S1: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership.
S2: Enjoy. God has been gotten.
S3: He’s got an order. Hello and welcome to Slate Political Gabfest for February 27, 2020. Burn Baby Burn Edition.
S4: I am David Plotz of Atlas Obscura. One more week as David Plotz That was my last week as CEO of Outfits. Joining me from New Haven campus of Yale University, where she teaches in the law school, Emily Bazelon of New York Times magazine. Hello, Emily.
S5: Hello. You made me feel like a fraud because I’m not teaching the semester how well you do teach there. Generally in the fall, if they reappoint me, it’s all very year to year.
S6: Possibly UNRA appointed.
S7: Emily Yeah, yeah, I’m in limbo.
S6: John DICKERSON Who knows something about Limbo being a good Catholic? CBS The 60 Minutes. Hello, John, your New York. Hello.
S8: On today’s gabfest, is Bernie Sanders pulling away in the Democratic primary? Then the conviction of Harvey Weinstein and the state of me-too. And then turmoil at the Supreme Court. Has it become just an arm of a right wing ideological movement? What is going on with all these interesting things with justices and justices, spouses and cases the justices are taking? Plus, Emily’s got a big piece coming out and we, of course, will have cocktail chatter and gabfests listeners.
S6: We’ve got an exciting announcement. We have a live show coming up really soon. We are going to South by Southwest. We are going to be at SBI on Tuesday, March 17th at 2:00 p.m. So go to slate.com complex live to get tickets for that show or find out more information about that show. So if you’re gonna be in Austin for South by Southwest, you should definitely come and see us again. 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 17th. Slate dot com slash live to come see us in Austin at South by Southwest. The South Carolina primary is Saturday. There seemed to be only two possible outcomes, if you believe the polling pundits. Both of them depressing to me. But that’s just me. The first is that Bernie Sanders will continue his surge and win a plurality of a flat, fractured field and continue to be in the pole position to win the nomination.
S8: The other is that Joe Biden, who is polled very strongly in South Carolina over the past year, finally gets a win thanks to his excellent organizing among African-American voters. And that could potentially change the dynamic of the race going into Super Tuesday, which is just on Tuesday next week. So. Emily, how is Sanders creating a dominant position for himself in this race? Has he created a dominant position for himself in this race? Well, he’s winning the race.
S5: I mean, that helps. What Sanders has going for him is a very sticky base. It’s not huge. It’s not a majority of the Democratic voters, although in Nevada, he was up in the 40s percentage wise. So I guess that’s close, but it’s really loyal to him. And because the other lanes, however you want to think about it, are fractured because there are so many other candidates still vying to be the main moderate slash non Bernie Sanders alternative. His sticky base is enough.
S9: And he is.
S10: I mean, he has had the most passionate and stable and durable. And think of what he’s already endured, by the way, a heart attack, a very compelling challenger in Elizabeth Warren who believes a lot of the things that he believes and also has a very strong argument, which we should get to about why she would be more effective making those things happen. And yet she has not grabbed his voters or taken his voters away from him. He’s benefited from this split field and from the inability of any of them to make intelligent criticisms of him. I mean, so, for example, I think going to going at him on guns is just a total waste of time.
S7: We try again on that some more, because I don’t think I don’t think people in the Democratic Party really think that if it comes down to it, Bernie Sanders is going to be weak on guns when it comes to when it comes to what a president can do. On the question of guns, for example, if he were you know, if he suddenly came out and said he was against abortion rights, that would be catastrophic and deadly. But the reason he’s surging and the reason he has power in the party can’t just be punctured by a single issue on guns. And then he did what was rather daft in the in the debate, which is basically say, yeah, that was bad vote. I shouldn’t have. You know, I would I’d like to do that one over again. And here has been my record since then. And then it was also an opportunity for him to remind everybody that everybody on the stage had taken bad votes, including the person making the attack, Joe Biden, who voted for the Iraq war. So it felt like he diffused that expertly in the moment. I think the most effective the most effective attack was the one Elizabeth Warren tried to launch when when she said basically, we believe the same stuff. It’s just I’ll be far more effective in getting it done, which is as we’ve discussed before. She’s got a lot of evidence and a lot of talking points to make that case. And then and then finally. But but then she decided instead of, well, she went after Bloomberg, you know, like with every possible weapon in the drawer with an instinct for the jugular, her her basically she dropped her attacks against Sanders, for whom she has an instinct for the capillaries, as they say.
S11: So it’s an interesting point that sort of combining points you guys made where you wear it, that the rest of the field is so crowded that no one can come together. It’s so crowded yet no one’s really satisfied with any of the the other candidates. So it’s not simply that there are too many of them. It’s there too many of them. And none of them seems to capture the imagination at all, which is. I mean, Warren has captured my imagination, but that’s that’s just me.
S1: I keep thinking about a column that David Brooks wrote, I think last week where he said that Bernie Sanders was the Democrat who had a myth to offer, meaning like a big story about what’s wrong with America, a parallel or as powerful as the myth that Donald Trump offered in 2016. This is David Brooks’s argument. And Brooks hates the Sanders ideas about surfacing inequality and really talking about class struggle and class war. But I read that column and I thought, yeah, I think he’s right. I think there’s a way in which Sanders, because he is talking in such stark terms, is really compelling to a lot of Democrats who feel incredibly frustrated with Donald Trump’s vision of America.
S12: And the other candidates, I think this doesn’t really include Elizabeth Warren, but some of the other candidates in being more moderate, even though they’re being more realistic about what they could actually accomplish. They just sound it sounds a little like weak tea when you hear their versions of it in the debates.
S6: Well, I always come back to the David Plotz theory. Politics is that you, whoever is having the most fun wins. And it’s pretty clear that Sanders and Sanders, his supporters are having the most fun. They are far and away having the most fun. I want to talk about these two competing visions about what is actually happening in the electorate. One is, which I think is the vision that. Democratic elites and the moderate Democrats have, which is that Sanders has not expanded a coalition. There was low turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire and even Nevada, the places where there’s been higher turnout, it’s not driven by his voters. In fact, he’s not turning out new people. And that his the the groups he is popular with, namely young voters and very liberal voters, are not highly expandable in the general election. Then there’s a alternative vision, which Peter Beinart laid out in a piece this week, which is that he is the most popular of the Democrats among all groups that has actual. If you look at him among Democratic voters, he is by far the the has the best favorability ratings. And therefore, he’s actually the one who’s most likely to get them out in November. Which of these, John, these theories seems more credible to you?
S9: Wait, what? Give me the first one again. I got the first one.
S6: The first one is that that he’s just winning this tight plurality. This motivated plurality. And he actually he isn’t has no capacity to expand it in the general. And because the groups where he is popular are not going to turn out in huge numbers in the general young and very liberal people just don’t. There aren’t a lot of them.
S10: Well, that’s been and that’s been traditionally the case. His argument is, is that he’s got A, something special. And, B, you know, people thought it couldn’t happen with Donald Trump either.
