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S2: Hello and welcome to the Slate Political Gabfest for November 14th 2019. The DP arts M B addition I m said DP David Plotz of Atlas Obscura joining me from New Haven is Emily Bazelon of Yale University not Boston but that’s my office in New Haven.
S3: But she’s in New England New England it’s just like a one small region up there. Hello. Emily Barth one of Yale and here that’s Wyoming hello. And chuckling in his usual words suddenly way is John Dickerson of CBS 60 Minutes from New York. Hello John. Hello to John. Did you sleep out last night for Covenant House. That’s tonight. You’re sleeping out tonight. Yeah. Is there a way that people could care less and still support it.
S4: Oh you’re so sweet. Yeah. I mean I guess if they just go to my Twitter page it’s the pinned tweet and that’ll take you to the donor’s choose a Web site where they can donate.
S5: People have been extremely generous and it’s been really lovely to see on today’s gabfest will the first public impeachment hearing change the debate about impeachment then. Be still my beating heart Michael Bloomberg Michael if I liked column is preparing to run for president as is Deval Patrick who I don’t call anything at all.
S6: Then the Supreme Court seems ready to endorse to support to validate the president’s plan to end DACA. The dreamers program. Is that going to happen. Is that a legit decision from the court. If it does come plus we’ll have cocktail chatter on Wednesday. We saw the first public hearings in the impeachment investigation by the House of Representatives of President Trump the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Adam Schiff held their first hearings. They invited Bill Taylor and George Kent to testify publicly. What were the highlights.
S7: Well there were two new pieces of information important I would say.
S8: Pieces of information from Bill Taylor. One was that an aide of his who I think now the Democrats are trying to scheduled to testify that this aide overheard a phone call between Gordon Seidlin the ambassador to the EU and President Trump. This is the day after Trump’s call was Lenski and on the overheard phone call Trump is asking Sandlin about this hope he has that the Ukrainians are going to investigate Joe Biden on his son. And so it seems like confirmation that this is really what’s on Trump’s mind as he’s withholding the military aid. The second piece of information is that the Ukrainians were aware that this military aid was being held up as they were trying to figure out what to do and how to handle the pressure they were getting from Trump and Giuliani. I think we already knew that that timeline was falling into place. The Ukrainians had this knowledge of the withheld military aid earlier and maybe John will remember which other witness told us that. But I felt like that defense that Trump and his allies have put out there has already been falling apart. And so just to play it out the defense was well this couldn’t have been a real pressure campaign because the Ukrainians didn’t even know that they weren’t receiving this aid. It seems like that is just not the case.
S9: Yeah well so first of all we should step back and remind ourselves where we were last week because even this line of argument I think Emily and correct me if I’m wrong slots into a weird defense in slots into the defense that it didn’t happen. And if Ukraine didn’t know about it it wasn’t illegal or it wasn’t wrong at various stages Ukraine doesn’t need to know that the president is doing what’s alleged. If the president is doing what’s alleged and it just hasn’t gotten to that point in the in the activity. So that’s just one. One quick thing about this. Another important thing is that there is Jim Jordan the congressman from Ohio is said who made the case that Emily outline just now has said you know that the investigation was never launched what wasn’t launched was the announcement of the investigation. There has been testimony or there will be testimony and there’s been reporting that in fact the announcement was about to be made that an interview between the Ukraine president and Fareed Zakaria on CNN was actually scheduled and he was going to announce this and then because the aid started to flow that interview was canceled. But on the phone call with the president that summarized in what the president calls the transcript the Ukraine president promises to do the investigation. So in fact he did make a promise to the president that he would do the investigation. So when Congressman Jordan says that the event there was no one investigation well he had promised the president that it would exist. But what all the wrangling was about and what the Democrats point to is the wrangling was about making a public announcement about this which they argue was actually more important to the president because he wasn’t genuinely interested in a corruption investigation. He was interested in a public statement that would hurt Joe Biden in the context of the presidential campaign.
S10: And just to go back to the obvious point which is that attempted extortion and extortion which fails for whatever reason it’s still an attempted extortion because just because the full force of it is not carried through it is still an attempted extortion. And and in fact four Ukrainian soldiers who died during the period when the aide was held up you could argue with a life or death decision it may have been that that aid and equipment and training that might have saved lives among Ukraine army were lost because this was held up for time. It’s not enough to say there’s not the quid pro quo didn’t wasn’t carried forward.
S7: I mean I think it also matters that the reason this extortion plot fell apart was not that Trump had a change of heart and suddenly thought Oh my God what am I doing. I can’t abuse my power in this way. The reason it fell apart was that they started getting caught. And Congress got really mad that this aid that they had authorized was being withheld and it started to rattle the diplomatic corps so much that there was a whistleblower complaint. I mean to me and just sort of assessing the situation that makes a big difference.
S4: Yes to just three things quick things that also got fuzzy it up in the first day of testimony but that matter one is that the aide as Emily just said was authorized by Congress and signed by the president. So if the president was as interested in corruption as his defenders say there had already been an investigation into Ukrainian corruption which is a prerequisite for releasing that money. But also the president was in this case he had President has free reign and extraordinary reign not total free reign and national security issues. But in this one he was constrained by a law that he had already sent and also there were some of the president’s defenders have said well this is just the tailor and Cantu testified on Wednesday are just unhappy about the direction in U.S. foreign policy under Trump certainly that’s the case you could tell. But this isn’t just about a dispute over policy. This is about whether a president who is given his power by the people use the power in the service of the national interest or used it in his own private interests and that it seems to me was another thing that got kind of fuzzy add up.
S3: It is so maddening to hear this absolute bullshit about the concern about corruption and the president’s legitimate concern that the pretense it would be so much better if everyone were just honest about it all like I’m not saying it would have. It would mitigate the crime that was committed or the wrong that was committed against the country. But this level of hypocrisy and lying about the pretense that there is an actual attempt to constrain corruption and that’s what this administration is cares about is so it’s such an insult to all of us. We all know this has been done for purely political purposes. That is the only reason it is happening. It’s only reason anyone cares about it. And like let just come out and say it. And just like that let’s agree that that’s what is being done and you do you decide whether that’s an impeachable offense or not but to put this this kind of complete Potemkin excuse up there is maddening.
