One-Trick POTUS

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S1: If you follow me on Twitter at P.S. s.A, am I? Why not follow the gist at Slate just. It’s Monday, July 20th, 2020, from Slate’s The Gist. I’m Mike Pesca. You know, there are certain phrases used specifically for their contradictory powers. For instance, here’s what I mean. You’ll need an example. Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again. Now, why is that ever invoked? It’s to contradict the notion. Right. It’s always used in this way. Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again. But Jamie McMurtry of Grover’s Corners is tempted to go home after killing all those possums or whatever another one is. Don’t get involved in a land war in Asia. It’s never said before, citing the example of the Kingdom Empire, a country that took the advice. The human embodiment of this dynamic is former Republican Ohio governor and former Republican candidate for president John Kasuke. That’s right. I said Republican.

S2: But here’s what is happening. Former Ohio Governor John Casey is expected to speak at the Democratic National Convention next month. The Republican will speak on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

S1: What I mean is the only reason, John, casis Republicanism is cited is to contrast it with whatever non Republican thing he is doing. Opposing Trump, favoring the auto bailout, being a competent governor, that sort of thing. Actually, I’m kidding on the last one. In all honesty, political party seems to be a pretty weak correlation to gubernatorial success, at least as I see it. But what even is speaking at the Democratic National Convention? So you mean he ZEW bombing the Democratic National Convention? There is no Democratic National Convention. It’s a virtual convention, which is to say, it’s not a convention, it’s a meeting over Wi-Fi. And that’s fine, by the way. That’s all fine. I don’t want the Democrats to put anyone’s life in danger or any candidate candidacy in danger by having a Real-Life convention. And I don’t want cases to change his stance on opposing Trump. I don’t even want him to change his political party. You know, keep on being a Republican. Don’t switch to Democrat. He is a Republican in 2015 and prior type Republican. And also, if he switched to Democrat, then some other Democratic poses Trump. Don’t they all? I’m just saying that at any given moment, the newsworthiness of what Republican John Cusack is doing is inversely proportional to John K six Republicanism. Republicans against Trump. I think they think they’re like the Jews for Jesus. But they’re more like the Christians against Jesus. Because Trump is Republicanism. And the never Trump powers or Lincoln projectors, which are much better than the Dirty Projectors. Those Lincoln Project guys or your Mitt Romney or your Johns case, Rick, they could pretend that there is a Republican Party that’s independent of Trump. But it’s not really clear that there is. I think the best they can hope for is wait for the house to burn down and then see if they can rebuild on the foundation. And if not, just salt the land and move on on the show. Today, my spiel about a heated interview that Donald Trump gave to Chris Wallace of Fox. He did because it was held outside in 95 degree weather, but also because the president’s microwave of the brain was firing on both cylinders. But first, today, the United Kingdom announced they were suspending their extradition treaty with Hong Kong. U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabs said the imposition of the new national security law in Hong Kong by Beijing was, quote, a serious violation of the country’s international obligations. This on the heels of the U.S. changing its trade status with Hong Kong. Treat it like the rest of China. While so private companies are changing their status with Hong Kong, The New York Times moving much of its Hong Kong staff to Seoul. Hong Kong seems to be, in a word, lost once a carve out in the autocracy that is China now just another part of that dictatorial regime. But perhaps I’m being a bit too pessimistic. Joining me next will be any. My hubby, a U. Penn law professor and Hong Kong democracy expert.

S3: Cove, it, of course, will change the trajectory of the world, will change the trajectory of many countries, but perhaps no area or cois ice state will be as affected as Hong Kong. Which to my reading and my reading, will be now colored in in much more authoritative ways by my guest to my reading. A situation of the world’s attention being diverted was seized upon by China. They went into Hong Kong. They seem to have changed it in perhaps an irrevocable way. Joining me now is N.A son Mark Boobie, who is a research scholar of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at the University of Pennsylvania, and he hosts a great podcast about China. Thanks for joining me.

S4: Thank you so much, Mike. I’m really excited to be here.

