn well, more than 60 percent of degrees because men drop out at higher rates. And most alarmingly, men are vanishing from campuses at a stunning rate. So there are 1.5 million fewer college students overall than there were five years ago. And of that, 1.5 million who’ve who vanished almost three quarters, more than a million of them are men. By almost any measure, who is graduating with honors, who is enrolling, who’s getting the merit scholarships? Who is, you know, leading student governments. Who is doing. Who is who is leading the student body. Women are far ahead on college campuses now. The New York Times had an interesting piece this morning, pointing out that even with this drop in male enrollment, however, men still go to college at a much higher rate than they did a generation ago. So there’s been an overall trend up of college enrollment for everybody. So even though there’s a drop, it’s a drop on a higher base Emily. What are the reasons that women are doing so well in college and men appear to be doing so much worse?
S1: Man, this is such a tricky topic because it plays right into gender stereotypes, right? I mean, I’m want to try. So first of all, I feel like we don’t really know the answer, but I want to trot out some explanations about how, you know, school in some ways plays to some of the average girl’s strengths. You have to sit down, you have to pay attention, you have to behave yourself, especially for younger kids, that those can be things that for some boys are more difficult. And I also wonder if in this college statistic, we’re seeing some different gender based signals about delayed gratification. Right? I mean, if you go to college, you are putting off making money, you’re putting off kind of starting yourself off as a full adult in the world. And maybe there is a way in which that is something that girls still have an easier time doing than boys. You know, when I was reading about this, one of the explanations was that boys felt a responsibility to help take care of their families during COVID, and so they wanted to go and work at the age of 18. But I don’t see why that would apply any less to girls. That seemed really odd as like a set of assumptions.
S2: It goes especially when you consider that all the evidence suggests the opposite, which is that the people who are taking care of their families aren’t covered are the women. So, yeah, I don’t know why you expect it to be the 18 year old boys to be the one stepping up.
S1: The one thing I want to add and this point comes from Myra Levinson, who’s an education professor at Harvard, but she’s been looking at this data since COVID, and she says that it’s really entry into community colleges and other two-year college programs that are down, while entry to four year colleges, especially at selective schools, has not dropped very much. So that’s another indication that what we’re seeing here is class based, and there’s a way in which it’s somehow affecting working class boys in a way that’s different from affecting working class girls. And again, like, I just find it kind of mystifying, maybe because it plays into gender stereotypes and I’m always trying to fight gender stereotypes.
S3: We also have a racial hit. If you look at the numbers of Asian, there is no gap between Asian men and women, whereas there is this gap between other races, so you can throw that into the mix of complexity here. The ladder to the middle class is comes out of two-year community colleges and state colleges, the places where this is more. There’s this difference is more acute. Just to underscore your point Emily about class, right?
S1: I mean, do you think it’s possible that boys still see a path to blue collar or decently paying jobs that girls don’t see? That doesn’t require college, though even yes, you’re going to say yes.
S3: Totally yes. And secondarily, there’s also a reasonable case to be made that for many people, it’s worth more and makes more sense to go into a vocational career based on the way they want to live their lives and their ambitions for themselves than to go than to go to college.
S1: Well, that’s true about like some four-year liberal arts degrees, right? But a lot of voke ed is really well served by a two-year degree, and so you get seriously marketable skills. And I actually wonder if boys who are choosing to go straight to work as opposed to doing those programs are really disturbing themselves and kind of diluted about the economy that they’re going to. Again, I just want to emphasize I’m yeah, I’m praising Vogue editor in this right, not arguing that everybody should just like, get lots of education for its own sake.
S2: There’s a few remarkable stats that I I wanted to flag. One is that white working and poor working class and poor men are now enrolled at lower rates and college than black, Hispanic and Asian men of a similar economic background, which is a real shift. So that’s a that does suggest there’s also a kind of a maybe a Trump effect happening here.
S1: Bridgette rural urban divide? Perhaps. Yeah.
S2: And it’s important to remember the. To this, I was just doing a little back of the envelope calculations, so a college degree is worth about a million dollars, an extra lifetime earnings. And if we have lost 1.5 million people, 1.5 million people are not in college who were in college five years ago. The numbers are. The decline is that stark. They’re not every one of those people would have graduated. That’s true. But that’s roughly one point five trillion dollars in lost earning in society just from that tiny little shift, just from that drop. And that’s a huge amount of money.
