A Clownish Attempt at a Coup

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S1: For four years, you marched and organized for equality and justice for our lives and for our planet, and then you voted. You chose Joe Biden as the next president of the United. The goal of the outgoing administration is clear from the brief they filed in the Supreme Court in a search and I quote, The entire ACA thus must fall. And of course, there is an orange menace of presidents who will no longer be able to occupy the White House. That’s a big deal.

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S2: Hello and welcome to Dreamcast, I’m Virginia Heffernan. So how’s your cousin today? I’m going to say mine was coming on hot and heavy yesterday, especially when I remembered the proud boys had been told to stand by and soon they might be unleashed like potbellied Insull mastiffs to open fire on the anarchist jurisdictions, including my own neighborhood. A friend said she wasn’t worried about a coup and I should just stay inside. And then the Republicans started to give their usual take on things gobble, gobble up or rainfall’s up when the wind is southerly. I know a hawk from a handsaw, by the way. Remember that from Hamlet. Is Hamlet crazy or only pretending to be crazy? Are the Republicans or for that matter, am I? But then today my son asked whether I’d rather be defeated in a coup, a putsch or a hunter. And we talked about how lame it would be to go down in a weird little cute putsch or defeat defeated in a fancy French coup, Silopi. And then we talked about the AHJ and Hunta and somehow that took the sting out of this thing. OK, as you all know, I’m in a sign war with my Trump neighbors, and I was very ready after Biden’s decisive defeat of Trump to take down my discrete Biden Harris lawn sign and head over to their lost cause, Trump Flag Redoubt and show them some condescending noblesse oblige, offer condolences on their decisive loss and ask that we let bygones be bygones and celebrate our common humanity. Now, I wanted a Wimbledon handshake at the net. Good show, chaps. But then this ham handed coup thing started and their flags didn’t come down, so neither did my discreet and classy sign. And the standoff remains just to spell it out fairly. I’m on the side of righteousness and they are cruel, want wits and that’s the size of it. But for real, I think there’s a case for outrage right now and a case for sanguinity. I have no idea why I’m choosing to be sanguine, although I did take the temperature of Twitter today and decided that the ideas markets were bullish on Biden and short selling the coup. And then I went on to think of the coup as a kind of fanciful delusion and not a grave reality. So here I am. Maybe I’m just excited about my guest, Jacob Weisberg. Yes, folks, he’s the head of the Pushkin podcast Empire, but also he’s the founder of Dreamcast. Years ago, Jacob set the course for this show as one stop shopping for all things about Thanos. That is Trump and his family and his knavery. Jacob is joining me because in spite of superficial anxieties, Trump cast is in its final stretch and is taking a valedictory moment to praise the founder for his lifetime achievements and see how he’s doing with his own couped. Zaydi. Jacob, hello and welcome to Dreamcast.

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S3: Hey, Virginia, glad to be back. It’s been a minute.

S2: You are the I was going to say patriarch, but that’s wrong paterfamilias about that of Trump cast.

S3: I’ll take that. That’s true. Well, you know, I always wanted to come back for the last show. Is this the last show?

S2: Well, that’s a good question. I think we might do all through the death throes to the inauguration of the next president, Joe Biden. So that’s only a few more weeks. And also, I don’t know, like adrenaline is spiking right now. And you are always the person that I turn to to just, like, cool off the nervous system.

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S3: I’m not sure I’m going to be good for that at the moment. My adrenaline sort of spiking to I’m so outraged by what’s going on, not just that Trump is contesting the election, which was predictable, but that almost every Republican is supporting him or staying quiet. You know, it’s the fact that it is a clownish coup attempt doesn’t change the reality of it being a coup attempt. And half of the country is supporting it or half of the country’s politicians are supporting it. I should say. I’m not sure that people who voted for Trump all think that he is the real winner. I think probably a good percentage of them don’t.

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S2: I mean, I as usual, as you know me, I stand with Fox News and Erdogan of Turkey in accepting Joe Biden’s victory and also Netanyahu Vladimir Putin. I mean, these are the wise sages of our time who are committed to democracy and have acknowledged and even congratulated Joe Biden on his victory. I don’t get it with the Republicans in the Senate. I just will never I think I may never understand them. Did you anticipate that only Romney would perceive reality here?

