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Bill Kristol: Degeneracy Is the Norm

October 7, 2022
Notes
Transcript

Just five years ago, Republicans disavowed Roy Moore. Now, they’re all in with Herschel Walker’s lies. Plus, a shifting electorate, the prospects for ticket-splitting in the midterms, and Biden’s warning about nukes. The weekend podcast with Charlie Sykes and Bill Kristol.

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This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:08

    Happy Friday, and welcome to the Bulwark podcast. I’m Charlie Sykes. The rundown of the day’s news in my morning newsletter morning shots, so I’m trying to capture all the stuff going on at the same time in the last twenty four hours. Biden pardons. Thousands convicted of marijuana possession under federal law, and because I guess he didn’t think he was making enough news.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:28

    He also warned that the risk of nuclear armageddon is the highest since the Cuban missile crisis. Shouldn’t have read that right before I went to bed last night. Proud Boys member pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy for his role in January six, which is a BFD. Federal agents see chargeable tax gun purchase case against under Biden. Down in Georgia, the Fulton County process cater investigating Trump aims for indictments as soon as December and also in Georgia, searching for a safe unskeptical media space.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:03

    Hershel Walker sought out the moisty bosom of Hugh Hewitt’s hackery and it did not disappoint. And then, of course, you have the story that Ben Sasse is quitting the senate with four years left on this term to become the new president of the University of Florida. We also got new jobs numbers this morning, indicating that the economy is so strong, underlining the Fed’s problem in fighting inflation. So to talk about all of this, who better than my colleague, Bill Crystal. Bill, thanks for coming back on the podcast.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:38

    That’s early. I’m sort of intimidated about that introduction. Do we have enough to cover fourteen topics here and in with depth and intelligence and and, you know, precision, that’s gonna be hard.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:50

    Okay. So give me your take though on the president talking about the risk of nuclear armageddon. There’s there’s an interesting divide people saying, okay, you know, this is pretty clear eyed warning where we’re at here with Vladimir Putin pushed into the corner. Obviously, things going extremely badly in Ukraine. Versus people who are saying, this is this is another Biden guy that he shouldn’t be saying stuff like this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:12

    This is gonna rattle the world. I also saw some speculation, well, this is the president of the United States who may have more intelligence, which is even more worrying. So What do you what do you make of this? Joe Biden basically saying, hey, things are you think things are bad? Actually,
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:31

    it’s worse. Yeah, I guess I’m inclined generally in these circumstances to think maybe present shouldn’t they’re not sure they should just keep quiet. And but maybe he really does feel that it’s important to prepare people for the, I don’t know, one in ten, one in twenty chance that Putin will do something Extreme and he’s presumably has people in the U. S. Government thinking through our options and plans to to respond.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:56

    I in that respect, maybe it isn’t such a bad thing to get people to take seriously the threat. I I hope it doesn’t lead people to be intimidated. Mhmm. You could argue the guidance or playing into Putin’s hands a little bit by magnifying the nuclear card as if that sort of stops us should stop us from doing things. But on the other hand, we’ve done a lot.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:15

    So yeah, I guess, I give Biden has done a good enough job managing Ukraine that I I give them the benefit of the doubt on this particular comment.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:22

    So as you know, I I try to resist any sort of irrational exuberance, but the reports out of Ukraine and Russia in the last twenty four hours are really kind of amazing. The the stories about the dissension within the ranks of the Russian government, people confronting Vladimir Putin. It’s not just now. Military bloggers who are ripping the military. You’re actually having military officials.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:44

    And these are not, you know, anonymous source stories. These are You know, the New York Times story yesterday really brought the receipts. You know, military officials who’d been appointed by Vladimir Putin suggesting the defense secretary should commit suicide. We had this big report in the Washington Post this morning that Vladimir Putin was confronted, you know, by people within within the government. You know, there’s there’s real panic and real division in the Russian government.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:11

    Of course, that’s a closed box. We don’t actually know But what do you make of these reports? Yeah. I
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:17

    spoke with someone in Central Europe yesterday who’s working closely with the Ukrainians and he says they think it’s real. I mean, they they’re, you know, you lose a war this badly and and one that you’ve assumed you would win within a week. And one that you personally sort of let the country into without much consensus or much sense of a deed for each among others in the elites, let alone the public. And you’re at some risk, and I mean, industry suggests that. And I think that would make sense.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:44

    Obviously Putin’s beaten back on a whole lot of threats in the past and is ruthless and clever in his way about this. But let me tie it into the nuclear discussion we just had a minute ago. I hope we are being and I I chump sure we are doing our best to make sure that if Putin tries to use nuclear weapons, he doesn’t succeed. I mean, that’s to say we have a fair amount of ability probably to get into his chain of command, to disrupt it, to warn people in that chain that they will be held personally accountable if there’s a use of nuclear weapons, whatever Putin says in the Kremlin. You know, there are ways.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:14

