S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership. Enjoy this episode of The Gabfest contains explicit language.
S2: Hello and welcome to the Slate political gabfest for September 10th. Twenty twenty, the rage. In addition, I am David Plotz, still not quite ready to announce my next thing. So I’m just David Plotz again in Washington, D.C. I’m joined from New Haven, Connecticut, by Emily Bazelon of the New York Times Magazine and Yale University Law School. Hello, Emily.
S3: Good morning. It is raining here, which is nice and soothing, actually.
S4: And from New York City, I think. I’m guessing. Yeah, I’m just going to assume New York City. John Dickerson of CBS 60 Minutes. Hello, John.
S5: Hello, David. Hello, Emily.
S4: It’s probably raining there, too. On today’s gabfest. Bob Woodward has a new book, Rage, which. Has all kinds of interesting revelations about the president, maybe not revelations, because they kind of confirm everything we know, notably that he minimized the virus. This comes a week after the president was revealed to have grossly insulted America’s war dead. Will any of this affect the race at all? Then the Justice Department, the bar of Justice Department, has seized. Control of a case, the president’s defense in a lawsuit brought by Eugene, Carol, a lawsuit against the president over her accusation that he he raped her and then then his defamation of her in response to her, her accusation. What happens when the government is warped, when justice is warped and twisted to protect the president’s private interests? Then the brilliant and delightful box journalist Matthew Yglesias has written a fascinating and audacious book, One Billion Americans The Case for Thinking Bigger. He will join us to talk about it. Plus, we will have cocktail chatter. And dear ones, we have a live show coming at you next week. We are taking part in the Texas Tribune Festival virtually this year. And we’re going to do another streaming live show, our second one of the pandemic. And best of all, Jamelle Bouie. Dear Jamelle Bouie is joining us, New York Times columnist, and he’s going to join us for that whole show. And we hope to see you as well. We’re going to stream live on Slate’s YouTube and Facebook pages at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, September 16th. And for links and details, go to Slate Dotcom Slash live. So I will posit that none of the three of us have read Bob Woodward’s book, which has just come out. It’s called Rage. It includes pieces of 18 interviews that the that he did with the president over the past year or so. And it includes the remarkable fact which we can talk about the ethics of this, but that back months and months ago when the president was minimizing the virus to the country and talking about how it wasn’t a big deal, he was acknowledging to Woodward what a big deal the virus was. These revelations in the Woodward book, and there are others to which we can talk about, comes a week after an amazing story in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg, which was the story confirmed and its general outlines by CNN and Fox News, among others, that the president referred to American war dead as losers and suckers. I just you know, there’s no there’s no revelation of President Trump’s cruelty, selfishness and immorality that would surprise anyone or anyone who’s been following him at any time. And yet, you know, still is somewhat shocking when another one comes. Jon, my question really, because it all feels like this is just about the presidential election at this point, because people know what the president’s character is or they don’t. Does any of this matter does the Woodward stuff matter to the denigration of the war dead matter?
S6: So who knows?
S7: The reason you ask that question, though, is because we’re so polarized that we’ve seen very little has changed the nature and shape of the race. And even the president’s approval rating that he gets pounded and pounded by his approval rating falls into the mid 30s, but doesn’t go down into the teens where you would sometimes expect it to be based on some of the public revelations. Just sorting the two things you mentioned on the military front. Eighty three percent of Americans, according to Pew, have confidence in the in the military. It is by most polls the most respected institution in the country. So saying anything bad about the military is is the most dangerous thing you could do of all the groups you could talk about. Secondly, his constituency is represented by a lot of people in the military and he’s made a strong play to them over the course of his administration. So this has the potential to pretend to soften a little bit. Maybe one of the things he’s also trying to do, though, is not just keep his base, but grow his base among non college white voters, among non college white voters. This is not a good message to have if he wants to increase his is number of that group that turns out, which is a harder thing to do than just merely bringing in the people who are habituated to voting.
S6: He’s trying to get people to have never voted before to vote now. And so that’s all the reasons why this may be a little bit more of a problem. One of the things I’m really interested in is whether there’s been a constant culture clash between the president and the military in the sense that they they are taught to live by a certain code that that represents a certain set of behaviors. Now, whether they always live up to that code is one thing, but they are taught repeatedly to basically behave in a way that’s completely different than the way the president does. And I’ve always wondered whether that would matter with them. With respect to Woodward, I’ll stop talking. But but the big thing, obviously, is that by underplaying the threat from the coronavirus, the president is failing at his single most important duty, which is keeping people safe. And so and it’s not just a single lapse, it’s a protracted, extensive lapse.
S7: And he wasn’t just trying not to sow panic, as he said, but he was actively undermining those who were warning about the coronavirus, telling people it was a Democratic plot and that the media was behind it. And that is particularly pernicious because it’s not just underplaying. It’s teaching people to see anybody who warns of the coronavirus threat as themselves worthy of suspicion and to worry about them when they’re warning about the coronavirus, which builds in a skepticism at just the moment you want to be doing the exact opposite, which is giving people clear information.
S1: Yeah, I found this actually staggering. I mean, Trump chose division over this enormous looming public health threat. And what we see in this quote is that he has total clarity over the facts of the threat. He said this is deadly stuff. You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus. And that at one point he talks about it being like five percent lethal mortality rate as opposed to around one percent for the flu. Like that’s a grasp of the basic facts of coronavirus. And at the time, the notion that it was airborne was not at all the sort of consensus, public health message.
S3: I mean, this is around the time when we were all like disinfecting things that came into our houses because we were worried about surface transmission. There could have been real lives saved. I think if this had been clearly telegraphed from the White House on down, as opposed to the constant battling scrambled messages that Trump was providing by undermining people like Dr. Fauci who are trying to provide this clear scientific fact. So to hear him say it cogently at this early point in February, I, I thought it was shocking in a forget the politics, just in a sort of like leader of the nation way. And it’s very hard to understand how he made this choice.
S4: There was a really interesting kind of feedback loop thing that someone tweeted to all of us, I think, and I’m sorry, I don’t have it right in front of me. But the theory it’s interesting theory, which is that Trump sets out to minimize it because he decides for strategic political reasons or because now he says because he didn’t want to panic the country, although God knows he’s happy to panic the country over anything else, but he was going to minimize it. So then Fox parrots that back to him and Fox says, oh, it’s no it’s no big deal. And then the president starts to actually believe that it’s no big deal. And so this becomes actual an actual belief system. Do you think there’s anything to that or do you think it’s all it’s all totally cynical throughout, John?
