Abandon Ship

Listen to this episode

S1: The following podcast may contain explicit content, which is, I suspect, why many of you are tuning in in the first place.

S2: And.

S3: It’s Friday, January 8th, twenty twenty one from Slate, it’s the gist. I’m Mike Pesca. Friday means the Sabbath and we all need a bit of a break right now. Well, not all out of curiosity, I checked the president’s approval rating. So the Capitol was stormed Wednesday afternoon, the day of and the day after that assault, morning consult conducted polling as they do.

Advertisement

S1: And the question was, do you approve of the job the president is doing? They gave them two choices. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president? Tough choice. I know. Prove him. Yeah, but watching the news don’t like it. But what I say, I approve of him. You know, it is a stark binary.

S4: I have to consider what it means if I say I disapprove.

S1: It’s tough to come down and say disapprove. Remember, the people weren’t being asked, do you condemn in harshest possible terms, do you demand his ouster or are you appalled to the core notes? Do you disapprove? But don’t worry, because I’m going to report the findings. Most Americans do indeed disapprove. I mean, not enough disapproval is to say override a veto because thirty nine percent of registered voters asked the day of and the day after a presidential induced riot and takeover of the Capitol.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: That was the site of a murder, by the way, when asked said they approve of the president. Thirty nine percent approval. That is Trump’s job approval taken the day of and day after the riot. Huh, I understand some of these people I understand the 24 percent in the strongly approve camp, actually there you are, Kuhnen on Infowars, Rush Limbaugh listening to voters. They are committed to an agenda of owning the Libs in four specific cases by dying in the Capitol that will show them.

S1: So I get that I’m actually fixated on the 15 percent who somewhat approve of the president. Are they all look, look, look, I don’t like murderous insurrection, but that doesn’t mean I’d go so far as to say I disapprove. I don’t want to be the kind of person who walks around with disapproval in his heart. What? Adam Schiff Oh, yeah. Guy’s a traitor hanging from the rafters, the tepid fifteen percent judges.

Advertisement

S5: Maybe they’re the judges people. We got our judges. And yes, sure, Trump did inspire an insurrection over claims that have been adjudicated as legally false. But he did appoint really good judges, the very people who in many cases did the adjudicating. That’s why they like Trump. Who else is going to appoint such quality judges who will smack down Trump? I heard Ben Shapiro, Ben Jubilo calling the attacks on the capital the worst day in U.S. history since 9/11. 39 percent disagree with that. Or maybe 9/11 wasn’t that bad. We just didn’t poll it correctly. Huh? Twelve more days of Trump now. A lot can happen in twelve days. The Israelis could win two six day wars in twelve days. William McKinley’s assassin, Leon TROL. Gosh, his trial lasted all of two days. You can watch every episode of The Simpsons, 695 episodes in less than twelve days and still have time over for The Simpsons movie. In twelve days you could impeach and you might be able to remove.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: But before you remove, you have to disapprove. And I’m not sure a sufficient number of senators to say nothing of members of Trump’s cabinet fall into that camp. On the show today, a further analysis of all the members of Trump’s inner circle and their brave departures after the horse has left the barn because the Capitol Police failed to protect the barn and ushered in a swarm of boll weevils into the barn, some wearing animal furs and Viking horns.

S1: OK, it wasn’t a barn. It was capital. You got it. You got there was analogy, right? Yeah. But first, Arizona is a state in a state not unlike our country. Overall, the leader there, Gov. Doug Ducey, has tried to tamp down and play nice with his own brand of Republican insurrectionists. He doesn’t wish to rouse them. That is not his style. But the strains of radicalism within the Republican Party are evident. Stan Barnes, a long time Republican who has gone from elected official to consultant and party expert, joins me to talk about the meltdown in the copper state and what that augurs for the rest of us.

