The “Manchin on the Hill” Edition

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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 June 10th, twenty twenty one at the mansion on the Hill, Ed.. I am David Plotz City, cast here in Washington, D.C. Emily Bazelon of the New York Times Magazine and Yale University Law School in New Haven. Emily is the only person who didn’t write a story about Yale University Law School this week. As far as I can tell, there’s a story about Yale University Law School and every single publication that I read and most of them were really long for. Congratulations on your non byline, Emily.


S1: Thank you. I feel pretty good about that one, actually.

S2: John Dickerson of CBS’s Face the Nation, CBS Sunday Morning and CBS is Everything is joining us from New York. Hello, John.

S3: And CBS’s CCTV of the lower utility room.

S2: That’s good that we’re your new show is going to air. Yeah, it’s the new streaming channel. They got a show. That’s where it would be this week. Is Joe Manchin responsible if President Biden and the Democrats can’t pass any laws? If voting reform fails of criminal justice reform, it goes nowhere. If no new states admit to the union and if the filibuster survives, should he be blamed, then what is going on at the Biden Justice Department? And why is it defending weird and seemingly abhorrent positions taken by President Trump’s Justice Department? Then we will dig into George Packer fascinating piece about the four Americas each America worse than the next that we have Fractured into. Plus we will have cocktail chatter. So progressives and even just regular old liberals are irritated with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who this week threw a vicious one, too, at his Democratic colleagues by first coming out firmly against H.R. one, which is the voting rights bill, voting rights that we call it voting rights bill. Emily, voting for sure voting rights bill. The Democrats have been hanging onto hanging hopes on, too. And then he also came out against reforming or changing the filibuster, which is a necessary condition for doing any of the big things the Democrats want to do that don’t involve spending a bunch of money, such as criminal justice reform, voting rights reform, adding new states, various other things. So John, you have talked to the West Virginia Democratic senator. Does he see himself as a menace to Democrats and to frustrate or have Democratic ambitions?


S3: I mean, he wouldn’t list that as his principal quality. He recognizes that as the outcome of his view in the world. You know, his view is that the filibuster in particular is that you shouldn’t chuck it because the Democrats will be in the minority Sunni minority soon enough again. And just as they relied on it under Donald Trump, they will rely on it again and in some future situation when they’re in the minority. And secondly, that and we talked about this last week, but that bipartisanship has its has its own benefits and we can test those two notions in our discussion.

S1: So there are these interesting different lenses to view this through. Right. So Manchin blend is democracy is going to continue pretty much as it has. The parties are going to switch back and forth and power and thus the filibuster will be a friend to Democrats again. And also he just is harking back to a different era of bipartisan cooperation. And he likes that era better and he would like to imagine it returning. And then there are the very worried progressives and liberals who are saying, wait a second, this is like the eye of the storm, this two year period in which the Democrats control barely the House in the Senate and have Joe Biden then the presidency. And if we don’t do something dramatic, we being the Democrats, then the Republicans are going to be able to succeed in forcing minority rule on the country because of their structural advantages in the Senate, because there are no new states, because of all the gerrymandering and because of all the voter suppression laws that they’re enacting in various states. And it’s like two different pictures of reality. And they are very unaligned. And I guess, like, that’s that’s the most striking thing to me about this. It’s like really different ideas about what’s going to happen to the democracy.


S2: Well, and John, I want to dig into this now around Manchin, which is that he cannot be he’s obviously not a stupid person. He’s certainly incredibly smart. You don’t get to be governor or senator and this successful politician without being really, really smart. He has also lived through the last. Thirty years of American politics and been part of it and seen the Senate that that he serves in, how does he explain how does he reconcile his view of the value of bipartisanship and the possibilities with the lived experience of Mitch McConnell, Senate or or the Senate he’s in now?

S3: Well, and not only the lived experience, I mean, as I asked him about on Face the Nation, with the lived experience that he articulated when he talked about the Republicans not voting for the January six commission, I mean, he said it was a betrayal of their oath of office and that they put party over country. I mean, it was stinging remarks, regardless of who says them, but particularly illustrative or important because of Joe Manchin. So my question was, if you say that about them on this important thing, what gives you any hope, faith or otherwise, that Republicans on things that are less vital or I shouldn’t say less vital, but things we care


S1: about, more at stake in terms of actually. Yeah, well, yeah.

S3: I mean, well, that’s a different that’s a distinction that’s separate. But the point is, if you feel that way about them, why are they suddenly going to like do the right thing on all these other instances? Which and your belief in bipartisanship is founded on the idea that they would do the right thing. I mean, he basically believes, you know, as you said, David, in in the idea that if you have the if you force this if the system forces bipartisan cooperation, it will come. Lots and lots of people would say the dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present, as Lincoln would say, which is the


S2: demands that people

S1: know. Lots of people. And I have that chipping off my tongue. No, I don’t. But I would agree with that sentiment.

S3: But here here’s where I think he comes up against the most difficult part of his position, which is that the clock is ticking on voting rights in particular. So his argument is Republicans will see the light of day and they will recognize that their short term obstructionism will hurt them in the long run. When it comes to voting rights, all the Republican efforts, close to 400 of them in the state houses are making big gains for Republican power accumulation and maintenance. There is no way a Republican in Washington, D.C., is going to vote for any voting rights bill that dilutes what’s it being done for Republican power in the states. And therefore, the longer you wait, the more that’s going to be the case, not the less his argument is. You know, it takes time. And over time, Republicans will see the light of day on voting rights in particular, that just there’s just no way that that’s the way it’s going to work. And so that’s where his argument falls the most.


S1: I mean, it’s right. It’s like watching the other the Republicans are locking in an advantage on the state level everywhere they can. And Joe Manchin is imagining that the incentives will in Washington lead them to undo that advantage. I just it literally doesn’t make sense.

S2: Do you think do you guys think that if he were agreeable to H.R. one and to filibuster abolishment, they would happen? It’s as simple that he is this one man standing athwart the history or this is overstating his power because it’s even if Manchin suddenly said, OK, fine, for H.R. one, that doesn’t mean that it actually becomes law.


S3: You have Senator Sinema in Arizona who also shares his view about the filibuster. So, no, it’s not just Manchin.