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S3: No. I thought that Republicans would not throw in with this attempt. They would say, you know, if he wants to get the Secret Service to escort him out of the building and put his stuff in a cardboard box for him and leave it out on the curb, that’s on him. But we don’t really want to participate in that because it’s going to be kind of humiliating. I think what I didn’t reckon on is the level of fear or blackmail. If you want to present some rational explanation for it that they have, that Trump will turn on them still and that even after he leaves the White House, he’s going to be the presumptive front runner in twenty, twenty four and the leader of the party in every sense. So none of them are willing to stand up to him. It’s it’s appalling.

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S2: I’m surprised because I thought your custody would be lower than mine. But you’ve heard you’ve definitely heard from I don’t know if you’ve read Sharon Dapo or witness saying it’s going to be a rough 70 days. Don’t use the word coup. Maybe they’d allow Hunter or Putsch. I don’t know whether the I don’t know. Actually, my son just asked me whether you’d like to see the world overthrown in a coup, a hunter or a putsch. We decided Putsch was too wimpy, coup is too fancy and French.

S3: So Anta, you know, in Spanish had to go pay the stato. I’m probably not going to say that, but they’ll pay is like a similar meeting. But that’s what Franco committed in nineteen thirty six when he took over. When he overthrew the Spanish Republic. It was a golpe.

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S2: OK, so maybe we want to go pay but it doesn’t seem like your golpe zaetta your cuzzi to your society is. I was surprised that it’s so high. I just want to say that again. So you’re with Ezra Klein. Rather than assuring Kaputt you’re willing to use the word that even if it’s incompetent, even if it’s just attempted, even if it’s bound to fail, we really should see what’s happening.

S3: Yeah, my anxiety that that it will succeed is low. My outrage that it’s being tried is very, very high. And I think you have to take it seriously. It’s an anti-democratic attack. It’s an attack on our democratic society by one of the two major political parties. And you can’t you can’t dismiss it. I mean, you can dismiss the likelihood of it. I don’t think people should be up at night worrying that it will succeed. I don’t see how it could possibly succeed. But it’s another these things that will change our political culture because people will support it, because people will deny the legitimacy of Biden. You know, and it’s something that I think a little like birther ism and like birther ism. I do think there is there is a racist subtext to it because it fundamentally is driven by the idea that black people voting is somehow illegitimate or cheating. They focus on Detroit and Philadelphia, you know, places where there are a lot of black people and start from the. Premise that there must be something fraudulent about that?

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S2: It’s very much worth acknowledging and calling into question the legitimacy of Biden could be something that’s with us for a long time, even if he doesn’t succeed.

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S3: Yeah, and I was saying, like birther ism, it seems so stupid that you wanted to kind of ignore it and just think those people are stupid. I don’t want to waste my time paying attention to them, but it has this insidious effect over time. And part of the insidious effect is it’s a pretext for people who don’t want to accept the legitimacy of a legitimate president and even a mandate.

S2: It’s looking increasingly clear that that Biden had, like, you know, a a discrete or a modest landslide here. So there are two parts to what’s being thrown into question, whether he’s the president at all, and certainly an effort to erode the mandate, which is something I something some people reported that Putin wanted in 2016. He didn’t want Trump as a president. He just didn’t want Hillary to roll in with lots of enthusiasm and lots of enthusiasm, especially to block his, you know, imperial ambitions. And so cutting down on the mandate seems to be the realist hope of like a bill bar. So keep McConnell in power, keep it in question, make the country seem like it’s divided cleanly in half or even tilts toward Trump ism so that Biden can’t move. Does that seem right to you?

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S3: Yeah, I mean, I think it is Putinism and in a very fundamental way, which is that the object is to just make as much trouble as possible, create as much noise and distortion in the system, destroy social trust, destroy political legitimacy. And, you know, succeeding would be like a crazy bonus that they’re not counting on. But there’s some remote chance of that, too. But it doesn’t have it’s not strategic in the sense that that that Trump and his people think if we dispute the election, it will cause X, Y and Z to happen. I think it’s more let’s fuck things up because we can.