Advertisement

S6: Arizona politics are a fascinating batch of political intrigue and calculations for those of us outside of Arizona, maybe we look at the Senate race and see what happened and actually the decimation, now frequent decimation of Martha McSally, who can’t seem to retain a Senate seat no matter how many times she gains one. But internally, things are really interesting, especially within the Republican Party itself. Maybe Arizona is a microcosm of some of the party politics that we’re going to see play out throughout the country. Stan Barnes is a former Arizona state legislator and is the founder and president of Copper State Consulting. There are a lobbying firm. He’s plugged in to everything going on in Arizona politics. And I welcome him to the gym. Thanks for coming on start, Mike.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S7: Thanks for having me. And it’s a good timing to be on your show.

S1: Yeah. Let me start with a quote I heard you utter on a podcast I listened to by the public radio station CCWs, The Politics of covid or the craziest thing you have ever seen in your political life. How so?

S8: You laid down this this black swan event of a global pandemic. And in the modern era, when we’re all nice and soft as a society and we think everything should be good and the struggles should be low, and you lay this down and all of a sudden everything goes sideways, like mercury on a plate, you cannot predict what is going to happen next. So we have we have it all sewn up into kind of one little anecdote where we have a successful Republican governor and Doug Ducey is a center right businessman, pragmatist kind of guy, and is also the loneliest man in all of Arizona presently, because no matter what he does to manage covid politics, he is just eviscerated by those who think he’s not doing enough and and those who think he’s doing way too much. And there doesn’t seem to be anybody standing next to him to say he’s doing what he can in this kind of pragmatic, fact driven middle.

Advertisement

S1: So how much of this if covid didn’t happen, would Doug Ducey be the loneliest man in Arizona?

S8: No, no. He was doing really well. He still is doing well and many scores. But no, he he had a successful first term, got re-elected even while Kyrsten Sinema was winning the U.S. Senate seat as a Democrat. And and so he know he’s been doing really well. But he said two things that kind of hurt him and Covance. The first one. The other one is he was Donald Trump’s buddy. And then Trump decided to kick him in the teeth. The election controversy around Arizona as added fuel to the governor’s problem with his Republican legislature. So most of them think he has somehow betrayed the cause by not contesting Arizona’s result. So that’s his other problem at the moment.

S6: But why are the politics such that there can’t be a coalition of the other kind of Republicans and most of the Democrats? And there is your path to governance?

S8: Yeah, we we are now I say that’s now a possibility. But we we can get those about once every 20 years in Arizona. That’s a real rare thing. It feels like a weird betrayal and in Arizona political culture. But there is there is a real possibility because we have Republicans in the state House and the state Senate who are for their own purposes, self-righteous enough to say, I’m just not going to play ball and I’m not going to vote for a budget. I’m not going to I’m not going to do these things. And there has to be a that’s the one thing that might that there does have to be is a budget. No other bill has to pass besides a budget. It’s the one thing. And if you can’t get the all the Republicans and all the Democrats on a Republican only budget, then you’re going to have a coalition.

Advertisement

S6: OK, so expand this out to say something about where the Republican Party might be nationally, even where the delegation, the congressional delegation of Arizona is, as two of its members are leading this, denying the certification effort.

S8: This I don’t know how we put Humpty Dumpty back together for the Republican Party, but there is always been this tension between the conviction constituency of the grassroots activists and the Chamber of Commerce money wing of the Republican Party that has always been there in my 32 years doing in Arizona. But they end up making love and being in the same bed because they they have a mutually assured bargain that this is how you win elections and govern in the center right. And but now it’s the same tension. Only everybody’s been shot in the heart with a syringe full of adrenaline. And we’re up fighting at full warfare in the public square. And I do not know. How they get back together, because the the Trump wing or the the conviction oriented true believer wing is not going to accept the other side and the other side is going to abandon that wing as as unable to win elections, the other side being the business class, the whatever that is. And I can’t picture how those two sides get along enough to win an election in the next cycle, not to mention the presidential cycle. And so this Arizona experience is exemplified in the personalities of Doug Ducey, the governor, and Kelly Ward, the party chairman, party chairwoman. And and those two are not going to speak to each other again.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: Kelly Ward is a former legislator who tried to primary. John McCain didn’t come that close, but maybe put a slight scare into him. She’s never since she held state office. She hasn’t been able to get elected to the Senate, though she’s tried. But she has this power base as chair of the Republican Party and she says she’s going to run again. And she is. Well, you know, her Twitter feed right now and she’s very much on Twitter is just calling the protests, riots at the Capitals Antifa false flag operation. She’s cheering on the two representatives who are leading the decertify the vote movement. Her PIN tweet is about a stolen election. She’s at least as Trumpy as Trump. Is she the symptom or cause of much of the radicalization of the Republican Party in Arizona?