S1: I think it’s also worth talking about. H.R. one also called for the People Act and the critique of For the People Act mansion’s preferred alternative, which is an expanded version of the John Lewis Act. So H.R. one has a lot of like pro small D democracy measures in IT, Same-Day, voter registration, automatic registration, etc. It also tries to correct for extreme partisan gerrymandering. It forces much more disclosure of donors through independent expenditure groups. It’s like a big grab bag, has lots of stuff in it the Democrats want. It also doesn’t address except for the partisan gerrymandering aspect of it, these structural issues about power. Right. Like it’s not going to change the composition of the Senate, it’s not going to add new states, etc. It’s also not going to do anything about these new laws and Republican legislatures that look like they’re about trying to make it easier to overturn election results. So you can argue that for all its happy voter participation elements, that it won’t have that great an effect in elections and that it’s also like a little bit behind the eight ball. The John Lewis Act, which Manchin wants to expand, would bring back the Department of Justice in having this kind of it’s called preclearance, basically like a monitoring role. When states want to change election laws, you have to run it through Department of Justice. They get to decide whether you get to close the polling place or make it harder for people to vote. And Manchin version, it would apply to every single state. And he said. He’s been talking to Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski about this, you know, could be an interesting strategy, not clear the Supreme Court would uphold it, but like that’s also true about the for the People Act, given the composition of the Supreme Court. What I don’t understand is how he thinks there are ten. Lisa Murkowski, like if that is also something that would fall to the filibuster, like literally again is illogical to me.


S3: Yeah. And but you’re right. So he’s right on in terms of fixing or giving them a smarter fix to the current challenge, but not the approach through which to do it. Going back to our original point is that Republicans are unlikely to undo the gains they’re making at the state houses. We should mention quickly that obviously Manchin has local reasons to believe in this view of bipartisanship to some people would say, you know, he’s the he’s wrong comes from a coal state. The Koch brothers are leaning on him. You could also argue that he that his belief in bipartisanship is also based on the idea that if Democrats change the rules of the filibuster to then pass a voting rights law that Republican voters would see as a power grab for Democrats, there’s no way he could survive in the state if he was the person who helped the Democrats do that. Both change the rules and grab power. That would be basically suicide in his state.


S1: I mean, I guess it is possible that that is true for Joe Manchin. When you look at the polling for these voter participation, voting rights bills are actually very popular. And in fact, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker reported on a meeting of some conservative activists and advisers to people like Mitch McConnell, you know, just like a small private huddle about what to do. And they were concerned about how well the voting rights provisions were polling. So there are something very odd here. Now, again, like maybe Manchin as his own polls or he just knows the heart and soul of West Virginia. And, you know, increasing democratic participation is going to be the thing that gets him thrown out of office. It’s hard for me to imagine the attack


S2: ad A, I think I think the voting rights is one of these things which it’s become it’s pretty partisan, right? It hasn’t quite gotten to the point where it sorts.

S1: Yeah. But in this conference call, they were talking about all the partisan messaging they were trying to attach to it when they were doing these polls and it didn’t work. That’s what was so worrying. It’s possible that that would change over time, I guess.

S3: Yeah, I think, David, you’re right. The part I mean, we’ve seen how quickly partisanship sorts on what seemingly before were big issues, how quickly the iron filings align. And if you got rid of the filibuster, remember, also, it’s not broad popularity or whatever that matters. It’s enthusiasm to the voters who are going to turn out in an off year election.

S2: The other thing I just want to go back to, and I think I’ve made this point in about 15 times on the show in the last few weeks.

S1: Would people be so excited for the 50 first? That was really a way to sell

S2: 15, 16. So the 16th only Embling, not the 50 first 50 first will be D.C. or Puerto Rico. Is that yes. You can sit here all day long and and hold Manchin to account and say, what are you thinking of? What’s your problem? But ultimately, the guy is a miracle for the Democratic Party. It is remarkable that they have a senator, a Democratic senator from West Virginia and two, to demand that he have he has to hold forth what the party wants on every issue that they want is unrealistic and that that, you know, these structural problems, which make it very hard for Democrats to hold the Senate. And they they’ve just barely edged over the miracle they pulled off in Georgia. And I think everyone hopes that, oh, now you could have a sweeping progressive reform and all the legislation that you want. And and Manchin will go along with some of it. But he doesn’t have to go along with all of it. He is an independent person and he has his he is a single actor. This is not a party system where things get voted on in blocks.


S1: Sure. But the party may commit suicide in the process in terms of being able to win elections down the line.

S2: He may he may be making a making it difficult for them. But again, it’s like it is. I think it’s I think it’s kind of unfair to this person to say, like, you’re the if if the filibuster remains, if we don’t get, you know, Puerto Rico and D.C. as states, if we don’t get election reform, you’re the reason. I mean, it’s there are a lot of reasons and he’s one of them. But it’s not like he he didn’t he didn’t fuck up the North Carolina Senate election. He didn’t fuck up the Maine Senate election. He’s he is one person who is in one position right now, but he’s not he’s not the point on which all things fall,

S1: but you can be not responsible for all those things and wind up being the point on which all those things fall.

S3: Well, one is a kind of I mean, also there’s the question of whether he strategically and tactically doing the right thing. As Chris Wallace pointed out when he interviewed him, wouldn’t it be smarter to just kind of stay mum and leave the threat out there of Joe Manchin either? And we should talk about this, too. He also doesn’t believe in using reconciliation, which is why infrastructure is dying, because President Biden has no alternative route. Because if you can’t go through reconciliation because you don’t have 50 votes, then Republicans have all the leverage. And Wallace point was and we talked about this, too, which is why not just stay silent and let Republicans guess? And if they think you might go through reconciliation, they might negotiate with the White House to get a little bit more of what they want rather than losing and then losing everything through reconciliation. So by putting his cards on the table, Manchin not only gives up his own leverage, but also changes the leverage proposition for the White House, which now basically Republicans know that Biden has no alternative route.


S2: That’s a great I love that point. Emily, were you. But is there something you want to say?

S1: I love that point, too. I mean, I guess I have to say, David, in response to what you’re saying earlier, I mean, you can argue that it’s just never surprising when a politician goes against his or her own perceived electoral interests and like, there’s nothing to see here. That’s just what politicians do. But this is a case in which it’s, I don’t think obvious that, you know, Manchin is going to significantly change his chances of getting re-elected. And he, like, really is in this key position, even if there were other dominoes that fell to get him here. So anyway,

S2: right. No, he might, but it might be it’s not even his own electoral interest. It might be his actual belief that it’s his own deeply held belief that you think it’s misguided, you think it’s wrong, and and you think it’s going to be very difficult for his party if he continues to do this. But it’s it’s more deeply held, apparently, than something that is not mundane, that instrumental as his electoral hopes.

S1: Sure. But I think we also just did a pretty good job of dissecting why that deeply held belief is based on really, really shaky premises from a disappeared.

S2: Yes. Yes, yes. Sure.

