The “Last Mustache in Washington” Edition

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership. The following podcast contains explicit language.

S2: Hello and welcome to the Slate Political Gabfest for September 12th 2019.

S3: The last mustache in Washington additions I am David Plotz That was scary a mild chuckle was from John Dickerson of CBS 60 Minutes. Hello John and New Yorker. Take it.

S4: Hi. Yeah. Then I’ve got a mustache related question. After we do the introductions.

S5: Great love mustache questions. Emily Barr’s one of the New York Times Magazine and Yale University Law School joins us from Houston Texas where she is two. She is there and she’s going to see the Democratic presidential debate tonight. Hello Emily.

S6: Yeah I think I got a press pass. If all goes well you know me I could show up and knock it in for some reason but that is the idea now.

S7: Emily are you gonna be in the hall or are you going to be in the filing center.

S6: I if I get there in time to pick up my press credential I think I can be in the filing center. Is that where I should be. I got this e-mail that I didn’t underwhelmed.

S8: Should is an interesting question that context because I mean if you’re in the hall you see what’s in the hall and that’s what only like two hundred other people see. If you’re in the filing center you experience it more like America except you experience that like America only if America was sitting in a bubble of campaign reporters.

S9: Well I went down the hall the filing center will just stress me out.

S4: Yeah. Now if you’re in the hall you’ll miss that moment that everybody goes oh my god you’re when you know X happened in this cutaway which you won’t see because it’ll be like an actual theater performance. But that’s not without it some it’s fun too because you’ll get to see all the stuff that happens behind the scenes like all the candidates making that strange justifications they make to try to get the moderator to call on them next oh I want to see that.

S6: OK. Thank you I’m so glad we had this conversation. Boring the entire planet.

S10: Or we can cut into all of our hundreds of thousands of listeners today in debate watching tips from John Dickerson It was going to be our special side podcast on today’s episode in a presidency characterized by bizarre governance.

S5: This is one of the weird weird weeks we have a president canceling secret negotiations by tweet and despoiling the weather forecasts by Sharpie. We will talk about that then. John Bolton is leaving as national security adviser. Is America safer because of that. Then we’ll talk about great new book from Paul Tough. The years that matter most a book about the college admissions process. Paul will join us for a very fascinating discussion about privilege and and educational inequality and college admissions. Plus we’ll have cocktail chatter and an important note. It’s Thursday morning we’re taping it is before the Democratic presidential debate in Houston which is Thursday night. But if you’re a Slate Plus subscriber a Slate Plus member you will get a bonus podcast from us tonight. We’re going to aim to do a podcast after the debate. That will be in your feed if you’re a Slate Plus member so it’s a great reason to join Slate Plus us to get this bonus podcast tonight where we will talk about the debate that is going to be tonight and one other reminder which is next week. We’re going to live in St. Paul Minnesota at the Fitzgerald Theater. There are a few tickets left. We’re going to have a special guest. Curtis Sittenfeld to talk about writing novels about politics writing fiction about politics writing fiction about real life politicians. She is just a delightful person and delightful guest that will be great. And we’ll also of course talk about the politics news of the day. So go to Slate dot com flashlight get tickets for our show on Wednesday September 18th at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. The president appeared to unravel a year of negotiations by his secretary of state this week with a tweet. He announced that he had canceled this upcoming secret talks with the Taliban at Camp David. These talks were aimed at finalizing an agreement to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan after 18 years which would fulfill a Trump campaign promise. And at that point the Taliban would be allowed to participate in Afghan governance without our interference and we would just say goodbye Goodbye Afghanistan. Sorry it’s been a good run for you later. So John why did he cancel these talks and why.

S11: Why was it so galling to many Americans when they learned that these secret talks were about to happen during the week of 9/11.

S12: Well I know you’re being facetious but but obviously it hasn’t been going well over the last 18 years and so that’s if America were to exit it would be not because you know they were saying hey it’s been real now we’ve got to go it would be because after 18 years the country is run out of patience energy.

S4: The president wants to be out. When you read one of the things that was striking about reading about Afghanistan in a more focused way recently is that when you read about the daily attacks when you hear the two dozen provinces are under you know daily skirmishes. When you hear about U.S. actions or coalition actions killing you know dozens of civilians it feels like we’re back in 2002. I mean it reads like nothing has really changed. Now of course there’ve been elections and there’s an incumbent government and there is kind of albeit barely functioning campaign that’s going on so that’s obviously different than before. But it’s been a mess. Now why did he. Well the reason the president stated was because the Taliban staged an attack that killed an American soldier. And that was the reason the president scuttled the talks of course the question that then immediately raises is what about all the previous attacks that were taking place during the 10 months of negotiation. Not many people took the president seriously when he used that as the pretext for canceling the talks. What then was the real reason for canceling the talks. It could have been internal opposition reportedly John Bolton and the vice president were against it. Finally to your question why do people find it so galling it seemed to be by the shape of the deal as it was leaked. It was a terrific deal for the Taliban which meant that the organization that initiated or didn’t initiate but allowed Osama bin Laden to living Afghanistan in order to plan the 9/11 attacks on the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks were being invited to arguably the most plum place you can be invited to next to the White House or I should say after the White House and the shape of the deal looked like it was gonna be terrific for the Taliban and not good either for the long term interests the United States or the long term interests for the people of Afghanistan because it seemed sort of set the preconditions for the Taliban coming back into basically into control of Afghanistan.

S9: I mean to put a point on it it seemed like he was inviting people who we had held in Guantanamo as terrorists to sit down at a table at Camp David and accept our terms of surrender and then they were going to go home like they had to recognize the Afghan government but then they would like take over the country so it wouldn’t.

S6: They will. OK. All right. Anyway Hold on.

S4: That was an excellent synopsis coming after my rather long winded peroration Weldon Emily.

S13: OK. All right.

S5: But I I look I think they’re two separate issues. I think there’s the the how bad a deal was this is it. Is it in fact a total capitulation where we’re giving the Taliban everything that they want. And you know it is a abject tail between our legs departure for Afghanistan which it it sounds like it pretty much is. On the other hand I wouldn’t make a case that it is not at all clear that there’s that there’s any. It’s clear we cannot win militarily and it’s not clear what we’re gaining from remaining there. And so an abject capitulation may maybe the best outcome. That’s the first point I’m happy to dig. The best outcome for for the United States. That’s the interest that I care about. It’s the interests of the United States. I think that the people of Afghanistan have suffered enormously and they’ve suffered enormously partially at our hands partially at the hands of of other outsiders and partially at their own hands.

S11: But I am not sure that the United States at this point in our history has any capacity to particularly improve the situation there or win whatever that would mean. And therefore Jim just because we have committed a sin we’ve done a wrong and people have died. It doesn’t mean that we are then obliged to remain there to try to correct the thing when it’s clear after 18 years that we don’t know how to do it and we don’t have a capacity to do it. And therefore we are of you cannot do good. Don’t do anything.

S14: But I feel like I would hear their work in that situation. What is your.