S1: Do you? That’s right. I’m just going to play like devil’s advocate in Bryan Caplan land here who’s written a book kind of against education or against higher ed for its own sake, to just oversimplify his argument. I mean, I think one of the things critics like him argue is that what you’re seeing in those statistics is a credentialing effect. And if fewer people have those degrees, well, then employers are going to put more resources into giving them the training and the skills based development they need on the job and that we’ve sort of we keep adding to education without really thinking through its value. I do sometimes wonder about that
S3: and just attaching to that is that what you hear from a lot of companies corporations is that they have a huge skills gap, which means that they are whatever. I mean, they’re not enough people, but also the people coming out of colleges don’t have the skills that they need for their workers.
S2: But sure, I think that’s all true. Sorry to just go ahead. Finish your thought. No, I did. Yeah. I mean Emily. But by that standard, then you don’t think there’s an issue at all. Like if if that’s the case, then like, let everyone drop out of college, that it’s not serving people at all. Like, why bother? But.
S1: Well, what I’m saying say that
S2: if they’re dropping out of there, but if they’re dropping out of the community colleges in the vocational ed, which is like you’re saying, that’s where the decline in enrollment is. And that’s also the point you’re saying, Oh, that’s where actually you can get skills that boost you economically, then it does.
S1: Yeah, it’s a real right. I’m saying two sort of contradictory things, I think fairly. You caught me on that. But I guess what if you play out the critic argument, it’s that employers will fill in this gap if there’s less of the valuable community college to your program development that I was just talking about? No, that’s like an untested hypothesis. We don’t really know that that’s true. Although it’s true in the pandemic that employers have increased or at least some employers certain training programs and benefits. Here’s the sort of teeny bit of skepticism I have and I honestly like. This is not really my argument. But I do think it is true in the working world that most of us get really good at a very specific thing. If we’re lucky like right, we do the same small, narrow thing over and over again. And I mean, this is certainly true of liberal arts. College is not that. I mean, yes, you get hopefully good at reading and critical thinking, and those are invaluable skills. Anyone who’s interested in doing those things, I like 100 percent support. They’re pursuing them. My life, they’ve been incredibly rewarding at the same time. Like, if you are not super into that particular kind of intellectual development, there are other things you can have a really satisfying life doing. And I think often people really do learn them better on the job just by doing them over and over again every day. So it just
S2: but we have to find it. If you have come out of high school and you happen to be someone who is, it would be a great airline mechanic. You would be like if you have those skills, your mind is, but you don’t have any training and being an airline mechanic, you haven’t gotten a credential that you don’t haven’t done anything like. How the hell is the airline going to know to take a chance on you or to trust that way? Yeah, it doesn’t work that way. Like it, unless you happen to have like a best friend who’s an airline mechanic who recommends you to the folks at Delta. And they’re like, Yeah, we do have a we have an apprenticeship program. We’ll take a chance on you. Even though you haven’t done any college, you haven’t, you know, made an effort and all you have is your GED or all you have is your high school diploma. It’s like it, just like that that missed the college serves as a kind of. Even if even if the skills aren’t always taught, at least it serves as a somewhat of a signaling effect to employers.
S1: It’s a pleasure to do the work. Yes, and also it shows perseverance and, you know, an effort to kind of better your of yourself and your prospects that I think employers respond to. It’s just that there are other systems to imagine, right? I mean, doesn’t Germany have many more apprentices? Sure.
S2: And we should absolutely have more apprenticeship programs. Of course we should. Yes.
S3: So a couple of other things to add to the mix, just so we put as many dots on the board as possible. Part of this also is increase. The part of these numbers are the result of women participating in college more than they did in the past. And the other thing we should note, of course, that is implicit in everything we say, but it might not be for some listeners, is obviously the working world is one in which women still have to catch up to the average earning rate of men. So this isn’t to suggest that this phenomenon we’re talking about is the lens through which you should look at all questions of equality with respect to men and women, their fulfillment and earning power.
S1: Some people totally good point, and I’m glad you said that. At the same time, I do worry about the effect that this gender skewing will have on this generation because it’s couldn’t.