S13: I think let me open it up a little bit larger, which is that this is both an electoral question and it’s a governing question, because for him, his success and although as somebody who says, you know, our elections don’t help us with the presidency, in his case, his presidency is based on his ability in the elections, which is to build this enormous movement. And so the electoral test is also the governing test. And so the electoral test, there’s a debate about the rules at the Democratic convention. And if a candidate arrives with the plurality, you know, how should that be handled?
S7: And I guess the question we are seeing with the Sanders candidacy goes to this electorate electability question, which is, is he going to turn out a certain kind of voter in debt in Trump areas than any of the no other candidate would be able to? And so therefore, therefore, he has a special something that none of the other candidates have or is. And then there’s also the other question, which is, is he going to ruin all the down ballot races because people won’t turn out for Senate and House candidates or because a lot of the House candidates are not going to sign up for Medicare for all. And in fact, we’ll have to distance themselves from him if they’re running in districts that are more that are more moderate. But in the electoral test for him, it seems to me that one of the questions is and this goes to the behavior of his supporters, which has been somewhat discussed, is that if you can’t convince a large number of people through methods that aren’t overly doctrinaire, if you if you have to just sort of treat people who don’t immediately jump on the bandwagon as either dumb or having bad faith and perfidious or basically a heretic against all American values, you’re just dragoon ing them into a position that doesn’t seem to be a stable basis for the kind of political revolution that he’s claiming is going to not only get him elected, but then succeed in passing all of these things for which even there’s not overwhelming support in the Democratic Party. So it seems to me it’s a test. And the fact that some of his supporters have a mode of operating that’s different than the supporters of any other Democratic candidate is a sign of some difficulty in this argument of his that he’s going to build a revolution that’s going to sweep the country. I think I think that’s a key test for him, which is a little bit beyond the scope of your question, David. But it’s it’ll be interesting to watch.
S11: So, Emily, one of the things that seems have changed the dynamic of the race and even just since last week is the well, that Michael Bloomberg boomlet.
S6: That sure was quick. Is it going to turn out that Bloomberg committed an act of homicide against Joe Biden by entering the race? Is it really ended up helping Sanders, which I think is the last thing he wanted to do, or or is it too early to make any judgment about that?
S5: I mean, it’s a little early because he hasn’t even been on the ballot yet, but he’s not doing himself any favors at these debates. I suppose you could argue that that’s not what he has to offer and that his running on competence, especially at this moment when coronavirus is threatening the world, could still resonate. Lots of people are going to see his ads and not see his worst debate clips. I do think, though, that his notion that he needed to be the moderate alternative as opposed to building up somebody else in the race, it just seems incredibly hubristic right now.
S9: Well, he’s just so bad at making his case to I mean, it’s just he really I mean, debates, whatever. But it just seems to me his case soj.
S14: You’ll feel better. He’s got. Go ahead.
S15: I just think hubristic is the wrong word to use to describe someone who is the three-time mayor of New York City. One of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country and one of the best philanthropists in the country and who’s, you know, made incredible investments in politics.
S16: It’s all right. I like that. And hubristic, not hubris.
S15: Something like that to say you should run for president. He is doing a poor job at the retail part and the presenting himself to the public part. But I don’t think you can, in truth, say it’s hubristic. I think you can say he’s a bad candidate, but it’s not hubristic.
S14: Well, let me come on. I’m so unconvinced by that. Like he made tons of money. He ran New York City. He did some terrible things and some good things as mayor.
S17: And like that means he should just trump into this very crowded field because he has a lot of money to Trump in.
S15: He he has. Yes, he has a lot of money, which is one of his strengths. Other people have strengths, which is their great rhetoricians. His strength is he earned a lot of money. Credible as a businessman can deploy, it has proven that he can deploy it usefully. Mike, pump money is a is a tool and a weapon in politics. And that is one of Bloomberg’s you know, it’s the biggest piece of artillery. Yes.
S16: What do you call anybody in using it? He’s not doing. He’s not doing a good job. And I mean, this is I just like this is my way.
S12: And you can if the main thing he has going for him is, is kazillion dollars. And the fact is, he practically said on the late stage that he, quote, bought I guess you didn’t quote the verb, but almost, you know, the Democratic gains in Congress in twenty eighteen, like, no, this is not the road that the Democratic Party needs to be going down. No, no, no.
S13: First of all, first of all, you want presidents to be hubristic. They won’t be able to do the job. So that’s that’s that doesn’t. But secondly, Bernie Sanders isn’t even a Democrat. And he’s saying he should be the nominee of the Democratic Party. So there’s hubris to go around for everybody here. That’s a separate claim from should he be able to buy the election. But whether he has the state, whether he has the standing to make the claim, which seems to me to be a totally plausible claim, which he’s not very good at making, which is you may not like me on for reasons X, Y and Z, but there’s nobody here by a factor of a lot who has ever run an organization of the size and complexity of the federal government and achieve the goals both in government, business and private philanthropy that everybody here agrees need to be achieved. Facing considerable opposition both in all three of those realms and therefore has a track record that that demolishes anybody even on the stage and sends people presumably want to get the things done that they believe in attacking climate science, getting a handle on gun violence in America. It’s not crazy to say previous success might have something to do with future prospects, which is again separate and apart from whether you schpiel to buy your way into that buy whether he has the track record to be able to make the claim. That seems to me he has at least that.
S11: So there’s this very awkward bit this week for Sanders, where in an Anderson Cooper interview he ended up defending statements he had made a while ago. Can you remember how long ago in praise of Fidel Castro’s Cuba and the universal literacy and universal health care that Castro’s Cuba supplied even as it was a brutal dictatorship? What is what is Sanders doing there, John or Emily? Why why is he continuing to hold fast to this? What does he gain?
S18: Why can’t he simply just do the smart thing and say, like, yes, you know, this was a an accomplishment, but this is a brutal dictatorship of the worst sort. And it’s, you know, we should do everything in our power to have a change. And to, you know, we continue to have Cuba develop in a different direction. Why can’t you just say the the thing that we all know to be true?
S10: Well, I think for an authenticity, I was for a lot of these policies before anybody else was kind of candidate. It’s hard to then start tailoring yourself too much to the current environment. So he’s so he can’t completely divorce himself from. And by the way, he probably still believes what he essentially said. I think that what was confusing to me. And again, this is why his opponents are not very good. Is somebody watching this? Why does any of this matter? Why does this matter about Bernie Sanders? Wasn’t Mariner a better country? Why is this important? It talks a lot about it at the debate. I don’t know why it’s important. And if it is an important subject for debate, what’s the right position to have and why is that the right position to have until you define those things? It’s a bunch of likes. It seems so attenuated from either what people live in their daily lives or what they should care about in in their countries. So maybe I’m crazy, but it felt like actually not that big a deal for him. Although I think that the one part of this obviously is that Cuba, socialism, communism, that whole hairball. This is Jonathan Chait argument that Sanders is ability to diffuse those attacks in a general election context to our. Part of the electability rap against him. So I get this in a kind of political sort of punditry part. But if you’re an opponent attacking him, I. Nobody was doing a very good job explaining why this was such a big issue.