S15: Because I mean if you’re imagining a peaceful unified Afghanistan then I totally agree with you. We seem incapable of bringing that about for all the reasons that have bedeviled every single invader and occupier of Afghanistan. I think though that we’re kind of holding helping the Afghans the Afghanis to hold the Taliban at bay. I mean the current situation is they control 46 percent of the territory where a third of the people live I think. And that’s not the same as everywhere. I mean for the other two thirds of the people not having the Taliban be the government is important. And then there’s this question of you know a breeding ground for terrorists. And the deal was supposed to elicit promises from the Taliban that they were not supposed to invite the terrorists to come stay. But I don’t see what possible leverage we would have to actually make them enforce that over time.

S16: I would just jump off on your remark David where you can’t do good.

S17: Don’t do anything. An excellent line.

S8: But I think in this case the president’s decision to pull out did three acts of harm one the signal it sent to the civilians that they don’t really matter that it’s only when an American soldier gets killed. Now why does that matter. The change that took place when U.S. the U.S. forces weren’t doing very well in Iraq was that you had to do a better job to use a Vietnam phrase of cultivating the hearts and minds of creating a connection between the Americans and the local population to turn against. In that case al-Qaeda to the extent that the U.S. is still gonna have interests in Afghanistan it would rather be have the regular people of Afghanistan be aligned with the United States. This weakened to that possible relationship. The second thing is that it inspired the Taliban that they they have even more leverage. They’ve been using lots of leverage to get the good negotiating terms that they’d already won by basically blowing things up because they knew that they had a president who wants to get out of Afghanistan almost come what may. And then finally it totally weakens an existing government that was already pretty weakened having been shut out of the negotiating already. So this wasn’t.

S12: And I know David you were talking about just about the negotiations say the 10 months so far but the the precipitous way in which they were scuttled I think has had those three negative outcomes.

S11: I am perfectly willing to believe this makes the situation of the Afghan government weaker it makes the situation civilians in Afghanistan worse I just am not.

S5: I think it is so the tendency in the United States and particularly because we have such a big military and the military wants to be used. Do you have a fork. You want to eat with a fork that there is this notion that that you should use it.

S11: And because we’re already there we should continue to to do the things that we’re doing or continue to try to win hearts and minds at some point. This is a war that’s been going on four times longer than World War Two went on and longer than the Vietnam war went on and it is not even like Iraq it’s very hard for us to win hearts and minds it’s a very mountainous divided country it is not it doesn’t it doesn’t have a it doesn’t have a lot of cogency it has been at war for 40 years most of the people who live in Afghanistan have literally been at war their entire lives. And so I accept there’s probably some level of amelioration the United States can do in the United military can probably keep the Taliban help keep the Taliban out of certain areas but ultimately is the cost that this country bears are regaining enough from it. And I’ll read you a re preventing enough harm in Afghanistan for it to be worth it. And I I have never not heard anyone make took for me was a credible case that the billions and billions and billions of dollars that we spend and continue to spend justify this. But the opposite of managing the exit properly. I mean I’m not.

S18: The poor management of the exit is different than wanting to stay embedded in Afghanistan in perpetuity. I think it’s a bit of a false choice you can try to get out of Afghanistan in a better way than has been than than we saw in the last week. Right. And I’m not advocating for staying longer in Afghanistan to win hearts and minds what I said was You don’t. On the way out. Kick them in the shins because in fact more to the point because you’re leaving more to the point because you no longer going to have active maybe as many troops there or as much of an active interventionists you want to leave on the best terms possible with the citizenry to hopefully create a situation where the ground isn’t fertile for the immediate return of the Taliban.

S9: Right. I mean it seems like the tricks of the bungled Camp David idea was such a insult and so distracting and then all I would think a problem in America politically that that sort of obscured these medium to longer term issues. I mean it’s hard to argue for staying eternally in a country in which you’re right David. All those shortcomings absolutely apply. And yet one does want to see United States leave with some some dignity for itself if that’s possible or more importantly importantly some dignity for the people who are going to be stuck. And I just worry we leave these countries we’ve asked people to collaborate with us and trust us and then we leave them so vulnerable.

S13: Yeah it’s terrible. Can can we talk for a second about the politics of Camp David.

S11: So I think it’s I think one of you indicated that it was insulting somehow to use or that that certainly there was public criticism saying it’s insulting to use Camp David this place of its very distinguished place to host the Taliban especially during the week of 9/11 that it’s. That’s a that’s an extraordinary kind of blow to whether that was the criticism he died.

S19: Yes it wasn’t just our idea Camp David. No no if your idea. No no. Where Jimmy Carter famously got Menachem Begin and onwards adopt a sign that Israel Egypt Peace Accord. Right. I mean it’s most hallowed. I’m just good yeah.

S11: But there were a lot of things there and Clinton tried to get the Israeli-Palestinian accord done there and that’s where the post 9/11 the Bush administration planned the response 9/11 it’s been used it’s very important ways. I I I cannot work up to him much emotion about this. I think when you’re dealing with enemies that you’re negotiating with and you’re trying to get a deal done sometimes you do things which would give them honor which give them make them feel better about themselves that you can get something out of them.

S14: Now it may be that the deal they were offering was so terrible at it through to that degree.

S20: Like if it seemed super strategic and like yes let’s give you this bit of credibility because you know we think it’s really going to do good and win concessions from you fine. But it just seemed like he wanted the theater and the attention for himself yes definitely.

S17: Also you don’t layout. I mean I think the criticism is you don’t lay out the finest family heirloom China in return for such a bad deal.

S18: That that that the Camp David was a further demonstration of a chief executive who’s desperate to just get out of there. And the downside of that and the downside of making impulsive moves like this is that they have real consequences. And so the increased violence that’s happened in the wake of this scuttled meeting at Camp David the Taliban seeing what they’ve seen for the last 10 months which is that if they keep engaging in violence it will make the sitting president want to get out of there faster which means the terms of the U.S. exit will that be that much more shambolic which makes their move into return to power that much faster. And the reason I think this has additional resonance is that we’ve had a debate over the last 18 years and maybe it was a stupid debate. But but we should figure out what the standard is and then stick to it about whether you telegraph to the enemy whether you’re leaving or not. It used to be the case that Republicans claim that Democrats who wanted to leave Iraq or Afghanistan were by saying so out loud already handing over a huge bargaining chip in the negotiation and that they basically doomed themselves to failure. And I think there is no question that the president has telegraphed and perhaps by the way for four great reasons which is that this has been too much of an expenditure of to use that overused phrase Don’t say blood and treasure. Don’t say blood and treasure. Yes and I had to in these conversations you have to hold likely Shepparton. Yes. You know and nevertheless that’s that’s that’s clearly what he’s been signalling and has now signalled again.

S13: Do you think this deal is actually dead Emily or do you think it’s going to come back. Trump loves to do this. I’m walking away from the table thing. That’s his one move in negotiations.