S7: I think the falsity though is crucial because if you’re going to argue that OK this happened but it wasn’t worth impeaching you have to hold on to that facade. Right. And that is where they’re going to end up because they the facts are going to drive them they’re well you know but they’ve.
S3: But they’ve ended up at the big Mulvaney has already done it. I mean they’ve already conceded the political piece of it. Mulvaney has already said we did it for political reasons well and then they took it back right.
S7: I mean they keep sort of circling around this but if they give up on the idea of like oh this was really about corruption it becomes harder to argue that this was acceptable conduct and we just shouldn’t worry about it very much.
S4: Well. But there are people. This is what’s still so so messy is that there are some Republicans who say no he cared about corruption this had nothing to do with the Bidens and there are others who say he shouldn’t have tried to target Biden. But it’s not impeachable. They still haven’t gotten the story straight. And the president fact on Sunday tweeted to Republicans don’t don’t say there was anything wrong it was a perfect phone call. There was nothing there was nothing wrong here. I think the problem with the corruption thing is that there’s not a large body of evidence showing the president with deep seated passion for corruption a B if you ask Axelrod on the contrary there’s a ton of evidence that the president has a deep seated passion for corruption especially cares more about corruption than it does about anything else anyway.
S11: But I think the actually that was Congressman Hines his point was not that the president was trying to end corruption but was trying to aim corruption.
S4: I thought that was a clever clever soundbite but these two witnesses could have been used by Republicans to make the corruption case in other words they know quite a lot about corruption in Ukraine. And presumably if the president were as interested as his defenders say the two people involved in Ukraine policy would say oh yes I remember all those meetings we had at the agency an interagency level where where we were told about how much the president cared about corruption and how much he wanted to button back the oligarchs. And I remember. But there was no pre-recorded like that because the president has not shown a broad interest in the Ukraine corruption at least that ever came to them and they would be two people who would who would probably who would probably know about it. So it does seem it seems to be a post hoc rationalization but all Republicans need for their own purposes is a sufficient post hoc rabbit rationalization to get through the process.
S3: So Emily the Republican strategy seems to be several. There are several elements but one key element that came out on Wednesday was this is all hearsay this is all hearsay it’s secondhand. We don’t know you didn’t hear it. You never talked to the president. You’re alleging this conspiracy orchestrated by the press. You’ve never talked to him. And and the people you. You’re citing some aide of yours who overheard a conversation really. Is that all you’ve got. That’s hearsay. What are the problems with that. I mean there’s there’s so many problems with it. I think it’s actually fairly effective talk dilatory Stalin rhetorical play but from a substantive perspective what’s wrong with it.
S12: Well the main thing is that the people who have the firsthand knowledge the White House is blocking from testifying. So Mick Mulvaney Mike Pompeo our secretary of state the question of whether John Bolton is going to testify he is kind of playing footsie right now with the idea of like oh I need a court order in order to show up. No he does not need a court order. There’s no law or precedent from the Supreme Court suggesting that he can’t show up for a congressional subpoena. Now the White House could then try to block certain lines of questions by invoking executive privilege. But that’s a different matter. That’s about specific questions not the idea of showing up at all. So if none of the main players who were talking to President Trump are going to testify then yes you’re going to have this outer circle less inner circle of people who had knowledge of what was happening and who become the main witnesses for it.
S3: Right. And. And then if you were a Democrat who was in that position because it seems the Democrats are not right now going to pursue the the very languorous court process of forcing people under subpoena to testify or trying to get a court to order them to testify what what should the Democrats do about this Republican defense.
S13: I mean I think they should point it out they should say well if you want the people who were in the room with President Trump like hand them over we’re eager to talk to them and we would love to hear what they have to say. Right. And without that testimony the question is whether there’s enough damning facts piling up that you don’t really need the principals involved to confirm all of it right. I mean the Republican defense is this is a big deal to impeach or remove the president. And so we should be hearing from the people in the room OK. Well either you give us the people in the room or you’re not. That defense becomes less potent because you’re the ones who are preventing us from hearing those people’s accounts.
S9: But if you’re being a smart strategist wouldn’t we all agree that the smartest thing to do is to say this is all hearsay. These people weren’t on you know they weren’t in the room and then never provide the people who were in the room.
S14: Yeah I think it’s the best they may have done right.
S3: It’s definitely going to work in the sense that he’s he’s certainly not gonna be removed from office in this process and this is one of several useful covers they have given themselves one of several fig leaves that they’re sowing into a loin cloth of defense. What. So John it was a you know what was described yesterday by Taylor and Kent was breathtaking and I think somebody somebody who had missed the last five years and was brought in to hear this testimony would be like Oh my God the president of the United States did this. This is what’s happening in United States. My God he will be removed in moments. But obviously the rest of us have lived through these past some years of the Trump presidency and of an extremely short half life of Trump scandals and of the extremely low impact of these these TV moments and the non durability of these moments because they’re these counter narratives these two completely different narratives. So was there anything that you see happening or that happened yesterday or that you foresee happening that that could be a breakout moment that does shift how people see things.
S4: A couple of things I mean you know this is a this is a I don’t know what my this is either a jigsaw puzzle or it’s a marathon or. But I mean we were this yesterday’s hearing like in all hearings and all he says is to is to describe one piece of the puzzle and then presumably through the rest of the process all the other pieces will be put together and the and the picture that’s described you know the sea the sea shore scene that the puzzle is supposed to be. They’ve laid out. And then all the pieces get put together and you see if it looks like a sea shore or it looks like you know a mountain scape and but but that’s a long process. And what I think the Trump campaign in 2015 all the way through his campaign and now the Trump presidency has done I think effectively is condition people in the press and in general the citizenry to evaluations and momentary applause meters and approval ratings. So when Eric Trump talks about his father’s presidency or his father’s campaign and what was so amazing the first thing he talks about is the ratings.