S6: Well, I think it’s a fascinating thing because what he starts to see is proof of his underlying, I think, the reason for his underlying. Downplaying of it, which is that he starts to see that it is winning with his base to keep underplaying it, and then he sees it’s winning within his base to attack the people who are warning about the coronavirus. And so given what we know about him, which is that he loves to hear the roar of the crowd, and we know that that was part of the motivation behind the NFL taking on the NFL players who chose to kneel during the national anthem. You can almost see the origin moment when he mentions that a rally and it gets a strong response and then he keeps going after it. So I think there’s plenty of evidence to support that narrative, whether that was the underlying narrative. I think that the distinction here is that when the president sees it in his political interest, he’s willing to fan the flames. I mean, he has tweeted twice as much about the threat from mail in ballots as he has the threat from the coronavirus. Think about that, something that’s on its way to killing one hundred and ninety thousand Americans. He is more quiet about it than he is the threat from mail in ballots. Obviously, what he has tweeted a great deal more about the about the violence in Portland and Kenosha than he has either of those, then that is anywhere close to about the coronavirus. And I think the distinction is those things that he thinks help him politically, he’s willing to sow panic, something that if he puts his hands on it by assuming the role as a public health official, then he should, because he’s the most he has the best platform in the country. If he assumes that role, he puts his sticky hands on the thing, then he’s responsible for it. And he is clearly all along and including in Woodward interviews, tried to kind of duck and wiggle around responsibility. So why hang a lamp on this bummer of a thing by talking about how bad it is? Well, the answer is because it’s your job.
S4: Emily, you had an amazing I wish we could show an audio your your facial and hand gestures during that. But going back to the original question, I begin with, you think any of this matters to the election? Again, like he is doing his job badly. He has betrayed the public trust. We all know this. But really at this point, it is like I think basically people have decided the job is to get him out of office. It’s not to expect that any of his sins will be actually punished or held accountable. He will be held accountable. So does any of this actually affect the dynamic of the race?
S1: Well, what matters is whether there are more people who think they want to get him out of office. And if nothing else, this change the subject back to the coronavirus and his failures of leadership on that front from a week in which he was on political turf that he prefers, i.e. protests and racial injustice, which he doesn’t want to talk about and would frame differently. So, you know, in that sense, I think it’s somewhat helpful to remind people, especially because there were polls last week showing that people’s concerns about the coronavirus are beginning to ebb. And that could, of course, change depending on what happens around the country with the virus between now and Election Day. But it remains a serious threat, according to all the public health folks who are warning about going inside as the months get colder and the effect that could have. So to the degree that we absorb, this is a fact of missed opportunity, this moment of national unity and prevention around a strategy of preventing airborne transmission that would have really changed things. I think that it could give some more voters pause about whether they want this person in charge who blew this huge national emergency.
S7: I agree. This is something we can evaluate in real time. In other words, this isn’t just about what he did in the one month when the decision was his alone and the stakes were as high as they possibly can be. We’ve explained all the ways in which that’s bad. But in in his characterization about it, he wasn’t just trying not to sow panic. He was actively pushing an alternative story line. So he’s being dishonest about his previous dishonesty, which means in real time, he is continuing to undermine the most important thing in a public health crisis, as our friend Amanda Ripley would would tell us, which is clean, clear information. You need to know that what you’re getting is the best of what’s available because you’re going to need to make your own public health decisions about this. And every day the president kept this quiet or tried to minimize it, more people were out spreading it. Well, now you there’s no wonder that. Sixty five percent, according to CBS, this last poll, don’t trust any vaccine that would come out under this administration. It’s because this original instinct to deceive has snowballed in so many different ways. When the press secretary says no, he never tried to downplay it. And The Washington Post has already collected a video of thirty two instances in which he said the virus would simply go away. It’s a real time indication of thoroughgoing deceit that’s been at the center of this response, which only sows more suspicion about future health decisions that are going to have to be made. And as we talked about on the show last week, they’re sticky about this vaccine district. So it’s a problem in the real time, this isn’t just about the past. And then finally, whether anybody cares about this, we just don’t know. But it’s clearly one of their objectives is to try to get some of these people who’ve left Donald Trump since he took office. Those suburban Republicans to take a second look at him and his family quite rightly points out this puts it on new turf. He was trying to panic the suburbanites. And this is a fact of turf in which he is much less comfortable and he’s on the record. This isn’t anonymous. The president is literally on the record in real time showing that he knows more than what he’s telling the public.
S4: I want to close this topic just because this topic is sort of cycling back and forth between the military and the Woodward book. But to going back to this military. This disrespect, this is so many examples of the president’s scorn and derision of the military he referred to dating, he referred to his own Vietnam as dating in the 1980s. He bragged about faking his bone spurs to avoid Vietnam and called the people who served in Vietnam suckers. He called John McCain a loser. He said he preferred soldiers who don’t get captured. He has avoided going to Dover to meet the remains of the dead. He lied about that. He is insulted Gold Star parents. And then this thing about losers and suckers. And yet there’s been relative silence. There’s been actually total silence from the people who could provide the most damning confirmation evidence about this. Jim, I presume that your friend, Jim Mattis, John, has heard similar and worse that the president has said John Kelly, who was his chief of staff, has surely heard similar and worse. Why, particularly in the case of Mattis and Kelly, who served this president, have they not spoken up publicly on the record to really, you know, really lay into him about this? They are loyal to a system that is being destroyed by someone who does not respect it. And yet they they they, you know, just feels like I mean, I understand the bind they’re in, but I’m surprised that neither of us has actually spoken up.
S6: Well, it’s a fascinating question. And there is some indication that Mattis is on the record with Woodward in a way that he has not been on the record with some other journalists who went to whom he has said the same thing, but not on the record.
S8: And to give you the Mattis view of it, as I’ve heard him articulate it is. He believes in a system, and even though he believes the president is threatening that system and again, it’s not just like saying bad things, it’s the way in which he treats the military, the way in which he undermines the discipline and set of values that are at the center of the military in the way he uses it essentially as a prop. And remember, all the people have spoken out about the way the president has used the military. I mean, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, Stanley McChrystal, Admiral McRaven, both of whom were head of Joint Special Operations and led forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mattis Kelly, I mean, they’ve all spoken out about his relationship with the military, not just his other issues in office, but what Mattis would say is he’s a threat to a system. But that system, if I think it should be retained, also requires that I hold my tongue because of my position in the military for so many years and that to do the same thing he’s doing, which is essentially rip apart the system in order, because I’ve made a judgment about what’s necessary in the moment, is to repeat what he’s doing and that if you believe in the system, you have to live by its codes.
S7: That’s his argument. I think you can make a strong case against that, because as you point out, David, there’s no point in upholding the strictures of a system if the system itself doesn’t exist any longer, after it’s after it’s over.
S8: But that’s nevertheless his position, which is that you basically can’t stop behavior by repeating it yourself.