S3: To your point, David, I think he does believe in these things. People can argue that he’s misguided, but I think he does believe in them. And I think that they are going to lead to, at least on infrastructure, a policy preference he prefers, which is infrastructure, if it passes, will probably be closer to something around four hundred billion. And it will be a kind of the traditional infrastructure definition, roads and bridges in that kind of thing. Probably broadband, too. That’s his policy preference. And it will be it will have to pass if it does pass with 60 or 10 Republican votes. So that’s his ideological kind of best method for doing it. So in that sense, his position is seems to be driving towards that outcome. But then second point I would make is your point, David, is a difference between what people might want and the and the reality of politics in the moment. And there is a real mixing, particularly on voting rights, but on all these issues, whereas where if you are a Democrat or just an analyst trying to objectively describe the situation so as to bethe best either predict the future or if you’re a Democrat, create strategies that deal with the reality and not what you hope to be, you do get a response from the left and there’s also one from the right where people say, oh, well, because you’re articulating the reality of what’s happening with voting rights. You don’t believe in voting rights and that mixing and misunderstanding between what is just an assessment and what is a policy preference gets people all confused and is confusing these politics in this moment.


S2: The Department of Justice under Attorney General Merrick Garland has really infuriated a lot of people on the left in the past couple of weeks. What have they done? Emily Bazelon, huh?

S1: Well, so Egin Carol sued President Trump for defamation after she accused him of rape years ago in a department store, and then he accused her effectively of lying and said he’d never even met her when there was actually a picture of him at a party with her. So this lawsuit was filed in state court, this defamation suit in New York. And just as it seemed like Carol might get some discovery, might be able to like go in and try to prove that Trump knew he was lying. The former attorney general, William Barr, took the lawsuit and plopped down in federal court and he had the power to do that as attorney general. Then a federal district court judge said that the lawsuit could proceed, rejecting the arguments by the Trump Justice Department that what President Trump said about Egin. Carol fell within the scope of his employment as president and that as a president, he was a government worker covered by this federal law called the Westfall Act that effectively gets federal employees out of lawsuits in the scope of their office or employment. So the question was, what was the Biden Justice Department going to do with this lawsuit? What was there a position where they going to continue the Trump position and appeal this district court ruling or not? And they have decided to stick with the Trump position, and the reason is probably two or three fold. For one thing in general, the Justice Department is not excited about changing the position it takes in cases when a new administration comes in. There are supposed to be doing something called law, which is different than something called politics, kind of like judges. And it’s not great when every time you come into office you just like change all your positions in a bunch of cases because it makes the government seem like they are just driven by politics and you can’t rely on them. So that’s one kind of overall global reason for this sticking with the position. And another is just about like defending the broad prerogatives and power of the presidency and not making it easier for presidents to get sued for lots of different reasons. Right. Trying to kind of protect the president from this type of civil lawsuit. Now, the problem with that argument for me is that Bill Clinton lost a lawsuit a lot like this one in a sexual misconduct claim that Paula Jones brought against him in the Supreme Court, said, like, tough, you’re in office, you can still get sued. And that seems like it’s really at odds with what the Justice Department is arguing with here. But, you know, maybe they’re trying to limit that position. And there is this kind of broader institutional way of like basically justifying the position that the Biden Justice Department is taking here. I don’t personally agree with it, really, but I it’s it’s a really interesting, like kind of law politics dilemma.


S2: I want to dig deeper to this Carol case. I just want to note there are a couple other things that the Garland administrate Garland Justice Department, they have now they’re siding with some religious colleges in a case.

S1: Well, they’re just trying to defend a law and not get displaced from defending a law that allows for discrimination against LGBTQ people by religious schools.

S2: And also, Emily, that the administration, at least temporarily, had been going along with some Trump administration efforts to try to extract records from The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN of reporters and in fact, even Gagin executives of The New York Times and CNN from talking about their efforts to extract these records in leak investigations, although now the Garland Justice Department has backed off of that, right?

S1: Yeah. And then they’re also trying to prevent the release of a memo from the Mueller report.

S2: So going back to the Eugene Carroll case. I remember even at the time we talked when we talked about this the first time being pretty sympathetic to Trump, there was this argument, well, he wasn’t working when he defamed her when he is alleged to have defamed her because he’s asked but he’s asked by reporters about this case and he gives a response which is allegedly defamatory. And then she she sues based on that response. And I don’t understand how you can say that the president wasn’t working when he responded to these questions like you were the president when reporters asked you questions. You have to answer, like even if it’s not about the budget or it’s not about the particular signing ceremony or at if it’s about something else, you are you are your job is answering Mick West questions from reporters and responding to reporters. And so it does seem to me that that is very much in the process. And the course of your regular work as you’re in your job is is responding to these inquiries. And now you shouldn’t defame people when you’re doing it. But if the law exists to protect federal officials who are doing their job does seem to me that Trump would be covered by that.


S1: Yeah, I mean, I think some of the confusion here is that, like, you are correctly separating, answering the questions about old rape allegations while you’re president from old rape allegations from way before you were president. And I think that’s correct. Like he’s being asked the questions in the capacity of having to answer questions from reporters. Like you said, I don’t understand how this squares with the ruling I was just talking about in the Clinton versus Paula Jones case in which a civil lawsuit was allowed to proceed during a presidency. I mean, especially now I’m not even president

S3: anymore because Clinton’s actions weren’t while he was president. It was all a question of whether it was behavior that was done before and whether he could be held to account for that behavior. Whereas in this case, it’s a question of whether you’re being held to account for a behavior while you’re president, while you’re doing your job.

S1: Yeah, maybe that’s exactly right. I mean, certainly that is a really important distinction. You’re right.

S3: But then the question is, surely there are limits on that, because if you’re president and particularly this last president gave us a real life example of this, if you use the power of the office. Well, I guess the answer to this is impeachment. But I guess you use the power of the office to defame people wantonly. You’re you have now a bazooka with which to do it, whereas as a private citizen, you don’t have that much power and therefore the injury is that much more grievous when you’re a president doing your job and you defame someone. So surely there must be limits.


S1: Right. And as a policy matter, and this might not have anything to do with the actual law, I think it’s kind of to the side. But as a policy matter, you might be willing to stop the lawsuit while the president was in office, but then you would want it to pick up afterward. You wouldn’t want them to have no consequences forever. I don’t think. Now, that’s not in the text of the statute, but I’m just pointing that out. I mean, the other boring tactical

S2: way, could you pick it? But in the Jane Karl case, could you pick it up and and say that was that was defamation or would you still be would you still be barred by the sovereign immunity point?