S9: Yesterday the White House press secretary talked about how it was a boring hearing other defenders of the president talked about how it was so boring. So that we’ve come into this funny place where if something is boring it’s not valid. Oh boy that’s going to get us in we’re going to be an awful shape if that is true. But that’s not just this president. That’s of course been everything that’s happened starting in the television age. So I think one thing that was the most interesting yesterday which connects what I just said with with I think we were saying earlier is this I the phone call that Emily mentioned when we started which is the overheard phone call between Sunlen and the president now we have to. This is literally a game of telephone. So we have to to kind of triangulate and make sure this is right. OK. Because here you have Taylor describing what an aide told him that he overheard from Solyndra the president so there’s a lot of ways in which this can not turn out to be what Taylor said it was. But let’s imagine it was.
S4: Well the reason that’s important of course is it because he puts more detail on the central character here which is the president being fixated on Biden which again is this instance in turning American statecraft not towards American interests but in terms to his private interest. And so if you’ve got a couple more pieces of data like that which are show this direct connection between the president and his fixation on his likely opponent then you have you know then the Democrats case is strengthened. So that was one moment yesterday while it was not pyrotechnic or cinematic. It was I think substantively useful for those trying to build the case against the president.
S3: I. Before we get to the three points that really disturbed me. I certainly think this is worthy of impeachment. What what is described the behavior the president has described as worthy of impeachment and it is an important investigation to have and it’s absolutely shocking that that U.S. foreign policy has been suborned unto the president’s personal interests in this way. There are three things that are so disturbing about this process that just worry me for the future of the country. And I just want to put the marker out. And it’s all the fault of the president and his supporters. I would note it’s not the fault of the investigation one is the lack of cooperation from the executive branch and the refusal to treat this as a legitimate investigation. Cooperate with it to provide witnesses to provide evidence to answer questions is puts at risk the very notion that there the separation of powers can survive and that the legislature can exist and in a form that can check the executive. That or that there can be any check on the executive. That’s number one. Number two there is no agreement on a set of facts that there is a partisan media on the right that has decided it will not treat the facts that are being laid out in an honest and straightforward way and instead treating them in this absolutely honky tonk bizarre like let’s just look chaff it up let’s pretend that things are obviously that are untrue or true way and causing there to be no shared set of beliefs around what is happening or shared set of knowledge that’s super disturbing. And finally and maybe the most importantly is the discrediting of public servants of bureaucrats or people who work for government the systematic attacks on Kent and Taylor and others who have been involved in this investigation people who’ve worked selflessly and admirably in the national interests for Republican presidents for Democratic presidents. That’s damn it. These are all things that did the damage we are doing for a generation forever in this country. If we allow this to go forward and so I’m not saying that the impeachment process is causing any impeachment post this is revealing why it’s revealing this and starkest relief.
S4: I would turn your first point a quarter and say I think it’s actually the legislature that should have enough self-respect to stand up for its own role in in life. This is something that passed with bipartisan support. The president signed. You know they as a member of you mean it’s extreme. You go back and read the way Congress used to behave when people had backbones. I mean Spiro Agnew tried to convince an Idaho senator to vote with the president and he said I was gonna vote with the president but now I’m not. And anytime you try and pressure me I will vote the opposite way you want. Now go away. This is an ally of the president’s. This is a fellow Republican but they’ve believed that they had some of their own powers and they represented the country in its most diverse form in the House and the Senate and that that was necessary in a separation of powers. That is that’s gone. So that’s one thing that has nothing to do with left or right. It just has to do with the different branches and then the other point you make I think is really really really important and I think it’s a part of the conversation here either in the impeachment context or the or the or the general election. This is the first time we’ve had an impeachment when there’s a re-election coming. And that’s I think the idea. Emily you’ll correct me if I’m wrong with the idea of vicarious liability the president in taking the position in doing the initial thing but then also in taking the position he has has caused people to rush to his defense and in so doing they have some of them attacked people like Taylor and can’t who whatever you may think of them are public servants who’ve dedicated their lives to America to both parties to the idea of America and who represent and they said this in their opening statement the stuff that animates the American government all around the world and an intimate service in all of those jobs where you don’t get any public praise but you do it for good for your sense of patriotism and your sense of American values.
S9: I really agree with you that this is a there’s a real cost here. And you saw it in the in the opening statements of the two men who talked about why they do what they do and why they believe what they believe gaffe has listeners.
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S5: So how is my week. You ask. My week was pretty darn good because I discovered that my crush my beau ideal of politics Dorothy to my Toto. Michael Bloomberg is planning to enter the Democratic primary for president. What a day. What a week.
S15: What a month by the time you’re done. I’m going to be a puddle on the floor of rage and sorrow and I won’t be able to say anything.
S16: Also Deval Patrick Former Governor Massachusetts close friend. President Obama is also gonna enter the Democratic primary.
S3: So Emily what are these two likely entries. Signal both of these gentlemen passed up a chance a year ago to get into the Democratic primary. It was getting going. Obviously they see something that they see a possibility or they are concerned about something so what is it. What is it.
S11: See something say something.
S12: I think they are concerned about Joe Biden’s candidacy and as they watch Joe Biden fade and flicker as he has done in his presidential campaigns in the past and I think do we have someone in the field who can really unite the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic Party and then reach out to some of the independents who presumably the Democrats need to win the White House. I think this is also nervousness on the part of some of the big donors in the Democratic Party who don’t always have the wisest judgment. And it’s important to note that 75 percent of Democratic voters feel perfectly satisfied with the choices that they currently have. So this is a kind of top down set of concerns. And you know for Michael Bloomberg it’s really just like Michael Bloomberg deciding to get in and I’m sure there are lots of consultants whispering in his ear because they can make a lot of money if he decides to run.
S17: I would get for the vote whispering Michael Bloomberg there. Oh my God. Just because this is my land but I don’t know why I was playing around.
S12: Patrick one imagines that some of the Obama people are talking to him because he is close with Obama. And they weren’t necessarily super excited about Biden as a candidate to begin with. So that seems like it has maybe more substance to it though I really wonder if someone who’s been working for Bain Capital for lo these many years since he got out of politics is going to be able to do all that uniting that is supposedly what needs to happen. Michael Bloomberg like yes he had his technocratic effective moments in New York. He was so terrible on Stop and Frisk and criminal justice policy. He has never for one second reckoned with any of that and indeed he continues to defend it.
S18: And so for me Michael Bloomberg is just like I just it it pains me a great deal to imagine that this is how he is going to let his money on fire.