    I I I just hope we’re not as I said, pretty sure we’re not just watching this or hoping they were acting both on the nuclear threat and then also to increase dissension and disruption in their ruling circles of Russia of the Kremlin. Short term, you know, food could be replaced by somewhat equally nasty and and dangerous in some ways that could be even a more dangerous spasm, I suppose, in a sense, is he it’s on his way out, but it’s gotta be a good thing to have a descent a dissension and disruption of Putin’s own rule then it offers some prospect of a happier future for Russia to say nothing of them just leaving Ukraine. So I I it is amazing what Ukraine has done, what Zlotsky has done a degree to which other leaders are rallied to him. I struck the the the young prime minister of Finland had an excellent comment at that European Summit in Prague yesterday. The summit said, well, what’s the off ramp for Putin?
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:12

    She said, you know, the off ramp is to leave Ukraine. I mean, for all the talk about the decadence of liberal democracies and failures of leadership and all the problems we have. Cognos we do. There are quite a lot of impressive younger leaders of liberal democracy. We have a somewhat pretty impressive, older leader in our case, but maybe younger next generation will come along.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:32

    So it sort of be it cheers me up a little bit about the about the future. You
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:36

    know, this is a good point because there are a lot of reasons to ring your hands about, you know, the decline or the decadence of, you know, western democracy. But these prime ministers on the front line are really extraordinary. And I I was struck by the same thing that you were, the this very, very young woman who is the prime minister of of Finland. I mean Finland is right there. I mean, there’s a long history of of wars there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:59

    And she is just unblinking. The solid refusal to blink in any way is really impressed. And these are people with a lot to lose, and they know there’s a lot to lose. And yet, they’re not shutting up, they’re not putting their heads down, they are saying these things. And frankly, that that is
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:19

    inspiring. Yeah. Very much so. And Zelensky, obviously, is the first among equals in this. And, yeah, I really do wonder if the the I mean, it’s terrible.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:27

    The, you know, the deaths and the tortures and the war crimes and everything else that’s that Ukraine has gone through, but and and Russians have suffered too, of course. But in retrospect, Putin’s invasion of Euclid and the reaction to it. Above all by the Ukrainians, but by the rest of us as well. Could end up being a real inflection point, you know, a real moment in the post cold war. Post cold war history and and and and in some ways a hopeful one for all, as I say, that no one wishes it to have happened.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:55

    But so I I I do think it’s we’re right in the middle of it. It’s hard to judge. Obviously, things could go wrong or it could just sort of peter out and to be another kind of episode, you might say. But feels like twenty twenty two could be a big year in that respect.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:09

    Well, I was just mention also that the Nobel Prize was awarded Friday morning to a trio of human rights defenders in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia delivering another pointed international rebuke of president of Vladimir Putin in his war in Ukraine. So I think that that is positive. Okay. So from from this deep substance that we’ve been talking about, Bill, I I need you to explain something because I’m, you know, usually I kind of have a sense of what’s going on. Or I understand or I think I can understand the context or I could Google it in a few minutes and and, you know, things will become clear.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:46

    I need you to explain to me something that a tweet from the House Judiciary GOP. Last night. You saw this. Right? Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:58

    I did. Okay. Now, this is not a super packed. This is not this is not the federalist. This is the official Twitter account of Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:11

    And it is the tweet is just three words. Kanye, Elon, Trump. Bill, help me here. Yeah. What’s going
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:25

    on? You know, it’s some clever person on the staff there in the House of Republicans who got bored with, you know, planning the investigation of Hunter Biden for next year and decided to be cute on Twitter. I I don’t know. I guess they’re all three I guess Kanye was on Tucker Carlson show, and Elon Musk has been pro Trump in various ways, pro Putin in various ways, which fits into being pro Trump. So those are the three we’re supposed to be we’re we’re we are triggered.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:51

    So
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:51

    but, I mean, Lincoln Lincoln, not just you don’t
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:54

    have all these people they look up to, I I guess, I mean, that’s
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:58

    an early chef. What I’m yeah. You know, I mean, one of the
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:02

    three stooges, the three witches. I was thinking of this tinker ever’s chance, you know, for those who it’s a yeah. We should all play games now. We should all think of Trios that we saw or, you know, that we like to mention. But I don’t know What what call and say?
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:15

    I mean, it’s like every time you think these people are well, whatever. Well, let’s
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:19

    say speaking of these people, you know, watching what’s happening down in Georgia is a little bit with the, like, the fascination of watching a car crash involving clown cars. But but Hershel Walker, goes on Hugh Hewitt show yesterday and spins himself this word salad. He’s been asked by quarters about the reports that, of course, you knew the woman whose abortion you paid for because she’s the mother of one of your children. And we get a lot of Argo, Bargo. You know, there’s so many questions that that now actually feel, will this make a difference?
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:50