S1: I mean, I’m arguing that you would be able that a properly written statute in this context, especially regarding the president, would be to say this protection from Sude only stands while you’re in office, like you shouldn’t be able to have the sovereign immunity of the United States afterward if there is a valid claim. But, you know, we could argue like that’s not protective enough of the president and the presidency. I’m going to say one more thing about this Westfall Act, which the federal judge ruled against. Trump said, I don’t think that it applies to the president. I don’t think he is a government worker. There are lots of things in which, like the president is not actually bound by certain federal statutes because he’s not a government employee in the same way as someone who works for a federal agency. The White House is not an agency, technically speaking. Now, there is law on both sides of this, like what I’m saying is not some foregone conclusion, but I actually think that’s like a boring technical reason why Trump really could lose on this point in the Second Circuit.


S2: You guys were old enough to have been through the Trump years and to have been through the Clinton years and like to have been active adults, sentient creatures. And I covered the the Clintons, Lewinsky, Michigan. I think you did to John sure did. The I am really ambivalent about the idea that presidents should be dragged into these kind of cases. And I thought that the that the Supreme Court ruling at that time, I mean, I thought, you know, Clinton probably should have resigned, but that was not because of Paul Jones civil suit. I thought it was for other things. But the amount of distress and chaos caused by these basically private legal actions is really significant and distracting. And I know we don’t want presidents to be above the law and we don’t want presidents to be able to defame people and presidents to be able to to commit civil fraud and civil wrongs, civil torts against other people. But I also do worry that if you if you allow too much of it, you end up with a president who spends much of their time just dealing with the chaos of lawsuit.

S3: I think there’s a but’s what we were talking about in the previous topic, which is that is a principle that you’re holding. And in fact, the conversation we’re having, we should note, is in the context of basically the Biden and Justice Department reasserting norms where it is not in their direct political or their, I should say, immediate political interest to do so because their immediate political interests might be to embarrass the former president who is claiming that Biden is not a legitimate president or just to keep their base happy or a number of other things that that they could do just for purely political reasons. So they’re reasserting a norm. You’re reasserting a norm. But what the people would say in our previous conversation and in this one is that that Norm can’t exist in a world where impeachment is basically useless, that if the traditional role for sanctioning a president, for his behavior is broken because you’ll never be able to get the majority you need to convict, then the justice system has to readjust.


S2: Hmmm, I’m not sure the solution to impeachment not working is let’s let’s unleash a thousand lawsuits and mosquitoes.

S1: Do we even care about presidents getting punished post presidency?

S2: No, no, we don’t care at all. No, we don’t know how this presidency is fine. But that doesn’t that doesn’t accomplish what John’s talking about, which is the sort of punishment for misbehavior in office.

S3: Well, I guess it does to the to the extent that you you might not like the punishment afterward and therefore you might you know, it might make you behave in the in the short term because you just you know that you’re not don’t have, say, safe harbor after you’re out.

S2: Hmm. Emily, final question on this, which is, do you think that what Garland is doing is, as John states, a kind of return to norms? Or is it is it out of the ordinary for them to be doing what they’re doing? Or is it very much in the ordinary?

S1: It’s in the ordinary. I mean, when you’re thinking about the institutional norms, I would rather see them Ezra on the side of returning to the institutional norms than messing around with them. And there are a bunch of other cases in which they have switched position. So, look, if this was the only thing they had to decide this Carol lawsuit, they might have come down on the other side. The other thing is, you know, Merrick Garland may have some big decisions to make about whether to defend President Trump. I don’t know, in other like who knows what criminal charges in New York State. I mean, there’s other possible issues that are going to hit the fan, so to speak, with the kind of dredging up of the past of the Trump administration. And so it may be that he’s buying himself a little bit of credibility here with the stance he’s taking. And I have stolen this plane from Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post, friend of the Gabfest


S2: Slate, plus members. How much does your name, your actual name, shape your identity as in our all Emily’s Emily like? And what does it mean to be Emily? Like, we will discover

S3: and we will answer the question today whether John is literally the most boring male name.

S1: That’s a that’s a good question, but I feel like there are other contenders.

S3: Sure. Well, we’ll we’ll talk about

S1: the Bob, Tim, Ted, they’re all one syllable.

S2: David, we’re going to get to it gets done. Let’s not put all the names out there now. We’re going to save a few like Sigmund Rafer. Those are going to be later. We’re going to mention those later in the Atlantic this week. And they also in a book, George Packer, The George Packer, the great chronicler of American Disillusion and Decline, writes a piece, How America Fractured into Four Parts. It is taken from a book of his last, best hope America Crisis and renewal. And this piece in the Atlantic. Makes the claim he takes the claim that very familiar claim that there’s no longer a common narrative about America from Americans and he advances that claim. He proposes that we’ve moved from a situation we had won more or less agreed upon story that we had in post-war America. And I’m going to put a huge asterisks next to that because like who agreed upon that story? How how much consensus really was there about it? But like and he I think he acknowledges that to having four different Americas. And he he characterizes them quite candidly. One is a free America. And he uses in all of these cases, the word free is sort of think of it as being ironic quotes Free America, which is libertarian and individualistic and anti-government. It’s like the Koch brothers.


S1: America is simply libertarian.

S2: I would say irresponsible. Sure. Then then there’s smart America, which I would say that’s gabfests. America is another way of character. It’s a meritocratic, it’s global. It’s curious, it’s open.

S1: But hope that we have members of.

S3: Yeah, well, let him get through these before we discuss.

S2: These are all sterile. It’s like the Steria. It’s a stereotype. Right? This is a stereotype. And I’m using that stereotypically. Yeah. Everything everything I’m saying is in quotes and then even words within that or in further quote. Some of them have like six quotes around,

S3: which is one of the challenges to the piece. But anyway, carry on then.

S2: There’s real America, which is what you would call maybe Trump’s America, Sarah Palin’s America, which he carried narrow minded and local and communal, poor religious and then just America, which is WOAK America and America that’s very attuned to America’s failures and cruelties and focused on those failures and cruelties. So, Emily, you’re reviewing and it’s just really interesting. I’m not sure what to do with this piece. I just read it and was like, wow, this is interesting. I hadn’t thought about in these terms and the way these groups sort of butt against each other that the that the Democratic Party you can think of as being the tension between smart America and just America, the Republican Party you can think of as being the tension between a free America and real America and how they are interacting and where where there’s a lot of good points that come out of it. But, Emily, you were reviewing, I think, the book from for The Times. What do you think is working in this and what is it missing?