S4: Aegean Carroll, journalist, writer, really interesting figure, says that Donald Trump raped her many years ago in a department store dressing room, she wrote a book detailing this allegation. Trump lied, said he had never met her, that a claim that was easily disproved with photographs of the two of them together, then insulted her, said she wasn’t his type. She has sued him for defamation in New York. And this week, just as he was about to be required to produce a DNA sample and some other materials, Trump or to be more exact, his minions at the Department of Justice under Bill Barr did something extraordinary. What is it that they did, Emily?
S1: They filed a motion in court seeking to intervene and replace Trump’s private lawyers with the Justice Department. To do this, they have to say that the disparaging of Egin. Carol that Trump did when she came forward, I think last year was remarks he made in the course of his presidential duty. It was under the scope of his employment. That’s the standard for the federal government stepping in and representing you if you are a federal official. And this move not only involves the Justice Department in defending Trump’s behavior, but it would also require the suit to be dismissed entirely, because if you are being sued in your official capacity, you can’t actually be sued for defamation. And this was in some ways a kind of shocking move because it seemed to suggest that anything Trump says, however sexist, insulting, scurrilous, comes under his official duties. Bill Barr is playing down the kind of unusual nature of this motion and in his defense is this Court of appeals decision for the District of Columbia Circuit in two thousand six. So I’m just going to lay out the facts of that case because I wonder how similar you guys think this is. So this Republican congressman from North Carolina was sued for defamation because he was explaining why his wife had left Washington. And he said she was dissatisfied because she was uncomfortable living across the street from the headquarters of the Council on American Islamic Relations after 9/11, because this congressman said that the Council on American Islamic Relations was, quote, the fundraising arm for Hezbollah.
S3: And so the question is like, OK, when he made that false claim about this organization, which goes by the acronym CARE, was he saying that in the scope of his employment in the D.C. Circuit? Said yes and threw out that lawsuit. So is that the same as what Trump said about Eugene, Carol?
S4: Well. I don’t think obviously what Trump said about aging, Carol, is different than the concerns, things that happened long before he was president. Concerns his private sexual behavior and possible crime that he committed. And that’s very different. I do think that there is this way in which when you are the president, every almost anything you do because of how the American presidency is covered and that the beast that it’s become about, which John can speak better, anything you do is news. And also, if I if I believe that Trump was responding to a reporter’s question about this, I don’t think Trump went out and volunteered. I never met her. And she’s not my type. I think she was he was asked about it by a reporter in the course of doing his job as president of talking to the media. And so, you know, I it’s it’s it would I’m not sure. Yeah, I guess I feel like when the president has to respond to reporter’s questions, he’s doing his job.
S9: So, yeah, I think I do think that here’s what I don’t get to. Essentially, this has this turns the case into a case against the United States, not against Donald Trump. Is that right, Emily?
S3: Is that a way to think about that? And it would just get rid of the whole defamation claim before any materials get before DNA gets to the United States?
S9: Can’t defame a person, but Donald Trump could. Precisely. OK, so that’s so it’s a neat legal sleight of hand that might even have some backing behind it. And so I guess to the extent that it’s successful, then this goes away and there’s no DNA taken and we have no more chapters of this. But it’s not a great time to have this particular chapter. Again, we should have the massive role in the massive asterisk on the dolly here, which is maybe nothing matters in this campaign and it’s all about turnout and nobody changes their mind. But if you were trying to change somebody’s mind, one person could try to change the mind of a suburban woman. And so having a moment where there’s a flash point and a conversation about the president’s past behavior with women seems like something you don’t want to have. And also then to add in the kind of corrupt sounding, even if it’s a legally defensible, corrupt sounding idea that the president gets defended by Bill Barr, just keeps it in the air again. And to go back to Emily’s good point, this is turf I should think you wouldn’t want to be on. So, you know, even if it’s legally possible to press it, why do so? I think, Emily, you’ve already answered the question, which is minimal pain at the moment to avoid maximum pain of a DNA test.
S3: Emily, I want make sense. I mean, the other thing I’ve been thinking about is, does this make sense? Like, why can’t you be sued for defamation in your federal capacity? Like, I don’t. Why is that the right answer? I don’t get that, actually.
S4: Well, I’m not sure about the. Can you be sued for defamation? Overall, if you look at the whole government, I think I know Emily, maybe you can trace this history for me because I can’t remember, but I remember knowing a lot about it back when the Paula Jones suit was going forward. I think it is actually. There’s something really screwy with the idea that the president can be subject to civil suits while in office, I guess.
S3: Well, that is the rule from the Paula Jones suit, where the Supreme Court said, like you say, this is going to be a big distraction and a problem for you. Tough like you can sit for depositions just like everybody else.
S4: It’s so it is massively distracting. And it’s you shouldn’t you know, you shouldn’t toll the statute of limitations. You should hold should should toll, whatever you whatever the verb is, you should freeze it so that and as soon as the president is out of office, it should be carrot, you know, the suit should be pursued with expeditiously and should be allowed to go forward expeditiously. But it does seem really weird that president can be subject to civil cases while in office. And it does seem hugely distracting. I know with this president, everything is a distraction. He doesn’t he’s like he doesn’t do any work as far as I can tell. And so it’s if he sat for a deposition or didn’t, it’s not like it’s he is distracting from something else that he’s doing. But as a general principle, I think it’s weird that the president should have to go through this suit as president and it can hold I don’t know why Eugene Carroll suit shouldn’t be held until after he’s president, but why like, why is that? Because it’s so distracted. It’s so distracting and confusing for the country. And yes, she does. And he’s he may have done her huge wrong, but like the presidency requires a certain focus and and concentration. And if the president is going to be dragged into legal proceedings, which are then going to be publicized and going to be turned into media circuses, it’s it’s pretty damaging to their ability to focus and to the public’s ability to concentrate on things that actually matter more.
S3: So I don’t know, I mean, this suit was totally out of the news and presumably mostly out of President Trump’s head until Bill Barr made this unusual motion. And I guess I just at this moment in time, I’m sensitive to any shifts that make the president less subject to the rule of law. Like, that’s hardly the direction we need to go in. I mean, I don’t this isn’t like civil war I would choose to die on. I had mixed feelings about the Paula Jones ruling at the time. But like, I don’t know, I sort of feel like it’s OK for us to have to think about these accusations. And and the courts have lots of barriers against super spurious lawsuits for zapping them early on.
S5: And yet, on the third hand, although I like the final point you made, Emily. One thing I wonder is, is we are in a particular moment where your point, Emily, is right, which is, wait a minute, don’t take any fascinators off of the presidency because so many of them are busted already. We need to keep the last little bits of Scotch tape holding this thing together, so don’t take off another one. However, you could also imagine a situation which you say no, put all the previous fashion passengers back on in law and norms by electing better presidents, actually punishing them when they don’t fulfill the job that they are supposed to be doing and then take away this one, because it does have the effect the day to day I could go for.