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S2: So just pursuing I think there’s a case for anxiety or even outrage and there’s a case for letting cooler heads prevail. And as someone recently said, channeling your inner Joe like acting like Joe. No, Joe Biden. No, I don’t have any fears of this thing. You know, that little laugh does sort of modeling for the nation that all is going well, being senatorial, being presidential about this is all rolling along the way. We expected it to, but obviously we can’t entirely control our outrage. So I’ll tell you the thing that I dwell on, I sometimes yesterday go all the way to there might be a general or two, as there was at Lafayette Square, willing to take their orders from the commander in chief right now and start pulling off what really looks like Zonta, you know, not just putting bar or Pompeo saying, you know, bunk things or the OEI and network or Facebook disinformation. But putting some generals there, I sort of started to think if he if he was able to sort of demilitarise the no fly zone over Biden’s house like that, you know, have the military withdraw from that protection or some other indication that there are generals listening to him. I mean, do you fear that or am I just going too far?

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S3: Well, I think you’re channeling Trump’s own thinking. I mean, Trump doesn’t think there is any part of the government that is not an arm of his politics right now. So why did he fire Esper? He fired him for having stood up to him in, you know, illegitimately putting down a constitutional public protest. Know, he remembered that there was a guy who stood up to him, exercised independence in the military. The military, I think, is deeply steeped in this culture of, you know, on the one hand, civilian control, on the other hand, professionalism. And I find it unimaginable that the military would execute illegitimate orders, that they they would function as a political arm of the presidency. So, again, I’m not worried about it. I’m outraged that Trump is thinking about it and almost certainly will try some some version of it. And here’s the real cost. Virginia, I mean, I think the thing that’s damaging that’s happening right now is the transition is being prevented. And part of that transition is Biden and his coronavirus task force putting in place a national plan to suppress the second wave that’s exploding right now. Every day, every hour that Trump prevents the transition from taking place is costing lives. I mean, so in that sense, Trump’s killing people right now because there are competent authorities ready to start taking charge of this problem and instead, Trump saying we must have chaos. I’m going to prevent the the legitimate constitutional order from functioning the way it’s supposed to.

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S2: Yeah, just out of spite, out of grandiosity, and and even with the willingness to pursue the ends of his, I don’t know if it’s too much to call it a death cult, but that’s what it looks like to me. There’s still mask deniers still that the super spreader events seem to have a Trump super spreader event seem to have generated thirty thousand, something like thirty thousand new cases and counting. And so not only is he stopping or ceasing collaboration or not even allowing collaboration with Biden, but he is pursuing his own provocative agenda, you know, at the worst possible time. Let me ask you, as a better historian than I am, can you think of a time I mean, do when the parties change and there’s a new president, we’re in the interregnum and new president elect. Can you think of times where there was collaboration on urgent policy matters in that period, the November to January period? So if there were a military action going on, did the president elect and the president actually put their heads together, not hand off binder’s to each other? But what would that even look like if Trump worked with Biden on these initiatives? We know he Biden already has released the people that are going to work on his coronavirus task force. And is there precedent for a kind of presidency or just a just a very graceful and yet kind of muscular transition?

S3: Well, presidential transitions are one of those things that political scientists and policy people in Washington, you know, really come to focus on in the past several decades as needing greater system ization and professionalization because, you know, when the executive branch was a few thousand people. It was kind of managed in personal terms, if you go back to the pre-war period, but in the era of the imperial presidency, this is a vast apparatus. It’s the it’s the biggest company in the world being handed over to entirely new management. There’s been a lot of very good and careful thinking and planning that’s gone into answering the question of how do you have an effective presidential transition. I think it’s just over time been taken more and more seriously. And, you know, this is Michael Lewis’s book. The fifth risk was about the horror that when the Obama administration in 2016 planned, what would have been the most careful, thoughtful, comprehensive presidential transition yet, which, of course, they were under the illusion would be a transition to Hillary Clinton. Trump people sort of didn’t show up for the briefings. The Trump people, the Obama people said, well, all right, we may not be glad it’s you, but, you know, let’s sit down and go through these binders. You’re going to be running some important stuff like the nuclear programs, the Department of Energy and the Trump people said, no thanks. We don’t want to hear about all that stuff. That’s not what we’re into. And, you know, the the Obama people were sort of left with all this planning gone completely to waste. And, of course, that, know, the Trump administration is is completely bucking that trend. They I’m sure they’ve prepared effectively no transition. Yeah, they they they’re not accepting they’ve never accepted the premise that there could be a transition that he could that he could legitimately lose. And the best they’re going to do is on the on the last day, the last minute, the last hour, they’ll leave the keys to the men’s room on the on the dresser and say good luck.