S12: Yeah, I agree with all of that. I thought listening to him to his emphasis was off, so. He did say autocracy is bad. I’m not in favor of dictators. I get that Fidel Castro was bad for that reason. But then he pivots so swiftly to talking about Kim Jong un or whatever his preferred topic is. You don’t feel like he’s really grappling with the problems in Cuba. I mean, he’s right about health care and literacy in Cuba. But that doesn’t mean that those were worth the tradeoff in freedom, which was like really a big cost that Cubans paid. And for me, listening what I felt a little bit of my heart drop was that the strength of Sanders is also his weakness. Like he is rigid. He has been saying the same things really passionately for 40 years. Some of those things I think he is right are not radical and are about human rights and a vision of America of more equality and social cohesion. But he’s not showing kind of flexibility at a moment when that would help him attract more support. And when you feel like he could afford to do that. Right. Like his base is gonna stay with him. And now he needs to signal that he’s not such a purist that he’ll get into office or or just become the Democratic nominee and be unable to make room for people who are close to him, but not exactly standing in the same place as him.
S6: Last piece before we go. So right now, it does feel like Bernie Sanders is our most likely Democratic nominee and we would have a Trump Sanders general election.
S18: What are the things that that Sanders opponents within the Democratic Party should hope for? What are the scenarios coming out of Saturday and then potentially Tuesday? That should give them hope, possibility that there could be another outcome. Interesting question.
S7: In no particular order, I think they need to hope for a strong clear showing either for Biden or one of the non Bernie Sanders lane opponents, which they can claim as either support in the quote unquote, real part of the party, which is to say the more diverse part of the party coalition for at least somebody who’s not Sanders, whether they want to go all the way to the saying it’s for for Joe Biden or not. That’s another matter. But the idea, if you are if you were trying to make the case against Bernie Sanders and you’re an establishment Democrat, you want at least the idea out there that basically he has a ceiling, that the majority of the party is actually against him. It’s just the vote is split and that the more we learn about him, the more problematic he becomes as a candidate. And what you don’t want is for him to get to the general election and this closet full of troubles to come bursting open and become daily weaponry for Republicans, which will hurt not only Sanders, but then all the down ballot candidates. So you need somebody to do well, then you need a series of these videos from the past or issues that he has to come out and then for him to misplay one of them. I thought in the debate he was actually very good at diffusing the attacks against him, making the case for his economic argument. You know, he didn’t wither under the scrutiny the way other candidates have. So if you’re in the anti Bernie case, you want you want him to wither under the scrutiny because it just reaffirms that idea that once he gets tagged in the general, he won’t be able to handle it. So you are either aides hoping that you create the permission structure for it, for a Biden or Biden like candidate to continue to rise in the future contests? Or you begin the narrative for a contested convention in which Sanders arrives just with the plurality. It helps that he wrote the rules there that would potentially undo him, as Elizabeth Warren pointed out. And you would hope then that there is sort of the empire would strike back in some kind of extremely ugly, but nevertheless, you know, convention wrangling. None of those, by the way, you asked what would be good or very good. I mean, they’re they’re very. There’s a lot of blood on the floor of any of that happens.
S19: I like the idea that that that modern Democrat should hope for Empire Strikes Back scenario. Who is the harm fellow will be?
S20: He’ll be preserved, cryogenically preserved in that in that one. Slate. Plus you get bonus segments on our podcast and other slate podcasts. If you go to slate.com plus gabfests plus you can become a member today and today in honor of the new Hillary Mantell historical novel, the trilogy completing her trilogy about Thomas Cromwell and talk about what should be the next great historical novel. Someone writes, What does the personage or episode in history that deserves a massive, fantastical, novelistic treatment?
S21: So go to Slate.com slash gabfests plus.
S20: Harvey Weinstein, the Hard Hollywood producer, was convicted of two out of five felonies he had been charged with by a New York state jury convicted sorry, by the state jury. He was not charged by the next jury. He was carted off to a hospital unit at Rikers Island. He now faces up to 29 years in New York State Prison. He also is going to go on trial or he’s been charged. Also in California, with other sexual assault crimes, the conviction maybe closes or advances one chapter in the most appalling of the metoo stories or one of the most appalling of the metoo stories, the one that started it all. When The New York Times and The New Yorker published stories detailing allegations from women who had kept quiet about Weinstein’s assaults over many, many years because of his power in Hollywood. So, Emily, it is very unusual actually to get a conviction in a case like this. So even though once he was acquitted of three charges, including probably the most serious charge he faced, it is unusual. So why were they able to get this?
S1: Yeah. So, I mean, what was unusual about this case in terms of its potential weakness for prosecution was that the two women whose cases were going to like support the rape and sexual assault charges, the main complainants or witnesses, they had both had relationships with Weinstein after these sexual assaults in which they were, you know, emailing or texting in a friendly way. They had slept with him afterward in a way that they acknowledged was consensual. They had continued to seek him out. And so usually when prosecutors have evidence like that, they don’t have what they think of as a, quote, perfect victim. And they worry that juries are going to hear all that and think, I don’t believe you. Like, if something was so bad, why did you go back to this man? The problem, of course, with that kind of skepticism about rape allegations is that a lot of times cases, especially involving a powerful person like Weinstein, they’re just like more complicated than that. And victims may absolutely have the experience of being raped that they describe, but then try to kind of move beyond that or bury it or stifle it in some way, because they fear this person or they’re currying favor with them and hoping to have some kind of more successful transaction effectively. And in the past, prosecutors have just been so usually unwilling to touch these kinds of cases. There’s a law professor named Debora turkheimer writes about this a lot, and she has written about what she calls the credibility discount, the idea that there are just so many stages along the way when people report rape to the police or when prosecutors review a case in which they just discount the credibility of victims, especially if there’s this kind of reason to disbelieve them in the Weinstein case. I think partly just because of the enormous publicity and, you know, huge just like upswell of rage and fury from Hollywood, from everywhere at Weinstein. You saw the New York Manhattan d.a.’s office. Go ahead anyway. And then you saw a jury believe these women there was supporting testimony from a few other women, which was probably helpful. Although, David, as you described, the most serious counts the jury acquitted on or didn’t convict. And that involves some of the support of testimony. So I think it’s a really interesting development. Legally, in terms of whether there are other cases like this that are more likely to be prosecuted, I’m not sure. And then just just the result in itself. I mean, we’re talking about one of the most powerful people in Hollywood who is now in jail. And that is just like an incredible fall from from grace.
S18: I’ve heard it’s shocking to think that Harvey Weinstein never had.
S22: I was going to say maybe terrible. How are you? How are you? How are you?
S15: Emily unu on the point about the why these cases are so hard to convict. It is. I really get it gets very mentally complicated because when you think about most crimes for which people are convicted there, there’s usually like things which are very specific hard evidence.