    Is this going to make a difference? In the election. So what do you think at this point? I mean, Republicans at least nationally. And I’m not sure what’s going on with it to Georgia Republicans who are close and may know what this next shoot to drop.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:02

    National Republicans are all in national right to life, all in anecdotally, it would seem as if Republican voters Christian evangelical pro lifers just don’t have a problem with the fact that that Hershel Walker urged his girlfriend to get an abortion lied about it and is about to go to the
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:24

    US Senate. What do you think? Yeah. It is manifestly unqualified to be a senator. I mean, to certificate with that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:30

    I I think it’ll hurt some, and I think that, you know, I think you already was probably behind a bit. And, you know, if you pry off five percent of Republican voters, maybe they don’t all vote for Wardock half of them, for Wardock half them just skip that line of the ballot. They vote for Kemp for Governor and then just skip the senate race. That that, you know, that could take a three point raise to a five or six point raise and that that may be what we what we end up with. I’m very struck by the reaction though of of the Republican establishment, the conservative establishment, conservative elites.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:56

    You and I remember we were both at the week standard than twenty seventeen when stories came out about Roy Moore as he was running for the senate in the special election in Alabama. So I looked this up quickly yesterday. It was like, whoop, didn’t trust my memory, but I I sort of thought that people did disavow him and chastise him, and some people even said he should step aside. So it turns out, Rich McConnell and Paul Ryan, the Republican leaders of the senate in the house, both called on him to step aside because of the allegations. The senatorial committee, cut off its funding for at least a while, lots of conservative but not all, conservative, you know, magazines and so forth.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:32

    Criticized war and said this is unacceptable or at least lamented the situation or called on him to make all the facts more available. I don’t remember what National White’s Life did and and so forth, but there was at least some sense that, oh my god, this is really bad, and this has to call to question our normal. Party loyalty and ideological preferences. What’s so striking is that some was exactly five years later. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:54

    It’s not almost none of that. Almost none of that. To twelve hours Republican senatorial NRC, the the pack that supports Republican senate candidates and Mitch McConnell’s own pack. We’re all in doesn’t matter. And then every conservative virtually, don’t you think?
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:08

    Every conservative — Yeah. — leader, every Trumpist, and even a lot of the anti anti Trump types Well, look, it doesn’t matter. He’s he’s a flawed person, but we need the vote, and that’s what it’s all about. So the degree of degeneracy is to use a word of Lincoln said, unlike in this context, of the Republican Party, the degree which that’s progressed over the last five years, is pretty striking. In the early Trump years, there was still some sense of, oh, May eighth, is kind of digital far, you know.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:33

    Trump was self problematic. Maybe that was an exception. We can’t just have this be the norm. This is the norm. They do not care.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:39

    No. And
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:39

    this is a really interesting point. And I was asked this question last night. Would Roy Moore have been elected in this in this election cycle? And agreed with with your take on this that, yes, I think absolutely he would because you have seen the acceleration of this degeneracy for people who think it’s always been like this No. I am old enough to remember as Harko when Todd Aiken was the Republican nominee in Missouri.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:05

    And he said something stupid offensive about. Right? Remember back then? Now, again, that was no closely divided senate. The seat was very, very Thornton Republicans really wanted to win that seat.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:17

    They thought they were going to win that seat and beat Claire McCaskill. And yet, after Todd Aiken said what he said about abortion and about rape, they bailed on him. They yeah. And, you know, they they they did bail on him men fast forward Roy Moore just a few years ago allegations of sexual assault bridged too far, but what you’re seeing now, I think, is just sort of the complete forget it. We’re not even gonna pretend go through the motions that it’s about character or there’s any standards whatsoever.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:47

    It this is all about, you know, winning. And, I mean, look, how do you look at Hershel Walker? And and I don’t wanna make fun or make light of mental illness issues, but how do you look at him and say, this man should be in the United States of it. I mean, leave aside the abortion allegation. It’s the accumulation.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:06

    It is the accumulated way holding guns to his ex wife’s head, allegations of abuse. The things that his son is saying out there, you know, about, you know, how how what do we know what what an awful father he was, etcetera. This accumulation and yet national Republicans are basically saying we don’t we don’t care about any of that. We want control of the senate. And and and they say it in these very blunt term.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:31

    We just want control of the senate, and that’s all that matters. And just to add one less think to your very
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:36

    good list there. Yeah. And Walker is whatever happened in the past. He’s currently lying about I mean, there’s just no question. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:42