S1: Well, I mean, look, whenever you make these kinds of generalizations, it’s like part candy and part super irritating. And like that’s kind of part of the point. You’re needling people. Right. And I think Packer would probably be the first to say that he’s caricaturing more of the sort of like activist active aspects of the party that, like, there’s tons and tons of Americans for whom none of these categories would be particularly salient. And the more

S2: like I would say, like almost all black Americans, almost all immigrants, I think probably like a huge percentage of. Black America is left out of this, but

S1: right now, I mean and lots of other people to like, I think there’s just a way in which it’s like it’s very politically identified kind of labeling for the most part. I mean, not entirely, but for the most part. So I was I think Packer is the most energized by skewering Democrats right now. Right. So like real America and free America are like a pretty common critique of the right that like they’re too libertarian and that there’s this fake populism that’s distracting people. Smart America like is really an attack on the whole concept of meritocracy, which Packer has good evidence for. Right. He has this line where he says, like, you’re no more likely to get into an Ivy League or top selective college if you’re not in like an upper income bracket now than you were in 1954. We really are in this point in which people are passing along as a kind of birthright, the ticket to top education that brings with it a ticket to affluence and kind of success. And he, I thought, did an especially good job of making me at least think about how obsessed people get with their own family well-being as opposed to like larger public good, as opposed to some kind of civic engagement and caring about the democracy. John, go ahead.


S3: Well, no, no, no. I don’t want to screw up your description of this unless you’re just ready to stop.

S1: No, no, I’m totally right.

S3: OK, so the the classification nobody loves a classification more than me. And so as a kind of blunt instrument for sorting our country and its contradictions, I think that’s great and useful. And these are pretty good categories. But the question is whether in stereotyping the categories, you so you you create a misimpression of what these groups are. And so I just jump in on the smart America idea. Clearly there are people like that. The question is whether individual members of Smart America represent the whole of smart America, because one of the claims about smart America is that, you know, they lost the capacity and need for a national identity. Other times he talks about smart America, not really caring about patriotism, smart America, like voted and built Barack Obama in 2007 and 2008. And Obama’s whole pitch starting in 2004 was a kind of patriotic embrace of the American dream. And this idea of America as this beneficent place which had all these wonderful claims stitched into its being, it was an incredibly patriotic and nationally formed pitch. And the people who gobbled it up were all the people in smart America.

S2: So wouldn’t Packer argue John that that that this is almost a post Obama split, though, that no, Obama sort of is a reach. It’s like a is a is a it’s a grasp for something like an attempt to hold that together. But actually those things were splitting that the Great Recession was splitting those groups with splitting that group even apart.

S3: I don’t well, I don’t know. I don’t think so because he characterizes those people as in the Democratic Party. And Obama’s not that long ago. And he’s to the extent that the Democratic Party. So I don’t think I don’t think you can say that. Also, he one of the challenges with the book that confuses me a little


S2: down like Joe Manchin

S3: here is where he puts the the needle down. So one of the things he argues is that basically the Democratic Party abandoned white working class America and that allowed Republicans to make cultural pitches that stole away those voters from Democrats. And so he puts that needle down. Basically, he says at one time during the Clinton administration, that’s the start of Donald Trump’s rise

S1: and that’s the real America that feeds real

S3: that’s that’s real America. Exactly. That feeds real America. And I know why he’s doing that. And so that there is something that’s true about that. But I mean, George Wallace didn’t win the states. He won in 1968 because he was making an argument about that was not and that was not devoid of cultural and racial issues. My point being that the pitch on cultural issues to white working class voters started long before. And he acknowledges this a little bit in some places, started long before Bill Clinton. And it was not, strictly speaking, an economic argument. It was based on race. It was based on people who are not like us coming to threaten our status. It was based on a whole host of things. And the reason I think this is important is if you’re classifying for the purposes of correcting, I think it’s much more complex than the way his stereotypes, which are necessary in some ways, paint some of these groups.

S1: So just to note, I mean, Packer does say at one point racism is in our marrow about America and that we just came like very close to having a take over the whole country. And he’s talking about the Trump administration. It is true John, I think. You are right that his primary interest in Lens is economic inequality, and so whatever distracts us and divides people and takes us away from addressing economic inequality frustrates him.


S3: Yeah, and his point, as you say, about meritocracy is incredibly tight and clear and powerful and right.

S1: And I don’t know about you. I felt very implicated in it and spent all of smart America passages trying to like distinguish myself from it and like run from it in every way that I could. But of course, like in a lot of ways I can’t.

S3: Well, I think that’s that’s an incredibly generous.

S2: Why do you do you I always whenever I encounter like, I’m like, yeah, you got me mad, but I don’t want

S1: to be like the bad part of smart America and all its smug like except blindness to people’s real problems. You kind of shrug it off if you want. I don’t want to be that person who.

S2: Yeah but just because you don’t want to be doesn’t mean you haven’t been like caught.

S1: Exactly. That’s what makes me uncomfortable. That’s what I’m saying. But I don’t have to lay but stick with it and not interrogate it.

S3: But I don’t think your view on meritocracy is any different from his. While you may work in an institution just like others who write about meritocracy, you know that that worsens inequality and creates that or contributes to the conditions he identifies. You’re not blind to those. We’ve talked about them on this show.

S1: Well, sure, I’m right. But that is in me and I’m like actively trying to do enough to stop them. Right. Like, there is symbolic, like affirmation and like, oh, I recognize this in awareness and like, OK. And then there’s like, how am I living my life and am I really doing the things that


S2: you’re still hard in the dream?

S1: Like I still am teaching at Yale University. I mean, I don’t know.

S3: But you don’t have a smug you don’t have a smug blindness to the to these issues, which is the way it’s portrayed. That that’s that’s my see, this is the tension. I think I think it is incredibly powerful to create caricatures for the purposes of skewering it just the way you identified. But in so doing, if you if you eliminate the complexity of people who may live in smart America but recognize these shortcomings or you eliminate the complexity of the the greater contribution of racial and cultural dog whistles to the creation of the current political climate, I think you it sharpens the argument.

S1: I guess my point, my overarching point and something I thought was very shrewd about Packer characterization of just America as well, is there is a lot of symbolic talk right now as opposed to deep change that affects the lives of people who are not going to read this book, don’t give a shit about these categories and wouldn’t really recognize themselves very much in them. And that deeply, deeply troubles me. Right. Like all the posturing as opposed to, like, actually doing something to let, like an apartment building get built somewhere where, like, people can have affordable housing and then the composition of your local school changes. I mean, that’s what I’m talking about in a very local level.

S3: Right. This is it’s an Hersch’s idea of. Yeah. Political hobbyists. Yes.

S2: But isn’t this what’s appealing to so many people on the kind of practical left about Joe Biden, which is that that, in fact, that the Biden agenda is very much aimed at the practical gains that reduce the sorts of economic inequality the Packers obsessed with. And it’s and it’s sort of like says you guys go over here and have your fights about, you know, whatever you’re having your fights about. But we’re going to build child care centers and we’re going to get people jobs and have construction and and have have health care. And that’s going to make big structural change so that you did all the little nubbin, little nasty little fights you’re going to have over here are peripheral to actually what really matters.