S3: You couldn’t agree more. And I was just going to say in the Wall Street Journal article that tipped off a lot of this conversation. The quotes inside of it speak to something we have seen, and I feel like we’ve even talked about in the show before, which is, you know, these young men saying things like, I’m sort of waiting for the light to come on so I can figure out what to do next or I don’t know what I’m going to do. I just feel lost. A gender is a generation of young white men who, for whatever reason or another, are lost in their own world and don’t see opportunities and the kind you were just describing, David, whether it, whether it’s college or training. And and and that’s that is a problem that can’t just
S2: I don’t think it’s young white men. John, it’s young man. Well, that’s young black men. It’s been like a harder road.
S3: Precisely. Exactly. Young black men have always faced the challenge. It’s for young white men who because part of I think part of this and shoot me down is that for a lot of young white men and their parents and the people of voting age, there’s this expectation that the American dream is available to you in black communities. There was a systemic message that it was not available to you in many communities. So I guess what I’m trying to identify is the newness in the way in which that that difference between expectation and reality may be a part of this picture.
S2: Emily I want to close with a last question to you, which is what should colleges and universities to do about this decline in male enrollment decline in mail applications? Should there be affirmative action for men? Should there be, you know, men’s men’s houses on campus to help men deal with the problems of being a man at college? Should there be different programs at universities designed to appeal to men, or should they just continue with what they’re doing?
S1: Well, there already is affirmative action for men and a lot of schools, and I am fine with that. Actually, I haven’t really thought about why I’m fine with that. So maybe it’s the wrong instinct. I just feel like that gender balance is like going to cause unhealthy developments for our society writ large. And so I’m OK with trying to address it. But someone is welcome to come in and shoot me down on this front. It’s not something we talk about a whole lot, but it is definitely happening.
S2: I don’t know if I can. I can. I pause to just note that one of the things that colleges say which are practicing this affirmative action, where they’re they’re allowing men in with lower test scores and making sure that their classes are, you know, 55 45 and not the 65 35 that they would be if you just let in the best candidate overall, because the women are so much better is that when gender balances get too skewed to women, both women and men stop wanting to go to the college.
S1: Yeah, right, exactly. That’s the concern. I mean, I do wish we talked about this more because we get all heated about, you know, some taking account of race into admissions, and that is treated as this huge injustice on the right when in fact, there are all these boys, a lot of them white who are benefiting from this gender based affirmative action. So like the preference for legacies and athletes at selective schools, I would like us to always keep this part of the picture in mind just for political reasons. I’m not sure. I think men’s houses are the way to keep men in college, but maybe that’s wrong. I mean, I think, you know, this is a really good question about what kind of internal culture helps promote learning and stick to itiveness and education. It definitely seems like there are some signals missing for boys and men here.
S2: Let, let’s go to cocktail chatter. When you’re sitting on the porch of your men’s house, a.k.a. your fraternity, what would you be chattering about? John Dickerson if you were a young John Dickerson. You are a young John Dickerson.
S3: Oh, God, whatever I would be chattering about would be some incredibly self-obsessed thing that would allow you to watch people slowly drift away from me to more pleasing members of the cocktail party. However, now that I am an enlightened person of middle age, two things one is that the Times has a quiz in the opinion section. If America had six parties, which would you belong to? It’s a series of
S1: questions, so let you brought this up
S3: 20 questions and what I like
S2: shocked where I ended up.
S1: I ended up in the wrong place, but I understood I have a theory as to why.
S3: So we have both very helpfully filled out the why. I think this is an interesting chapter because it’s obviously it’s interesting where you where you end up, but it’s interesting why you think you ended up there. The questions along the way illuminate politics and the way you think about politics added in a different way than we normally do, which I think is helpful.
S1: Here is my criticism of the New York Times six party political quiz. It doesn’t ask you to rank your priorities. So if you answer with your true beliefs, you could wind up in a place that is not actually where you are because you’re not being asked to make any compromises or sacrifices.
S3: It should be weighted. That is so smart, and it’s so true because and it’s actually exacerbates, in a way, the flaw in the way we think about politics because we we assume that presidents don’t have to prioritize which is wrong. That’s such a great point. I would add a lot of other questions in there to that. Get it. The basic questions of society. You know, if you have a fundamental disagreement about the role of government in providing health care, you got to kind of work that out first before you can get to health care reform. And we sometimes touch on that. But then and then. But on the other hand, then we kind of get down into the minutia without getting at some of those basic questions. So I like the fact that a kind of the basic questions and also making people think about where they are is a really useful exercise. So I like I like that and I would recommend everybody take the quiz and think about the questions they would add to it that they think might be illuminating. The second thing is Jeff Bezos news for the last five or so years have had an additional member of our side of this party. We have every week who you didn’t know about, which was my dog, George, particularly during the pandemic. He was always in here. When I recorded, George died while I was away. He was hit by a driver and I wrote a piece about it in the Atlantic that came out on Thursday. Every writer who has a dog when the dog dies feels like they have to write about the dog. And so I was nervous about doing that. But it has been such an emotional thing for our family that what can I do? So anyway, you might want to check that out, since George was a silent participant in so many gab fests over the years.