    He made at this point in the newsletter. He is lying. And there’s not even a sense of gee, you know, let’s privately get personal to sort of say, I I feel bad about certain things that have happened in my past, but I’ve changed. But I’m gonna, you know, not gonna keep on lying about fact that I don’t know who this woman is and so forth, but he’s lying. He’s having this ridiculous press conferences and ludicrous interviews with you, Hewitt.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:05

    And the entire Republican establishment, okay, their politicians, they want to win and set it. But how about the conservative elites? I mean, is we all made fun as I recall of a couple of conservative outlets that semi defended Roy Moore, more than semi, perhaps, in twenty seventeen, I think the federalist is particularly egregious. But now, I don’t know. I haven’t filed a national review closely.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:24

    I haven’t seen the journal editorial page. I don’t get the sense that anyone in conservatism, Inc. Is saying this is a deal breaker or even I’m really gonna chastise Churchill Walker and incidentally the Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell for clearing
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:39

    the
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:40

    fields for Hershel Walker. They’re all just, you know, a little bit of grumbling. Jeez, might hurt our chances. That would be bad. And that’s about it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:46

    Look, it’s old now
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:48

    to see that, you know, it’s all about winning in the partisan hackery and the and the tribalism. I still think it’s rather striking to watch what groups like the national right to life are doing, which in theory have larger, deeper agenda. You would think that the national right to life would have a a longer timeline they would be thinking about what do we do to change people’s minds, heart and minds, etcetera, and yet they clearly have also decided that they’re going to embrace this this hypocrisy full on. And I was looking for a piece by the pundit formerly known as ala pundit who has just a great piece over at the dispatch. When it gets to the questions that pro lifers have to ask themselves, you know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:27

    And he writes, you know, the problem with electing Republicans who don’t practice what they preach on abortion is that it undermines the ability of pro lifers to persuade, which is really, I I think, the the heart of it. It undermines your larger moral case, your moral authority. And let’s face it, moral authority ought not to be squandered if you are the National Right To Life Committee. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:53

    Yeah. Totally. And I and that’s I haven’t I’ll look up how I just I can’t get you on I can’t get unused to calling him out of bounds because you can’t recall that, you know, writes under his actual name. So I’ll I’ll look for that. But also, my sense is I haven’t looked at every statement.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:06

    That the pro life leaders, the, you know, evangelical leaders and stuff. They don’t even say, look, we deploy what walkers alleged to. Pretty clearly did do. We think that’s really bad, and we wish he would not have done it, and we wish he would be more honest about what he did. Having said all that, It’s our judgment that the cause of pro life.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:27

    The pro life cause will be better served by having him in the Senate at the Rafael Warrick. I don’t think that’s you know, I wouldn’t go that. It’s on my view, but I mean, I I think it’s not wouldn’t be a crazy thing to say, what striking is they don’t even say those first two or three sentences. They don’t even deploy I haven’t really seen any criticism of Walker’s behavior. And if you’re a pro life organization, maybe you should criticize someone who’s paid for an abortion.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:49

    And now claiming now claims to be, you know, strictly pro life before you get on to making your political calculations. I think it does huge damage. I think we’ve seen this since the answer leaving. Young people look at this and they’re maybe ambivalent as most a lot of intelligent people are about abortion rights and how to draw lines and what the world of the state should be as opposed to persuasion. They aren’t sure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:08

    They just see this behavior from the official pro life organizations, the official social conservative organizations, the conservative elites, and they think it’s all a fraud, it’s all just democracy and why should they get take this issue this issue that should be taken seriously as a moral and, you know, choice. Why should we take it seriously? So I think it does real damage to the pro life cause.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:29

    Alright. Let’s talk about Ben Sasse. I drew it at my newsletter to sort of looking ahead at, you know, what’s to come. But let’s just take a moment to look back on, you know, Ben Sass, who probably had as much potential as anyone in the senate to be a leader, a principal leader, to be the conscience of the senate, and he had some great moments, but he also had some just really, you know, cringeworthy awful moments, you know, you and I both remember when he when he voted to uphold the kind of clearly unconstitutional emergency order that, you know, Donald Trump used to to shift money onto the border. And then, of course, he went completely silent in twenty nineteen, one of that that coveted Trump endorsement tweet.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:20

    He came around on the second impeachment conviction, but give me your thoughts on Ben Sats looking back. Mean, I got
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:27

    to know him some and yeah. I said met him a little bit when he was here in the Bush administration, but I got to know him a little when he was running for Senate and Nebraska was in pretty tough primary. And thought he was by far the most impressive of the candidates. This is twenty thirteen, twenty fourteen. And wait, I remember coffee a couple times here in DC and talked about campaign strategy and issues and so forth.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:46