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S2: Yeah. And hopefully there’s a restroom for Kamala Harris, too.

S3: But I’m sure they I’m sure that they’re going to they’re not going to leave the key for that. They’re going to they’re women. They’re going to leave that basket and a chance to get it, get the lottery better.

S2: It seems like one of the fears of having a rocky transition. And I haven’t read the Lewis book yet, but is that there’ll be a tax at that joint at that bad joint in American democracy and American history and then will be vulnerable to enemies somehow, even through all this time with Trump, as we’re told, not reading the intelligence briefs with Trump saber rattling, with Trump cozying up to enemies, we haven’t had an attack of, you know, on American soil or on the grid in ways that we might have anticipated. Is it the main bad thing that we have to fear if the transition doesn’t happen? For instance, Trump didn’t take, as you say, the tutorial from Obama. He didn’t take the binders. He didn’t listen to the State Department. He just ignored it entirely. And so we know what happens when someone just ignores a transition, which is certain bad things to the democracy and certain surprisingly. OK, things to national defense and national security. Right. I mean, that’s what sort of a weird lesson of Trump. You almost can imagine Obama briefing Biden as far as possible on what’s next and just leaping over four years, because we know we know what Trump has mangled because he tweets just about all of it. And there are other people that have gotten security briefings who can help the transition to Biden. So is it possible that we don’t have to fear the worst right now, that we don’t have to fear an attack on American soil?

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S3: Oh, yeah. Well, first of all, that’s the kind of outlier fear is during a sort of like a six day war scenario. Right. When the country sadly distracted doing something else, it’ll be vulnerable to some kind of attack. And that’s obviously something that military planners have to think about. But I don’t think that’s the primary question here. And I totally agree with what you just said, which is, you know, Biden was in the White House for eight years. He’s he and his people are deeply knowledgeable and experienced about how the executive branch of the agencies work. They don’t have anything to learn from Trump and his people who never learned or cared to learn anything in four years. So it’s not that they need Trump’s briefing. They have to reassert the connection to the civil service and the professional layer that survived Trump and figure out how to get these agencies and departments of government back to something like normal functioning. Well, you know, what I’m worried about is simply the who’s in charge problem for the next 70 days, and particularly in the middle of a pandemic, you have an outgoing administration that has abdicated responsibility. And in the way it should work is the incoming administration should start to run. The response should start to start to put a plan in place. And that’s what’s being prevented. It’s actually the the management.

S2: Part of the transition, well, it seems as though governors, at least governors in blue states and even possibly governors in red states may get their marching orders, begin to get their marching orders from Biden. I mean, the media is key here and he gives plenty of press conferences. Biden does and trumps press conferences have begun to be sidelined even by Fox News. So, you know, maybe there is a case to be made or maybe we owe Biden some admiration that he’s just acting like a president, that he’s probably huddling a little bit with Obama. He certainly knows people in civil service. He knows the administrative state and and that they can move forward. And if Trump fires Dr. Fauci and and Biden puts him on his task force, he can push Foushee out and have press conferences. And, you know, a lot of the networks will run them. And maybe when they hear common sense, some of the governors or all of the blue state governors will start doing what he says. I mean, he can in a softer way assert himself while Trump is running this more aggressive and more incompetent coup.

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S3: Yeah, and Trump can’t fire Foushee. That’s one thing that’s not quite in his power. Only Francis Collins can fire Foushee. And I don’t think there are circumstances under which he would. But what Trump can do is just keep up the drama for the next two months in a bid. Yeah. And prevent or at least diminish Biden’s ability to assert control. And now Biden can be doing that behind the scenes, as you’re talking about, in establishing these connections at the at the state level and inside the civil service. But if the message coming out from the White House is cooperate with Biden and you’ll be fired, it’s still it’s still pretty inhibiting. Now, maybe Biden can hire you back or the firing will be illegitimate if you have civil service protection. But Trump can create an awful lot of mess with the power to fire. The power to pardon. Yeah, I mean, he can he can commit a tremendous amount of outrage in the time that remains to him in office, even if he were to acknowledge that he’s leaving on January 20th.