S9: So I think it’s going to come back and I’m hoping that the Camp David theatre is dead but I think the deal is for sure going to come back as he promised this. He wants it done before 2020. I don’t think he can. I mean look you know you said we are willing to be somewhat cold hearted about the terms. I don’t think he cares at all.

S12: It also doesn’t do Americans care about the terms. I’m not sure do. I mean I wonder at this I don’t know do they care if the terms are you know particularly helpful for the Taliban or not. I’m. My guess is that after 18 years Americans are are anxious to be done with it.

S15: I guess people don’t want to be humiliated perhaps but now we’re in the realm of imagining public opinion where I’m sure there are actual polls we could look at.

S11: I think that’s the most amazing little bit in the negotiations that I thought with it the fact that they would get to rename the country. Yeah change it back.

S21: We might not agree that the empire the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is what it was called when the Taliban ruled it which is Sharia it was that actually I know it’s symbolic.

S9: I felt silly for caring about that but I found that shocking.

S18: I also and I don’t I don’t know how and whether we want to go down this road but I do wonder David about your argument about you know it was a it was a sin and the U.S. can’t keep paying for its sins. What struck me is what obligation the U.S. has. Having gone into Afghanistan having tried to turn it into a democratic country the 45000 Afghan servicemen and women who have been killed just since 2014 in furtherance of this experiment what obligation the U.S. owes and for how long it was an obligation. Those 45000 Dad were fighting in the service of an idea that the U.S. came in to deliver. So there’s some obligation there.

S21: I want to make two points to close up. One is just on the question of obligation I think where we have an obligation is those who have helped us those who have served with us who have assisted us and often in danger of their lives that we owe help to. And so if you’re somebody who was a translator if you’re someone who who put yourself in a position where you’re likely to be in trouble in the post U.S. post U.S. Afghanistan that we should try to help you resettle try to help you get to United States in some cases. So that is an obligation I think we owe. I don’t think that we can serve the greater mass of the Afghan people. The second thing I want to say is that one of the things that I find so weird about Trump the jingoism the militarism coupled with the obvious skepticism of warfighting.

S11: So he actually has not deployed the military in ways that I would’ve expected him to. We haven’t attacked Iran. We haven’t attacked North Korea. We haven’t attacked Russia we haven’t attacked China. We haven’t actually used the military in the way that previous presidents have. Trump doesn’t seem to like it. It’s one of the things that I like about him. But he has coupled that with an militarization of home. So we have militarized the border we have these ICE raids around the country. We have military parades on July 4th. It’s this way in which the expression of United States military force has gone from being external to being internal. And I do not like that that is a very like totalitarian regime kind of thing to happen. So it’s a very astonishing combination. So really interesting juxtaposition I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

S22: Can I also just add one kind of crazy thing.

S12: Again 18 years after when Lou Dobbs on the 4th of July made fun on Twitter of of of some generals who in a Washington Post story said they were a little under a little and thought it was a little strange the president was calling for this military parade on the Fourth of July and also that there were some logistical challenges of driving tanks on the roads and all of that and said Lou Dobbs tweeted that no one did these snowflake generals haven’t won a war since 1991 two things struck me.

S22: One Has America really wrestled with and come to terms with and oh hey we’re in the middle of a presidential campaign. This might be a topic worth conversation. Do people really is it the view in America that America has lost two wars. And if so when we say Never Forget 9/11 what are we saying what are we like. The fact that this tweet could go out and like just be out there struck me that that no one thought this was that deep that Lou Dobbs was worthy of sanction. And he’s obviously quite close to the president in the president’s mindset but it’s that just accepted wisdom.

S12: And if so that seems like something that should require some comment from people who seek to lead the country anyway. So this idea of leaving Afghanistan under what terms and what that says about the U.S. exceptionalism all seems to me to be really interesting.

S23: Slate Plus members you get bonus segments on the gap that’s another Slate podcast today. You’re getting a lot. You’re going to get a bonus segment on this episode. We’re going to talk about how long books should be and movies how long movies should be. We’re not decide that for you. So go to Slate dot com flushed out s plus to become a member.

S14: Obviously there’s a right there’s a right. And we’ll figure it out.

S19: And there’s also you’re also podcast too. I think we should include 10 minutes and we’ve exceeded our leg.

S11: Dang it. There’s also the fact that you are likely going to get a bonus podcast about the debate tonight. We are going to do a Thursday special Thursday night debate podcast. After tonight’s debate and Slate Plus members alone we’ll get that go to slate that consulate gaffe has plus to become remember today and get all that good stuff John Bolton and his mustache are out.

S23: The national security adviser is gone after a year and a half. Emily did the mustache jump with the mustache pushed. What happened.

S15: Oh my God I don’t care about this. I for one second I feel like we’re all obsessing.

S24: Who cares. Like what’s interesting is what this has to say about foreign policy and the Trump administration. I don’t give a shit. Excuse me whether John Bolton resigned or was fired. He obviously was clashing with Trump couldn’t stay longer or at least this seemed a good day.

S9: I mean there is something odd about the fact that he’d seem to have sort of won the Afghanistan battle internally against the deal and then was shoved out the door.

S25: But I guess you know what we’re seeing here is one more person who had an interest in standing up to the president and offering an alternative sometimes diametrically opposed point of view getting shown the door. Mike Pompeo does not seem to be that kind of secretary of state. He doesn’t want to be. He sees himself as facilitating the president.

S24: He said the president deserves to have people around him who you know are promoting his point of view and helping him do what he wants to do.

S25: So you know it’s been a chaotic administration. Maybe it’s better if everybody is marching on the same page especially given how hawkish John Bolton was. I mean David for someone like you who’s really worried about intervention he was not a particularly good person to have around. On the other hand the idea of just the guests people around Trump all the time seems disquieting.

S18: The one thing that bridges the two topics is the president when asked about Afghanistan and the Camp David kerfuffle he said in terms of advisers I took my own advice. It was my idea and my idea to terminate it. Obviously we want presidents to make decisive decisions that’s what the job is you make decisions but you make decisions based on hopefully a system that tees up for you the best possible alternatives and then you make the tough call the gap in the current administration is that is that is that pre work doesn’t take place or if it does take place it’s totally ignored and the downside of that is the downside we’ve seen now as a result of this impulsive decision. I mean impulsivity is not a strategy and impulsivity is not leadership or decision making. The decisions are tough enough. Why make them harder. And that is a sort of systemic challenge that this administration has and that has real consequences.

S12: And they’re wrestling with them now and Zalmay Khalilzad who’s been working for 10 months to get the deal is now trying to scrape up in the aftermath of this impulsive Camp David imbroglio. There are a lot of people who are who are happy to see chaos in the Trump administration. And it’s not clear that John Bolton was the was the was a Brent Scowcroft you know a perfect person providing decisions for the president. But I think that whether he was resigned or fired matters only in this small way which is that the president said he fired him and then 12 minutes later while he was still on White House grounds John Bolton tweeted that he offered to resign.