    They’re interested in healthcare, which was a very big issue at the time immediately after Obamacare and the prospects of repealing it. When the primary got elected in twenty fourteen. Very pleased I had actually I did one of those conversations. I did the conversations with Bill Crystal with him after one of his books came out, maybe twenty sixteen, seventeen, the vanishing American adults. I think that was maybe that one.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:07

    So he was impressive.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:10

    What’s the phrase? You
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:11

    know, he could have been a contender. Right? He could have — Yeah. — could have made a real difference in American history. Well, I’m not sure if he would have, but he could have tried to make a real
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:19

    difference.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:20

    And he didn’t. And so I’m yeah. I’m on the side of being pretty critical of what he actually did. Fine. He doesn’t wanna be a senator anymore.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:27

    Little unclear why he ran for reelection in twenty twenty that it is a six he he presumably knew it was a six year term. I guess I have a slightly old fashioned belief it. Absent medical issues and so forth, you play or getting nominated with cabinet or something, you should price your right your six year term. But I guess, being president of a major state university is is that he was a college president is some place he thinks he can make more difference. But he’s price a lot to get himself real active.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:51

    He thought he had Trump support, but he’s paid a huge price for it. Yes. And that price doesn’t go away. Now it’ll be interesting to see once he sat on the Senate, I assume he’ll just be forward looking. Everything’s fine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:02

    There’s nothing he could have done that he didn’t do. You know? I assume that’ll be the attitude. Will he be honest? I mean, will he say, you know what?
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:09

    I regret not having done certain things. You students at the University of Florida. I hope you honestly face up to some of these choices. Maybe better than I did under all the pressures I faced. I I think it’s unlikely that you will say that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:20

    Well,
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:20

    I I delivered most of my piece this morning to looking ahead at the challenge that he’s gonna face, the test he’s gonna face down in Florida. He’s kind of interested him. And I certainly can understand why you would wanna get out of, you know, the toxic swamp of the Republican senate caucus. So you don’t have to, you know, have lunch with Ted Cruz and Josh Holly. And maybe Hershel Walker and doctor Oz, etcetera, in the in the in the future.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:43

    But he really has now dropped himself into the middle of the maga snake pit of Florida politics. I mean, this is a state that is ultra maga. The legislature is the the folks that are making the decisions about the University of Florida. And Florida is really distinctive at the moment because of the very, very aggressive state action, legislative action targeting academic freedom. Now, I just wanna make it clear.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:08

    Look, I understand that there’s a two front war being fought on academic freedom. I’ve written books about this. I understand that there are folks on the left. Who have also challenged academic freedom. I’ve written extensively about the speech codes and the cancel culture and the stifling intellectual environment coming from the left.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:28

    That’s a real thing. But in Florida, with the real distinctive nature of the attack on academic freedom is it is coming from coercive state action laws passed by the legislature signed by Ron DeSantis. And have been, you know, attacked by organizations that you and I are quite familiar with, you know, like fire, the, you know, free speech organizations. Federal judges have thrown it out. Saying it violates the first amendment.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:52

    I’m gonna be very interested to see how Ben Sasse handles this issue, whether he stands up to Rhonda Santos, or whether it turns out that he’s going
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:00

    to be random scientist’s waterboy on this one. Yeah. Or something in between where he kind of vaguely says, of course, he believes in, you know, diversity a few points of free speech. But of course, the real problem is to laugh entirely. And so, you know, he’s gonna make sure there are some conservative professors, which we find at the University of Florida.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:17

    But will he explicitly say, you know what, professors should have the right free speech, including professors at state universities? That’s kind of what DeSantis and the legislature are, Sajette, and kind of. They’re suggesting that they don’t. Their state employees will, Vince, ask that, you know what, if there’s some forty two professors of English here and one or two of them are Marxist who have some Marxist interpretation literature, that’s fine. It’s a big that’s right environment.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:39

    It’s a big campus. I don’t want thirty eight of the forty two to be Marxist. I don’t want to discriminate against non Marxist and high I don’t want the Marxist to discriminate in their old tea classroom and grading against people who don’t agree with them, then those are all perfectly good liberal education points to make, but will he really stand up for liberal education at the University of Florida? Well,
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:58

    and it really is a pretty clear choice. Look, I I hope that he looks at what Mitch Daniels has done at Purdue, and this is the way a university president can be a significant leader on issues of higher education. Speak out for free speech, But it’s really gonna be complicated in this Florida because of this, the stop woke act, which really restrict what what professors and teachers and universities, you know, can say about race and gender. You know, as Fire said, you know, this stretches beyond a constitutional prohibition on compelled speech. So he’s going to have to take a position on this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:35

    And and that’s what’s going to be interesting. So, I mean, you wonder whether he’s picked for this because he’s gonna speak truth to power because he won’t. I mean, is he being chosen as the president of University of Florida because he’s gonna stand up to academic, you know, for academic freedom or because he’s gonna provide cover for this attack. And again, this law is quite distinctive. And also, you mentioned this, this, the lawsuit that’s going on right now.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:04