S3: We don’t have to go back to the British possession of Hong Kong. But as the protests and as the umbrella movement, let’s just say from about a year ago to a few years before then, what was the state of play with Hong Kong status and what mainland China wanted? Hong Kong status, to be sure.

S4: And for some of this, I’ll be harkening back to an interview I did with Johannes Chan, the former dean of the law school at Hong Kong University. We had a very long conversation that we released on our podcast. And, you know, the history that we went through in that discussion, I can basically summarize like this. It’s clearly the case that the British have a somewhat complicated history in Hong Kong. Hong Kong was by no means a fully fledged democracy any time in the 20th century under British rule. As you reached the lead up to the handover in 1997, there started to be some political reforms, some opening up. But it really was in many ways a authoritarian state, even under British rule, except with a very well fledged out legal system. In the discussions about the handover of Hong Kong to Chinese rule, which happened in 1997, there was this promise built in to the agreement that China would maintain Hong Kong as a different kind of a system than the mainland Chinese system for 50 years. So 1997 to 2047. And this is the genesis of this one country, two systems principle that we hear so much talk about. The last 30 years or so since the handover have been a period in which the Chinese understanding of one country, two systems, has increasingly seemed to come closer to one country, one system. And there’s been increasing steps that have made people in Hong Kong nervous about whether they’re going to maintain their traditional or at least as they understood their traditional rights and privileges. And that has just become sharper and sharper over the course of the past couple of years, leading up to the protests that we all read so much about starting in about June, July of last year. And so for seven months, you had these really dramatic protests that captured the world’s attention, really only came to an end because of the KOVA 19 crisis and the restrictions on people’s mobility that that led to. I think you’re absolutely right that the Chinese government in general has sort of found this Koven moment, a useful moment to be aggressive across a number of different areas. But this is one of them. Is it the case that they would have only done this because we’ve covered? No, I mean, they probably were interested in coming up with something to exert more control over Hong Kong regardless. But it certainly is part of the background to that decision and passing this national security law.

S5: Right. So a few months ago, before it hit and when protests were going on, I suppose the flash point was a Chinese law that would allow for extradition from Hong Kong to the mainland, which you don’t have to really tease out the implications of that. It would undo Hong Kong’s independence as a judiciary or as a way of punishing citizens. And from there, you could easily see where they would be able to crush dissent. But the Chinese did back off, and at least my perception was they were weighing the costs of going in, cracking heads, maybe punishing dissent. Right. The costs of that to the benefits of what they would get. And it seemed to me that in the short term, and not just me, a lot of observers, that in the short term they decided it wasn’t worth it. China thinking in centuries, as the cliche goes, is that right?

S4: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think that, you know, one thing that’s important emphasize is that the extradition law did provoke those protests. It was like a trigger. But if it wasn’t the extradition law, I would have been something else that was already an atmosphere of people feeling. Under siege in Hong Kong and pushing back against some of the perceived impingement from the Chinese government. And so that particular law. You know, there was already the makings of a fire. And it just kind of like pushed it over the edge. But it could have been something else. And, you know, I think you’re actually right that the Chinese government was trying to be careful to not push things too far at the time. But, you know, I can think back to a lot of conversations that I was having with colleagues at Penn and elsewhere and in that period of time where we just were very worried about where this was going to end up, because it seemed clear that the Hong Kong protesters were increasingly pushing for things that the Chinese would never deliver. And they were getting a moral support from outside parties, including, you know, United States and other countries. That was nice to hear, but wouldn’t actually, in our view, really result in real help. You know, we’re not going to send troops to Hong Kong to protect them against the Chinese government. Right.

S3: And so I think that was I mean, we’ll vote. We’ll vote thumbs up on Facebook till the cows come home.