S1: I totally agree with that. And I think it also harks back to the point John was making about President Obama. And when I was listening to Ezra Klein’s interview with Obama last week, I was really struck by how nostalgic it felt to me and how much the fights on the left as well as the right have departed from. Let’s bring us all together what unites us like how can we make people’s lives better? And I think just America is also implicated in those divisions.

S2: Well, I think one of the things that I think is interesting, I haven’t read the rest of the book and the Packer is also written about civics education. His his he’s an enthusiast for civics education, I think. And that that we do need an kind of a society that agrees on sort of what are the rules by which we operate, what are the what are the actual structures that we’re governed by. And he wants to fix education and which just seems to be such a weird, narrow, hopeless kind of solution because lots of people support civics at. If you pull for it, everyone supports it, but what they mean by civics education is civics education that is entirely wrapped up in my master

S3: narrative that no, he totally he’s he’s like civics education might save us or it might ruin us. I think he accounts for that.

S2: But I guess I think civic education is a hopeless thing, given that the actual fight, the rhetorical fights we’re having today and I was hoping a deep outside challenge like a pandemic, say, might knit us back further back to

S1: who’s very gloomy about the pandemic.


S2: Yeah, yeah. No, it just had to be correct, hasn’t it? Right. But I do think actually, like, again, going back to what the Biden agenda is, that that the Biden agenda, which may or may not succeed and like, made the pieces of it that I may be in favor of may not get anywhere. But I do think the Biden agenda is kind of is actually much closer to being the kind of thing that will create a sense of commonality than any of the rhetorical change that we want.

S1: Right. I mean, PackerGeorge overarching thesis is to argue that we have lost or are in imminent danger of losing what he calls the art of self-government. And that’s for him. Forgive me, Tocqueville, in term, that has to do with, like all of the ways we stitched ourselves together and have common ground. And he’s really worried about that loss. And he also frames it in terms of a very traditional Western enlightenment, like a set of values about equality and liberty and rationality that are super familiar if you have that kind of Western education. I think what he does not do in the book is grapple with why for lots of people on the left and the right, that is not sufficient right now and does not feel super compelling. And so that was something I would have wanted more of in the book. But it’s a really interesting exploration of all this.

S3: Yeah, yeah, I agree. And I also think that the structure of politics has destroyed a lot of these ideas because power is more important than these abstract notions. And therefore, if we’re trying to figure out what caused this for the purposes of ameliorating it or fixing it, I felt like that would have been a useful part of the causal forces. But I like this sorting technique. And so then the question is, why do I like it? In other words, I like it because I think it has utility in our future discussions. But maybe. But why do I think that?


S1: Well, because you recognize some truths in it, right? I mean, it doesn’t have to totally hold up to have some useful framing mechanisms. And I correct. You know, I thought the sort of political high wire act of the book, at least from where I stand, was his critique of Just America, which is a critique of a lot of anti-racist philosophy right now. And he is basically arguing that when anti-racism goes beyond equality and becomes very subjective and its lens and very focused on individual trauma, that it’s a problem for enlightenment values. And it was a really like Four-Square articulation of that argument that I appreciate it. I didn’t agree with all of it, but I thought it was really worth thinking about. Right.

S2: Now, let’s go to cocktail chatter when you are sitting in just America, real America, smart America, free America, having a having a drink, you can have a drink in any of them where you are going to be chattering about John.

S3: My chatter is about a piece I saw in the USA Today which was saying I was talking about the worry in the post pandemic age about Legionnaires disease, the airborne illness, that what they worried about is hotels and office buildings that have been not occupied. That Legionnaires disease comes from bacteria that sits in pipes. So I talked about this guy who worked in, I think I believe is a Las Vegas casino whose job during the pandemic was to go to the rooms or there was a fleet of people who did this, flushing the toilets and running the water in order to keep it circulating for fear of Legionnaires disease. So we went back and looked at Legionnaires disease, which if you look at this period in nineteen seventy six, so in nineteen seventy six in July, there was a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel, and thirty four people who went to that of the four thousand delegates, thirty four of them died. Two hundred and twenty one got sick. And there was a massive investigation launched by the CDC to figure out what had happened. And they looked at everything from the microphones to the toothpicks to whether it had been anti-war protesters. And it was not until later that they found out in 1977 that this was an airborne bacteria. But at that same time, there is a national vaccination effort that’s that is underway against the swine flu. Ford got the vaccination and it went in. It went terribly wrong and they ultimately had to stop it by the end of the year. But we think of all the things we’re going through and they are as singular. But in the spring and summer of 1976, you have these two events that are very similar to ours at this current moment where you had a national vaccine program, the president getting vaccinated on public, on national television. And then you had all these people dying of Legionnaires disease. It was just this kind of red hot period that was interesting to me.


S2: Emily, there’s lots of chatter.

S1: I am recommending a piece about the ACLU by my colleague Michael Powell that I thought was just a really interesting exploration of internal tensions at the ACLU between their free speech docket and their other dockets, including their racial justice docket. There was a lot of blowback to this piece that I saw on Twitter, some of it from lots of ACLU lawyers. And there were sort of two critiques. One was, oh, nothing to see here, because the ACLU has battled these internal tensions before in the 70s, in the 90s. And I think something can be recurrent and newsworthy at the same time. And another critique was that Powell hadn’t concentrated on the free speech docket that the ACLU wanted him to concentrate on. They had sent him a bunch of cases. Why aren’t you writing about these cases? Why are you writing instead about various tweets from the ACLU Twitter account that seem to have a different kind of approach? And I mean, look, Michael Powell is a reporter who gets to pick what he wants to focus on. And I think substantively it just made me think a lot about my own positions on free speech, which are not purist. And the ACLU and whether even if I disagree with some of the stances the ACLU takes, whether I want them to be doing it anyway. And I think there’s just this really interesting tension between, you know, cause advocacy for racial justice, which totally can involve free speech defense. I mean, the ACLU has been defending DeRay McKesson in this and my view, crazy lawsuit in which he’s like he was supposed to be, I think, criminally prosecuted, certainly civilly sued for his role in a protest. I mean, it’s great that they’re doing that. Absolutely. That kind of work on behalf of DRE or other Black Lives Matter protesters counts as free speech work. But there are other times in which, like, you know, according to the ACLU’s own lawyers, they are kind of not taking a high profile role in cases and doing a new kind of balancing test. And that is worth thinking through, like whether you want to decide they’re making the right call or not. I thought this was like a good entry point for the discussion. So that’s my feeling about that piece.


S2: I have to chatter today. First, I want to chat about a book, a new book I’m really excited to read. I just got a copy of May It Please the court. Which is former Justice Stephen Breyer, his first novel, an erotic coming of age tale set at the Supreme Court.