S6: And but but yeah, I think it’s one of the hardest things I’ve tried to do in my book with saying we’ve got a crazy situation now. But but but all the solutions we would we would have happened today might have these longer lasting effects that we should think about. So we got three hands.
S4: I mean, yeah. I mean, Emily, the effect of allowing the suit to go forward is that the president is now dragooned, the Department of Justice and his attorney general into making a preposterously broad new legal claim about the the the president’s untouchability and so that we’ve now. The fact of this, had we not had the civil suit going forward, we wouldn’t now have this precedent of the president.
S3: Because he ran a response you don’t like, that doesn’t seem right, like the fact that bars willing to do this means we shouldn’t have this process at all. I mean, like, let’s go back to the efforts to get Trump’s tax returns, which are different because they’re coming from a congressional subpoena. And the investigation into fraud by the district attorney in New York, like Trump, could have just turned over the tax returns. You could have turned over this material. The fact that it’s turned into this huge imbroglio, the Justice Department is making all these problematic arguments like that’s their choice. It’s not like it’s inherent in the legal action that those things have.
S4: True. True, definitely. I guess I just think that the private civil action of this nature regarding events that occurred many, many years ago, it does seem really not very productive for anybody for this thing to be happening right at this second.
S3: Although, remember, just factually, it’s not it’s not merely the sexual assault allegations and the fact that’s not the basis of the lawsuit at all. It’s the remarks that Trump made last year when these allegations came out, which he was asked about a life like you. If it was old, it would fall out with the statute of limitations would have run already.
S4: Right. But it was Trump like being asked about it by reporters, like she created it by suing. She brought a lawsuit. She wrote a book. He and and and he was asked to respond to the book. And what is he supposed to do? We didn’t have to call her a liar. He didn’t have to call her a liar. He didn’t he didn’t have to call her a liar. That’s true. But but what did he say? I raped her. Therefore, you can’t sue me for defamation. I mean, I don’t know. It’s he he was duped. Yes, it was he he he probably lied about something and he probably defamed her. But it just feels like it’s it was a trap set for him. And I don’t mind like he’s he’s such a wicked person and he would do anything to anybody. But I just as a precedent for the presidency to have, like, these sort of basically minor private matters kind of swirling around while you are trying to be president and trying to keep the country focused on more important matters seems like a bad thing. So I would again, Trump is Trump makes liars and fools of us all all the time and makes us look like idiots when we try to defend larger principles. I just guess I feel like the larger principle, which is the two civil suits regarding sexual matters that I can recall of the presidency, which is Paula Jones. And this one don’t seem to me to be like really good, have been good for the country in any respect.
S1: And yet if you go back to the Paula Jones lawsuit, like it was revealing about Bill Clinton in ways that we then experienced again in his affair with Monica Lewinsky, like it was telling that lawsuit and that episode. And I wonder if there is something actually to be learned from these moments of questionable behavior. I also wouldn’t call them minor private matters. But, you know, I mean, look like if I was ranking what I want the president to be subject to and the rule of law, I would put private civil lawsuits toward the bottom of lots of other things. I’m just not I don’t know, I’m less ready to let go of them entirely, though I can imagine them being misused. I’m not sure. Looking back, I think that the Paula Jones suit against Clinton should have been stopped.
S4: For a couple of years back in the early 2010s, I had the joy of being Matt Iglesias’s boss and Ed, this was back before he co-founded Fox, before he started the Weeds podcast, before he became the Twitter giant that he is today. But it was like a real like one of my favorite things that I used to do was just to kind of walk into Matt’s office and then sometimes with the story ideas, sometimes to respond to one of his story ideas, but just to kind of bounce something off of him generally. And you could not go into Matt’s office without having a delightful and unlikely conversation. He would undertake any intellectual challenge. Consider any question. It was made him an ideal colleague. And I still remember the conversation, which maybe, Matt, you turned into a piece I don’t remember about the economics of Pan Am, The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games. Oh, yeah. Geography like how it made no sense. And it was I think about that like at least once a week anyway. So Matt has now spun one of his speculative ideas into an entire marvelous book, One Billion Americans A Case for Thinking Bigger. He’s going to tell us what that means in a minute. But in any case, Matt, welcome back to the Gabfest and congratulations on the book.
S10: Well, thank you. I’m really glad to be here. I feel like this this book is like a it’s a very slate kind of idea. So I’m really glad to be back back with the old gang here.
S4: All right. Well, bring it. So tell us what so what is the main thrust of your argument that there should be one billion Americans? How do we get to one billion Americans? Why do we want one billion Americans? What is that going to get us briefly?
S10: The high level idea is a lot of people are concerned about China. They seem really bad. President Trump wants to ban their video meme apps. But if you think about what sort of drives is this geopolitical competition, why is China a big deal in the world? It’s because there’s so many people there really not because of like the particulars of anything else. And so the supposition here is, well, maybe we should try to close that gap, you know, by having more people in the United States. You know, people sometimes ask me, why a billion? It’s because it’s around. No, you know, it’s not it’s not brain surgery. But, you know, the the idea of the book is to kind of think through the implications of that. Right. Because it’s like an easy thing to say. You’re sitting around the office here. You’re bouncing around like, what if we just had way more people? And so you might think, oh, there’s all kinds of problems with that. We’ve run out of water. There’s no place for them to live. But the book is about really sort of taking you through it. And you see, that’s not the case. At one billion Americans, we would have the population density of France. We would have about half the density of Germany. These are, you know, nice, comfortable countries. We would still have way more water on a per capita basis than most countries. But then, you know, we would need places for them to live. So what about housing policy? We need ways to get around to read about transportation. And there’s a lot of economic implications of like how do we get the people right? What do we do to support Americans who want to have more children? What do we do to bring more immigrants here? How do we work that out? So I wanted the book to be a lot of books that people like me. Right. Are sort of boring because you go through nine chapters of like here, I’m going to convince you this thing is a big problem. And then at the end, there’s this kind of unpersuasive, you know, solutions chapter. So I want to do the opposite, like frame a problem quickly. There’s a lot more people in China and then go through the solutions at great length because I think they’re interesting sort of on their own terms, whether or not you, you know, ultimately sign up for the one billion.
S3: So let’s talk about housing, because I think you’re framing, as you’ve just laid out, as has all these geopolitical implications internationally. But really, I feel like the heart of the book is about these domestic concerns to follow, to follow masterclasses on Twitter is to be subject to a constant barrage of tweets about housing.
S11: Basically, I.
S3: I value this about mass Twitter feed in my family. It is a frequent subject of conversation. Totally agree. Yes.
S1: I live in Connecticut, one of the states in the union with the worst, most regressive, segregating shitty housing policies, because we have all these teeny little towns and they all set their own rules and their rules are often set to be quite exclusionary. And there’s not very much sharing of resources with the the baby cities of Connecticut, Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven. So how do you imagine actually changing that, like the one billion Americans, if it happened, would create, like you say? I mean, obviously a real need for housing is that do we have to have the massive wave of immigration in order to deal with our housing policy?