S18: This is just another sign of such a disordered presidency. And this disorder has real consequences now that we’ve seen. Bolton is the third national security adviser. There’ve been three chiefs of staff. There’ve been a couple of secretaries of defense and a couple of acting secretary of defense same is true at Homeland Security. You can’t run a railroad this way. It has. I mean it just it can’t be. And for someone who was hired as a businessman it’s just that was the argument used for him. You know no CEO would would be able to last this long with with such a mess of a staffing situation that’s all true.

S21: That’s definitely true. I think on the substance I for one did not cheer John Bolton being there. So I will I certainly am not going to mourn his departure and I don’t really care about the manner of his departure his hawkishness super dangerous his world view is super dangerous and it didn’t doesn’t seem to comport with Trump’s own general instincts which as we were talking about are not particularly hawkish so the fact that Bolton is gone is not something that I am going to lose sleep over and nor nor is the fact that he was gone in some astray chaotic process particular something I may lose sleep over because we know that Trump. That’s how Trump operates. And so it didn’t reveal to us anything new and I don’t think it made this White House less effective or less orderly the White House is already totally disordered. So the fact that Bolton was the national security adviser which is a position that we normally invest with like enormous. It’s you know Scowcroft it’s Kissinger it’s Brzezinski like that that’s a powerful position is not really that. Relevant because Trump just doesn’t operate in a way where that position is powerful.

S4: But isn’t that it doesn’t that accept a certain amount of resignation on your part. I mean yeah.

S10: If there’s a horse in the hospital there’s still listen. I was going.

S7: How did you get that I mean you’re you’re saying because you I mean it still should be of concern if you buy this idea that there’s a horse in the hospital you shouldn’t say well the stable master really didn’t have too much to do with the horse in the hospital so the fact that the the stable master is gone and traditionally would have kept the horse out of the hospital means we shouldn’t care about a horse in the hospital this throws new light on a disordered process and there are ongoing issues with North Korea Afghanistan China that that even with the most ordered thinking would be would bedevil any president.

S4: It feels like a bit of a resignation in the in in that kind of analysis which is you’re setting the standard back to the chaos standard. And I think that’s probably.

S9: I mean I feel like we have so much evidence of chaos that it’s hard to imagine it being any different. Sure that’s one like this is the way Trump is going to be as president and if you don’t like it then you shouldn’t vote to re-elect him. But the idea that it’s going to change seems futile.

S19: Right.

S7: Yeah but nobody’s saying it’s the second one but nobody is saying that it’s going to change. But you should still note that this is that this is not the way it’s supposed to go and not the way it’s supposed to happen. And this far into an administration it should still be extraordinary that this is an extraordinary situation. And by the way we’re talking about the funny Henry let the fundamental job of the president which is to keep the country safe.

S26: Yeah but I think the second thing is it’s hard.

S25: So we hear about all this staffing disruption and then what is the immediate fallout. I mean the fallout is going to be down the line if something terrible happens and then it’s clear that the administration can’t handle it and that all of these jerky transitions have not just been like a long running television show or you kick characters off when you don’t like how they’re doing their roles but there were these bigger implications.

S20: I feel like short of that it’s hard to see what the immediate fallout is. I mean it’s hard for me and I am watching this kind of closely. So it’s like it seems wrong right. Sure. No company would run this way. It’s totally distorted and crazy and yet you know Rex Tillerson and Mattis who are supposed to be the grown ups in the room they left and we’re not at war because it turns out Donald Trump doesn’t like wars and that’s overriding instinct seems to be what’s actually pulling us through.

S12: Well I think there is short term and long term challenges the short term ones we’ve seen with Afghanistan. I mean the U.S. negotiating position is weaker. Violence is up. The underlying government that the U.S. would be handing it off to is in a worse position and the citizenry there is in trouble. And that’s as a result of a disorder process that presumably if you had a national security adviser in there or some system to keep impulsivity from driving outcomes then those those bad effects wouldn’t be taking place. So I think that’s one short term result. I think that the long term result is we don’t know what the downsides are of weakening alliances. I mean you know has basically resigned because of the of the president’s disinterest in maintaining alliances and you don’t know what that alliances matter until you need them. But if you haven’t been tending your alliances they don’t you can’t access them as well at the moment you need them. So those kinds of things totally agree.

S25: But don’t you think that when all of those chickens come home to roost Trump may not be president anymore. It’s gonna be hard to draw a straight line like it’s all kind of muddied. Partisans will come in and say oh no that whole probably you know the chaos of the Trump administration has nothing to do with why we’re in the pickle that there’s always a way of deflecting responsibility and when you talk about costs to people in Afghanistan I mean we just spent a long time coming to the conclusion that Americans don’t unfortunately care all that much about what happens to people in Afghanistan. I feel like it’s going to take some immediate urgent threat where there’s a clear cause and effect for people to really understand. I mean maybe I’m wrong and the electorate is picking up enough on this that it will matter in the polls.

S12: Well it depends whether you’re short of that it depends whether you’re measuring the events by the standard of how they should operate or the state or the political standard.

S7: So the political standards always bouncing around and always malleable and perhaps is more malleable now than it’s ever been because people who held the whole very sturdy worldview about the proper way of behaving personally privately domestically and internationally have all changed the rules of the game. And so but but in such an instance you can make the case that standards are even abstract standards separate and apart from the whims of the electorate because we know how changeable and malleable those are in even our own thinking if we even if we pretend that we’re these reasoning beings we all know how we all have confirmation bias season. So in that kind of unfixable world standards are even more important because they’re the things you return to in the midst of chaos. And so in these kinds of instances the political standard and how people may react and all that is all totally up for grabs and just the way you articulate it but it seems to me in analysis we and others have to say we have to remember the long term consequences and now by the way the long term consequences are often used as of as a kind of of a fuller you know you raise the danger of the long term consequence to get whatever you want in the short term. So I’m not saying that simply talking in the long term is the font of all wisdom ingenious but we do know it’s true that we can’t only think in the short term and so in these instances it seems to me that the pressure is to think in the long term more than ever because we’re in such a transactional short term world and the current occupant of the office like those before him. But this one in particular benefits from that short term and is termism because he can create a new reality with each new tweet storm. I totally agree.

S27: Also excellent segway into Alabama sharpies and pressuring scientists at the National Weather Service to back up some cockamamie theory because Trump happens to blurt it out. I mean you know the medium to long term consequences of that is to erode confidence in our federal government’s ability to produce good science to demoralize all the employees who work at these organizations and to bully the their supervisors. I mean I don’t know.

S25: I on John Bolton’s departure bothered me less than all of this week. Maybe that’s my own like flub but I just found that to be absolutely horrifying. Whereas John Bolton seemed like a problem to begin with I agree with you Emily.

S21: I think that that when I think about the what the long term consequences of the Trump administration are that’s more what I focus on. I think there is some danger that they will drag us into war that we shouldn’t fight or poison a relationship with Europe or with China or wherever that we shouldn’t poison. But the bigger risk is that we will destroy the foundations of government trust in government trust in institutions that are actually really important and that we all really need.