S3: John to Bloomberg we’re gonna we’re gonna get to that in a minute. Emily we’ll talk about his lending his money empire in a second and today’s show he’s not just giving Burgoyne that money.
S19: Maybe you have been whispering in his ear and I’m like that would be so great. You did job Bloomberg. What a thought. I support him and he could pay me. That’s the best of all possible worlds. I’m kidding. We’d have to have the show. I’ve never been so angry with you. I’m just a note this is all I get.
S6: But so Michael Bloomberg like many billionaires John has been at the butt end of attacks by Elizabeth Warren who’s making a wealth tax a big deal in her campaign and by Bernie Sanders too. Do you think we only have one billionaire in the Democratic race Tom Steyer. Do you think that Bloomberg’s entry helps this case of Warren’s or I feel like the Bloomberg candidacy is really a gift to Elizabeth Warren even though I’m sure Bloomberg contends it is the exact opposite.
S11: Well implicit in it is that she’s doing well enough that that he’s worried. And also implicit is the Joe Biden is not doing well enough. And so he’s worried. And that’s also true of the Deval Patrick campaign. So that’s two things that help warn and hurt Biden. So and to the extent that it helps Warren directly and then sort of secondarily it helps her directly by you know thinking she’s doing well enough and helps her secondarily by by damaging one of her rivals. So I think that’s all good I think the problem is that the polls show and you know my gosh bring in you know enormous grain of salt about the polls. But but they have shown a steady kind of slow increase for Warren that does seem to have plateaued a little bit. So so the question then is has she hit a kind of ceiling and what does that mean. You know you can hit a ceiling and then move on. That is something her candidacy has to worry about. But what this means now for the Democratic race is a lot more messiness going around. And I don’t quite see how it gets resolved. I mean you’re going to have an eye because now you have Deval Patrick basically is probably not going to compete in Iowa I think. And then you have Bloomberg being a bit just a big money participant and that’s just a lot of energy in the system that can bounce all kinds of different ways. So I it’s it’s gonna be fascinating. And the argument the best argument that that Bloomberg could make is one that nobody wants to hear but the best argument is basically Presidents can only focus on two or three things. One of them they have to focus on is national security and covert operations. So that’s one taken off the table. The other two if you believe that climate change is existential OK the president’s gonna have to deal with that that’s two and three if you think economic disparities need to be reordered then maybe that’s the third although it’s quite hard to do outside of some kind of deal with Congress to pass some legislation which makes it more durable and more broadly shared. So in today’s political environment that would be a super heavy lift. But if at least on the first two Bloomberg could say look I can get things done I’ve been able to get things done. And while all the issues that Democratic primary voters care about are basically a very small percentage of what a president directly does. And what I will do is appoint people who care about these issues a lot but that we know from experience presidents don’t get to you don’t get to actually do much on those issues. That’s the best case he can make. Nobody’s going to like to hear that case because the primary is fought over the issues that presidents don’t have either direct control over or don’t have a lot of have. It’s much messier than the things they do have direct control over.
S3: I want to I’m going to use the balance of my time. I want to use some time. I do want to talk about Bloomberg substantively. So I think what Bloomberg does not bring to the table as a presidential candidate is pretty extraordinary and I’m sure it will doom his candidacy when he is old. He’s 77 years old and he’s not a young 77. He’s an old 77. He he doesn’t he’s not I mean he’s a sharp guy but he’s not as sharp as he was at 67 or 57 and there’s nowhere to go in that but down.
S6: So so I think if you’re concerned about an old candidate Bloomberg has that problem worse than maybe anybody in the race but but Biden himself he does not have a great history around me too. There are things that he is alleged to have said to women in his employ and in fact claims that have been made of complaints and lawsuits suggest he doesn’t have a fantastic record on issues that are really of concern to a lot of Democrats these days and should be of concern to all of us. He is a rich guy who really lives like a rich guy horses islands jets. Bloomberg just seems like a rich dude who likes being really rich. Stop and frisk as Emily touched on is devastating. It was a terrible policy that severely impacted black and Latino men in particular in New York City over many years. It was was illegal right.
S12: Emily A judge made them basically if not entirely stop it but severely curtail it because yes it was a form of racial profiling she found.
S3: Yeah yeah. I mean with the loathes grasping illegal and not very effective policy that created a huge amount of resentment. OK all true. I just would note that if you were doing a any universe where you had a chief executive that you wanted to run a country well he would be your clear number one draft pick. And with no one very close in second place there is nobody who he was an extraordinarily successful self-made businessman built a company that defeated other people competing against him in the field made markets more efficient. You know you know and create a huge amount of wealth while doing it. And huge contributions to how news and information is collected and gathered. He was an incredibly effective mayor of New York City. York City got richer more prosperous much better run. Public policy innovator left and right and center all over the place. And you know and made mistakes. Stop and Frisk was a mistake. So but if you look at what New York was at the beginning of his mayorship and what it was at the end there is no doubt that what he did and the people he appointed and what they did was extraordinary it made the city you know the most successful and prosperous city in America. And he is an incredible philanthropist as well. What he has spent his money on post mayoral mayorship and even during his mayorship has been really valuable and what he’s done on guns and what he’s done on climate has been effective and targeted and serious and ruthless. The guy just knows how to get shit done in a way that almost nobody else in public life does. And we I don’t think he can be elected president. I don’t think he’s a particularly good campaigner. I think there are all sorts of ways in which he is. He is anathema to this Democratic field. But I think we would be we would be foolish and shortsighted too to say he shouldn’t participate in this primary or say he doesn’t have the like the he hasn’t earned the right to really make a serious run here because I don’t believe he’s a.
S19: Can I give you a little visual listener Emily.
S10: And we’re just like looking sort of patiently and then just right in an eye roll. That was an extraordinary eye roll that you were unable to see. But I wish there I roles could be heard.
S4: If only I wrote him. John go ahead. No well actually we should just go. If you do are you dying to say something or you just eye rolling.
S7: I mean the president is not the CEO. Like if we were trying to choose our cold blooded manager to implement other people’s ideas and we could be sure that some of his terrible ideas and I would say you know his his he is a real mix of values some of them line up with Democratic priorities like gun violence and climate change and some of them really don’t. And I don’t see anything that reassures me that the problems with his tenure in mayor in New York are things that he recognizes. So I just feel like this is not the right role for someone like him.