S1: He was so glad that you brought that up. We have been thinking of you so much compassion. Oh, such a sad, hard thing for your family.
S2: It is. It is. George was a great presence on your Zoom screen and Emily. What is your chatter?
S1: I have been watching way too much U.S. Open on TV in the last week and a half because this is a mesmerizing tournament. There have been so many five set matches and three set matches for the men and then for the women. So many upsets and there are these two young women. I think they’re both 19 now leylah Fernandez and Emma Radu Kanu, who have just taken the place by storm. It’s so appealing to watch and what’s really struck me in this tournament. You know, earlier on, Fernandez upset Naomi Osaka and Osaka left in this very sorrowful way, which really highlighted the tremendous mental toll that tennis can take. I mean, Osaka’s obviously at the very top, but I think for a lot of lower ranked players too, there’s a way in which the individualistic nature of the sport is just so difficult. And as a, you know, club player, obviously it’s a completely different thing. But I find tennis to be enormously hard. So I really like understand that. But at the same time, to have these two women burst onto the scene has been such a joy and Fernandez in particular, but both of them, they’re really good at getting the crowd involved. I mean, maybe you can argue that it’s a little bit self-serving, but they do it in this way that just has so much energy behind it. So anyway, if you’re at all interested in tennis, it’s a really good tournament to be watching. And of course, on the men’s side, the question is whether Novak Djokovic is going to win his calendar, your grand slam and his like zillionth title and watching him go after the kind of greatest of all time banner has also been kind of amazing.
S2: My chatter is about a really charming little Twitter video. When I was a young dad, my kids watched Blue’s Clues and it was a show I only had good feelings about, a lot of the shows my kids watched when they were little. I loathe and came to loathe the blue’s clues. I always just found winsome and totally winning and cheerful and and really nice and was hosted by, I guess at that point, Joe was there to the blue is this animated dog and there’s clues and there’s like Mr Salt and there’s a one human who is in front of the animation, who was a young man was Joe. And then before Joe, there had been Steve and Blue’s Clues just celebrated its 25th anniversary. And for its 25th anniversary, Steve, who vanished kind of suddenly when he was succeeded by Joe, came back and did this really lovely little video. And it just it just made me made me a little weepy, and we’re going to play a little bit of it.
S4: We started out with clues, and now it’s what student loans and jobs and families, and some of it has been kind of hard. You know, I know, you know. And I wanted to tell you that I really couldn’t have done all of that without your help. And in fact, all the help that you helped me with when we were younger is still helping me today right now, and that’s super cool. I guess I just wanted to say
S3: that after all these years.
S2: I never forgot you. Ever. I want to thank Steve Burns, who was who was Steve for coming back and check it out. If you will watch Blue’s Clues or your kids watch Blue’s Clues, listeners, you sent us excellent chatters to add at first and please keep sending them to us at at SlateGabfest we could use your chatters. So this week we’re going to highlight a listener chatter from Michael Sagmeister at at that LB guy
S5: Mike Chatters about the article. Schulz will sorted the Catchphrase winning the hearts of German voters, but Philip Oltermann in the Guardian. Germany is in the middle of its federal election campaign, and it’s a big one. Angela Merkel is not running anymore, and for the first time since 2005, Germany will have a new chancellor. Everyone expected a campaign to be a lukewarm affair, but it’s turned out to be anything but. Since July, there has been a back and forth in the polls for the Greens in the lead and then Angela Merkel’s conservatives taking back the top position after a number of stumbles, but the Green Party candidate? Since then, however, the unlikeliest candidate has emerged as Merkel’s prospective successor, Olav Schulz, candidate of the Social Democrats and Germany’s current minister of finance. Similarly, no one was excited when Schulz all definitions the centrist was nominated by his party last year. The party’s progressive base seemed completely at odds with Schulz. But now Germany’s fourth billboards proclaiming that Schulz will sorted and the Social Democrats have taken the lead in the polls for the first time in 17 years. It turns out that after all, despite her reservations, despite a loud, progressive base, what German voters seem to want is Schulz the boring but competent technocrat.