S2: I mean, I think that in a more gentlemanly way, in a way, schooled with 50 years experience in government, Biden is also trying to erode Trump’s legitimacy in this period. And really, there has been a level see, this is my not anxious side. There has been a level of just clean, professional, disciplined support for Biden in that role. And I am talking about Fox News calling Arizona acknowledging the Biden victory and cutting away from the press conference. And then even at the level of these foreign leaders, I mean, one dictator after another, let alone the EU and the, you know, has acknowledged the Biden victory and this is taking the teeth out of the current Trump presidency. I mean, you know, maybe that’s a lot to claim, but Biden is, as they say, acting like a president. He’s not even acting like a president elect. Right. He’s claiming his own legitimacy and implying Trump’s illegitimacy with all the laughter and the, you know, his smirks and his tossing off of like they will accept my power. And, you know, the Secret Service saying we have plenty of experience throwing out a trespasser in the White House. And that does give a certain sense that, you know, Trump’s not telling the truth. Now, Trump said, you know, he’s a crazy uncle. He’s a person on the street who thinks he’s president for life.

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S3: We’re not supposed to have an interregnum in our democracy. And tremendous development has gone into preventing a period between the election and the inauguration when no one knows who’s in charge, what they’re supposed to do, what will happen if a crisis happens, how you handle ongoing management problems and issues that come up in that in that period. And what Trump is doing is just throwing all of that out the window and saying, I decree that we shall have chaos in this period because I can. And by the way, I’m also planning a kind of no, I’ve lost at another level. So I’m planning to run again in twenty, twenty four. And I’m already figuring out how to take all the campaign campaign money and fund. People are donating to me to fight the last election over the next election and you know where those funds will generally end up. But he’s creating chaos because he can. Biden is, I think, asserting calm because it’s what he does. He’s a cool cucumber. He’s not threatened by this, but it’s still deeply wrong, deeply unfortunate and deeply dangerous.

S2: I’ve told the story before on the show and to you, but I hope you remember that at the coronation for Hillary Clinton, that didn’t end, that ended sort of like the red wedding or something with Lord.

S3: If I tried to forget it, you’re going to remind me again, but OK.

S2: Yeah, OK. But and then then obviously, I mean, we we didn’t even have God. We were so confident. And by the way, I like that Dreamcast has always admitted and even has admitted that we were not one of those people who kind of knew Trump was going to win because we saw some lawn signs. We had no reason to think that Russian disinformation and everything else was going to throw it to Trump. But anyway, there we are. So we didn’t even watch the maps even have them brought here because we just were like, oh, they’re all going to roll in in the landslide that we’re expecting. But anyway, we did regroup and I went over to talk to you and your wonderful wife, Deborah, and see what you thought. And I’ve said it exactly this way before. And I’ll say it again. I looked to you because you’re like my mentor in these things. I look to you and I was sure you were going to say, well, regulation five forty one and opinions of McGeorge Bundy, always McGeorge Bundy, the opinions of McGeorge Bundy. This can’t happen. We will never have like a Nazi dictator in charge because of, you know, all these protections that were afforded by the whatever. And I’ve never seen you shaken at all. And I’ve never seen a person maybe so shaken. You just like looked white. And I thought if Jacob Weisberg has lost his cool as a cucumber, we’re really in trouble now, starting from that point of demoralisation. What has it been for you these four years? I mean, you dropped out of Trump cast. You now make a podcast called Like Being Happy. So so I get the sense that you sort of move referring to the happiness lab. Yes. I’m referring to about the science of happiness, about the science of happiness. Right. It’s believing science, but it still is not quite you know, you left me high and dry.

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S3: Yeah, no, I sure did. But you’ve been you’ve been carrying the torch so well, Virginia. I mean, I think I felt like for the first two years of Trump, I took the responsibility really personally of being on top of all the scandals, all the corruptions, all the outrage I wanted to be because there are a million journalists doing a million stories. And I felt like somebody has to be the one stop shopping for all this shit. And I thought, oh, that’ll be Trump cast. And kind of I got to do it because it’s you know, because if I don’t, who will? And it’s sort of my responsibility. I took that burden on I enjoyed a lot of it. It was often really fun doing the show, despite the dire underlying circumstance. But after two years, for reasons unrelated to podcast and related to Trump cast, when I decided to go start a new company, part of that basically entailed handing the mike over to you and giving giving up. I wasn’t sorry to stop doing it. That and let let others take on that responsibility. I could have done it for another two years, I think. But it was kind of nice to go back to being a civilian, as it were, and following it more or less like a normal person. I still follow it pretty closely since in the last, you know, the month or two before the election and since the election, you know, I’ve gone back into the old high gear. I mean, I’m a pretty avid consumer of of information lately. I got to I got to find I got to find the offramp again.