S10: No, look, I mean, housing is an issue that we ought to address, you know, one way or the other. I think an obvious objection to more people is, well, it’ll make our housing problems worse. But the know current housing situation is not great on its own terms. Just this morning before we recorded President Trump was. Tweeting about Cory Booker and his plan to destroy, destroy the suburbs and its residents, he is busy.
S11: And so, you know, so but this is a real piece of legislation, actually, that the president is talking about.
S10: And his idea would be to say, OK, federal transportation money will not go unless it will only go to cities and states that agree to, you know, eliminate some of their exclusionary zoning policies. The way it’s actually written, his legislation is a little sort of vague and high level. But, you know, Department of Housing and Urban Development could take a look and could say, you know, a given state, Connecticut is a great example. You know, you have towns where the price of housing is astronomically high, but nothing is being built. And then you have other towns where people are very, very poor and educational opportunities are bad. You say look like Connecticut. If you want this transportation money, like you got to do something about that. You’ve got to let people. But some apartment buildings up in Greenwich or wherever, I don’t even know what it’s a duplex once in a while maybe.
S11: Yeah, here and there.
S10: States also do it on their own. Right. So California was considering this bill to allow duplexes to be built sort of all throughout the state. It passed the state Senate and it passed the state assembly, which you might think would mean it would happen. But thanks to some weird procedural shenanigans, it wasn’t done with the right timing. So it’s now expired at the end of the legislative session. But that was a good idea. The city of Portland, Oregon, they passed a big reform last month that’s going to allow for sort of four unit apartments throughout the city and six unit apartments. If they’re sort of nonprofit with a subsidized element, it’s like a very lefty version of it. So, you know, you have kind of like left wing affordable housing kind of spins on this and more right wing deregulatory spins on it. But the basic aim of any kind of housing policy reform is to take the decision making up to a higher level. So you’re not looking at a tiny New England town or little neighborhood association here in D.C. or a community board in New York. But instead of having a state saying this is a problem, we need to let more people build houses someplace. And we’ve seen like some good steps along those lines. But, you know, we need more math.
S8: How you mentioned that there’s an absence of shared purpose. How how does this create that shared purpose? Because I can imagine everybody like focusing on all the challenges this would have posed. So how how do you imagine that this excites people’s desire for a shared purpose?
S10: Yeah, you know, I mean, I think in my dippie, idealistic mode, it seems to me that, you know, historically, when the country has faced international challenges, whether that’s the Cold War, the World Wars, things like that, that that’s when, you know, a very big, very diverse country, ethnically diverse, geographically dispersed ideological disagreements, which have always been with us, that those have tended to be the times when people say, you know what, what do we really have in common here? Right. That it’s it’s easy to get hung up on kind of what divides us. And, of course, you always have disagreements. So part of my hope to be try to be a little optimistic about the future is that as the kind of unipolar moment in international affairs fades away, that that may have some domestic benefits. I mean, I’m trying to offer one big idea here for how to think about that and some ways to fulfill it. But just separately, analytically, I mean, if we keep on with the level of like culture war craziness that dominates our politics now, we’re obviously not going to which is not going to get that far as a country. Now, obviously, I started writing this book before the covid-19 pandemic, and the results, I think, have not been that encouraging about the idea that an external threat would help pull people together. That has not been the lived experience of this disease. On the other hand, I mean, it shows the costs, right? I mean, if you turn everything from like masks to, you know, what do we call the virus into fodder for just endless sort of culture war infighting. It’s like it’s crippling. And now we’re all like, we’ve got no kids in school and it sucks.
S8: And just I’m going a little out of turn here, but it’s it’s it’s highly irregular for a leader who’s gotten to the level they are to not actually run at one of these challenges like covid and see it as an opportunity to do great things.
S7: Because with with challenge comes opportunity. So we’re in a we are all that you say is true, but we also have such an idiosyncratically leader responding to it in a way not familiar with normal leaders.
S10: Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, you’re you’re like deep into presidential history all the time, John. And like, you know.
S10: I mean, there were even these reports that, like Bill Clinton would sometimes get sad that his presidency was such a kind of benign time that it didn’t let him be the kind of great leader that presidents want to be. Of course, you know, nobody I hope nobody like wishes for war or terrorist attacks or things like that. But those are the the times when sensible politicians try to sort of seize the mantle of leadership, bring people together. And, you know, like most leaders around the world have high approval ratings now as a result of the pandemic. It’s like let them show off their chops and be on camera a lot. And and Trump is just weird in that regard. I mean, you have to figure any sort of more normal Republican, even if their policies would have been similar in some ways, just would have had a different tone and a different politics around this.
S4: All right. I want to get back to the billion. That’s a big number above that number. So you rightly make this comparison to China and the fact that China is risen to vast global power clearly is set on being at least the equal of the United States, if not superior to us. And is has this belt and road. It it is the emerging huge power. And we want to match that. And we don’t want we don’t want the world to be run by China. But I want to point to India, which is how does India fit into this model? India also has a billion more than a billion people. But India is not poised to become a global superpower in the way that China is, is a billion people. A billion people is a necessary but not sufficient condition.
S10: Well, you know, it’s interesting, right? I mean, different countries have different sorts of views of things. And I think at one time, you know, Americans were fairly optimistic that China could just sort of grow and would become more integrated into the international system or that the PRC didn’t have a real animating ideology. And so they would be kind of content to tend to their own gardens. It hasn’t worked out that way. You know, India is much poorer than China on a per person basis. So, you know, their aggregate economy is well behind the United States, well behind China, still behind Japan, still behind Germany. So I don’t think we really know. Right. I mean, hopefully, like. India’s economy will continue to grow, and so one of the points I make in the book is that, you know, it may be the case that China stumbles or that India never gets richer and the United States stays, number one, despite a kind of, you know, shrinking population. But that would be sad, too, right? I mean, one of the best things that’s happened over the course of our lifetimes has been the incredible reduction in poverty in China for all the sort of problems with that government and that regime. So we should hope that India does well. We should hope also that they move off some of the, like, Hindu nationalist ideology that’s dominating things there would make India a sort of major power. And it would be interesting, perhaps a democratic power, maybe one were more sympathetic to. But right now, they’re still way, way, way behind China and just sort of basic economic clout and not in a lot a position to go toe to toe with anybody.
S1: One of the focuses of your book is your concern for American families and kids and how much we have created an economy and a system that’s inadequate for the needs of families. You talk about the recognition that though the standard K through 12 public school concept is invaluable, it’s also insanely limited. I think a lot of families are feeling that particularly acutely right now in pandemic land. And again, it seems like we could increase the number of people with kids as a way of increasing their political clout and kind of force the government to deal with it by having a younger population. But we also obviously could just like figure out how to make families lives easier with different kinds of government intervention. And I wonder along those lines what you think is the most promising, like what would you do first if you could wave a magic wand?