S2: I really like this chatter because this guy is just such a he he he could not succeed in American politics. He just looks like this just average bald, middle aged dude like me, like an average bald, middle aged dude. And he just breathes, radiates some kind of competence. And it’s nice to know that German voters are still interested in competence.
S1: Kind of sucks, though, that the woman who was in charge of the Green Party has had their stumbles that have led to this opening.
S2: Yeah, I don’t think she might still pull it out, right? Have you noticed there’s so many? She’s 40 years old. That Jacinda Ardern is, whatever, late thirties, the Icelandic prime minister. She’s maybe 36 there. All these women in their late 30s who are coming to the forefront in in politics, in these progressive countries. It’s really I don’t know what that y that age is. The moment to to thrive
S3: is different than man with thrive. And isn’t it just those societies catching up to a quality faster than the states? Although the states did have an opportunity to nominate a woman or to elect a woman for president? I think that
S2: these are these women are maybe 10 years younger or five years younger than the comparable men would be. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m missing that.
S1: Maybe there’s a fearlessness about that generation of women and a willingness of other people their age to just assume that they take power. Also is that around the age of the fictional Danish prime minister in the TV show Borgen, assure everyone just following in her footsteps because I would not want to.
S2: Totally, totally. That’s our show for today. The Gaffe, as is produced by Jocelyn Franco Researchers Bridgette Dunlap Gabriel Roth is Editorial Director of Audio, June Thomas as managing producer, and Alicia Montgomery is executive producer of Slate Podcast. Please follow us on Twitter at SlateGabfest. We chatted to us there, and please send us your conundrums at Slate.com slash conundrum. So we’re going to do our conundrum show at the end of the year. We need your conundrums. Slate.com Flash conundrum for Emily Bazelon and John Dickerson David Plotz. Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next week. Hello, Slate, plus how are you? Michael Williams was an actor who had a number of important roles, but none more striking than Omar Little. He was the stick up artist on the wire. The greatest character, perhaps the greatest TV show of our time. He was this gay, ruthless but lived by a code of honor man who robbed drug dealers of their money and drugs. He stole every scene he was in. It was impossible not to watch him and be compelled by him. He was just enthralling to watch. And when he died this week, there was an outpouring of of fond remembrances of his work as an actor, of his work as human being of his own struggles with addiction, but particularly around remembering Omar and what Omar meant. And I’m sure I’m not the only person among our in the gabfest universe who spent some time watching highlights of Omar from the wire and remembering just how striking that character was. So we decided to devote our Slate Plus segment to talking about TV characters that have stuck to us that much TV characters that mean something to us, the TV characters that compelled us in the way that Omar did me at least. So anyone want to start?
S1: Well, this is such an obvious choice for us and for this show, but Mrs. Koch on Friday Night Lights, just like you know where Dave and I in particular perhaps are fairly obsessed with her. There are many enjoyable things about the very bitter show White Lotus, which has a recent series, but one of them is that Connie Britton is one of the stars of it, and there she is, and I just am so happy to see her wherever and whenever she appears.
S2: Yeah, coach. So Tami Taylor and Eric Taylor, coach coach Taylor and Mrs. Coach Friday Night Lights are totally on my list. But you know what’s funny, Emily? It’s not funny. It’s kind of sad is that I can’t watch that show anymore. I, when my marriage fell apart, I became unable to watch it because so much of what it was to me was this portrait of an incredible marriage. It’s the best portrait of a happy marriage that I can think of on TV. It was such a pleasure for me to watch and rewatch that show. In fact, I was I was in the middle of rewatching it when my marriage start to fray and I, I haven’t been able to look at it since, and it makes me sad. Yeah.