S12: I think they’re all of a piece. I think that’s all. I think it’s all and which is why Emily made that Segway.

S18: But it seems to me also you start the cost of being in these jobs starts to be higher and higher. It used to be protections for people various you know in various parts of the bureaucracy.

S12: Now that protection seems to be disappearing which means you just why would anybody go work in a government that’s that operates like this. Which means you end up having people who fill those jobs who have a kind of more political cast or are willing to or willing to do so. Sorry put up with politics. And that probably isn’t a great recruitment tool right.

S15: I mean one way to think about this is all of it is a big question about whether we’re going to snap back to the previous norms or some better norm after Trump is no longer president.

S9: And that will be a question on our foreign relations front. And it will be a question domestically and whether other countries will have the forbearance to kind of say like OK America let’s take another look at you.

S27: We used to know you. Now we’re totally puzzled and worried about you.

S9: But maybe I’ll change again. They sort of don’t have a choice because we’re such a giant on the international scene. That’s not to say there won’t be costs. I think with both China and Russia not and maybe other countries there will be but that’s sort of a fact. Whereas like these internal questions of eroding the strength of the democracy from within that and maybe it’s just that I focus more on those things and that’s the only reason it troubles me more. But if that feels like something I can imagine us not snapping back from.

S5: So we are pleased to welcome to the gaffe as Paul Tough. Paul is a writer in Austin Texas. He’s the author of the book How Children Succeed and now he has a new book just out the years that matter most how college makes or breaks us.

S21: It’s a look at how college and college admissions is impacted by and affects the inequality that pervades this country and how certain structures reinforce it. And it’s a pretty sobering book. Paul welcome to the campus. Thanks very much.

S28: I am so excited Paul is here because ever since I read this book over the summer I have been grabbing people by the lapels and asking them to talk about it with me I want to assign it to my entire university because I learned a lot reading it and also it made me think differently about access to college education. It made me feel guilty about teaching at a prestigious university but it also just made me really want to think through the issues you raise so I’m going to start by reading a few sentences from the beginning because I think that they capture the kind of heart of what the book’s about so I’m quoting you the American system of higher education has the potential to be a powerful engine of mobility able to reliably lift young people from poverty to the middle class and from the middle class to affluence. But in reality for many young Americans it functions as something closer to the opposite an obstacle to mobility an instrument that reinforces a rigid social hierarchy and prevents them from moving beyond the circumstances of their birth. So if that is sort of integral to the argument you’re making what is going on here and how much should this scramble are ideas about our individual children’s success and access to college education and really just how the whole system is constructed.

S29: I think it’s complicated. I mean I hope it does scramble things a little bit and certainly scramble it for me doing this reporting. I mean I think part of what’s complicated about it is that on an individual level higher education still is that engine of social mobility right. Like so I’d talk in the book to a bunch of young people who start with situations without a family. A lot of family resources and their lives change through college. But if you look at the system as a whole it’s not happening very often. And mostly we have a really stratified system where kids who grow up with a lot of we have one end up with one kind of education that leads them to one sort of future. And kids who grow up without a lot of education have all these obstacles to entering that part of higher education and are instead given far fewer options. So how we think about that in terms of our own lives where we work where our kids go to school gets complicated because I think that we’ve been sort of trained to think about higher education as this competitive marketplace right where you just get where you can for yourself and your kids. But it is also this thing that is determining how the class structure in the United States functions.

S5: I mean pulled in in the book you cite these incredible shocking numbers about how few poor people actually end up at elite schools that the elite schools when you when they get a child who’s been raised in poverty or raised in relative poverty that student often does incredibly well in their life later on.

S21: But there’s just a very very very tiny number that these elite schools are dominated by wealthier kids. Is this admissions offices are stupid. Is it that the universities don’t actually want to increase the number of poor kids that they’re letting in. Is it that they’re just not noticed. What’s going on. What’s happening. Why is that. Why is it why are they so bad at diversity of income.

S29: I think there are at least two different stories going on I think that’s part of what makes it complicated is that there are these two different stories in it. And part of this one story is those institutions which is a pretty small number that really have enough money to do whatever they want. So that’s maybe like the dozen most richest most well endowed institutions. You know you’re Harvard you’re Yale’s you’re Stanford’s and they are really super super super rich. They have a ton of money and they truly could admit anybody they want and tuition is a tiny part of their revenue each year. And so with them I feel like it like the reason that they are admitting so few low income people is hard to hard to figure out. You know I mean I think it is I think they have a lot of seats that they want to fill with particular wealthy kids. You know with legacy admits with certain types of athletes with certain types of academic superstars. But I think there’s also something in those offices where it isn’t the real priority for them. There’s something in the culture that makes it feel like that would not really be Princeton or Stanford or Harvard if they were admitting you know half of their class from the bottom half of the income distribution. So that’s one problem. But then there is this whole much bigger problem that I didn’t understand until I started hanging out with admissions people which is that most you know highly selective institutions do not have a lot of money about a quarter of private nonprofit institutions right now are running in the red.

S30: They’re losing money every year. So I spend a lot of time at this one college Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut which is in the red. And so there’s this and head of enrollment management head of admissions who is this like really noble and progressive guy who wants to admit more low income students and he is doing a decent job of admitting more of them but he can’t do more because he needs his institution needs tuition dollars. So for many institutions it’s simply a fact of. We need to admit kids who can pay the tuition.

S28: I also want to talk about the role of the College Board in all of this. I mean you have a pretty explosive chapter I thought about the College Board’s collection of data. There was this idea a couple of years ago from an economist named Carolyn Hoxby that if we just increase the information that students receive around the country that more high achieving low income kids would apply to prominent schools. That the problem was just like they didn’t know enough about how to do this. And if you just gave them was like six dollar solution right just a little more information was going to come in the mail and the College Board was supposed to be a huge part of this. In fact that has not translated into the kinds of gains in low income kids attending selective schools that everyone in this equation kind of promise. So what happened.

S29: There hasn’t been this sort of reckoning with why it didn’t work. And so it’s possible that there was just you know the original experiment wasn’t too great that they didn’t replicate it correctly. I think it has more to do with the fact that in reality the problem was not it wasn’t the fault of the kids. It wasn’t just that kids were applying to the wrong colleges or didn’t know what to do. It was that the system is just not designed to let those kids get into and be able to afford the kind of great universities they should be going to pull to the college board tried to create this adversity score which they ditched.

S18: Then in late August What was that an attempt to do and why did they ditch it.

S29: I mean so from the point of view of all the reporting that I’ve done over the last few years it was one more attempt in my opinion on the part of the College Board to find a way to keep you know the S.A.T. at the center of the admissions process and say we’re still helping poor kids do better so the idea was we’re going to not just give them one number the S.A.T. we’re gonna give them another number of how disadvantaged your neighborhood and your school is and again it sort of started from the premise that really these institutions do want to admit lots of poor kids they just are having trouble finding them or locating them or recognizing them. What my reporting suggests is that that’s not really a problem at all the problem is that these institutions aren’t admitting those kids because they don’t want them because their S.A.T. scores aren’t high enough or because they can’t afford to. Because those students can’t pay tuition.