S2: I remember that you and this was you had gotten some early scoops on Stormy Daniels, which seemed shocking at the time. But now that we’re in the middle of a coup, like who can who even cares? But you reminded me that during the Monica Lewinsky affair, you had kind of dropped out at the New Republic. Just the sordidness was just too much for you and gone on to cover something else. And I sort of think you have a nice way. I wouldn’t call it self care, but just to to preserve your dispassionate, intellectual disposition, you don’t want to get too much into stories of blue dresses and demon semen and whatever else. And I do respect that. But I also want to know if it’s so that night when when we were all so disturbed, has it been different than you anticipated? Worse. Somewhat safer or tell me?

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S3: Well, I think informed by that experience we all had of just sort of accepting that it was going to be OK because the polls look pretty good. I went in with the same skepticism a lot of people had about the landslide numbers that Biden seemed like he was going to get. Yeah, and on election night, as the night wore on it, it never looked like he was losing. If you if you were observing everything. But it looked like he could lose. I mean, it was close. Enough that things could have gone a different way and I went to bed Tuesday night with a feeling, you know, bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I woke up Wednesday morning, you know, turned on all my appliances, you know, like went full, like the tornado, like, absorbed everything. And it was within about an hour. It was pretty clear to me that that Biden had one that probably was going to be the winner, that there wasn’t any realistic chance that that Trump could win the election. So then I come down and just started following it from a place of sanity, but the most, like, panicky moment. What about for you, Virginia? I mean, I just felt like it was like Tuesday night, like 1:00 in the morning.

S2: I was like, well, I mean, you probably remember that when you were in the heart of Trump cast, you were just it all too close contact with the like the people who seem to know and the people who seem to know were telling me by Tuesday night that it was that it was all OK, that, you know, when now I’m forgetting the sequence, but that when Arizona was called that there was no way for him to win. And in Philly, that the Biden campaign was extremely confident about Pennsylvania, you know, and they were just certain things. I mean, I had taken the same words about John Kerry, so I probably shouldn’t have been so confident, but I needed to get myself to sleep. So I sort of nursed myself to sleep on some of the wonky assertions that it was all right. And that’s one of the things about being Trump cast, is that, you know, for once you have those, like, super confident, I don’t know, super confident people in your ear. Also telling us this this I want to try out on you also saying that it’s not just the facts, it’s framing things as a victory that Democrats have trouble doing. And, you know, Trump can claim Pennsylvania in nineteen seventy one in this election and we have trouble claiming it even when, you know, all is said and said and done and it’s clearly gone blue. So I sort of took this idea that Democrats sort of need to learn to win, you know, and go to bed with, like some confidence that it’s OK and confidence and even sort of the beginning of feeling, you know, the beginning of even gloating. You know, I’ve sort of praised gloating on this show a little bit. So I sort of got into that state of mind and I ignored the articles that, you know, you know how this business works. They were written well in advance about how, you know, the whatever the outcome articles. Right. So they start with whatever the outcome of the election. We’re still a divided country. Five thousand words, right? Well, it’s not just whatever the outcome, Joe Biden won and we finally removed what has felt like a real boot on the throat of democracy, if not individuals who, you know, felt oppressed by this administration. And that’s a huge that is what we’ve all been longing for, you know, since twenty sixteen. It’s just get out from under this. My kids don’t remember when we didn’t talk about the president and the president wasn’t constantly there for us and in front of our faces. So I just tried to take that cue from Republicans, from Project Lincoln, the kind of cocky, you know, we’ve got this in the bag thing and was able this time to sleep with that confidence. I guess it could have gone the other way. But I’m trying to get that confidence about this would be coup also, which is like their bluster and whatever 20 percent of Americans believe about by not winning, it doesn’t matter. Don’t like 50 percent of Americans believe in astrology and don’t know what the Second Amendment even says. You know, like whenever we don’t know where Canada is. I mean, it doesn’t matter what people believe, what other people believe, if they are, you know, if this is just part of their private worldview. And so I’ve tried to take because I lived in Trump country. Now I’ve tried to take that seriously and say it just doesn’t matter if they think we’re going to hell, because lots of people think lots of people are going to hell and they don’t take out their guns. So that’s what I’ve tried to tell myself.