S4: Exactly. Exactly. And I’m you know, I think that’s important. I don’t mean to dismiss that. And, you know, we could if we want, we can talk about, you know, the Daryl Mori tweet and all of that stuff. You know, I’m all for moral support, but I also know the limitations of that. And so I feel like a lot of us have had this developing dread about where this was going to go. So we knew something was going to happen, this particular step. Interestingly, I did think caught people by surprise. You know, if you talk to people, you know, even a couple of weeks before that Chinese legislative meeting where they announced this national security law for Hong Kong, I don’t think anyone was anticipating this. But there was a general sense that China was going to do something. And then this kind of hit like a ton of bricks, because I think, you know, short of sending troops into Hong Kong, which for obvious reason the Chinese don’t want to do this, is about, as you know, as robust a step as the Chinese government could take.

S3: So then do you fault the protesters? Were their tactics wrong? Were they asking for too much?

S4: It’s such a hard question to answer. You know, I thought a lot about this. And it’s you know, it’s I think the best that I can say is, you know, everyone has autonomy. And, you know, I in some ways I’ve even said this to some of the student protesters as they’ve come and done talks through the U.S. that, you know, like I’m all for you guys expressing yourselves and trying to realize a better Hong Kong. I just wanted them to know that be careful to not expect too much from the U.S., because I do think there was a little bit of a sense that they thought that the U.S. was really good. And, you know, we’re announcing things. We’re announcing not just moral support, but we’re announcing, you know, certain kinds of sanctions. We’re announcing that we might change Hong Kong’s special trade status. All of those things are mostly going to punish Hong Kong. You know, those are not things that are really going to punish China so much as are going to punish Hong Kong citizens. So I just feel like Hong Kong is increasingly going to get squeezed. And in many ways, it’s going to start ending up looking more like a pawn in this much larger and more complicated and fraught U.S. China relationship than something that we are particularly going to focus on. And as long as the Hong Kong kids know that, then I’m fine with it. But I just want to make sure that I want to note this. Before that, they knew that that was the case.

S3: Well, I wonder I mean, when you are a protester and the news you get from America is, of course, filtered through it’s filtered through official sources, but even if it comes unsullied, you’re only going to get the news that is relevant to Hong Kong. And to me, what the Darrow more situation showed is that here is Daryl Morey, the GM of the Rockets, saying something really anodyne about supporting the protesters. And then the mass reaction to that was the NBA because business interests didn’t back him cause I punished him. China punished the NBA. But the massive reaction was, oh, this is too complex to even weigh in on. And it’s not real. Right. I mean, Daryl Morey is totally right. And, of course, Hong Kong, the protesters were being suppressed. But the fact that I don’t know, 90 something percent of Americans agreed that that was the bottom line should tell us about the depth or lack thereof of America and Americans commitment to the Hong Kong protests.

S4: Sure. And, you know, I wanted to take a tangent here to say one thing about the Daryl Mori tweet. You know, I personally felt very strongly at the time that, you know, if there’s any U.S. institution that has leverage in China, it’s the NBA. Yeah. So the NBA, you know, I spent the fall teaching at Shanghai University. And, you know, I know you’ll appreciate this, that I would go back to campus late at night, 8:00, 9:00 o’clock. There are probably, I would say, 60 basketball courts on that campus every court. People were playing really high quality. All late at night. This is a society and a group of kids who are obsessed with basketball. So if there’s any institution that could say, hey, listen, this is the way we believe that people should be able express themselves. And if you don’t like it, then, you know, you can go ahead and watch Chinese basketball. That that was the instance. So I’m all for. That’s right. Good. Those guys. Yeah, exactly. You know, I’m all for the statements. And so I just want to be careful that I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be saying, you know, moral support for the Hong Kong protesters. I just you know, it’s a complicated situation on the ground for the protesters themselves. And in many ways, they’re on their own visa v the Chinese government.

S3: Right. And it also seems to me from afar that there was a generational divide, as often happens with protests. And how do you ask passionate young people to, you know, keep those passions in check and not ask for too much when especially when what they’re doing is, you know, putting themselves in grave danger to begin with? It seems it’s just an impossible way to get protesters to act.