S10: I mean, I think just giving money to families with children is very helpful for the United States. I mean, leaving aside anything about population birth rates, anything like that, the United States has an incredibly high child poverty rate. And that’s because most countries just give cash grants to parents of young children. And we don’t we should do that. It would address a very acute, very urgent problem. The evidence, though, also suggests that people would have more children if if we did that, and in particular, if we made it a universal program. Right. There’s there’s sort of two ways to structure programs. We could have a strictly means tested thing. So people who are very poor sort of get the money to lift them over the line. But then we phase it out the way we do with food stamps. Or we could make it more like Social Security. Right. We should say like just as we have a fiscal support for retired people, this is financial support for parents of young children. If we do it that way in a big way, which I think we should, I mean, I think it’s a good moral statement, right? Even if families with low six figure incomes don’t desperately need extra money from the government, still like the statement that children are expensive and parenting is important is one worth making. And, you know, the evidence that researchers have looked at from international context is people would have more children if that was the case. One of the things that really influenced my thinking was when it was pointed out to me that the number of kids that people say they want to have, it fell a lot in the 1970s. Right. The baby boom mentality kind of went away. Feminism, all that stuff we know. But it’s been very steady since the early 80s at about two point five children. But the number of kids that people are I have I have I have three children and want to point. Exactly. But but the number of kids that people actually have has been dwindling down below two. And it keeps slipping a little bit, a little bit each year. So, you know, when we talk about fertility policy or pro nativism, these are words that most people I know are pretty uncomfortable with. I don’t love them either. But we’re really not talking about a sort of like, I don’t know, like a weird, creepy propaganda campaign to convince people that children are good. We’re talking about finding ways to help people meet the family aspirations that they more or less already have. Right. At one point in the book, you know, I have this hypothetical. It’s like, what if we didn’t have public schools at all? And like now we know it’s so good.
S11: It’s a huge pain, right?
S10: Like, it doesn’t, you know, and it’s a particularly acute problem, of course, with everything for for the poor. Right. You really wonder, like, what are kids, you know, whose parents are doing low wage service jobs? That’s the house. Like, how are they going to get by? But it’s a problem for everybody, right? Like middle class families could not sustain two or three child households if. It was just forever going to be the case that there was no public education, that the costs wouldn’t add up, that the time wouldn’t be there, and we actually, though, do so little for families during the summertime before kids are five years old, things like that. And so, you know, in addition to just money, it’s about filling in the gaps to say, look, this is an important public service like the fire department. And it doesn’t just like go away for three months at a time in the middle of the summer because it’s uncomfortable to wear the gear when it’s hot out and just like really like live up to the kind of basic obligations of parenting and family life.
S8: So that I have a two part question, the first of which is not meant to sound the way it’s going to sound. But anyway, does the book require kind of an animating jingoism? Because China has to be a sufficient threat to have propulsive force to get people to entertain the idea? And I don’t actually mean that. But I also wonder, because what you’re talking about is bringing in. Well, anyway, so just that’s that’s the kind of thing that just occurred to me. The other thought is how do you deal with the environmental impact of these numbers?
S10: Mm hmm. So, you know, I don’t like to think of it as jingoistic, but it is it’s patriotic, you know, I mean, I think that this is something that, you know, has kind of changed. As you know, you work on a book, it takes a while. Different things happen in the world. And it’s now sort of came to a kind of be like this is a book with like it’s red, white and blue on the cover. There’s a lot of stars everywhere. The sort of underlying premise is that America is good and we should want America to be the champ. And, you know, some stuff that’s happened in the world sort of causes more people on the left to look askance at some of those ideas. But I think, you know, in the United States, at least, any kind of successful politics is patriotic. Right? I mean, it’s it’s fine to be a leftist intellectual and to weird takes about whatever. But, you know, like Joe Biden, he stands up there with all these and surrounded by American flags. Right. In a way that, like Angela Merkel doesn’t do that actually. Right. You don’t have a politics of patriotism in Germany in the same way. And that’s because Germany and the United States have very different history. It’s an America, you know, sustains itself as a society based on a kind of credal civic nationalism. It’s like the only thing that holds us together in some respects. And all kind of politics taps into that. And so I think this book absolutely does. Right. If you are completely blasé about American leadership in the world, aspects of it don’t seem that compelling. But I just think there’s so much buy in on the idea that that’s important, that it shouldn’t be a huge stumbling block for people. The environment, you know, is a tough one. Right. This is like a big ass question that that I get from people on the left. And I think it starts with recognizing that climate change is really a global problem. Right. So the biggest way that bringing more people into the United States sort of increases environmental problems is if you move here from Nigeria or Haiti or Peru or what have you, you become much wealthier. And as a wealthy American person, your environmental footprint gets way bigger. And then the question becomes like, well, so is our solution to this problem going to be that everyone all around the world should just stay poor forever? Because that would be more convenient. And I don’t think that’s what progressive people think, but it’s definitely what conservatives say progressive people think. Right? It’s a sort of caricatured view. But when you recognize that that’s not going to happen, like the United States is 15 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, China is the number one emitter. India is the number one source of growth. Vietnam is not going to stop industrializing just because, you know, the sunrise movement asks them to. So how can America actually contribute to the solution of this problem? And it’s by, you know, deploying clean energy resources that already exist. I got solar panels on my roof this summer. You know, everybody should do it, too. And it’s by trying to innovate, right? I mean, if you could make this people who get, like, all hyped up about nuclear micro reactors, if you could make that work like that, would be great. If you could make away a zero carbon cement manufacturing process, that would be great, because right now you can’t make cement or steel without crazy levels of carbon dioxide emissions. And people in the developed world, they’re not going to just live in little rickety huts forever. Right. Like we need to actually solve these problems. And population growth is not an impediment. To solving the hard technical problems of climate change, if anything, in some ways it makes it easier, right? You bring more innovation in, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So I think ultimately the conflict there is less than people think it is, in part because the climate challenge is in a lot of ways harder than people want to portray it to be. It’s not it’s not something you can fix by just getting everyone to drive a Prius or something. I mean, I do. So I, I try I try to, you know, but it’s like the problem is so much more scope and like either we are going to find a way to make high living standards ecologically sustainable or we’re not. And if we don’t just like counting on poverty and immiseration in the rest of the world to carry us through, it’s like it’s a nonanswer.
S4: Matt Yglesias is the author of One Billion Americans A Case for Thinking Bigger by It. Thanks for joining us. Thank you. All right, let’s go to cocktail chatter when you’re having one billion drinks with your one billion American neighbors. John Dickerson, what are going to be chattering about?