    You have DeSantis who’s appealing the federal judge’s ruling saying it’s unconstitutional to the eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. And Florida is explicitly arguing that professors at public universities do not have right to free speech when they teach. Now, that case is going to be one of the landmark could be a landmark case in academic freedom. And here’s Ben Sasse who is jumping from the frying pan of, you know, a deployable senate caucus to this right into the center of this fire? Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:38

    I imagine
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:38

    it’ll focus on, you know, setting up a great program, and a specific education program, but also maybe online education. I think that’s fine. Fine. And I actually favor pretty
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:47

    big
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:47

    reforms in higher education. I hope it doesn’t — Yeah. — change a lot of things. The system hasn’t changed in an awful long time, and it’s antiquated in all kinds of ways and just the efficient cost leap course and and all that. The height of the rock boys, what could a some medical college universities actually wants to twice harassed and I had a microphone at me and shouted at and stuff, but mostly she did fine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:06

    But I would say, what most impressed me, what I most remember at those times is a couple of cases where spoken to new school in New York very left wing campus. And Bob Carey, the former Democratic Center for Nebraska, actually same state. Who was then president of the new school came to my talk and and introduced me, which was totally unnecessary. It was you know, he didn’t was able learn anything from my dog and he was a busy guy and all this. But he went out of his way to be there and to remind students and everyone else that, you know, we believe in free speech.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:38

    You may not agree with Bill, but listen to what he says respectfully ask tough questions if you wish. And I remember thinking, you know, that’s impressive. Right? He didn’t have to do that. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:46

    Will Ben’s ass. Not just invite Harvey Mansfield with my teacher, who I hope he does. To speak at, you know, to give a distinguished lecturer at University of Florida, will he also invite some Michael Wallser, another ex professor of mine who’s a social democrat to give a a talk. So apart from the legal side of it, I mean, what kind of spirit he conveys in terms of liberal education I think is important. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:07

    He
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:08

    has another chance. You know, Ben Sasse has another opportunity to create a legacy. I mean, he could be a gigantic figure in higher education, but if he does not stand up to Rhonda Sandes, he will be he’ll be remembered as a as a very disappointing United States senator and very much acquiseling. As in higher education. I don’t think he wants that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:28

    I really don’t think that he wants that, but it’s going to be very very tough for him. So I wanna ask you about a tweet you had this morning because you were you were feeling a little jiggy, feeling a little optimistic. So here’s your prediction, your prediction. The modest GOP bear market rally over the last couple of weeks has subsided. The electoral playing field from now on either remains stable or the primary trend which had been Democratic over the last three months reassert itself and Democrats do well in November.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:02

    Alright. Bill explain that because I have to admit to you, I am not seeing it. But go ahead. Tell me what, you are seeing that I am not seeing. Maybe
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:09

    I’m just wishcasting and here’s what I’m reacting to, I’ll put it this way, is I think an over interpretation of this this minor Republican come back over the last two, three weeks. Bit of a reversion to the norm for it off your election like this. And so the generic ballot, which had gone from Republican plus three, almost, and before Dobbs, went to Democratic plus two. Now it’s more like Democratic plus one. And it’s just an it’s an interesting intellectual analytical question.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:36

    Are we is this as I say, bear market rally. That happens pretty often in these election cycles. And then the primary trend we research itself or we just did a new, you know, stabilizes around where it is. Or does the Republican come back continue and the kind of red wave reappear? And I just think I’ve always been a skeptic, as you know, about the red wave.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:53

    I I think I was little ahead of the curve in saying that people were overstating it six months ago and that the gap between the sheriff ballot and Biden’s approval was striking Biden’s approval, of course, is now improved. So the gap is a little less striking, but still still there. And I just look, I guess, I have talked enough people, spoken enough people in different states and congressional districts, especially some of these house races who have seen some polling pretty good for Democrats. They’re usually doing better than Biden did in twenty twenty. And then they quickly say, understandably, but we’re not, you know, maybe this is overstating our vote, maybe the polls are getting wrong, there’s a hit in Trump vote, oh, that’s possible.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:31

    But I just think, analytically, people have overdone republican come back. And the best best example of that for me is everyone saying that the Pennsylvania senate race is a toss-up. So I kinda kept reading that. I thought, I don’t know. Just gonna look at the polls, and so I just looked at five thirty eight in real clear politics, just a list of polls, nothing no no deep analysis.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:50

    And the polls are anywhere from FedRAMP plus three to FedRAMP plus ten and grouped around really four, five, six. So Federman could you can lose a race that you’re ahead five points in a month out. No question. You foolish to assert that Federman’s got him locked up. On the other hand, erased your five points ahead in a month out is not a toss-up.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:08