S20: I’m sorry what is wrong with being a heterodox thinker in this world.
S21: Here’s the thing heterodox. But if you can as a great deal of harm to a whole community of people and you fail to recognize that indeed you continue to defend it long past the expiration date long past when other people have admitted that this was not worth the cost the human cost that is a problem like that’s not heterodox that’s being really stubborn about something that you thought was a good idea and wanted to try that turned out to be terrible but I agree that that was a bad policy.
S3: And he seems not to have come to any reckoning with it. But they willing to accept a very long. I’m really to cut him a break because he’s a very long record of public service and public accomplishment and private service and private accomplishment. And so certainly I want to hear from him. And I think he should run.
S11: Every candidate has a tradeoff. So the candidate who is a 10 on your values scale may not be very high up on the other scales right. Part of leadership and that is either gonna be a big problem if it’s a presidency of crisis and presidency if tough decision making because somebody who’s got the perfect values but hasn’t seen the time in the batting cage facing lots and lots and lots of hard difficult decisions of the kind of president makes which are unlike any other kind of decision. But if you’ve had a history of making tough decisions you’ve got some experience on this. You know we don’t know what the president’s he’s going to face but you make a compromise with any of the candidates and so the question then is are the compromises you would have to make on Bloomberg that much different with respect to the actual job they’re going to do than the compromises you would make for the other kinds of candidates who may be great on one thing but but have Bloomberg style deficiencies in the other characteristics that a president needs I think.
S14: Yes I. This is all fine. Oh well we’ll enjoy this person’s candidacy is going nowhere.
S3: But I also think it is very different to think of a Michael Bloomberg fallacy than Tom Steyer candidacy. And there’s this there’s this way in which people sort of dismiss Bloomberg. Oh you know great big pile of money running for president. And it’s not that I mean Bloomberg has a great big pile of money I’m sure he will deploy it. He will hire lots of people who will pay them a lot. He will spend a lot of money. He will buy a lot of ads. And there’s a vanity to it of course there’s a vanity but there’s a vanity in the service of somebody who has a record of enormous accomplishment and could can make a legitimate case which I don’t think satire can that hey I’ve done this I’ve done this version of this job in the private sector in the public sector and philanthropy I would do it better and different than other people here. You should at least listen to me.
S9: Can can I ask what you guys think of Deval Patrick and just add this one thing you talked about speaking so far in the candidacy the kind of rhetorical skills of a candidate have not been overwhelming of anybody on the on the stump. I mean they sure they can fire up their voters but that’s not where you know real rhetorical greats have been. They’ve been able to capture an entire country and though we totally overvalue the power of rhetoric in a presidency it’s not a totally unimportant part of the job. Whoever the next president is if it’s not Donald Trump will have this repair work to do on the country and just kind of speak to the country and that’s one of the things people say Deval Patrick has and brings to the race. Do you think anybody cares about that in democratic politics or is it like all primary races really focused on the core things that the party base is care about.
S13: I think people care about that. I mean I think if Patrick can fire up audiences and you know light up the debate stage people will take note and there might be space for a new person to come in. It’s kind of crazy given how many options there are. And you could imagine that Kamala Harris and core the Cory Booker are seething over this because they are both offering candidacies that aren’t like wholly different from Deval Patrick. I mean Pete but a judge could say the same thing in his own youthful weird way I suppose if Patrick can capture people’s imaginations then I think that could make a difference.
S6: Slate Plus members you get bonus segments on the Gabfest. Others like podcasts go to sleep out complex gab fest plus to become a member today. Today our bonus segment will be about the crisis in student journalism. Maybe that crisis it’s not the right word but the controversies in student journalism as embodied by two fights at Harvard and Northwestern over a student newspapers go to Slate dot com slash gabfest plus the Dreamers case was at the Supreme Court this week.
S3: It didn’t actually seem to be a case about dreamers. What was it a case about.
S13: Well it’s a case about whether President Trump can rescind the order that was sparing dreamers from detention and deportation. That was an order that President Obama put place after trying very hard to reach a legislative compromise with Congress. And so you know normally one president can enact an executive order and the next president can withdraw it. That is probably sadly to me and for the Dreamers what is going to happen in this case. But the Trump administration as is so often true did this in a kind of helter skelter fashion. Instead of saying we don’t think it’s a good policy idea to spare dreamers for deportation they put the whole weight of their decision to withdraw this order on the idea that it was illegal to begin with. That theory comes from a challenge not actually to the dreamers but to another order President Obama signed that spared and created a kind of work authorization status for close relatives of dreamers. That other program which is called DAPA not DACA. The problem is that while there was an appellate appeals court ruling that said President Obama had gone too far the Supreme Court split four to four on that case. So we don’t have any definitive decision about this related program much less the one that affects the Dreamers themselves. And it did seem like the Trump administration was basically trying to duck responsibility instead of saying we don’t care about saving the dreamers. They were saying oh there’s nothing we could do here because President Obama broke the law. And so the argument before the Supreme Court you know the liberal justices who are very sympathetic to the dreamers were emphasizing that kind of weirdness in the Trump administration’s approach.
S18: But the problem was a couple of years later the Trump administration when Kirsten Nielson was the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security she came in and signed a further order in which she added a very thin paragraph that did provide some policy justification and so for the five conservative justices who are more you know amenable to the Trump administration’s proclivities here that provides a kind of rationale for letting the Trump administration go ahead and you know basically this is a fight a legal fight over agency power and the 1940s law the administrative procedures act which set certain limits on how agencies can go about making decisions and then changing their decisions. But at bottom this is a political matter. And when the country elected President Trump the country gave him the power to run the Department of Homeland Security. And so even if this order were somehow to be stopped for this kind of technical reason certainly the presidency has the power to make this change. It’s just a matter of how they go about it. And I think really if people don’t like the idea of thousands of dreamers being deported then they need to elect a different president building what.