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S3: I’m with you partway there. It doesn’t matter in terms of whether Biden becomes president. He’ll become he’ll become president because he was elected. And nothing’s really going to stop that. But if there is trust is so eroded in the system generally, it will trickle down in ways that will affect you. It will it will affect how many people are willing to to take a vaccine based on the government endorses. And, you know, and whether other people take the vaccine will affect whether your kids can go to school and whether the schools can stay open. If trust is consciously destroyed within the society, that will have impacts in all sorts of ways. And 20 percent of people who have no trust is very different from 20 percent of people who believe in angels or. Whatever it is, it’s not it’s not religion, it’s not personal eccentricity, it’s not just a little sort of superstition crossed with a hobby, it’s a fundamental belief that our system isn’t what it represents itself to be. And that’s the you know, that at the end of the day, I think is the real is the real outrage in Trump cultivating this. This is why it’s a monstrous lie and not not just a stupid trick.

S2: That’s very convincing. So I’ve been thinking on the show that I don’t know if the arc of the arc of history bends toward justice. That doesn’t seem consistent with, you know, my doubt about, like a teleological theory of history that it’s all ending somewhere or even that evolution has some kind of telos. But it does seem like the arc of history or the arc of of human history bends towards survival. And what I have wondered all along is it doesn’t matter whether Trump’s cause, the cause of Trump ism and trumpet’s is just it matters if it’s adaptive, right. Like if guns, certain kind of indifference to the truth makes you stronger, makes you more likely to be to represent the future. And I have to say, I got a little comfort, even though I was so uneasy to see that Trump ites weren’t wearing masks because armed trump bites are one thing that that could actually, you know, they could be the the lions and the jungle if they have that kind of physical prowess. But when they start to be indifferent to dying and stop wearing masks against the virus, one of the primary adaptations of the species is to resist viruses, find ways to resist epidemics and pandemics. Then I started to think this isn’t long for this world.

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S3: The thing about epidemics is that they don’t just infect people who are careless or don’t follow the rules. So, you know, I don’t think you can you can safely take the position that, well, they’re they’re only harming themselves. They are harming themselves. They’re harming the rest of us, too.

S2: Right. But the florid, almost pursuit of disease is also is just it just seemed like a sign that this set of beliefs and actions and policies, you know, vis a vis the environment, the the having guns in the home, denying the existence of school shootings, then being anti mask or anti vax that those are counter adaptive like I like to think. So let’s go back to this bend the arc of history. I like to think that fascism is will fail because it’s unjust and because history favors the just. But I’m more confident believing that whatever set of beliefs that made the Etruscans, the Etruscans and died out, it just didn’t come with either enough armor or enough confidence revivalism or enough adaptations that we don’t quite understand that it died out. So I started to be. Is Trump going to be, you know, the fake thousand year Reich? Is he going to end up, even though he thinks he’s the forever president with a regime that goes all the way down to Baron and Baroness children? Do we? But he instead he may be the Etruscans, he and Trumpet’s, maybe the Etruscans. What do you think?

S3: Your big thing? Because, you know, gone above my pay grade, you know, but I do think I think the application of Darwinism to to politics is is, you know, is a dangerous idea that we have to resist. And, you know, I think the to me, the the larger revelation is that the inevitability of liberal democracy was an illusion. Liberal democracy is a system that has to be chosen, has to be defended, has to be supported at every level. And the the tide has been moving away from it. And Trump showed us that that included in in this country. And it’s all very much up for grabs at the moment. But at the very least, we got rid of him and he’s almost gone.

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S2: Jacob Weisberg is the founder of Trump Cast and Pushkin Industries.

S4: Thanks so much for being here, Jacob.

S3: Thanks for carrying it on. Until Victory, Virginia, you’ve been doing a great job with the show and it’s really nice to be back.

S4: And that’s it for today’s show. What did you think of this one? Come to Twitter and bring us ideas for our sequel. I’m page eighty eight and the show is at Real Trump Cast. Our show today was produced by Melissa Kaplan and engineered by Richard Stanisław. I’m Virginia Heffernan. Watch the causality and thanks for listening to Dreamcast.