S8: No, she’s she’s a symptom. She’s not the cause. And and I. I know go out on a limb here. I don’t even think Trump is the cause, although I’ve given that Trump is the igniter and the the accelerant. But the reason this is a problem for Republicans nationally in the state of Arizona is that even if Trump magically disappeared or Kelly Ward magically disappeared, there’s a million people in Arizona that believe what the president says about the stolen election, believe their congressman, Andy Biggs, believe Kelly Ward. And they don’t magically go back to being loyal Republicans that just turn up and turn out. And that that is where the problem is, is that they they Kelly is representing a very large voice. She’s not alone. And that that isn’t just kind of like a fever that’s going to break when we go back to normal somehow.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: So there’s a million people who think this the population of your state, seven million and I think over three million voted in the presidential election. How much power does that minority have?

S8: Well, they all by themselves, you know, back to the problem of the Republican Party all by themselves, they can’t win elections, but all by themselves, they can they can stop the center right candidates from winning elections.

S6: So do you think that this plays out by the next Senate race or the next statewide race? The Republicans will either nominate someone who is Trump bigger than Trump or at least has Trump or at least Trump is enough. The Senate races, they’ll a little ways off, but they’ll do that, too, and then test the premise that you have to be extremely right to get through the primary and then you can still win the election. Or might the other thing happen where it’s either the realization dawns on people or it is thrust upon them that the way to win election in a center right or center centered state is to be more center?

S8: Yeah, that is the immediate existential threat to the Republican Party in Arizona, probably nationally, too. Will Donald Trump remain powerful enough, influential enough to actually come to Arizona, have a rally, put his arm around somebody and say this is who we need in the U.S. Senate and effectively choose the Republican nominee to run against Mark Kelly in twenty twenty two before the riots? I would say, yes, Donald Trump is going to be able to choose the nominee in the Republican Party in Arizona. But but, you know, here, hours after the riots, I’m not sure because I can feel the sand shifting below us in terms of what Trump’s got in Arizona in the way of influence. You know, that whatever it was is less today.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: A couple of times in this interview, you have said you’re not sure where it goes from here. But that’s what I’m going to ask you either a prediction about how this might all shake out, if it does, or just give me a couple possibilities and paths.

S8: Yeah. All right. I think the most logical one is Republicans falter in the next cycle and presidential cycle. Of course, so much depends on how Joe Biden performs and, you know, everything else. But Republicans have a giant wedge that’s bigger and wider than I’ve ever. Christine, and that does not bode well for any kind of what we need to do to win elections in Arizona or in the United States. The other is that the more optimistic one is that the Republicans nationally and Arizona could adopt what makes Trump Trump without Trump the man, the personality, the jackassery. And that might be tough on immigration, low regulation, low taxes, no foreign wars, renegotiated compact deals, the pro-life thing, the pro gun thing. You put all that together and you’ve got a I think, a center right winning policy formula. But we we being the country, are so wrapped around the Trump personality axle that we can’t get over that. So the optimistic path forward is that the Republican Party gets over the cult of personality and adopts that policy thing and runs with it. And that that might actually win elections if you get the right personalities leaving and not not the Trump style personalities. But that’s my my other optimistic prediction that my pessimistic one is easy and that is Republicans are not going to win in twenty twenty two.