S4: Yeah. And, you know, I’ve mentioned Johannes Chan earlier, the former dean of Hong Kong Law School. It’s not so hard to find. There’s a journalist named Mary Highway. It’s you I who posted a video on Twitter in the fall that was just a bit of a snippet of Johannes himself and his colleague and our mutual friend. Footling is also professor from Hong Kong Law School, talking to a group of students. And it is both beautiful and heartbreaking because you can see the two of them, Jóhannes, in fulfilling, who are deeply committed to a more just more fair, more democratic Hong Kong, basically pleading with the students to take a longer view and to see the struggle for democracy is something that wouldn’t be achieved in just a couple of months or a year, but would be a longer thing. And it’s just it’s so poignant and so beautiful that, you know, anyone who has a chance to find that video, I would really recommend seeing it. But the students went further and now the Chinese state has reacted and the next steps are going to be very complicated.

S5: Yeah. What does the new law, the new national security law governing Hong Kong say? What is the actual state of play in state of law in Hong Kong?

S4: So there’s three major points about this that I think are worth emphasizing that are troubling for a lot of observers. So the first is the identification of these new substantive offenses, secessions, subversion, terrorism, collusion with foreign forces that are really phrased quite broadly. And so, you know, substantively, there’s a lot of concern about how much activity this might cover. The second concern is the types of institutions that have been set in motion to basically have jurisdiction over these potential offenses. And in the words of my friend and colleague, Don Clark from GW Law School, there’s there’s one set of institutions that are sort of Hong Kong institutions. This is new National Security Committee. And then there’s a second set of institutions that are actually mainland institutions. That’s called the National Security Office. And the bottom line is between this sort of very vague, substantive provisions, potential criminal offenses, and then these new national security organs to basically have jurisdiction over them. It makes people very uncomfortable about, you know, any types of activities that in the past were basically fine in Hong Kong. Now might not only get you in trouble with Hong Kong authorities, but might actually get you sent to China and prosecuted in China. Another aspect of the law that has attracted a lot of attention is Article 38, which refers to private electronic messages that are critical of Hong Kong. And that provision has been drafted in such a way that it almost seems as if it’s not just Hong Kong citizens in Hong Kong who could be liable under it or even Hong Kong citizens outside of Hong Kong. But anybody like you or me, anybody in the world could be liable under that provision. So it seems as if it’s trying to send this chilling effect throughout the world. And, you know, Don Clark has said, look, I understand that some of you might think this is too broad a reading of that language, but no one from the Chinese government has said it’s not right. You know, no one said, don’t worry about it. We’re not going to get, you know, sign that we’ll be in trouble in Philadelphia for saying something credible about Hong Kong. Yeah, but most of all, what it’s trying to convey is power, control and fear. And given the responses of a lot of Hong Kong protesters in the days since, you know, it’s worked. You know, people have taken down their, you know, social media accounts. People have left Hong Kong, people are looking to leave Hong Kong. You know, it’s had that effect of basically sort of intimidating the population.

S3: What can the United States of America do to affect things?

S4: It’s it’s hard for me to see this as separate from our overall approach to China. Obviously, there are things we can say specific to Hong Kong that offer moral sustenance. And I’m all for that. But. In terms of actually being effective, if that’s what we want to do, I think it has to be within the larger context of U.S. China relations, which is at probably the worst place it’s been in in the reform and opening period. Maybe, maybe not as bad as the immediate aftermath of Tiananmen Square, but but pretty close. Now, there is a perspective that they have introduced a new level of toughness, at least in rhetoric and in some actions. Yes, that may have been useful. You know, I think even some former Obama administration officials would say that they are impressed by the degree to which some of the perceived or even actual toughness from the Trump administration has gotten the Chinese attention. The problem is, OK, well, what’s next? So you’ve got their attention. You punch the person in the face. Well, then what? What’s the next step? And I think the fair critique is that there isn’t a clear next step. There’s so many different signals. You know, one day you have Trump saying one thing about his friends, Xi Jinping, and then the next day you have sanctions against officials and Shin Jiang. And then another day you have, you know, this announcement of that Phase one trade agreement. And then the next day you say, oh, we’re going to throw that away. It’s so all over the place that it’s hard to see that as being ultimately successful strategy, even if we accept the premise that there needed to be a greater degree of toughness in a U.S. posture towards China.