S10: Emily just said there is this way in which this is a this is an optics fight which is that the Trump administration could easily get rid of this policy but to get rid this policy would have to come out and say we’re getting rid of this policy that helps dreamers and instead they they’re choosing this way where they can deflect blame and deflect responsibility and say oh it’s Obama’s fault it’s the law at fault it’s Congress’s fault it’s not us that’s getting rid of it we we just it’s in supportable. Under current law and so it just can’t be done. Regrets sorry sorry dreamers. We’d love to help you but we can’t. It’s a it’s a way of avoiding responsibility for it. And I think there is there is this. I’m not sympathetic. I think this is a very was a very good policy and it’s a humane policy and it’s obscene that we would get rid of it. And it’s dumb that the Trump administration will now spend resources targeting the most useful kind of people who are here under these circumstances the most innocent kind of people.
S6: So it’s bad government but they are not wrong that the law in Congress the Congress has has Doctor responsibility here that Congress could perfectly well step step forward and make life clearer for dreamers and set up some sort of path where they could stay in the United States under certain circumstances even without a path to citizenship. And they they have not done it. Now it’s you know they haven’t done it because largely because Republicans don’t want to put an immigration win on the books for Democrats but it is true that the Congress has really hit Congress for the past 30 years has essentially not managed to get anything done on immigration. That’s a big problem. You know if you had a president who.
S11: Had a kind of larger view about the reforms needed in government and thought you know the legislature is the place that these two sit these questions should be adjudicated and answered and I’m going to use the power of my office not to tell them what to do to basically to tell them to go do it to get to stop messing around here Republicans have not embraced this also because they don’t they don’t want to have a nightmare in their own party because there’s obviously you know there was comprehensive immigration reform passed in the Senate and it broke down in the house. There were various attempts to try to make it go back to trying to get to President Trump to to do as several different people suggested to him a kind of Nixon goes to China where he made a kind of grand deal or a deal that included the Dreamers plus some other things and he retreated each time when he got blowback from his base. If you if you had a president who’s who came in and said Congress must deal with this because we can’t have this big coat keep going back and forth in executive orders and having basically being a kind of weird back and forth between the executive and the judicial. That would be it would be great to see that because basically this is a problem that should be handled by Congress and isn’t being and doesn’t seem to be able to be handled in the foreseeable future. And it’s just one more way in which we’re stuck and then having a new president I don’t think is going to change the dynamic of the Senate or the house. So I mean unless the new president brings in with them a huge wave of reform and members of Congress are elected along with that.
S18: And it’s kind of crazy right because there’s an 80 percent of the country support deportation relief for DREAMers and 80 percent of the country also is in favor of border security. I mean whatever that means to people it just seems like there is a compromise to be had here and Congress can’t find it because it’s so polarized.
S4: Well and if you had a I mean this president could have done it easily if he’d if he had the pain threshold on this issue that he has on so many others I mean imagine if he wanted to be as disruptive in this issue as he is in so many other ways. He could tell those members of his own party for the purposes of making a big deal and for the purposes of getting you know half a loaf for 80 percent of a loaf he could have deployed a lot of energy towards trying to do something which would have been hugely risky but he’s done lots of risky things so far. And he would have when you think of who has leverage in the in the system as it stands right now. He has the most leverage because of his relationship with this issue and his base. And so it’s a it’s a missed opportunity to use the bully pulpit and to use his strength within his own party.
S3: You know I mean I think one reason why as we’ve learned this week is that his chief adviser on immigration Stephen Miller is fundamentally a white supremacist white nationalist. We’ve got from the reveal of a bunch of e-mails that he sent in 2015 and 2016 is that the person who is the architect of the policy around immigration does not he is not one of the 80 percent who want immigration or who want deportation relief for DREAMers.
S9: Well I think there’s no evidence that the president diverts in these views from Miller on those on those points.
S3: Emily last question on the court will issue its ruling. Let’s assume it’s in favor of the Trump administration sometime early next year correct. And then that will be in the teeth of the campaign in June probably and maybe earlier so into the teeth of the presidential campaign. Do you think there’s any chance that this DHS starts to actually deport DREAMers or will they just find a way to kind of push this forward path to Election Day. That they’re not you know taking doctors and teachers out of their communities and sending them back to countries that never been to I mean that’s a matter of prosecutorial discretion right.
S13: Which kind of goes back to the root of all of this. And if they want to defer the deportations to spare themselves that kind of election period coverage they can put off the deportations. But then what’s the point of rescinding the order.
S5: All right. Let’s go to cocktail chatter Emily Bazelon And you’re having a delicious rum based cocktail when you’re thinking topically in this winter weather. What are you going to be drinking and chattering about.
S13: I want to recommend two new books that I have thoroughly enjoyed. One of them is a collection of poetry called felon by my friend Dwayne Betts. It’s really wonderful it’s gotten a ton of attention. I thought it was just a joy to read. And also you know obviously has its dark moments it’s a book called felon but there’s a tremendous amount of kind of hope along the way in these poems. And I really recommend it. And the second book is actually a book that Dwayne told me to read and he was right. It’s called the world doesn’t require you. It’s a book of short stories by Ryan Amilcar Scott.
S18: And it’s just this interesting foray into a kind of made up black community and the characters there which which I I recommend John vell.
S6: What do you chatter about.
S9: I’m chattering about the most recent Pew Research Center poll that recently came out in early October. But on American attitudes and partisanship and it confirms everything we know. Three years ago they did a study in 2016 and found that there was great more partisan division and animosity than than before and now they’ve three years later find that that animosity has only deepened. But it’s interesting to see the ways in which it’s happened. And it’s a familiar certainly to familiar to our listeners that people are not just separate on the way they view things but the way they view each other said that the Democrats are just wrong but that they’re evil and unpatriotic and then the same with that same with Republicans Democrats see them as as less moral than the majority of Democrats see them as less moral than other kinds of people in the country. Also in this is that 73 percent of the public disagree over basic facts. Debate David mentioned this earlier and so that both sides agree by about the same numbers that that we are in a situation where nobody can even agree on basic facts.
S11: And what I wondered was whether this is an issue if the goal of a president is to see an urgent need in the country come up with a plan for attacking it and then try and convince half the country that you’re right which is a a model of thinking about the presidency that George Reedy who worked for LBJ used to talk about doing. Is this something that we should seek to have presidents put at the top of their to do list. You know the fifth most important thing the tenth most important thing because there’s a when you look at it you could even see it as the gateway to all other conversations.