S6: Do you think that the Trump stuff without the jackassery is Trump? I mean, to me, the great appeal is things like maybe those policies. But I bet for most Trump supporters you could just totally change those policies 180 as long, you know, some of them wouldn’t mind a few more foreign wars. Some of them probably don’t care that much about trade pacts, but they really want the owning the Libs. They like the social message. They like the feeling he gives them.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S7: Yeah, I’ll give you some of that. There’s no doubt there is a constituency that loves the way Trump gives the finger to, as you say, the Libs and makes their head explode.

S8: You know, there are times when I like it. Most of the time I don’t like it because I think it undercuts these other things I describe to you. And if you could just department diplomatic source for a moment or down from an 11 back to a nine, then he would be re-elected with a Dow 30 thousand mortgage rates at two and a half percent and zero unemployment. He would have been re-elected, especially against a guy hiding in his basement the whole time during the campaign who happens to be a senior at age 78. He would have been re-elected, but he was not re-elected because of his own personality. And that’s that’s you know, it’s hard to confront for everybody. But I think that’s that’s really what happened.

S6: Stan Barnes is the president of Copper State’s Consulting Group, a Phoenix based lobbying firm. He is a former Arizona state legislator.

S9: Thanks so much. Thank you, Mike.

S1: And now remembrances of things Trump, of all the members of the administration who are hard to remember, Stephanie Grisham stands alone. Sure, there are some short timers. Anthony Scaramucci lasted 10 days, a unit of time. He himself delights in labeling as Scaramucci, recognizing that brand awareness is more monetized than shame. But Christine was supposed to speak for the president. She was, for a time, his press secretary, his spokesperson. But the one thing she never did was speak. The only news making part of her job was the leaving of it, as MSNBC reported on April 7th of last year.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S10: She is President Trump’s third press secretary to leave the role during his administration, but the first to leave without ever briefing the press, believe it or not, never held a single press briefing.

S4: Note the April date of her departure. After holding the press secretary title for about 10 months, she retreated back to her role as Melania Trump’s spokesperson, where she also didn’t speak. But it really didn’t matter. Kyle McInerney took over the actual press secretary and did brief the press, which was an improvement in theory. The president note April then soon began conducting press briefings on the coronavirus. Those proved disastrous and eroded. Faith in government also demonstrably hurt his standing in the polls. Two days ago, Stephanie Gresham resigned from the administration altogether with the following words, quote, It has been an honor to serve the country in the White House. I’m very proud to have been a part of Mrs. Trump’s mission to help children everywhere and proud of the many accomplishments of this administration. The statement, which notably did not mention Donald Trump, was delivered in written form.

S1: And this has been remembrances of things Trump and now the spiel. So it’s not just Gresham because Elaine Chao took a train out of town. Betsy Divorce decided children were her past, and others in the cabinet were said to be disturbed, worried, anonymously, unsupportive, but also concerned about transition of power. And in the cases of members of the security staff fretting over just that, matters of national security, the timing of the cabinet members, other staffers who have left, it’s like a Twilight Zone episode, the one to serve man there are Betsy Davos and Elaine Chao now finding out it’s a cookbook and that they’re, what, gluten free, lactose intolerant. But if they want to signal, hey, we have a conscience in your rankings of the worst humans on Earth, please try to put us somewhere above the bottom. Twenty five people didn’t work.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: You’re still below the girl with the daddy hat who is rude to Gayle King. But yeah, I guess they’re above Holly and Steven Miller and Donald Trump, also writer number four, who propped his feet up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk. But actually, now I’m going to say, no, that guy’s a manipulatable rube. Two are the science of great wealth. You’re married to enormously influential men. You both had years and years and years to no better resignations, not worth much. It’s like standing on principle, like the last residents of Vaneta standing on one’s oceanfront property. Is it swallowed by the sea? In a related note, the administration sale of the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge went poorly with few buyers. So it’s a classic example of malevolence being tempered by incompetence. They wanted to despoil the wild. They just hadn’t realized the price of oil had plummeted.