S5: So Paul shouldn’t the solution to the over arching solution to this be a much stronger bigger investment in the large institutions of public higher education.

S31: But if we try to solve the problem through the institutions of private higher education they’re going to run these funding problems are always going to be favoring alumni. They have these athletic demands but that the big public universities and probably the community colleges can do a lot of this work and do it better but they’ve just been defunded at this extraordinary rate. And that that’s the that’s the that’s the place where we could have the largest impact.

S29: Yes. Certainly from a policy point of view I agree with you completely. I mean I think so there are these two problems and it’s again that’s the confusing thing about higher education there are all these different systems that are not entirely integrated. And right some private institutions like we don’t have a lot of public policy levers to make them change their their processes and yeah. And then like at places like Trinity there’s not much that public policy could change because they mostly just are trying to make their budget right. You know I still think it’s worth trying to influence through all the channels that the public has as you know as alumni as employees as students as parents. It’s a good idea to try to influence those highly selective institutions to do a better job and I think they could easily change their ways. But right even if that happens it’s still a tiny segment of the higher education landscape and it’s certainly a tiny section if you’re a low income student. And what’s happened at the same time is we have been defunding and underfunding public higher education. There’s you know a cut in the last decade or so of 16 percent in what we spend on higher education. Exactly at a moment where we should be spending more and more we’re clearly our young people especially young people who aren’t growing up rich need more credentials more higher education in order to compete in the economy. So that is the big issue and I think it’s important to separate those two things because they are very different.

S28: Can we maybe illustrate that by talking a little bit about this family. You clearly spent a lot of time who at the end Taylors fellow North Carolina. So you have this girl who’s interested in probably leaving Taylors veil and going to a school out of state or at least like out of her town you have her brother who’s tried to go to college and failed at that making the family very nervous about investing money. I felt like there were so many of the threads of the book kind of came together in this story because you know it on the one hand I wanted Kim to be able to go to college wherever she wanted and then on the other hand it made me test my own assumptions about which kind of school is really better for a particular kid.

S29: Yeah I felt I loved hanging out with that family and there’s a third brother or a who ends up in Community College studying welding so yeah they love spending time with them I got to see a lot of different aspects of how families interact with higher education. So what happened to this guy. He had a really rough time being not well educated kid and one of the things that he found as he went through all this was that actually what he had been told about the opportunities available in his part of the country anyway to welders were totally exaggerated like the welding jobs that he was able to get were making like you know 12 or 15 dollars an hour. So for me his story was about how this rhetoric about there being lots of opportunities for kids who don’t want to go to college is exaggerated.

S32: Paul is there any role for the outside philanthropies if public education is you know being chewed up by legislatures in various states and the private institutions have their motivations can.

S29: Is there any solution to this that comes from the billionaires we have sloshing around in their private jets not in the big picture because in the big picture the amount of money we spend on public higher education and we need to spend is just huge. I think beyond even our billionaires Ryan it should be public right. It shouldn’t be private it should be public. Yeah I was running whether they should give money to Trinity. I think absolutely. I think Trinity alumni should should be giving money to Trinity and they should say like yeah use this for financial aid. And so I do feel like alumni are in this situation whether they’re super wealthy or just you know have enough money to donate a bit to really influence what their institutions do. And you know most most of the time when alumni are giving money to their institutions it’s like yeah named Jim after me or you know being build some new high tech center. If you say like I want you to use this money to admit more kids who will really benefit from this education institutions pay a lot of attention to that.

S28: So we’re having in the 2020 race a lot of discussion of free college about different Democratic candidates. Is that part of the solution of amping up the funding of public institutions that you and David were just talking about and I mean do you think that that’s enough. Like do we have to do something that dismantles the private sector part of college education in a way that would be more threatening to a lot of the people who attend and participate in those schools and teach in those schools like me. Or is it enough to kind of make the public institutions like much more robust and excellent so that they’re providing the kind of access that we’re not getting from these private schools.

S29: I feel like private higher education like you know there are ways that the public policy can have an impact on that like you know all those 300 million dollar donations to Harvard were tax deductible. There’s lots that you could do to to change that equation and provide incentives for those institutions to do better but I really think they’re going to mostly respond to you know to alumni to employees to students right. And so so my hope is that we can those constituencies can push those institutions in that way. You know in terms of public education. I love the fact that this is coming up on the trail and in the campaign. And I think it’s really important. I feel like free college is not the right answer because really what the problem is is not is I mean tuition is an issue for sure in those public universities but mostly it’s the fact that those institutions don’t have enough money. It’s that we we the public have just not been spending enough on them. And that trickles down to students in a big way. I mean it floods down the students it affects them in a really immediate way. So what I think Democrats should do is say we are going to spend a lot more money on higher education not to make it free. I mean we can help help suddenly defray tuition for those who who can’t afford it. But you know if you’re if you’re a well-off kid going to the University of Texas you should be paying full tuition right like you should be you’re getting a good deal. And so you should be paying full tuition. But I think there’s a lot that we can do to make those institutions more equitable.

S21: Paul Tough is the author of the years that matter most how college makes or breaks us get it at a fine bookstore near you. Paul thanks for coming on and gabfest. Thanks guys. Let’s go to cocktail chatter. When you are contemplating the arrival of fall wishing for a brisk fall day wanting to see an orange leaf tumble off a magnificent oak what would you be chattering about.

S13: Emily.

S9: So the North Carolina State Government is just become a completely I don’t know.

S27: We use the word chaotic and not disordered so much in this show. I hate to return to them but it’s like a dystopia of where democracy could go next. What happened this week was that state House Republicans overrode the veto of Gov. Roy Cooper over their budget. They did this by it seems fooling Democrats into not showing up that day. Apparently Democrats were told nothing. No votes are happening you don’t need to be here it’s the morning of 9/11. And then with just sixty four of one hundred and twenty members in the House the Republicans voted fifty five to nine to override this budget veto it just.

S9: And of course then they could smugly say well it’s the Democrats fault they didn’t show up for work.

S27: You know legislatures have to have some kind of basic trust of process in some bipartisan manner in order to function. And the Republicans in North Carolina seem willing to just blow that up whenever it suits them. It’s kind of amazing to watch and of course because of the gerrymandering it’s hard to know what the consequences will be exactly though it is worth noting that the state is redrawing its state legislative map after last week’s court ruling saying that it had been gerrymandered so it’s interesting that in spite of that political future the Republicans still felt emboldened enough to do this.

S21: That was so shocking. Crazy. I sign a sign onto your chatter. John what is your chatter.

S33: Sign on to my chatter is mine on Shine on. Chatter is about a piece that ran in the times that I would have chatted about last week. But I wasn’t here by Andy Newman.