    And I just think the media has been so spooked, I think, by twenty twenty, the down balance stuff. By the under counting of Trump votes, of course, twenty sixteen being the best example. By the sense that this is hitting Trump out there that they’re overdoing Republican prospects. Right now, but I could be wrong. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:26

    I
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:26

    mean, I’m now probably a permanent skeptic after twenty sixteen, after twenty eighteen after twenty twenty because we’ve seen this what appears to be kind of a systematic undercount. But also part of this, you know, it tends to be that every once in a while, you will have the median and democrats fall in love with a candidate who has no shot of actually winning. And if you try to point that out, there is blowback I’m gonna say something positive before I say something negative. Yep. I continue to be impressed by Tim Ryan’s Senate campaign in Ohio.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:57

    I don’t know whether he’s going to beat JD Vance. The Ohio has become a pretty red red state, so he’s got got, like, you know, starts off with, what, an eight, nine, ten point deficit. But that guy, in terms of if you wanna talk about messaging, seems to really have found his stride. So it it’s going to be interesting in the after action reports to look at the campaigns that were successful. And maybe even losing by one point would be considered successful in some level for Tim Ryam versus the campaigns that have just crashed and
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:30

    burned on the launching pad. No, I think that’s right. I’m gonna read in Ohio giving you talk actually about ten days, like, hope to spend a lot of what you can learn just hanging around and so forth. But I think I’ll try to, I don’t know, do a little bit of hanging around and maybe visit an event nearby for one of the candidates or even a congressional candidate just to get a sense of the mood there. I I would say just before you give me our negative
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:51

    You know what I’m about to say? My
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:53

    only analytical point, I guess, I would make the bet by just by general kind of who knows. And, you know, I think the the media has been a little too credible about Republican claims that was pending were backwards to the liberal media. Well, is that people are underestimating, I think. The twenty eighteen and then twenty twenty really changed the electorate from what it has been for, you know, decades in in off your elections in terms eighteen, and then twenty twenty, obviously, a massive surge in presidential vote.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:19

    The polls
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:20

    may be under missing Trump voters, missing Republican voters who were, you know, shy of posters and don’t like talking to them and keep their thoughts themselves and then vote for the Republican. The polls could also be because of the voter screens they’re using and so forth, could be underestimating the democratic vote as they’re assuming we’re twenty fourteen, all over again, Democratic president and or twenty ten, and, you know, the audit of your election that will go against, and we’re gonna get that kind of turned out. And so I that’s the one thing for that I would is a sort of tactical matter. The the polls are hard to judge. They
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:54

    could be
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:54

    wrong either way. I guess, point out. Right? It’s not just that they could be wrong in missing Trump voters. They could be missing younger voters who will turn out in twenty twenty two as they did in twenty eighteen.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:04

    And if they do, we could have result
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:06

    you know, a house
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:07

    that looks a little Democrats could pull this at it and could even hold the house. Well, can I mention
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:12

    as a point of personal privilege my deep deep disappointment and a sort of soul crushing take on what’s happening here in Wisconsin because and I know that people hate, you know, I told you so, and and I really wish profoundly that I had been wrong about this. But, you know, Ron Johnson was the lowest of the low hanging fruit for Democrats to pick off. That could have been the race that won them control the United States. And there’s so much baggage that Johnson had, his approval ratings were so low. And for months, I was saying, but Johnson can get reelected if you nominate somebody with as much baggage as Mandela Barnes.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:56

    And because of all the wishcasting and because the Democrats their own bubble. They decided, no, no, no, we’re gonna do it. It’s not gonna be so bad. It will be fine. And I was saying, well, wait, wait till you see the the negative appo ads they drop on him.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:09

    And, of course, what a shock. We are now seeing stories in places like The New York Times that Democrats are now fretting because this deluge of negative ads particularly on the issue of crime is crushing Mandela Barnes. And and they had to know it was coming. They did it anyway. And I’m sorry.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:30

    I’m afraid of an eminently winnable tendency is going to be out of reach very soon. And I think that political scientists should study what happened in Wisconsin for a very, very long time, and I hope the Democrats do a very clear eyed after action post mortem on what happened here. I
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:51

    mean, we’ll see what happens. Barnes seems to be behind and you’ve been right. And look, I preferred. God, Luca, I think her name is is just knowing nothing about you, the candidate. Substantially really, but just She’s very bad, Luskey.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:02

    Much more centrist. Her image was so much more moderate. She went statewide and went ahead of the ticket in twenty eighteen, I believe. And so, you know, I thought it was risky and a test conducted have been risky. Now maybe Barnes will have something that would come back here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:15