S9: You can’t. Or is it something that’s just not going to be solved. And therefore presidents should should operate in that world rather than trying to operate in a way that fixes that world. And so that’s what it made me think about.
S6: But the Pew report is makes interesting reading even if you don’t seek to engage on that question much chatter quickly is will too quickly one one is about a new york times story on blue versus red cities or blue versus red metro areas. It’s called Red and Blue economies are heading in sharply different directions very interesting piece in The Times looked at economic growth and the nature of the economic growth in different cities in the U.S. and found that I mean not unsurprisingly that mostly cities are blue bluer cities have more college degrees more diversity much higher real estate prices generally stronger economies redder cities are whiter they are more homogenous they the economic growth is still there tends to come from manufacturing jobs there’s a lot less job stability. Cost of living is cheaper and then there’s certain kinds of cities which looked like they should be blue but are red. So Provo Utah looks like if you look at it demographically it should be a blue city but it’s red because it probably because it has a large Mormon population. El Paso Texas looks like it should be red but it’s blue because probably because there’s a large Hispanic population. Really interesting story that’s worth a read about kind of the ways in which cities are different. Second quick chatter If you’re going to be in Brooklyn or you can be in Brooklyn on Monday night we’re doing a really fun Atlas Obscura event for our new book. We have a new book which is a updated edition. I’ve talked about our guide to the world’s hidden wonders. I’m going to do a night of trivia and the world’s wonders and taste some of the world’s most amazing foods. And it’s gonna be really fun. So go to the Bell House on Monday night and you can sign up for that at Atlas Obscura listeners. What a great set of chatters this week. Keep them coming and tweet them to us at at Slate gab fest and I want to talk about one that spruce far of our sent us is constant sender of really good listener chatters. This week he sent and sends an L.A. Times story about a scientist named Art Shapiro who’s a California scientist who has been counting the number of butterflies in California for forty seven years. He set out to do this for five years who’s going to count number of butterflies and a bunch of different spots in California. He just keeps doing it and keeps doing it keeps doing it. It’s a it’s an amazing profiled a person who is just incredibly dedicated and as a result has compiled this monstrous and super useful and terrifying data set about butterflies in California which are signal animals and sort of signal the threat of climate change and the changing nature of the weather and climate in California. So really moving profile also James Kelly sent us a tiny little thing building off of our discussion of war dogs. Last week the Texas. This is interesting. Texas just had a voter referendum which passed 93 to 7 that when police dogs and other police horses finish up their work they are no longer going to be classified as government property. And so that they can retire and live with their trainers until now they’ve been classified as government property and thus could be destroyed or sold or auctioned. And now they they can instead live out of retirement with the people of taking care of them. So that’s a nice thing that Texas did. Good for you Texas.
S2: That is our show for today the Gabfest is produced by Joslyn Frank a researcher is Bridget Dunlap. Gabriel Roth is editorial director June Thomas managing producer of Slate podcasts so many people helping Rosemary help me here in D.C. and Melissa Stephanie Coleman is helping Emily in Boston. John I don’t even know where you are. Maybe Alan dust in your veins is having dust in your veins. I’ll meet you in New York.
S22: So just flesh so many people helping that one’s helping come to our live show December 18th our conundrum show in Oakland California at the Fox Theater flaked complex life for tickets for Emily and John. I’m David Plotz. Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next week.
S6: Hello Slate Plus how are you. We got some business today we’re doing two things we’re to talk about college journalism and then I just have to come back to my own challenge to myself I will be reciting where the wild things are I have not thought about that myself but no hell no no no I said I wasn’t going to and I didn’t. I mean I’m a truth truthful honest person like what is in there what is in the cavernous recesses of the plot brain that is ever cheesier and wholly or every minute. But let’s start by talking about this interesting crisis in college journalism Emily do you want to set the table or I can set the table.
S12: Yeah. So there’ve been two controversies the last few weeks.
S14: The first one was at Harvard where Harvard journalists for the Crimson I believe that newspapers called they were doing a story about crimson columns. That’s what I a little dig they were doing a story about ice deportations right.
S3: It was a protest about ice.
S17: That was the protest a student protest of ice.
S18: And the journalists decided to call ICE for comment about the protest. Students at Harvard were furious about this said that this phone call this request for comment was going to put at harm potentially the student protesters and a whole bunch of student groups groups of students of color but also like the Harvard Democrats all are I think boycotting the Crimson right now in protest of this decision. So that is sort of exhibit A exhibit B is at Northwestern where Jeff Sessions was coming to speak. Students protested his talk. They came in through a back entrance. They were kind of tussling their way to get in. There was a student reporter who was there taking pictures and then after the protest. Student journalists used social media and the phonebook to find contact information for some of the protesters and call them for comment. There was an uproar among the student protesters objecting to these basic tactics of journalism the students the journalists at the Daily Northwestern then issued an abject apology saying that they hadn’t been recorded saying that they hadn’t paid enough attention to the safety and well-being of their fellow students. They were really sorry. And then the dean of the journalism school wrote I think a very I think I as a professional journalist I think lots of professional journalists were relieved to see him appear on the scene to say you know look journalists should always be thinking about the way they go about doing their job and making sure that they are not causing discomfort to people if they can avoid it like they shouldn’t be rude they shouldn’t be up in your face if there’s another way to do it. But the Dean was essentially defending the premise of using the phone book of taking pictures of recording events which there was no other paper of record there to do that kind of reporting you know for me looking at all of this. I feel protective of the student journalists. I feel bad for these kids at Northwestern who are sort of in Whiplash mode like they were taking it from these lefty protesters and now they’re taking it on Twitter from all these professional journalists who are accusing them of kind of selling out the basic ethos of the profession. I also don’t really understand these claims that there is a threat to people’s safety from being reported on when they’re doing things in public.
S21: That said I do think that the fact that everything that student journalists produce goes right online and that the coverage of a student protest that would 20 years ago have been a kind of small internal failure at the school that does sort of change the whole valence of what student journalists do of what we all do. I’m not sure what to do about that.
S18: But I do understand that that shift has created a kind of different reality for what it means to publish student journalism. I’m just not again I’m not sure like what what you can recognize that. But I don’t then conclude that these stern journalists didn’t have the right and shouldn’t have been reporting on these events.