S32: It’s about a home health aide and it’s just a I should say it’s marjorie salmon whose is the name of the home health aide and it’s just a description of what her life is like caring for 78 the 77 year old man that she works for and it’s just an incredible window into a very deep hard demanding but also rewarding job and to human beings who spend the day together and the complexity of that day and the end and obviously the economic kind of insanity it feels of of Marjorie’s life given what she gets paid based on what she does and having been through versions of this and watched you know when my parents were at the ends of their lives you know the conditions that that home health aides have to deal with are basically you know they are where there’s not much depending on how you how you go out there’s not much left of you at the end of your life. And to be the guardian of that person at that stage of their life is a pretty solemn thing. Anyway this piece stirs up all of that and it’s just a great piece of reporting.

S27: I also thought it was great. And can I just say if there is one group of workers in this country who deserve a union it is home health aides and it’s also I think one of the fastest growing jobs. More and more people are doing this work and it though. Yeah all the things that you just mentioned could change potentially if they were able to bargain collectively.

S4: The piece is entitled on the job 24 hours a day 27 days a month.

S5: In the Times by Andy Newman my chador is completely self-serving chatter It is about Atlas Obscura because this week Atlas Obscura announced a huge new thing and I just want to tell you about it because I think it’ll be good for you and I hope you’ll join me with it. So we just signed on to a big partnership with Air B and B and B is invested in Atlas Obscura and Airbnb B announced Obscura now going to massively expand the number of trips and local events that we’re doing. So so Atlas Obscura is obviously a guide to the world’s hidden wonders but also we take people to see those wonders we’d both do it in local cities in the US and now we’re gonna be all over the world and we also offer trips to go to wonderful places to go explore the spam annex of the Balkans or or take a safari just look at the insects of Namibia or to go on a sailing voyage around the abandoned lighthouses and sunken ships of Sardinia and we’re gonna just do more and more of those and we do more and more of these local experiences in partnership with everybody. So I would just really encourage you to come down subscribe to go to Atlas Obscura slash trips and Atlas Obscura dot com slash trips excuse me and check it out. It’s going to be a great partnership it’s going to I hope give you a chance to explore parts of the world you haven’t been able to see to have great experiences in your own neighborhood that are unusual and wondrous and surprising. Please check it out and apologize for for my totally self-interested chatter this week in order to clear away that self-interest. Let’s talk about your chatter listener as you have sent us so many so many great chatters this week. Again there were literally like eight great chatters that were the ones I couldn’t even get to John there was one about the whale the whale roughly when I come back to that one but when I meant me to talk about that even it was so good. But you were tweeting your chatter too I said that’s like gaffe has are so many great ones I’m actually gonna quickly mentioned two because they were one is super timely and one is super shocking the actually both super shocking to one from at Mohan White Russia from Myanmar Russia points to a new York Times story the 9/11 tribute lights are endangering 160000 birds a year and is the story about how when they turn on the wonderful lights that on 9/11 they do they light up the place that was where the Twin Towers stood and these two pillars of light that stretched the horizon. Enormously bright lights it’s a really stunning beautiful moving thing but it has the effect of drawing birds that are migratory birds because they see these lights and they are drawn to it they can get disoriented and off track and thousands of them hundreds of more than a hundred thousand according to an estimate are at risk. That was a great story about the cost of that memorial and then I also want to point to a story from at our freight link from Bryan freight like Froelich which is that follow up on our opioid conversation. It’s about how there’s a Louisiana Congress member of Congress who’s also a candidate for governor a Republican who owns pharmacies that are dispensing opiate pills by the gazillion. He’s he’s a pharmacy owner his name is Ralph Abraham. I hadn’t heard of him but he’s a member of Congress Louisiana Republican and he’s he’s one of the people who’s who’s abetting this epidemic shocking story in Bayou brief. Check that out.

S3: That is our show for today. The gap that’s produced by Jonathan Frank. We had help from Melissa Kaplan Alan paying who is helping you Emily Laura eyes and c is helping me and I am very grateful and our researcher is of course Bridgette Dunlap. Thank you Brigitte Gabriel Roth is the editorial director of Slate podcast Joan Thomas is managing producer you should follow us on Twitter and at Slate gabfest and please if you’re going to be in the Twin Cities next week we’ll have our show on next Wednesday September 18th. We’re excited there are still a few tickets left. So go grab those tickets and join us there on September 18th at the Fitzgerald Theater. Go to Slate dot com last live to do that for Emily Bazelon and John Dickerson and David Plotz. We look forward to being all together next week and seeing some of you in the flesh. Bye bye.

S21: Hello Slate Plus how are you. Good to see you. Good to hear you can’t hear you or see you truthfully because we’re just broadcasting but I’m imagining what you look like. So I have had an interesting experience in the past week or so which is that I’ve started a novel called A Suitable Boy which is a maybe 15 or 20 year old novel by Vikram SAIT and it’s a fifteen hundred page novel. It is a just extraordinarily big and heavy book and it’s a it’s a telling of the lives of some intertwined families and in India just after Partition around 1950 and very cheerful romantic interesting lively book it’s delightful but it’s fifteen hundred pages long. Fifteen hundred pages. And I also this summer a book called Fall and Neal Stephenson book which is 900 pages long 900 pages long so that’s a lot of pages that I’ve been reading in single books. So I wanted us to have a discussion of how long books should be and how long. Also movies should be. So should books be this long or not and is their proper length for book or for movie. And I think my answer just to tip it off. I’m not going to give it away right now is that there is a proper length for movie but there’s not a proper link for a book. But I’m going to tell you exactly how long a movie should be. But you’re going to listen. Emily do you have any thoughts on this.

S9: Yeah I get intimidated by really long books. I have been meaning to read a suitable boy for ever and have not picked it up because it’s like a doorstop. And I feel this way about Infinite Jest which sits unread on my bookshelf.

S27: I barely made it through reading Marcel Proust.

S26: Finally finally a few years ago because in search of lost time just like there’s so endless these things it makes you feel like you’ll never.

S27: It’s hard to start it. It creates this huge barrier to entry.

S34: So what does that. How long should something be then it should be short or it should be broken into more manageable pieces.

S27: I mean I guess the thing is the end run around this is to have a series where you have a trilogy or a mini book set and so you can feel as if by reading one of them you’ve accomplished something and obviously if you love it it’s great because there’s more. I mean the that I find that to be usually more true of television shows which are less demanding than books but it can be totally true right. I mean some of my favorite books are series but I don’t know there’s just something about like the book that’s over 500 pages that makes me weary. John

S12: what do you think was so cozy in Search of Lost Time is broken in two more volumes say repentant Remembrance of Things Past.

S9: I know I think my copy had all of them and that was part of the problem was that it just was.

S22: I think you know Infinite Jest. Well yes.

S4: Listeners and devotees of the podcast will know I have a real complicated views about David Foster Wallace. As a fiction writer one of the things I asked I don’t know if I know this as a as a nonfiction writer because he is a fictional writer I’ve not yet made his fiction his non-fiction writing was full of fiction and that’s fun. If you tell everyone that’s what you’re doing but if you’re pretending it’s the real thing then it’s a problem.