S3: Oh, dear.

S2: The press release says, may it please. The court is a sexual romantic play in the tradition of Portnoy’s Complaint, writing with a vivid, seductive language that was his hallmark as a justice. Breyer tells the story of one quiet but powerful man’s carnal awakening. I, for one, am excited to read it. Emily, have you heard about that book?

S1: I’m trying to decide what to say, have I heard about that book? Yes, I’ve heard all about it. It’s supposed to be excellent. I can’t wait to get my hands on a computer that

S2: I can’t believe that no one has written. An erotic novel called May It Please the court yet

S1: it’s out there to be grabbed.

S2: Well, now it’s now not anymore because former Justice Breyer has it. My other chatter is about a fantastic story in the Atlantic, which I’m sure you guys have seen. It’s the best office return story I have seen so far is by Rachel Gutman, and it’s about an apple. So somebody left an apple on a desk in the Atlantics office back in March of twenty twenty and it just sat there for four hundred and thirty eight days. And Rachel Gutman went back to the office. She visited it and she said I found it shriveled but intact, a biological marvel that most closely resembled an oversized date. The apple had not uzed it did not stink. It was still firm to the touch and sported no visible mold. It appeared to have undergone an absolutely immaculate desiccation. How is it possible this ordinary fruit was not after 14 months plus at room temperature, a puddle of putrid goo. And it’s this great piece about why this particular apple didn’t become a puddle putrid goo. And I’m going to spoil it slightly to say that it all builds up to her actually eating the apple


S1: that’s offloaded

S2: photos of it. It’s an amazing, delightful story. I strongly recommend it. Listeners, you have also sent us Incredible Chatter’s this week to add SlateGabfest really glorious set this week. And I am so excited to hear from Andrew Goetz, who is going to talk about Mick West YouTube videos explaining UFO footage.

S4: Hey, gabfests. Andrew Goetz from Dallas, Texas. Mick West has one of the most interesting YouTube channels dedicated to the art of polite investigation has shown is a fairly logical explanation for all the UFO videos using such things as simple high school trigonometry, flair and glare on the camera lens. And the parallax effect is a short explanations for the recently released UFO videos and has long form videos as well, with detailed explanations for long form interviews with some of the military officers centered around NAVILLE footage are amazing to watch. His interview with the Louis’ Elizondo, who took part in the 60 Minutes special, is really good. Living up to its polite investigator tagline. How do we get Mick West on 60 Minutes? I’m looking at you John Dickerson of CBS. I really hope you guys enjoy these videos of the podcast.

S2: I watched a couple of the Mick West videos. They’re astonishing. If you have if you have watched some of the UFO, they quote UFO videos and are curious about them and you’re just like, what? What is going on? And then you watch these videos. I don’t know if Mick West is totally, you know, solve the case, but, wow, they’re super persuasive, very ordinary explanations for what is what have being presented as totally mysterious phenomena. So I concur with Andrew Goetz there. That is our show for today, The Gap, as is produced by Jocelyn Frank, who is backing off our researcher with Bridgette Dunlap. Gabriel Roth is editorial director of audio Jane. Thomas is managing producer and Alicia Montgomery is the executive producer of Slate podcasts. Follow us on Twitter at SlateGabfest. And please tweet your chatter to us. They are for Emily Bazelon and John Dickerson. I’m David Plotz. Thank you for listening. We’ll talk to you next week. Hello, plus, how are you? What’s your first name or last name, what’s your name? So our question this week is I think it’s Jocelyn


S1: such a good one.

S2: It’s a great one. So the question is, in what ways has your name impacted your personality first or last or middle or even nickname? John.

S3: Well, Dickerson is, you know, cause a lot of people with extremely deep and powerful creative reservoirs to come up with ways to make fun of your last name, but it and so I suppose in some way that gave me an early introduction to the vast number of people who who really energetically will throw themselves into something that is by, I think, universal acclamation, a pretty subpar joke and a pretty you know, it’s just basically that people will really grab the low hanging fruit. And and so that was an early introduction to that. To the extent that you hear a lot of that as a kid and then and then are are amazed to see it continue on later into your life. And then the other thing is that having the word the name John, which is also what people of my parents’ generation referred to the bathroom as always struck me as just kind of this weird thing that I had no understanding about the etymology of it. Why you needed like a name for why not just call it the bathroom? It was it was just so strange. And then finally, the John, with the exception of John the Baptist, it’s just kind of a it’s just the most vanilla name. You know, I always try to get people to call me Jack because that felt like, OK, you know, like even John Kennedy burst out of the name and they called him Jack because it was it was too vanilla for somebody with his, you know, eccentricities or flair.


S2: Why didn’t you ever why didn’t you ever become a jack? Why didn’t you ever?

S3: Because I think you need to you need to have other people who give themselves nicknames are in the category that sad or even than those people who think making names for people who have whose last name or Dickerson, that’s an even sadder category. So you can’t give yourself a nickname. And so you you have to kind of earn it or have it be given you. Somebody used to call me John Frederick, which was which I kind of like to. So that was fine. Frederich being my middle name, but that was the only one that I ever and then my nickname in college was Deqi, which was

S2: which was you go to college in the 1950s. Do you have a nickname, Dicky? How could anyone go to college in the late 1980s?

S1: And me go back to the first thing John said his last name apparently was irresistable.

S2: I understand that. But Dickie is a classic like you. It’s the talented Mr. Ripley nickname. It’s a it’s an older era.

S3: You’re exactly right. It was my father’s nickname. I did not get it for that reason. There are many people, particularly in the South, who who have nicknames that are either copies of or derivations of their father. Mine was it was my brother’s nickname, mining name and my dad’s. So you think that’s really

S1: quite a nickname?

S3: Well, but never in the same circle. Ordinal time, like the people who call my dad that, you know, stopped doing it in nineteen forty five and then my brother would have stopped in like nineteen eighty seven and then me, it started in probably eighty seven. So it’s like there was never any confusion because nobody was being called it at the same time.


S1: Well I wonder John if like all this made you a little bit aware of bullying and being I mean. Yeah. Just like that must have been just something that you had to figure out how to have a thick skin about.

S3: Yeah. Although I wish that were the case because I had and have at times not that thick of a skin. And so I just kind of like I guess I just sort of ignored it, like it never actually bothered me. So I wish that that were a result of it.

S1: Well, that was probably a very good sense way of dealing with it, though. My dad’s first name is Richard and he goes by Rick, but he does not go by Rich or Dick or any of the other derivations of Richard, any of the other nicknames. And he gets irritated when people get it wrong. Like, he just you can see him kind of bridle.

S2: What about you, Emily? Forward to an era of Emily’s.