S19: If you steal money from a bank and money appears in your bank account having stolen or you steal an object, you have the object. If you commit a murder and if you’ve you know, your blood is found all over your body in some of these sexual assault and rape cases. That evidence exists. And the ones that are easiest to convict you have you have a rape kit, you have evidence, you know, physical harm, but lots of them there. It’s not that. So the events were ambiguous. It’s just that the there isn’t the definitive way to show that the events, as one person says they occurred, occurred because you if you don’t have camera evidence, we don’t have necessarily physical evidence. If you and if you don’t have a pattern of behavior by the accused, though, here we had a pattern of behavior.
S16: We hear here we had a pattern behaviorally absent.
S19: A pattern of behavior. Right. Absent a pattern of behavior. It’s hard to imagine if once he had been charged with one of these counts in a total vacuum, you you you can imagine like nothing would have happened. And so it does mean it does mean that these cases are not quite like they they end up they occupy different space than a lot of other criminal activity that people are charged with because of that. In a lot of times, they just don’t leave behind evidence in the way that others that other things leave behind evidence.
S17: Well, I feel like you’re sort of blurring two things here. So there’s the question of corroborating evidence. And sometimes in situations where people know each other and there’s a rape allegation, there is corroborating evidence like the victim went and told a friend or they’re like upset e-mails and text or just other evidence that comes into play. We didn’t have that kind of corroboration in this case. And I think you’re right that if there had just been one charge in isolation, it would have been really difficult took to convict Weinstein. But then there’s this other question of a pattern of behavior and even a pattern in which someone uses sex as a way of dominating a less powerful people and then continues to do that in a way that allows them to get away with the abuse. And I think in Weinstein’s case, that was overwhelming. I mean, it was both very present to the jury and the testimony from these supporting witnesses, but also in the court of public opinion, like it’s just really hard to fact like that is how we have so much evidence against Harvey Weinstein, some of it barred by the statute of limitations, but very much present. And so maybe we’re at a point where if you have one of those forms of corroborating or supporting evidence, you can bring a successful prosecution in some ways as cases like the Bill Cosby case in that sense.
S23: Right. Right. Do you think.
S19: I just wanna make a point that I have a question for you, John, like I I asked this of Jodi Kantor when she was on our show a few months ago. And she, of course, is the one of the reporters who broke the original Wainstein story in New York Times and and wrote, she said, about that experience with Megan, too.
S24: But I’d say with Megan Tuohy, the the grossness of Weinstein, I think is really germane to this case.
S19: I think that a lot of what has made this the the emblematic case, the one that people have gotten most attached to, is that he is a disgusting looking person and he may end his day, seems to be a disgusting person. Also, he is a morally disgusting person, which is more relevant, but he is a person who people find physically repellent. And with these actresses who are, you know, whose beauty is part of their you know, their business.
S24: And and I just I think we I think it’s telling that was these these drawings, these photos of Weinstein, which then reemerged as court drawings of the terrible acne on his back and his though the weird way his genitals look. And they were these were people are pending these around is like, look at this disgusting person. And I think we just need to be cautious about putting too much on that. A lot of people are ugly in their soul who are not physically repellent.
S18: There are lots of people who are who are disgusting and horrible and criminal who look like angels. John, do you think that this. Puts a cap on me, too.
S19: That is the conviction, move me too forward in any way. And does this represent some something that is important and will cause behavior to change or is this a just a single anomalous case because we haven’t had really other criminal convictions? I don’t think coming out.
S16: Bill Cosby, I get. Doesn’t that pre-date it? I guess I get similar. Yeah. Anyway. Okay. Sorry. Yeah. You know, good point. Yeah. Is. I don’t know.
S13: I mean, I do. One thing that I do feel and I’m. Ivy-League Pete Budo JEJ giving an answer on the lived black experience. It’s a little it’s well at my well out of my range. However, having said that, he gave the answer that at least Michael Bloomberg should have stumbled towards in the debate when he talked about, you know, what it’s like to be an African-American, even in America’s culture today. But so would that preface. Do the women who were not even directly related to Harvey Weinstein, but obviously for those who were and who may not have even been the target of his most putrid ass assaults, the sense of justice and the fact that the system can, however, like work and that there are remedies for men who behave this way. And get to your point, David. It may be even more the case that men who look beautiful on the outside are able to get away with more of that evil behavior. Just the sense for all of the women who have had to to put up with some version of this in their life. I can imagine there is some feeling that that that as imperfect as the new world is that there is a greater amount of justice when something like this happens. I think that’s again, I may be totally out of my lane and Emily will correct me quickly if I am.
S9: But the second thing is, I also feel like the danger here. There are several. But one is, okay, this is done. He was this monster, the monsters in his box.
S13: And, you know, some people have done some trainings and we all watch what we say, but it’s taken care of. That’s the first problem. The second problem is that you start to get people basically not going to root causes and thinking, you know, there’s kind of where the backlash sets in. And then people say, you know, that means who’s kind of gone too far. There’s there. You know, there are cases in which they’re not they’re not full Harvey Weinstein’s and they’ve been lumped in with him. And that’s not fair. And that that there’s part of more of that. That’s a part of a conversation now. And I don’t know what this verdict does with respect to that, but I feel like the conversations about about the complexity of this are nots are not as are not as strong as I’d like them to be.
S11: Actually, Emily, that leads me to a question for you. I think it was a New York magazine talked to a bunch of the women who had made some of the more publicized metoo accusations and looked at their life. You know, now year two, three years after that, and it hasn’t been great.
S20: It is not something where you you make this accusation and you are lionized as a hero and your life changes for the good and anything like that happens. It has been extremely difficult for people. And you also have the case of the president who has been credibly charged with literally dozens and dozens of sexual predatory sexual assaults, all kinds of disgusting sexual behavior involving violence and bullying and pressure and coercion. Yet he has been unscathed by it and the women who’ve made accusations have been heavily scathed.
S18: So do you think that actually the situation for women who want to come forward, who have been victims, has changed?
S1: I mean, I think it’s really hard. You pay a price by becoming someone who’s part of your identity, is that you’re making these allegations like you have to talk about serious private matters. There’s still some stigma attached that and being a witness in a prosecution is like a big undertaking. You know, I also read that story. I’m thinking about all of those problems. I do think, though, that there is a deterrent effect in convicting someone like Harvey Weinstein. I mean, if you are a man sexually harassing or assaulting people in the workplace, I hope you are scared right now and thinking twice about doing it. To have someone so powerful be brought down like that should be a really clear warning to people. That’s different from the kinds of, you know, rote trainings that we’ve all gotten used to doing. Like, you know, in our inboxes, I think this is a different a different kind of sounding of the alarm.
S18: I would just note that there are four old white guys running for president right now, Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Three of them have stains on them here or have things that have been charged against them or involving degrees.
S16: And Trump var. Trump.
S19: Trump is way over way, way, way over one direction. What happened at Bloomberg? Mysterious. He seems to have fostered an environment. Maybe that was, oh, you know, body.