S1: Challan divorces, resignations and there may be others that you hear between the time I tape this and the usual Friday news dump period, they are less than meaningless, less than meaningless, if anything, and they’re probably nothing. But if anything, they’re a detriment.

S4: Because if you subtract from the members of the cabinet, the ones who are most appalled, you’re going to have less of a chance to invoke the 25th Amendment. The analogy I would draw is to a capital case where potential jurors who are ideologically opposed to the death penalty get excluded from the jury. It just ensures you have a more callous jury or a cabinet. Representative James Clyburn, among others, has suggested that these resignations are a dereliction of duty. So in that case, it’s like them trying to get out of jury duty by falsely claiming to be against the death penalty when they’re not. That, by the way, is roughly in line with the civic commitments of every member who countenance Trump. Thus far, it seems as if the twenty fifth will be eighty six before it’s even discussed. I mean, to you, members even have a group chat going, how would they even, you know, bring it up amongst themselves without the big guy convening the cabinet? There is an effort in Congress to impeach the president. My instinct says an impeachment without removal. Does nothing, maybe it provides grievance and distraction for Republicans. I just don’t see almost 20 of the current Senate Republicans taking the brave step to remove, remember, two thirds vote required for removal. I don’t know, though maybe those guys do have a group chat and maybe Ben Sasse can signal Nancy Pelosi with some insider information if the ouster has a chance of succeeding. So here we are. We’re stuck. We’re fretting. We have some agenda items to add, let’s say identifying thousands of insurrectionists who could conceivably be considered to have committed felony murder. A murder was committed as these people broke federal law by invading the Capitol. That’s one of the to do list. Got to do a thorough assessment of how the policing was so inadequate. You got to track down specific members of the mob who may have had plans to commit more than mischief. You have to secure Washington for the inauguration. You have to find a practical constitutional means to deny the president his authority to launch military attacks in the last couple of weeks. You have to work with social media to keep the president and his closest aides from fomenting future rebellions. What else? What else? What else? Oh, yeah. I suppose you could spend some time strategizing a super quick impeachment and removal and maybe craft plans to censure Senators Hollie and Cruz. Well, at least all of this can be done with our focus and attention because there’s no other big thing looming out there that we have to put our eyes on.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: More than 4000 Americans died Thursday. That is not only a record for the US, but for the world.

S4: Oh, God. Well, at least most of the states are almost bankrupt at this point. We’re just in great shape as a country. No, I don’t make many predictions for the future, but I do have faith and faith in the goodness and the wisdom of the American people. How many times over the last couple of days did I hear someone saying the words this is into us as thousands and thousands of people sought to deny the premise. But I. I do think we are good people. I do think we are a wise people. I think we can eventually be trusted to do the right thing. And that is why I say by Monday, Donald Trump’s approval rating could be down to 38. Not saying a well, but it could.

S3: And that’s it for today, this week’s shows exhale. Producers Margaret Kelly, Shania Roth and Jasmine Ellis. Alicia Montgomery is still executive producer of Slate podcasts here. She is confronting Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Peterson after last Sunday night’s loss to Washington to. The gist, this is from Barbara, Wine, apples, the impetuous, on the night that President Johnson fired his war Secretary Edward Stanton, which could have got him impeached and in fact, was one of the things that did he talk to a journalist and told him that he was unworried, quote, did the president expect Congress to impeach him? I don’t know. Indeed, Johnson bristled, nor do I care. George Clemenceau, the journalist who would go on to become the French president, was wiser than Andrew Johnson. And he wrote, The president called upon the lightning and the lightning came in for a desperate Dupere. And thanks for listening.