S1: Right. So, I mean, I am part of an era of Emily’s right. Like the popularity of the name Emily starts with people around my age. I mean, obviously, it goes back. It has this like nice Victorian history, which my mom was thinking. My mom was actually super into this book called Emily of Deep Valley by moderate Lovelace, who wrote the Betsy Tacy books she identified with that character. And so that was part of how I got my name. But there are tons of girls and young women named Emily. Like I’m a little bit on the old I mean, there are plenty of people named Emily my age, but it became even more and more popular. And so that’s like a kind of funny development because you have this name and that. All of a sudden, it’s like every time you’re in a playground, your head is like whipping back and forth because there’s so many people with your name. And I think also, you know, my last name is like odd and unusual in this way that I kind of like, but is constantly causing problems of, like mispronunciation. People put a T in it. People spell out all kinds of ways. When I was growing up, people called me Emily Bazelon and Emily Bizzle, Tron and whatever. And I guess like similar to you John. It just is kind of amazing how many different, like, silly derivations people can come up with, but also sort of like how do them

S2: basilone that it’s good.

S3: That’s a very St Albans derivation.

S1: Babylon also on.

S3: Oh well that’s that’s that’s dangerous.

S1: Also perhaps true, sadly. David Plotz, you also have a nice original name.

S2: Well, I think I think what we’re learning is that everyone is self-conscious about some parts of their name and it’s everyone’s name is mocked in some fashion. So my last name, Plotts, is just highly mockable a the word itself is it’s a Yiddish and it’s a ridiculous Yiddish word to begin with. And B, it just sounds ridiculous, looks ridiculous. And I grew up in the 70s. There was that ad plop, plop, fizz, fizz for Alka Seltzer. That was it’s got a lot of that I remember. So yeah. So I at some point in my adult life, I couldn’t remember and used to answer the phone. Remember one answer. Sharon and I would I used to answer the phone plotts because I was like, I’m going to do it.

S1: Not anymore. But you would say plotts here at work.

S2: Yeah. That’s when you didn’t necessarily know who is calling now you know who’s calling. You don’t answer unless you know who’s calling. And so, you know, this

S3: is your homage to Anthony Weiner.

S2: Yeah, it was totally my almost wiener. Exactly. It’s exactly the right Weiner. David is such a boring but nice name. I have no complaints about. Name the name David. It’s very boring. There were tons of David’s like a David. David was sort of at its peak when I was born. So unlike your Emily, yours is sort of rose mine with at its height and then has, I think, slightly faded. David is less of a name than it used to be. But the big thing for me was the sorting mechanism of if you call me Dave, if you call me Dave on meeting me, like I immediately put you in a category, you’re almost certainly never going to be my real friend. Not because Dave is a terrible name just because people who call you Dave are a certain kind of people. If I’ve introduced myself as David and you’ve come back to me and said, Hey, Dave, that implies something about you.

S1: So I don’t think so sensitive about not for myself, but for like. So on the one hand, I totally get what you’re saying and it makes complete sense. And I actually try really hard not to shorten people’s names before I’m given license to. On the other hand, if you call someone Jonathan or Richard or whatever and they never go by that it’s weird. And so I find that so hard. I find like with Jeff and Jeffrey, that’s one more. It’s like either you’re on one side or the other and it’s hard to remember,

S2: well, you ask or something. And if I’ve said I’m David and you come back to me is Dave, that’s there are people who call me. I have all my college roommates call me Dave.

S1: So you gave them the license?

S2: I would like it, yeah. At the time, it just didn’t matter as much. I didn’t I didn’t identify as strongly. And I grew up as a boy growing up in the 80s. And so right now, sometimes you just panic in your head. You’re like, oh, wait, is that guy David or Dave? And you just do it. And I’ve certainly done that. You called Thomas Toms and Jeffery’s Jeffs, but there is a Dave is a name. There’s a particular kind of person who Dave’s you and I, in my experience that if not generally a person I’m going to hang with.

S3: Yeah, I once called this woman Sarah Rapunzel, for it was a real that expression who gave you is epically good because it is so perfect of a certain kind of person that that and yet the story that most quickly comes to mind and is a former colleague of mine at Time magazine who was not a person who Dave’s you, but just for one reason or another, shortened a person’s name, Robert, who is always called Robert and never called anything else to Bob. And we were in a conversation where I was the adjacent party and he called him Bob like 30 times in a conversation. And with all of this kind of brio and zest and Sally forth. But each time it was like a chandelier falling and I wanted to jump in and fix the situation, but couldn’t. Oh, I still feel the sweat of the moment.

S1: Did you bond with him afterwards about it? That’s like the kind.

S3: Oh, yeah, totally. When we later went into his office, is quite a close colleague of mine at the time and I told him it was we both. Just like fell out laughing,

S1: So do you give people a pass for using nicknames cavalierly when you’re playing sports with them?

S2: Interesting. What?

S1: So the women I play tennis with, of all shortened by I go I’m happy to go by and it’s totally fine, but like they all shortened my name without being given like the slightest license to do that. And I was like, it’s fine, I’m fine with it.

S3: Do they do this in the heat of competition? And, you know,

S1: I mean, it’s like just I think it’s easier to have one syllable. I don’t

S2: know. Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s a good point. I think it might be the one syllable. Now that you say that, do people do on the soccer field or basketball court do call me Dave and I don’t. But most of those people are not real friends. Right. But they do do it. Interesting. OK. OK, Jack. I’ll call you Jack. I’m happy to call you Jack.

S1: We could switch.

S3: No, it’s too late. It’s too late. Because now I’ve let the cat out of the wallet. And so it now. Now you you can’t once you’ve expressed a desire for it in a previous portion of your life, you can’t accept it because it’s it’s basically a it’s a it’s a workaround to giving yourself your own nickname, which is not allowed by polite society. But I appreciate the gesture.

S1: I have one more self indulgent thing to say. It’s just that when I was growing up, my mom called me, me, pretty much nobody else. My mom called me any. And when I got to college, my roommate called me. And now my mom does not really call me me but me. Lisa, my roommate still calls me at me and she’s like the only one. And I love it so much. It just like makes me every time she text me, I’m like, oh, that’s so sweet. But I don’t want everyone else to pick it up,

S3: you know,

S2: like, oh my God, you’ve given ammunition.

S3: My wife then girlfriend once called me Johnny and it was about the greatest thing in my life. So that’s one instance in which you can give someone a nickname or elongate, I guess. And I can probably do that to ask why do you ask? Works out just fine.

S2: I’m sure it’s very agreeable.

S3: Again, it’s you can’t ask for it or it loses its weight. It has to be on the desk and that’s displayed. Plus she never gets this.

S1: I know. Exactly.

S2: All right. Byfleet plus.