S11: Probably his word.
S22: Maybe a sexual athlete. Other people’s. Yes. Thank you. Another worry is that Bill euge DHT, why very well.
S24: Well, for him. And then Biden, there’s some touching accusations that Sanders as far as I know, there’s no one thought anything. But I I wonder if we look in a generation, whether the people who are now in their 30s, whether the men who are now in their 30s, it’s gonna be the same thing where a lot of them will have had something in their past that is a little bit a little bit iffy or worse or maybe not.
S16: But they’re learning maybe nothing. Yeah, yeah, I think so.
S19: I think I think my question is, has an answer, which is that I don’t think it’ll be the same.
S10: I do. And I do think I’ve seen a fair number of the training videos and things that corporations make their employees go through. And many of them are awful. And you can when you watch them, you feel the people basically doing 10 other tasks and just hitting the click bar to move on and move through it. And it’s not very useful, but I think there are companies and institutions that are doing a better job than that. And the Poynter Institute has put together a sexual harassment program for newsrooms that I watched. And it was fantastic about power and how power works in workplaces and all the different ways in which it works, not just the person who’s doing the assaulting, but then also how the power dynamic changes as people get involved. And it was incredibly instructive. And I could as I was watching it, I could imagine somebody going into it thinking like I sit through this thing and then having revelations not only with respect to the specific way to handle situations, but then how to create a workplace environment in which those situations don’t arrive. The proactive things you can do to just be more aware and mindful of relationships and power and how it’s distributed and that all feld’s incredibly useful. And also putting people in the mindset of understanding power and how it works in the workplace, which is just a larger beneficial. So to the extent that that stuff is spreading out through the culture for the next generation, I think there there will be actual learning that takes place as a result of this.
S20: Big doings at the Supreme Court. We have the president attacking two liberal justices saying they shouldn’t be allowed to rule on any cases involving him. You have the court deciding to weigh into a monumental discrimination case involving adoption by same sex couples. If Ginni Thomas, the wife of a Supreme Court justice, engage in a secret campaign, her secretive campaign, I should say, to purge the federal government of people who oppose anything that Donald Trump wants to do. And now we have a huge piece forthcoming from you, Dr. Emily Bazelon, JD, about the dangerous threat that Neil Gorsuch poses to traditional jurisprudence. What the heck is going on at Supreme Court, Emily?
S17: So, I mean, I think the jockeying you saw this week is Trump’s usual preference for offense versus defense. So Laura Ingraham made it sound as if Sotomayor had a, you know, personally attacked the Trump administration. She had not done that. Sotomayor wrote like a straight up dissent from the conservative justices, allowing the Trump administration to get an emergency stay. So the public charge rule would go into effect. This, of course, is the rule that makes it a lot harder for immigrants to get green cards and permanent status. And Sotomayor, I was just saying, hey, government, you keep running to us for emergency stays, essentially leapfrogging over the normal processes in the lower courts where courts hear the merits of the case before they’re decided and before we hear an appeal. And Sotomayor was saying, look, we don’t grant exceptions like this in most executions. Now we’re granting them over and over again for the Trump administration. The standard here is supposed to be really high. It supposed to be irreparable harm. That’s what you have to show to get this kind of emergency stay. And she is worried about kind of basic fairness. So she was making a really like this not standard, because it was I mean, she was making a big deal of this argument, but it was very much within the legal bounds. And Trump claimed otherwise for his own purposes, perhaps because of this story about Ginni Thomas, which was Louis leading to calls for Justice Thomas. Ginni Thomas is husband to recuse himself. So I think there’s just a way in which politicizing the court has become a kind of weapon for Trump. I mean, we’ve seen him go after judges repeatedly, and this was like the latest version of it. My piece is trying to come at this from a different angle by taking seriously the big ideas behind the conservative ascendancy at the Supreme Court, which remain originalism and textualism. These theories about how you do interpretation, originalism is supposed to be about how the Constitution was understood at the time it was written and ratified. And textualism is a normal law. You’re just look at the words on the page. You don’t think about the context or the purpose or the consequences of a ruling and justice course, which is the latest on a sales person at the court. He has a new book where he was really pushing the ideas in a very absolutist way. And I just want to go back and like, look at their lineage. Look at how they’d changed over time. And what interested me the most were all the criticisms from conservatives about the inconsistencies with which these theories are applied.
S10: And did you come down to a feeling about fancy? Because the law has, I think a little more or I should say a little, it has cartilage, in essence, is brittle as some of the breakages that we see in politics, for example, the total abandonment of any concern about debt and deficits, which were the the guiding obsession for Republicans under the Obama administration has just gone completely. And which which, as we talked about, Momani mentioned last week, and that, you know, was once the star by which everybody piloted their boats. So so as you look at this, do you find, you know, the normal cartilage that’s required in any belief system or any regimen for analysis?
S7: Or did you find that it’s become more used or was used in this last? Now, as a as a pretext for saying any old damn thing you want, so.
S17: Yeah. That’s a. Those are good parallels and a good question. I mean, I would say this like every theory over time tries to absorb the criticism and then becomes like more vague in general as a result and kind of loses some of its power. And I think that’s part of what you see with originalism and textualism and that you’d like I wouldn’t hold that against the theories, except that Gorsuch and other promoters of these series claim that this is their call to superiority. They’re saying we’re the only judges who do things objectively or, as Gorsuch says, in a value neutral way. And increasingly, Gorsuch has claimed to be an absolutist about this. He says he applies originalism and. Case about the Constitution. So that’s just not really possible because there have been so many layers of law that have been added over the centuries by the Supreme Court that if you have any interest in the Supreme Court’s precedents, the law is just moved. So legions leagues away from the actual Constitution. I mean, one thing I was thinking about this piece is that when we talk about the constitution, it sounds like we’re talking about the document, the text. But actually, we mean constitutional law. We mean all the things that then added to it over the years and the method of originalism. This idea that all you’re going to look at is what people understood the words to mean in 1787 or 1868, though most conservatives don’t pay as much attention to 1868. That idea is very recent. It’s modern. It’s from the 1980s. That’s not really how the Supreme Court did its work for centuries in any meaningful way. And I so I feel like there’s that’s the inconsistency that matters to me. It’s that you have a theory that is necessarily selective, but then you don’t admit that. You don’t say what your theory for making exceptions is. And then I think you’re vulnerable to the standard intellectual critique about theories, which is like, OK, well, if you’re gonna pick and choose when to apply it, why is your method any more consistent or objective than anyone else’s?
S10: Is it better to think of this than as originalism, as increasing the gravitational pull of the Constitution on the debate, which is, you know, it you’re calling yourself an originalist. But really, what you’re trying to do is just use that as a as a bigger part of your argument for why something should go one way or the other in the wild. You can never reach total originalism. You’re trying to be, you know, as some Tadek, if that’s even a word. Whereas you get as close as possible using, you know, a defensible set of principles that are that are founded in the original idea of the Constitution.