S9: The fact that we’re talking about this is proof of what you just said right. So the decisions made in what in theory is a kind of lower still supposed to be right a kind of lower stakes affair with student journalism you where you you you bump up against the line you cross the line you fumble you because you’re learning you’re just getting gear you’re just getting to your feet. That’s one thing. And so it did in a world now where this can be magnified. That has to be brought into account somehow. And then also you know I mean showing up at a protest now you can be targeted you know all the way up there. I mean you can be nationally targeted if you are if you are at a protest for whatever the cause. And maybe that has nothing to do with journalism. Maybe that’s the world we live in now. Because if the Crimson takes a photo graph of you Why is that different than if some other person takes a photograph of you and it just shows up in social media. I don’t know what to make of all of this.
S6: Well I think Emily your point that the kind of instantaneous archiving and the instantaneous availability of everything gets to this question we’ve talked about around things like mug shots and other forms of public record which were which exists the mug mug shots have always been public records that you could get and records of people’s divorces and records of people’s wills have always been public records.
S20: But suddenly when they are all online available you know with one two three clicks for no money or a relatively small amount of money it becomes they have a different valence and they they are there not invasions of privacy but they are put people’s lives in a color that they may not they may not be fair to them. And so we need to be very cautious. That said as I as a journalist and as a person who worked for The Harvard Crimson Harvard Crimson comport itself perfectly in this as far as I can tell absolutely perfectly. Like of course they should call us for comment. Of course they should. It’s their duty to to report on protest that occurs on the campus and to seek comment from the relevant organization being protested and to think that they wouldn’t is absurd and for the I mean I can you know anyone can boycott anyone they want if the Harvard Democrats and various groups want to boycott the Crimson more power to them I mean they’re just that’s perfectly within their rights. But to think that that was a failure of journalism is insane.
S14: So I don’t really get the objection to calling ICE like did the students who are protesting think that calling the story to ICE’s attention was going to. Yes I think that’s right. That somebody could get deported. Is that the OK. I think that if you’re protesting you’re already taking that risk.
S20: Right. Right. And the Crimson pointed out sorry John the Crimson pointed out they didn’t call it they didn’t notify ICE in advance that this protest was taking place. They called them after this protest had occurred to ask them about it. And this was a thing that occurred in a in a public forum was a public people speaking people you know appearing and walking in with their signs in a public space. So the idea that they then you know can’t be they can’t be named. They can’t be talked about they can’t be interviewed. And that ice couldn’t be told too that this protest occurred is crazy.
S9: It doesn’t seem to be the answer to the totally reasonable point Emily made which is how do you how do we all from whether you’re attending a protest or whether you’re taking in information about a protest or whether you are conveying a report about the protest either in words or pictures how do we handle the fact that we are now living in this world of instantaneous global fame if you get caught in the news cycle the wrong way. Whose responsibility that is and whether it’s a shared responsibility and whether what the press role because everything you say is right David and yet you could imagine some portion of press responsibility shifting or changing a little bit to accommodate what Emily talks about although I have no idea what that solution is.
S13: Yeah I mean other thing that I don’t quite understand about this is that because of social media all people’s images and names are whipping all over the place regardless of what the college or any press is doing. And so I’m just I don’t completely understand the heightened sensitivity to journalism at this moment in which there’s just so much exposure and dissemination of information.
S3: No one. Well one other. Go ahead. I think that’s a really fair point. When I think about what the solutions are there no I can’t think of any kind of categorical solutions. But I come back to the same thing that I come back to over and over again on the show which is a mindset set shift which is that we just have to learn to accept that people have messiness in their lives and particularly in their college and that we should welcome it. Like I hope these kids who who committed some disruptive act at the Jeff Sessions speech I hope that that is something that they’re able to celebrate. It’s not something that haunts them in a way that that is cruel that but that it’s something that they’ve done and and that we as people who might hire them who might you know who they might date one of our children would think like Oh yeah. This is a person who lived a nice vital life and maybe made made some mistakes in their youth as we did. And yes their mistakes unfortunately or fortunately are chronic or are chronicled for perpetuity because of the digital world we live in. But let’s remember that we all did the same shit too and just try to be forgiving of it but that it’s easier said than done right.
S21: As part of this that I’ve been thinking about is this idea that it’s wrong to contact someone when you find their number of our social media or in the phone book like they didn’t give it to you. It’s almost like the sort of journalistic form of an unwanted advance right. This isn’t overture that somebody it turns out the receiver doesn’t want but there’s no way to know that right. I mean I find cold calls as a journalist I find making cold calls really hard. I’ve always found it really hard. I have done it for many years and our minds confirmations and I was actually doing it quite a bit in the last couple of weeks. And it’s you just have no idea how what the person’s reaction is going to be. And there’s something really uncomfortable about that like I don’t like to be intrusive I don’t want to feel like I am violating people’s privacy in some way. But sometimes that phone call yields someone on the other end who is not just willing but like eager to talk to you and is so glad that you called them and has something to say and cares about telling their story.
S15: And there’s simply no way to know until you get in touch with that right. And it goes when it goes badly. I always feel so terrible. Like how could I have ever thought that was a good idea.
S9: But then when it goes well when you think like OK I’m just doing my job and this is how it works directly along these lines Kevin Van Vulcan Berg who is at ESPN wrote a thread on Twitter which is fantastic and everybody should read about just exactly this thing when he was as we all were assigned a story early in his career about a young teenage girl who died by suicide and and then I’ll just won’t ruin it but read the read the thread it’s Kevin Van Vulcan Berg which is Kay Van Vulcan Berg on Twitter making precisely the point or showing precisely the point that Emily was just articulating.
S3: Yeah that was an awesome thread. All right. Okay well you hear we’re all right. So can I. Can I try my Where the Wild Things Are. Yeah. Well go for it. Okay. The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another his mother called him WILD THING AND Max said I’LL EAT YOU UP so she sent him to bed without any supper.
S23: That very night in Max’s groom a forest grew and grew and grew.
S24: And his ceiling hung with vines and the walls his walls became the world all around. And an ocean tumbled by with a private boat from Matt.