S5: Is this a lesson for other autocracies or would be autocracies on how to get what you want?

S4: This has definitely been a win for a more authoritarian control orientation towards Hong Kong by the Chinese state. No question about it. How that ends up playing out over the future. I’d like to keep some optimism about that, that, you know, the ingenuity of the Hong Kong people, the pressures on China domestically, the potential for even reform within China, that all of these things can lead to a result in the future and end the ongoing international pressure, which I certainly don’t think is irrelevant, that they can lead to a better outcome than we can see on the horizon right now. By any measure, that’s an optimistic perspective.

S5: They son Mahu Be is a lecturer at law at Penn Law School and also a research scholar for the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at you, Penn. And they have a podcast, but you have to put in University of Pennsylvania Center for the Study of Contemporary China in that order, or you won’t find it. But if you go and research it, you’ll be rewarded. Thank you so much, Professor.

S4: Thank you so much. This is really fun.

S1: And now the spiel yesterday, Fox News aired an interview between Donald Trump and Chris Wallace, which the White House insisted be conducted outdoors, thus making the president look like a melting cream cycle. But the presidential visage was not the only thing collapsing into a puddle before our eyes, as if we’re the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Also, the president’s arguments not really doing well. All his arguments, all his professions of truth. Time and time again, just amount to nothing but a false statement, which is to say a lie. And here in this interview, Chris Wallace held him to account. And Trump nevertheless persisted in saying that the facts bore him out. So this exchange that I’m about to play, it was about Trump’s claim that the U.S. is doing just great on the metric of corona virus fatalities per capita.

S6: Kaylee’s right here. I heard we have one of the lowest, maybe the lowest mortality rate anywhere in the world. You have the numbers, please. Because I heard we had the best mortality rate. No. Number one, low mortality. I hope you show this year because it shows what think this is.

S1: OK. Here now the upshot of that Cayley, fetch the data. And this is what Wallace reported.

S2: The White House went with this chart from the European CDC, which shows Italy and Spain doing worse. But countries like Brazil and South Korea are doing better. Other countries are doing better. Like Russia aren’t included in the White House chart.

S1: The truth is, in the United States terms, death rates, the corona virus is worse than in 93 to 96 percent of the world’s countries, depending on what you define as a country. I mean, Sambrano. But Trump’s insistence on a fact that isn’t true, also known as a lie, is kind of curious in this setting normally at a press conference. He can just bluster and parry with any individual journalist and then move on to the next one. Sure. After the press conference is over, the network of that one journalist might go back and cover the truth. But in general, Trump’s tactic works. I mean, to the extent it does, because within the overall program that is a press conference, the truth never has a chance to emerge. But it’s different with this kind of interview. It’s a closed loop. The network conducting the interview controls everything we see. So, of course, Trump is going to be exposed in real time and shown to be wrong. So then you got to ask yourself, why does Trump insist on this tactic? Well, I have a theory and it’s this. He’s got nothing else. This happened more than once. Trump lying, insisting the facts bear him out. And then Chris Wallace just flatly stating they don’t. Here he was. Trump was talking about Joe Biden saying Joe Biden supports defunding the police.

S6: O’Reilly, it says abolish it, says a fuck. Let’s go. All right. You give me the charter plane. All right. You’ve got to start shutting for. He says defund the police. He says defund the police. They talk about abolishing the police. They talk about illegal aliens lowering. I look forward to seeing them.

S1: And seconds later. Here’s what Chris Wallace told his viewers.

S2: The White House never sent us evidence. The Bernie Biden platform calls for defunding or abolishing police because there is not.