S1: I mean, I think that’s for sure, the claim. But I think you can also look at this and say this is really about politics. And that is sort of an obvious point to make, but it’s very much not the point that the originalists say they’re making. Right. Like they say, they’re separating law from politics. And if, in fact, their theory is not consistent or they’re doing the originalist research into history badly, which is another problem in some of these recent cases, like the Second Amendment, big suppose it originalist victory from Justice Scalia a decade ago and then Justice corsages biggest opinion, which is this more obscure case called U.S. versus gundy’s, but is going to come back because that’s all about Congress’s regulatory power and ability to delegate policymaking to federal agencies like the whole administrative state. If you’re not doing it in the way that you say that you’re supposed to be doing it again, it’s this that’s the kind of question here, like you can say that it’s a set of defensible principles. But what is it really getting you in the end?
S7: Right. I was I was looking at like the effective benefit. But what you’re saying is that they’re using this claim that it’s separate from politics as a as a way to say and therefore, what we claim, what we say, because we’ve been able to define that separation is that much more powerful. And Justin. Right. So they’re using it both in its own terms, but then also to make themselves bigger and in any given argument because they’ve somehow been able to separate themselves from politics.
S1: Yeah. Exactly. And just to make one more point here, I mean, every judge looks at the words on the page of a law. Right. Like that is a normal thing. You’re interpreting a statute. Judges don’t ignore what’s there in front of them. And when you’re interpreting the constitution, they consider the meaning that the founders thought they were giving it. The question is whether you do that exclusively in a way that then is supposed to wall you off from considering the purpose of the law or the underlying consequences of your ruling. And so Justice Breyer, who is a real pragmatist on the court and has really been trying to warn that this textualism and originalism creates a very wooden understanding of the Constitution. He shows up in my piece to be like, hey, wait a second. What are we really doing here? And my piece starts out with Justice Gorsuch in the case about gay and transgender employment rights before the court in October, like faced with the the real implications of his own textualism, which would seem to be ruling in favor of the gay and transgender plaintiffs. He asked a question about consequences, claiming some suggesting there would be massive social upheaval from ruling in favor of these plaintiffs. And I tried to use that to show the difficulty of sticking with the theory when it leads you to results which presumably you’re not inclined to. And so that’s going to be really interesting test for Justice Gorsuch.
S11: Anyway, let’s close actually when we as we talk about consequences with this big case that the Supreme Court is now going to hear about foster care in Philadelphia. What what is the issue here? Why is it such a big deal?
S1: Yes. So Philadelphia looked at the way in which Catholic Charities was participating in its foster care network and said, you know what? Catholic Charities, you’re discriminating against gay couples. You’re not placing kids with them. And so we’re going to leave you out of our network. We’re going to enforce our anti-discrimination law and say that if you’re not going to accept gay couples, we’re not going to have you as part of our foster care. And the court is taking a challenge from Catholic Charities. So this is a really big issue. It’s sort of like the Masterpiece Cake Shop case from Colorado about the baker who didn’t want to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. But in a lot of ways, it’s bigger than that because it’s about, you know, foster care and by implication, adoption. And it’s really about this question like can a state decide that its desire to prevent discrimination in this case against gay people matters more than including a religious organization, which says that its religious values don’t allow it to place kids with gay people. So it’s like a direct conflict about a very important and contested issue. And it’s now on the docket for next term.
S11: So next fall, presumably, the court will hear argument, is there any way to be in the foster care system that’s outside of the government? I mean, could you could. Catholic Charities participate in foster care, but in some way that is separate from the state of Pennsylvania or the city Philadelphia working with them? I don’t think there is.
S16: I don’t think realistically, the government.
S1: Yeah, I mean, adoption agencies can be private, but the foster care network comes from the government. There has to be a finding of abuse or neglect and a placement. So I don’t think so.
S11: And presumably, if if the if the Catholic Charities, perhaps prohibition was we will not place with mixed race couples or we won’t place with, you know, Asian-American couples like that would ever be like, no, you can’t do that. It would be pretty clear. Right.
S17: Right. I mean, this is where, you know, I think we’ve talked about this on previous shows. But during the civil rights era, we did not see courts say, okay, you know, lunch store counter.
S1: You don’t have to. You’re you’re a business open to the public, but you actually don’t have to let black people eat at your lunch counter because you have a religious objection somehow to, you know, interracial mixing. Like, no, we did not accept that defense. And so I think the parallel you’re raising is a big problem for these religious organizations. They make the argument that there are beliefs about, you know, LGBT people are I really they would say like LGBT activities are different. But the question is like whether it really is different.
S11: Right. But what is the status of LGBT people and discrimination federally? I mean, there’s there is obviously there’s a right to marriage, but it’s that. But discrimination is federally permitted still in some context.
S1: Yes. And that’s actually relates back to this employment case I was talking about a minute ago. So there are there is not a federal law that provides blanket protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation throughout the country. It’s missing explicitly in the employment context. And so this case I was talking about is about whether the provision in Title Seven, the federal employment law that prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. The question is whether that applies just on its face to LGBT people. Some states have erected anti-discrimination laws on the basis of sexual orientation for situations like the one that’s Philadelphia is grappling with. And now the question is whether those. The court is going to allow states to continue to enforce those laws.
S11: Fast, one quick final question on this, where does the court and the conservatives generally stand on religious practices by non favorite religions and cultures, cults? So there there’s a lot of move to stand up for Christians and Jews and Christian practice and Jewish practice and defending their practices. But where do they stand on religions that are out of the mainstream and things that they might want to do that contravene some federal law? Are they just as adamant about protecting that?
S1: Well, I mean, there were there was a couple of cases last year. Do you remember this about whether people on death row could see a chaplain? And one of the people who wanted to do that was a Muslim person asking to see any mom. And the court, the conservatives on the court treated that person differently from the person who was Christian, who was trying to see watching clergy. Yes. Well, I think really? Yes, really.
S16: And so I. Oh, I think what you are seeing there. Yeah.
S23: Right. God.
S5: Yeah. It raises questions about consistency. Yeah.
S23: God, that’s tough. Oh, that gets my goat.
S11: As they say, let us go to cocktail chatter. When you are celebrating the arrival of the leap year. You’re celebrating. Finally, you’re five and a half, five and accorded years old until you can legally drink. You’re born on Leap Day in 19. You couldn’t even more on Leap Day in nineteen ninety nine, could you, because there was no Leap Day 1989. Oh well doesn’t make any sense. What are you gonna chatter about. John DICKERSON.
S7: I was worried there for Mo. You’re just going to go off and talk to yourself for a while. I’m glad to have the show back.
S10: I’ve made some to chatter very quick. The first is Mary Beth’s Mary Beth Gorsuch, which is second time that name has been mentioned in this podcast. But she is a pitcher for the l._s._u softball team and she threw a perfect game in which she knew she twenty one up, 21 down. But then not only was it a perfect game, she threw 21 first pitch strikes, which meant every batter she faced. The first pitch she threw them was a strike. That’s just an amazing and incredible achievement.