S3: Shall I jump in to? Sure. Well, you know, I started to think, Oh, I don’t really have any. And then and then I just then like it unspooled, I mean, when I was, I mean, we were all. We grew up in an age of extremely limited by today’s standards, choices and MASH was one of the I would watch MASH and Star Trek. I mean, I’d probably seen every one, like 60000 times. McLean Stevenson on MASH and Alan Alda. Oh yeah. For me, it was a I mean, Harry Morgan was great as the Colonel Potter Colonel Potter. Yeah, exactly was great. But but I always thought it was a better mash when McLane Stevenson was on and and Alan Alda was also my other favorite. But Spock? Leonard Nimoy total so many affectionate moments around him in the more modern era Michael Kitchen, who was a lead actor in something called Foyle’s War and showing how I guess I’m stuck in British procedurals. But Jason Watkins, who is on McDonald and Dodds, who plays this detective, is fantastic. Those are two of my more current ones. And basically the entire cast of Fawlty Towers. And are you being served well?
S1: The entire cast of is like actually a fair move, right? Because when these shows succeed, it’s because of the ensemble nature of them in the way that the relationships develop over time. And it’s like watching people you wish you are friends with or wish were in your family. So I often actually have trouble picking out one character like, I love the show transparent, and I feel like it had a deep effect on me, but I can’t pick out one of those characters. The character who transitions is such an amazing force in that show, but also the three siblings.
S2: Yeah, but is there are shows where the where the an actor comes on and the light goes on? I just rewatch Mad Men and their character, right? I mean, it’s an amazing ensemble, but kind of whenever Betty Draper is on, I just didn’t pay any attention. She was such her character, such a drag,
S1: but she was such a nice queen.
S2: Yeah. But then when Roger Sterling, the or when Peggy Olson or Joan Harris, like when their scenes in that office, they just crackle. They just, you can’t stop watching it. It’s you have to you have to rewind to hear, Oh, what was that little joke? What was that bond? Might that someone just dropped? And and so I do think there are there there better and there are people who are better and worse at carrying shows, even in shows which have strong ensembles,
S1: though I think that’s sort of a deliberate part of Mad Men is that Don Draper’s home life is miserable and his, you know, on feminist wife is dreadful. And that’s like part of what the show is doing. And it gets a little kinder to the Betty character later on.
S2: Maybe not that much. Having just rewatched it. It doesn’t. It doesn’t. Not necessarily.
S1: Maybe I’m wrong about that.
S2: I mean, a little bit for not really. Raymond Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine The Captain Brooklyn Nine-Nine, played by Andre Braugher, is that’s an amazing, super specific, weird comic character who is just I can’t. It’s by far the best part of that show, which is pretty good. Or Alexis Rose on Schitt’s Creek. Did you watch Schitt’s Creek? No, the daughter of Schitt’s Creek, I I could watch her do anything forever. That character I would like to be in all shows.
S1: Issa Rae, I can’t remember even oh,
S2: an insecure yes
S1: character. Insecure Issa Rae love her and her whole way of being in the world.
S3: I find it difficult to just disconnect my love of Martin Freeman in the British office, from John Krasinski in the American office. They both played the same character. I think that’s an. Interesting. And then characters you love to hate. Ricky Gervais and Steve Carell are probably in that same category, so I don’t know. I haven’t really workshopped all that, but I feel like those are somewhere in this conversation.
S1: All right, I’m going to bring in Parks and Rec here, which my children oh, sure, so many times that I have watched it, so many times. I mean, Amy Poehler is amazing and terrifying in that show, but also Ron Swanson.
S1: Oh my God. And all of them. I mean, Aziz Ansari is amazing in that. Donna, again, an amazing ensemble, huh?
S2: I don’t feel like I feel like we’ve somehow missed the mark with this.
S1: The mark of the wall, because we’ve
S3: gotten to diffuse. You mean, because you’ve gotten to, we’ve
S2: got to diffuse, we did. We’ve sort of missed this, but that Omar. Omar Little was so specific. Well, it’s so distinct on that show. And. And you really heated him and these other that we haven’t we haven’t found the same kind of people, huh?
S3: Well, huh. I think you’re exactly right. And yet I feel like this has been a perfectly fine exercise. The question is, why do these people capture and what was interesting about Omar? Maybe. And this was true. Maybe this started with The Sopranos is the affection you have for people who are doing awful things. And is it the character? Is it the actor pulling it off? What is because can you think of a previous person who is committing weightless homicides that you nevertheless felt affection towards? I mean, that’s part of the genius of those shows.
S1: Right, right? I mean, the thing about Omar is he’s always depicted a little bit as a Robin Hood, right, because he’s stealing from the drug dealers. And so you kind of give him a kind of moral pass, though it is true that he is killing people.
S2: All right, Flight-Plus, we’ll talk to you later. Send us your your indelible TV characters.