S1: By the way, the White House or Trump world in general had two competing arguments about Joe Biden support for defunding the police with Chris Wallace. As you heard, Trump argued that Joe Biden wants to defund the police. But online, you’d find Ed Rollins, head of the Trump aligned Great America PAC, saying Joe Biden now claims he opposes defunding the police. But here’s a list of issues he flip flopped on abortion, immigration, marriage equality, fracking, China, trade, if you think Biden won’t flip flop on defunding the police. And then David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network played an old clip of Joe Biden on Meet the Press saying that he thought marriage was between a man and a woman. Then he flip flopped and therefore, Brody concluded Biden will flip flop on the defunding the police issue as well. OK, so let’s realize, though, that the two arguments coming out of Trump World are that a Joe Biden is a liar when he says he opposes defund the police. And also, Joe Biden actually does say defund the police. Both can’t be true. You can’t accuse him of both having a position and not having a position that he might one day have. Now, remember, let’s go back. The reason I said that Trump engages in such obvious falsehoods, even in formats that are sure to expose him, is that’s all he’s got. It’s essentially a desperate tactic. The last bullet in your quiver. But, you know, to some extent, that’s a logical choice. I mean, the last bullet is still a bullet. You got to play your hand that you’re dealt a desperate tactic as a tactic. But maybe it’s not that at all. Maybe it’s that his brain is bad, that it’s so. So very bad. No longer the good brain, but the best words, but a bad brain. And he’s using that brain to brag and not about bragging generally. Nobody even knows General Bragg. No, not in general Bragg. He’s using his brain to specifically brag about how good a brain he has. And guess what? Chris Wallace called him on that, too. The difficult test that he keeps bragging about having aced is actually a test given to elderly people to see if they have dementia or also heimer’s. It’s not supposed to be hard. I mean, unless you have dementia or all simers, for instance, I’d like you to remember these words face Velvet Church, Daisy Green. OK, repeat them back to me. I’ll say it again. And then you can repeat them to me. Face Velvet. Church. Daisy Green. Go ahead. Repeat them. Good. Now remember them because I want to point out that Trump also said this.

S6: We won two world wars, two world wars, beautiful world wars that were vicious and horrible. And we want them out of Fort Bragg.

S1: Interesting insight. And then he also asked, so who should Fort Bragg be named after? Al Sharpton. Sure. Why not? Tawana Brawley company operates there at a fort. Al Sharpton, I mean, as long as we’re naming military installations after MSNBC hosts. How about Camp Ari Melber, Forward Operating Base? Steve Kornacki. Hey, there is also, by the way, on that test that Trump says to have aced a picture of a camel or an elephant and you pass, if you could name it as a camel or an elephant. So I ask you, my listener, to identify this sound.

S2: The elephant says.

S1: Is this a sound from the popular see and say children’s toy? No, that was actually the valedictory address of the Donald Trump School of mild cognitive impairment. OK, I gotta admit something. The last couple of things I was saying, the Al Sharpton bit, the elephant sound, they’re really important points. I know you know that. But when I was really doing was attempting to chew up a couple minutes, which is the time that needs to pass before I ask you to repeat the words back to me that I had you memorized before. OK, do you remember those words were we’re getting close to two minutes the allotted time. And I will now ask you to say those words out loud. It doesn’t matter if your wife looks at you funny, wondering what does this have to do with washing the romaine lettuce? Please say the words I asked you to remember. You are correct. They are face Velvet Church, Daisy Green. You did it. You taste it. You are now qualified to manage America’s pandemic response team and also to generate new names for military bases. Fort Ellen. Omar has already been taken.

S7: And that’s it for today’s show. The gist was produced by Daniel Shrader, Margaret Kelly with executive producer of Slate podcasts, Alicia Montgomery. Now, those those folks all tell me that Guatemala has won the most medals at the Summer Olympics of any country per capita. I disagree. They said they had a chart and they showed me this chart, which listed Iraq as the worst in Guatemala with one silver medal all time and a population of 17 million, seventh to last. But no countries that won more than one silver medal all time in the Summer Olympics were listed. So we have agreed to disagree. The gist, I used to believe that Fox News host Chris Wallace and notorious big slash Biggie Smalls slash Christopher Wallace, whereas dissimilar as to Christopher Wallace’s could get. But then the Fox, Chris Wallace ended his interview by saying, and if you don’t know now, you know, improve.

S1: Desperate to prove. And thanks for listening.