S8: My challenge about the ashes of Dorothy Parker, who died in 1967 at age 73. She was one of the members of the Algonquin Round Table, famous writer of plays and poetry and essays, and the basically the most famous female humorist of her day and satirist with great lines like men seldom make passes the girls who wear glasses. And the cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. And asked to make a pun on horticulture at the Algonquin Round Table. She said, You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think none of this.
S4: Of course, that’s an amazing line. That is an amazing. Do you think she thought of it like. Right like that?
S8: I think she probably thought of it while she was mixing her coffee and then just kind of held it in her back pocket until the moment was ripe because she was the kind of person who played with words and ideas all the time in her head. So it was she was just a bursting font. Anyway, when she died in nineteen sixty seven, she had this very elaborate will that dictated that her what should be done with her ashes and her estate and basically her estate and her royalties from her writings were left to Martin Luther King Jr., who was a little bit surprised that this was done. But in the event of his death, they were then left to the NAACP. The end of it, what’s he going to do with her ashes? So they sat in limbo for a long time in the Westchester County crematorium. Then they were in her lawyer’s office, which is very weird. But then Benjamin Hooks, the executive director of the NAACP, learned about all of this and he took the ashes and put them to rest in the memorial garden at the NAACP in Baltimore. The NAACP is now planning to move to D.C. And so what are you going to do? So they didn’t want to throw their ashes, but finally on her twenty seventh sorry, on what would have been her one hundred and twenty seventh birthday, they took her ashes, which were, again, what to do with them.
S6: They’ve been taken out of the ground. They are now in the Bronx’s Woodlawn Cemetery with her parents and grandparents. And most famously, she once joked to Vanity Fair that she wanted her gravestone to read Excuse My Dust.
S4: Emily, what is your chatter?
S1: I have been spending my week receiving an outpouring of Zoome school health stories, there are many of them on the Internet as kids run into problems getting started with remote school and beyond the technical glitches, one of the I think emerging issues is the invasive nature of a school pointing a camera inside students homes. This was really clear in a story this week out of Colorado where a 12 year old kid was playing with an obviously toy gun during a class and his teacher reported this and the police wound up knocking at his door and he was later suspended for five days. And now he has a record with the sheriff’s office and a mark on his school paperwork saying he bought a facsimile of a firearm to school, even though, of course, there was no to school. This was all happening over the screen of a computer. I just really worry about how this is all going to go. There are so many challenges with remote school. And I think that starting from a posture of being punitive in a way that reaches inside people’s homes is a real mistake. That’s the report from Zoome School in the first week for many students around the country.
S4: How on earth could that be? I can understand how the school could somehow say he brought it to school, but how could the government say he brought it to school?
S1: I mean, Chris, how could the justices assume that these charges will wind up being dropped? But I think the idea is that school happening at your house is still somehow school. I mean, certainly my son’s experience thus far is that no provision for the idea that they’re not there. Like the hours are the same. Supposedly the expectations are the same. There’s just no accommodation for this entirely different universe. I feel like the whole thing is being crafted by adults with very little thought to the actual happiness and reality of kids. It’s kind of astounding.
S4: My chatter is about an amazing Twitter thread I saw from Cecily Zander at CNN. Zander, it is civil war generals as Muppet’s, a definitive thread and what Cecily Zander and all of Cecily Zander’s correspondents have done. People who’ve replied to Seth Alexander is side by side photos of Muppets and civil war generals and other civil war figures. It is the most joyful thing you will get in your life if you care either about the Civil War or about Muppets. So there’s George Custer, who is Miss Piggy? William Sherman. Tecumseh Sherman as Menomena. Oh, my God. That one is amazing. To Joshua Chamberlain, hero of Gettysburg, as the Swedish chef, Jefferson Davis as Count von Count. That’s another great one. There is also this guy had never even heard of who is a Confederate general named Lafayette McLaws, who looks like you see the guy. You’re like, oh, he is a Muppet. That isn’t a person. That’s actually a Muppet. And then you really know Lafayette McLaws with a genuine Confederate general. It’s it’s an amazing Twitter thread. Check it out. Civil War generals as Muppets listeners, you have also sent us Great Chatter’s this week. Please keep tweeting them to us at Slate Gabfest, or you can email them to us at Gabfests, Slate Dotcom to in fact, this week we got one by email from Paul and Paul points us to the obituary on the last page of the August twenty ninth issue of The Economist. And it is an obituary for a man named Marvin Cremer, who died at age 104 recently. And he, in 1982, at age 66, sailed around the world using no instruments. He navigated by stars like his heroes, the ancient Mariners, the Vikings and Chinese. And sometimes he couldn’t see the stars. So he took his cues from things like the color of the water and the interaction of the waves. Amazing little obituary of a really remarkable person. So check that out.
S2: The Gabfest is produced by Jocelyn Frank, our researchers, Bridget Dunlap. Gabriel Roth is editorial director. June Thomas is managing producer. Alicia Montgomery is the executive producer for Slate podcast. Please follow us on Twitter at Slate Gabfest and please join us next Wednesday at seven p.m. for our live show or live show streaming on YouTube, go to Slate Dotcom live to join. It is free. We’re doing it in partnership with the Texas Tribune. Jamelle Bouie is joining us as our special and will join us with a special guest for Emily Bazelon and John Dickerson and David Plotz. We’ll talk to you next week.
S4: Hello, Slate, plus, how are you? We have a really nice slate, plus from one of you to your listeners at Elliot Powers tweeted at us a couple of weeks ago, what TV, movie or TV show you loved growing up or even what book would you most want to see rebooted as a 10 episode, Netflix or Hulu streaming series? All my favorite from the 90s seem to be being remade this way. So so thinking about things that we used to love to watch that we think deserve to live again. I have so many thoughts on this. I’m happy to go first since you guys didn’t even know what the topic was. So here I go.
S12: Oh, my God, you’re totally nuts.
S4: I have always. When have I ever been gracious and not and not. Never. Pretty much. Never times. OK, so the number one which I have obsessed with, I haven’t done the research to figure out why. Welcome Back Kotter. Great 70s Show. It is incomprehensible to me that it has not been remade in Brooklyn and it woke Brooklyn like a WOAK. Basically, this new podcast, Nice White Parents is.
S1: Welcome back Cotter in some weird for if that show community. I mean I know it’s about community college, not high school, but now it’s got to be high school.
S4: It’s got like and also community is more about the I don’t even really watched community, but it’s it’s the whole point is Brooklyn. It’s like multiracial, like like, you know, you got the wisecracking teacher. You can you can mix it up. And in ways that did before, there’s so much great sort of gentrification, politics, race, politics, school politics that can all be played for laughs. It is just it is just there for the taking. Maybe somebody who owns the rights refuses to give it up. But Welcome Back, Kotter. Please make it. That’s No. One kind of in the same spirit. Actually, I would remake Family Ties, which I call it was a really good show.