S15: And she said that’s an amazing achievement. But can I pause for a second? I think that women’s softball need the fix. There is it is a really at the highest level. It’s a really low scoring game.
S11: They pitch too fast and it’s very hard to hit and it makes the game kind of boring.
S25: This is needs. It needs the fact this is your women’s softball mansplaining by David Plotz, not mansplaining.
S9: How did mansplaining your man fixing? You’re saying like, here’s what’s wrong with your sport.
S11: It’s the Thubten mansplaining men fix.
S15: I’m just I’m just I’m just I’m a big sports person. And I I’ve having watched women’s softball on ESPN because there’s parts of the year when there’s nothing there’s no there’s no sport that I like until I end up watching baseball and softball and you like, that is terrible. And softball baseball needs huge fixes to not going to say baseball need you to fix this, but women’s softball needs fixes. And one of the fixes is it’s it’s too much a pitchers game.
S9: My satyrs, all my second chatter is that Earth has a new moon. Did you guys notice that there is a new moon cruising around the earth and it’s going to be there probably for maybe a couple of years? It was just discovered. It’s about the size of a car. It was designated 2020’s S.D. 3 and it’s gravitationally bound to the earth. Oh, no, wait. Sorry. Gravitationally Toyin. Sorry. Hold on. Sorry. Shit.
S14: I think I may have gotten the wrong. I may have 22d. That is the rate is gravity. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Sorry.
S9: It’s called 20/20 c.D 3. It’s been gravitationally bound. The earth for about 3 years is not going to stick around here forever. But what I love is that the announcement of the discovery of this minor little planet, the size of a car, which is one of our little moons now, was posted at the Minor Planet Center, which I just think is an amusing name for a place. Anyway, the orbits not stable. So like 2006 are each 120, which hung around for about a year before leaving the orbit. It will leave.
S25: So, you know, get your enthusiasm in for the moment before it takes off and spins out into the blackness. Is it further away than the moon or closer than this?
S7: You would’ve found one of the. You have one found one of the limits of my knowledge, which which is basically in a circumference around everything I just said.
S18: Okay. Emily, what is your chatter?
S12: I am really interested this week in a story from Montgomery County, which are the suburbs outside of Philadelphia, where the two top public defenders were fired this week after a filing, a brief supporting bail reform. And this story is I mean, it’s about the struggle of criminal justice reform. Of course, it’s also about the independence of public defender offices. Turns out that there is just like no real rule about this. And lots of different counties and cities and states do this differently in Montgomery County. The county commissioners were just able to fire these public defenders. What the public defenders were trying to spotlight was that in their county, 9000 people are arrested every year and they go to see a judge who decides whether to set bail and often sets bail and high amounts and holds them in jail. All that happens without any lawyer present if you can’t afford one. And so all the public defenders were saying was, hey, at this initial bail hearing, we should be able to show up and represent people before they have to pay tons of money and often go to jail because they can’t afford to pay. That got them fired. And that seems like just kind of a crazy outcome. And yet it is possible not just in Montgomery County, but in a lot of other places, too. So a story worth paying attention to.
S18: Wow. All right. I would like to chatter about a book I am reading called Z by Joanna Cabana. But have you read it to novel?
S26: No. Is it, guys? Toni, the novel now.
S15: Well, and it’s wonderful.
S27: It is a it is Orwellian in the classic sense of a dystopic future where language has been manipulated in all kinds of ways, but it’s a very, very, very funny book about a future in which there is a algorithm’s rule, everything and the algorithms are suddenly maybe not so good. Are something is wrong in them, something funky is happening and weird things have started to happen. And the book is very funny and very dark and super evocative, actually, of things that are going on in China where where people who suddenly find themselves outside the electronic funds system, which people use to run their lives because they have crossed.
S19: So they’ve committed some so anti-social act and they’re expelled from the communications network that everyone needs and they become unpeel. And there’s something similar going on in that. So I really recommend it. Dark Funny Novel by Johanna Covanta is a sci fi.
S11: Yeah, I it’s futuristic. Yes.
S23: It is futuristic, but so evocative of today.
S19: Great listener chatters this week as ever. Tweet them to us at at Slate Gabfest. And the chatter. Listener chatter I liked most came from at Lazy Underscore Crazy Daisy. It isn’t a link to an NPR story which is about the Aya Sofia. I think that’s how you say it, which is the huge now mosque in Istanbul which was interrupted that my built as a church. And what has happened is that this using really interesting audio audiology, audio logical techniques. They popped a balloon in the ISO fear. They just did one balloon pop and recorded it very well. And then taking the signature that that balloon pop that noise makes. They were able to create essentially an audio filters that any you could put any sound into it and it would recreate what it would sound like in the Aya Sofia. And so they’ve now recorded a bunch of the Christian music, the medieval Christian music that would have been sung there 700000 years ago. And there’s an album of it. And it’s the acoustics in that place are amazing. And this music sounds amazing. And so this it’s the voice of God. It is the voice of God. It’s like the sound of if you want a heavenly choir would sound like if it was kind of trying to intimidate you like a very intimidating heavenly choir. So listen to this. This segment on NPR. If you enjoyed the gab fest and how could you not have enjoyed the FSA if you’ve gotten this far. You must have enjoyed some of it. Now you’ve just railed against us. I don’t know. Please subscribe to the show. That way you will get new episodes the second they are released. You can subscribe wherever you’re listening to us.
S4: That is our show for today, The Gap that is produced by Jocelyn Frank. A researcher is Bridget Dunlap. Rosie Bellson helped me here in D.C. Alan Pang, I think, is helping John in New York. Brian MacAvoy is with Emily in New Haven. You should follow us on Twitter at Slate Gaffe s and tweet chatter to us there. Gabriel Roth is editorial director and June Thomas is managing producer of Slate podcast. Emily Bazelon and John DICKERSON and I are the hosts of The Gab Fest.
S28: Thank you for listening. Talk to you next week.
S21: Hello, Slate, plus, how are you?
S20: Big news in literary, literary America, literary London this week, Hilary Mantel, who is the author, of course, of Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, among other novels, has the third book in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy comes out this week. The book is called The Mirror and the Light. So she won the Booker Prize for her first two novels, which were about the life of Thomas Cromwell.
S6: Who’s this self-made man who rose to become the chief adviser, enforcer, counsel to Henry the Eighth, and helped him with his various weddings and marriages and crumbles is depicted as this amazing figure, who he he’d gone down in history as a rather dark, sinister person, and Mantle’s task was to revive him as a as a modern man, as maybe the first modern man. And so her first the first two books in the series are magnificent. I’m really looking forward to the third. And it got us thinking, what, who who deserves the Thomas Cromwell treatment now? What episode, what person, what moment deserves a magnificent historical novel. So I have a bunch of thoughts about this, but I’m sure you know you’re the best.
S16: Yeah, I am.
S20: Okay. Well, I have like a lot of them and some of them are some of them are counterfactual history and some of them are real.