S17: But I found Infinite Jest at times you know certain sentences and certain paragraphs I mean chests sparkling brilliant fantastic. And then just I got it got wearisome. I wonder if there’s something about Infinite Jest that here’s where it feels wearying that’s different than its actual length. But if you can carry it off you can have book can be as long as you want it to be as long as you know I’m carrying it off means not only does the story have to be compelling but you have to be okay with the narrator’s voice in your head for that long. I wonder if you’re writing such a book whether you stay with the same narrator can you you know can it be a trusted friend for that long a journey or do you hand it off to different narrators The Brothers Karamazov as I’m thinking about the different voices in that. Or does the whole topic kind of wear you down even if it’s even if it’s a different narrator every book it’s over say five or six hundred pages just lacked a good editor with like a Patton crossing things out.

S4: Right. Or they were writing in serial fashion getting paid by the word.

S15: Well that was true in the 19th century and that’s certainly true for Dickens for example though I don’t find Dickens to be too long. I mean his digressions are so entertaining and you can kind of read past them if you like.

S23: I basically think no book should be no novel should be more than 200 and 300 pages long.

S14: Wow.

S11: No that’s so sure and even though I love big social novels. I think people are allowed to write them. They’re permitted in the plots regime. You’ll be allowed to write those books but people will not have to read them at that length because every book that is longer than that will also get like we’ll get a Reader’s Digest condensed version.

S14: Oh my God. You a letter if you sound like my children.

S25: I think this is like the this is lost. The doom lies ahead.

S5: So my when I was a kid we sat we occasionally spent a weekend a vacation in a house in Maine and all I remember from this house in Maine was that it had the Reader’s Digest condensed books and those were maybe 150 page summaries condensed versions of great books and they were fantastic. And why shouldn’t there you.

S23: You write in this book you do you you do you but you have to as part of writing your 900 page book also fund the creation of 150 page summary condensed version which isn’t it’s not it’s not a privacy. It’s not it’s not a cliff notes it takes you know it’s it’s a severe edit I that’s what the solution to the plane of novels is very immersive.

S20: Now I’m going to argue for everything to be like over 500 pages even though I don’t think that that’s correct either that’s truly like 250 300 pages is not long enough for many novels the way they’re written and the way they should be written. You want only one hundred and fifty or two hundred pages of like Dickens and Jane Austen and George Eliot et cetera et cetera what I’m.

S5: Jane Jane Austen definitely her books are clock.

S6: Jane Austen was a bad example. I do not want Middlemarch to be cut down I’m not saying it has to be cut down.

S23: I’m saying you can go ahead and write it. But also march. I will. I want there’d be to be a published little march as well short. There can be long march Middlemarch and short march and that’s what I think.

S11: Now I’m just going to move on before before your head blows off and just talk about movies because I think there’s a stronger case here which is I saw Apollo 11 which was 45 minutes long and apparently the IMAX version is 45 minutes long. But there was a 90 minute version elsewhere and I and people were like Oh you should’ve seen the long 90 minute version. I was like I was totally satisfied in 45 minutes.

S9: Why should I see a 90 minute version especially like that. This probably doesn’t even apply. It’s just like right level stuff right.

S23: The correct answer in movies is that all movies should be ninety five minutes long except the movies which are three hours and 30 minutes long. So you can make a three hour and 30 minute movie or you can make a ninety five minute movie. What you are not allowed to do is make a movie that is two hours and 20 minutes long a two hour and 20 minute long movie is a murder.

S14: That is an act of violence against you because it is three hours and third five million movie three hours and thirty one is like the Super three. That like somehow justifies it.

S11: No the three the three and a half hour it’s Lawrence of Arabia. It’s gone with the wind it’s the Godfather and you’re like OK I’m really putting in. That’s it gonna be a whole day I’m willing to put in a whole day for this.

S25: And gone with the wind or terrible movies.

S23: It is really shocking. I can’t believe that we watched that as kids. But wait let me just finish the thought. So three three and a half hours is fine because you committed ninety five minutes it’s great because then you’re in and out in two hours that’s perfect. Those movies they’re two and a half hours long and I’m looking at you all you marvel movies. It’s just so painful because you end up a two and half hour long movie or two and 20 minute movie. It’s a three hour experience which is too long to do practically anything and and every 2 hour and 20 minute movie you see oh here’s where 10 minutes could be cut off here’s where another 20 minutes could be cut off. Every one of those movies. Whereas ninety five minutes is just perfect it’s you should you’re like so happy you’ve been there and you’re like oh good I can now do something else. I can go have dinner. To see you two hour 20 minute movie you can even have dinner that night.

S25: I totally agree with this. And the fact that now I watch almost every movie or TV show at home makes me acutely aware of it. I mean you can stop it in the middle if it’s too long. So but I’m now I really want things to be like 50 minutes or 27 minutes.

S4: Yeah. Nothing. Marvel has ever done is wrong. Oh no. Or do one of them. So you know people and I mean there’s the thing would the.

S16: So the Lord of the Rings movies are three different movies. Well so they obviously couldn’t have been one. I found all those to be the right length but those are in the three hour category. And I have a special problem. Oh yeah.

S14: The Star Wars movie star lists and nothing to have an answer. Stuff that wasn’t even in the book. I found that super Yeah.

S16: Now the Hobbit movies are not I don’t include those in the wonderfulness of the Lord of the Rings is really. Yeah.

S5: I’m going to. John the Star Wars the new Star Wars movie The running two hours 10 to 20. And I just think that that’s that shouldn’t be a.

S14: I have been making a mistake in Star Wars Land. I don’t even know what the characters are anymore.

S17: Here’s something that I want to know which is Is there a perfect way or time to read a book. I think David weren’t you arguing that you read books in the Morning now.

S11: I try to.

S4: Because if I read it I have I get four pages when I’m done with my body which will be the appropriate length and not a page longer or shorter leg and a book that you will not be able to put.

S19: That’s right. Exactly. People set aside everything they are doing. That will be the proper way to read it will.

S4: It will initiate an extraordinary weight loss regimen in America because people will be unable to get up from reading it to feed themselves and so they will they will lose weight as well as be informed but get better. And it can suffer from dehydration but it’ll be worth it for their country.

S17: But what I wonder is is whether what a book Marathon can be like. Like I so it’s I read the road in one sitting I read one of those girl with the dragon tattoos in one sitting. But I wonder if I could even do that anymore.

S4: And I look forward to trying to do that when I’m done with my with my book.

S19: And you’re a wonderful didn’t creaky. No wonder I think I should do more anyway. I wonder would because we’re the only people listening to you. Yeah. No one is.

S14: And that’s not already the case. Actually I’m interrupting. It doesn’t even count.

S11: Tune in next week to discover what book John will be able to read in one sitting. All right Slate Plus we’ll catch you later. Bye bye.