S12: Michael J. Fox.
S4: No, I know, but I’m I, I’m well, I’m not even sure whether you remake it with like the kids with the same formation, which is really liberal parents and conservative kids. We have like some weird Ben Shapiro like kid or you remake it with really conservative parents and really liberal WOAK kids, which is kind of actually is maybe what every show already is I was going to say. But I’ve watched that show. Yeah. So maybe you do it with with sort of liberal liberal parents and kids. Yeah. You have basically at Stephen Miller’s upbringing, but you do it as comedy. So I do that. I would. And then there are two shows which I think were done really, really well in the seventies and eighties, but would be better with even higher production values. And like the higher the kind of classiness that you can do today, the little house books perennially the Little House on the Prairie was fine. It was a totally adequate series in the 70s and 80s, but it could be done so much better and with so much more production value today. And then finally, the one I really want to see made, because I’ve watched I’ve tried to watch it is I Claudius, which was an amazing series. But when you watch it today, it just looks there. Derek Jacobi Yeah. It looks like shit. It looks terrible. The special effects. Yeah. The sets are so clunky and obviously set like and the the costumes are terrible. It just looks awful. And so you could just remake it with a remake of funding.
S5: That’s a great idea. You feel like when you’re watching it, somebody is going to bring your special prime rib to you because it feels like dinner theater, you know, like like Dubuque does Toga’s.
S6: But I agree with you.
S4: OK, so there we go, handing over. What do you want to make, Emily?
S1: I am going to confess something here, which is that I watched only a few TV shows as a child. I watched the hell out of them like I watched every single episode of The Brady Bunch like eight times and every episode of The Dukes of Hazzard on The Love Boat. But I find myself always with this slim repertoire like I only have ever watched an episode of Welcome Back Kotter. I have a vague idea of Welcome Back Kotter. So anyway, I’m pulling from a small universe. I would totally watch a remake of The Facts of Life. And in fact, David, the Dairy Girls, which you introduced to me and has become our favorite show, is kind of like the facts of life, except they’re not at boarding school. They’re a bunch of girls in Ireland, a Catholic school. But I would totally watch that again. And then the other shows I would want to see again are actually like PBS shows. So did you guys ever watch three to one contact as a kid? Was this, like, nerdy science show, and it had, but it had this group of kids solving mysteries called the Bloodhound Gang on it. I loved that. I would totally love to see that again in my efforts to unearth it and show it to my kids when they were little did not really succeed. But I feel like someone should do that again. And similarly, zoom the PBS show Zoom totally love that show. Like do it like do that. Let it get into.
S11: I feel like I’m on Zoom. I have that already. Yeah. I feel like that’s covered. It was a better version. It had a great song. Zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom. I want to talk about some of what is that about, I don’t remember what it was like, a bunch of kids hanging out. It didn’t really have a what is it about? Like, it wasn’t a plot show, but I loved it anyway. They had these striped shirt that’s really good. Like intro. They wore these striped shirt.
S4: What was that show? Which it’s the closest to psychedelics as you got as a kid. But where there is this kind of big furry animals that were riding around like at a small amusement park, but there were people in some giant animal costume. You know what I’m talking about? It was a kid’s show.
S12: What my life that what it was. Yeah. You had it at the tip of his tongue. Yeah. Interpret what to say about you guys and your. I don’t know what that is. Yeah. It was like puppets, basically. All right.
S5: I’m just absolutely crushed by the fact that I have to bring back landfilled link secret chimp and that somebody hasn’t beat me to it. Nobody remembers that show either. I wonder if you can get away with facts of life now because of all the gender role, like they all played their roles. They were all like in these defined roles that I don’t think you could.
S12: It’s super sexist, I’m sure.
S5: Yeah, yeah, I got it anyway, but I was like, wow.
S12: So could you bring back The Jeffersons? I’d just like to say that I think they are pretty. They are.
S6: Or they go, so get smart. I feel like they’ve tried to reboot, get smart, good various.
S5: That’s a good idea and it hasn’t quite caught. And I think that they could do it with a kind of more subtle version than than the repeats have been made. Are you being served with a British show about a department store in the 70s? I don’t think you could. You couldn’t repeat the John Lennon character, but it was just it was a great show. And I think they could find a way to make a a better version today. That didn’t I mean, basically, John Inman, who was one of the characters in the department store, was gay and they had him act in the most campy way. And so you couldn’t do that today, I don’t think. But somebody who is very clever could remake that. I guess that’s really all I can think is, oh, maybe the Six Million Dollar Man in some clever way, but what’s the six million dollar man?
S12: Man, you guys don’t know what this often. Yeah, just continue. Maybe someone else out there in the universe does know what it is. I know. No, I only say I’ve never seen that look on John’s face, although he’s like, oh, no, I just this person I’ve been talking to this penny here. Well, I wonder if that’s funny.
S6: Yeah, no. Anyway, coming down, a man is about this Air Force colonel who does test flights. He’s an astronaut and he’s he’s doing a test flight and his plane crashes. It’s breaking up. It’s breaking up and it crashes. And then they rebuild him. We can rebuild him. And there’s a scene at the beginning where they’re like putting all this these computers inside of him and his eyes and so forth. So he’s extra strong. You can run really fast. He’s got to see really far. Anyway, it’s it’s kind of like Knight Rider. It’s a car was inside of David Hasselhoff. Anyway, those are my three. Oh, and finally that Josh Whedon’s serenity, which was a good yeah.
S12: Actually the I always get a firefly. Firefly Serenity was the film of Firefly. Sorry. So Firefly should be remade. I mean, it’s too late because I’m part of its beauty is its limited run. But man that that was great show. That’s not that old. No, no. Like that. Not that old at all. I think it’s nineties. Right.
S4: I actually the show I’m now sorry. It’s the banana splits. I’ve just explained it on YouTube. It’s not, it’s not, it’s not age appropriate stuff. It’s the banana splits.
S3: Good thing you cleared that up. I thought of a couple that we really should absolutely not remake ever like the shows that are just so I’m sure, so awful and irredeemable. Three’s Company would be at the top of my list for that. I think there is like nothing like that show. It’s just a terrible set of awful characters from beginning to end.
S4: Yes. Is that the only one? Are you do you have another one?
S3: I was also thinking bosom buddies like I’m not. Oh, that probably would not work. That would not work lately. Yeah.
S4: Yeah. Well they’re all of those shows you can remake and just sort of with and it just has a whole new set of premises, like it’s a new new sexual politics, new gender politics, new attitudes about sexuality. And they might work and they might be it might not work and maybe you should to stay away, but maybe it would be amazing if you did it. Probably not. OK, that’s it for us. Slate plus. Bye bye. Sleepless talk to you next week.