S19: So I would like to see both, I feel, to two women who have these cameos in history.
S20: And you’re always like, what? What else happened to them? What were their lives like? How did they happen? Sacajawea and Pocahontas, both of whom have these small but seminal moments in American history. And, you know, like there’s magnificent things and like fascinating things and tragic things, I think, especially in life, a book on us that we miss. So I would love to to see that. I would love a novel. I mean, Harriet Tubman had just gotten a movie treatment her life.
S19: When you go read about her life, it is just you cannot believe that any person could have led this life and to have a novel especially. So it’s a whole second half post-Civil War life of hers. That’s incredible. So Harriet Tubman, another one, obviously, you know, Ulysses S. Grant, who had the greatest American life of all. And he is he’s our Thomas Cromwell. He’s somebody who rose from nothing to the most important fact in American history in my book is at an eighteen late 1860, Ulysses S. Grant is basically indigent, begging for work on the streets of St.. Lewis, then, is a then as a junior clerk in a leather goods store in Galena, Illinois. And by 1862, he’s the most successful general in the Union Army. By eighteen 64, he is the commander of all U.S. forces by 1868. He’s the president by acclamation. You know what? What a story. What a story that is.
S29: And then B and then is and then falls from grace in history for.
S20: And falls from grace in history. Yes. But not not because he wasn’t a great man. Just because the lost cause a couple more. Zanoni, keep going.
S16: I got so mad.
S24: I would like I would like a counterfactuals. If Lincoln loses the 1864 election, I’d love to write a novel about what would happen had Lincoln lost the 1864 election. Go be a great story. I would like a. All right. A couple more. Just come more in the civil war vein. James Longstreet. Yes. Confederate general.
S21: Who? Now wait. Who?
S22: Yeah. I’m thinking of turning. Sorry, sorry. After the then.
S24: Then he became. He became a he became a republic and became a radical Republican. He helped Grant actually fight and suppress the Klan in the South.
S19: And, you know, his was loathed, loathed, loathed, loathed by white southerners in the late 19th century, but had just had an amazing life.
S6: And then I would like a novelistic treatment of King Solomon, who’s probably someone who’s done this. There’s been I know there’s been novels about King David, but King Solomon has there’s there’s a similarly cool book to be written there. And finally. I want a novelistic treatment of the Minnesota starvation experiment, which was this thing that happened in World War Two, where conscientious objectors in 1944 subject were volunteer to subject themselves to severe starvation of the sort that people suffering in Europe were going through to see what would happen to you when you were starved. And it was a voluntary thing. And people did this. And it’s just kind of crazy episode in American history that we’d like to hear it. breedon novel. So get to it. Novelists.
S12: So I thought of a bunch of books that already exist that are in this vein that I really like. So I’ll start with that. And then I do have an idea. So I just read Searcy by I think the author’s name is Madeline Miller, which was like a novel from the point of view of Searcy. Sort of like, what’s the name of the novel from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West.
S1: They remind Wicked. Yeah, wicked. Wicked. Sorry, it’s famous. I should have remembered that. They reminded me of that in a funny way. And also of books like The Red Tent, which is the point of view of Dina in the Bible, which may be a sort of like your King David idea.
S5: David, I feel like there’ve been a number of those books which are so when they’re well done, they’re really vivid and evocative and I tend to really love them. I was also thinking of The Good Lord Bird by James McBride, which is from the point of view of John Brown. And is this kind of crazy, picaresque tale which I totally enjoyed. And then I would really like to read a novel from the point of view of one of the women in what was called the White Rose, which is this resistance group to the third round, the Nazis in the early forties, and it included married couples. They were really trying to undermine the Nazis and the Gestapo.
S17: And many of them were actually like sentenced to death or went to prison. And I’m sure there is a book about them, but they just seem so ripe for like novel flesh Netflix treatment.
S18: John, you got any?
S10: Well, I have two. One is a period and one is a person. I mean, the 1920s, the period between the First World War and the market crash. I have just immense new fascination for one, because of the brutality and ugliness and the and the despair coming out of the First World War and then the people and then the countries and art and music and and culture that was that blossomed out of that in part because people felt at least then that the writers felt like there was everything had been blown up and they created this amazing burst of creativity. But you also had Babe Ruth and you had prohibition and you had women getting the vote. And it’s in the Harlem Renaissance. And so it’s just it seems to me, a really fertile and interesting time. And then basically in 1929, it all goes to hell. And then you basically that keeps happening until the end of the Second World War, even if even as things get better under Roosevelt, you then life is still lived with with you, sort of nervous, short breaths as a part of that. I’m fascinated, which I didn’t realize until I was working on the book of the absolute catastrophic fall for Herbert Hoover. I mean, we all knew about him when when when he fell. Of course. But when he isn’t. When? When Roosevelt beats him.
S9: But I had I had not realized what a hero he was for Europe after the First World War. Yeah, I mean, he was. And then when he was in the administration again. Yeah. Yeah. And so. So both in the administration and then for Europe, this amazing effort at massively coordinating relief effort. He was basically the savior seen as the savior of Europe. And then also in the administration. And he just has all of these fascinating quirks. So I think something that got at Hoover, the problem is I think he’s not a well, I don’t know, haven’t done the work yet, but there’s somebody in someone’s hands. Hoover could be an interesting character because he has such a crash.
S6: So one hundred percent with you. As soon as you start to talk about the 20th of like, you know who you know who should be.
S5: That’s sort of an Alexander Herbert Hoover kind of idea. Right. Like this unlikely figure who you think you know, but actually mattered in ways that you didn’t know yet.
S15: He John, didn’t he have a return after his fall as well? Didn’t he come in even post-World War 2?
S9: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yes. I mean. Well, and this I’m a little out of my depth here, but but he one part of his life that I know about is that he was the author of two Count Em two Hoover reports. He was he was tasked by Truman to basically improve the executive branch and the way the government works. And so imagine that. Imagine if this person who was seen as a total goat of the opposite party was then goat in the old terms, not the greatest of all. Right. Exactly. Goat in the old terms was then hired by or asked.
S13: And given this important work by a Democratic president, it just shows us how things have changed. But yes, and that was part of his his resurgence. And also, obviously, at Stanford, he’s you know, there’s the Hoover Tower and the collection of World War One papers and that are all part of the Hoover Institution. So he. Which is, I should say. Would you. Which you might not imagine if somebody left the office in as foul odor as he did. And also there was just the personal. By the time he left office, one of his aides said talking to him was like speaking to somebody who had sat in a bath of black ink. He was just totally destroyed by his inability to get a handle on what was happening to the country.
S15: Good. Awesome novelists, all our listening novelists get to work, Curtis Sittenfeld. You have finished your novel. We’ve given you 17 ideas.
S26: Geraldine Brooks get to work on one of them.
S5: Also Geraldine Brooks’s sprites. Amazing historical fiction. Love her work.
S8: Yeah. Hilary Mantel, you’ve got nothing to do. Get on.