    He’s down two or three points. He’s not down, you know, eight. So We’ll see what we’ll see what happens. We’ll see if if they could hold the governorship while losing the set of race. That that is possible.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:25

    Yeah. They they completely were split ticket voters. I’m struck by that looking at the polls for all the talk about the vanishing split ticket voter and everyone’s just, you know, drybulk is largely to that, obviously. You just look in real time at these polls and Georgia comes up, I don’t know, average of six or so over Abrams, war knocks up an average of four, let’s say, over Walker. That’s ten points.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:44

    Right? I mean, that’s not a trivial number of people, five percent of the people switching from one party to the other. As I say in the real in the same election day. So there’s a little more split ticket photograph than than rhetoric would suggest, you know. I find that
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:58

    very very interesting. You know, Sarah Lungwall did her focus group in Georgia last night. And most of the people that she was talking to are gonna vote for Brian Kemp, the Republican over Stacey Abrams. And and yet the same group, almost every one of them said they were gonna vote. All but one were gonna vote for warlock, you know, come into the Democratic warlock.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:16

    Over Hershel Walker, which would indicate a lot of split ticket voting in Georgia. There’s a possibility of that in Wisconsin as well because the republican candidate Tim Michaels is He’s got a lot of baggage he’s got a lot of baggage too, but I have to tell you, I mean, here it is just back, too back, too back, too back, too back. Attack ads on Barnes and they’re coming from both the Johnson campaign from outside money a lot of them have to do with crime. Primed a big issue here. And right now, this is also taking place at the time when the trial of the guy who was responsible for that Waukesha Christmas parade massacre is is ongoing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:58

    I mean, this guy’s on trial. And I gotta tell you, Bill, this story. Okay? So the reason it’s a big issue, I think we’ve talked about this before on the on the podcast. Is because he was out on a ridiculously low bail.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:10

    And so, you know, bail and liberal prosecutors have become a big issue. Mandela Barnes is all in on eliminating cash bail. You know, has said he would he would support it. Has long record of, you know, being you know, there shouldn’t be bail, you should make it easier to get out of jail anyway, whatever. So people turn on their their news and they’re getting just all of these ads.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:32

    About crime, which are working in both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. At the same time, they see the news reports about this guy who killed all these people in Waukesha while he was out on bail, he’s defending himself in the case. And if you google the Waukesha trial, he’s showing up basically in boxer shorts with no shirt on cross examining the witnesses. And, I mean, it is just this incredible sort of circus, just a pluralible circus. So the issue is front and center right now.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:05

    It’s the worst possible moment, etcetera. So Anyway, that it’s it’s discouraging to me that that that there’s so much resistance to the the voices. And I’d have ordered a lot of time this week talking to, you know, Rui Tochera warning to the democrats. Look, if you wanna win these races, you have to appeal to voters who want to think that you are moderate and centrist on issues like crime, etcetera. And in Wisconsin, at least in the center race, they’re not doing that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:31

    So Yeah. I mean, look, I think it’s a mistake, and
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:33

    I think if you talk to someone like, the two Democratic members of Congress in Virginia who were in tough razors and close districts Abigail Swandburger and Elaine Doria, they would say they have tried very hard to make clear they’re not the same. I mean, they don’t criticize borrowings personally, but that they come from a different wing of the Democratic Party. Step back, he could say that a fair number of moderate democrats at one primary is this year running reasonably moderate campaigns, but I I, you know, But look, these states are different, and these candidates are different. And obviously, we’re only talking a few percentage points here of a swing. And it turns out Federman is the progressive candidate, but he has a different field and barnes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:12

    Right? And and —
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:13

    I think so. — different
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:15

    from Wisconsin and stuff. And so and his opponents maybe is is not an incumbent senator, obviously. So all these things make a difference. And so yeah. I I but I look generally, I couldn’t I totally agree.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:25

    Very important for Democrats as much as they can. I mean, they have their own voters and their own primaries. And Barnes is the lieutenant governor. He he wasn’t sort of like crazy that he would win the nomination. But very important for them as much as they can to nominate candidates who could win it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:41

    Also, I think from your point of view, my point of view, candidates who are more sound on some of these issues and resist some of the
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:47

    progressive nostrom’s. So around the country, are there any other races that are sort of below the radar screen? You know, I mentioned back in twenty eighteen demo crats got themselves all worked up over races they thought that were winnable, that turned out not to be winnable at all, like in South Carolina, etcetera. But what do you make of some of the polls out of North Carolina where Democrats are always sort of loosey with the football? Is it possible that Is that in play?
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:15

    Is is Utah, which nobody really is talking about except for people like us? Is is I mean, is is are there are there things that are sort of out of our our frame of vision that that might actually turn out to be a BFD? Yes. That’s a very good question. This
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:27

    one is, like, did that little tweet this morning. If you just come down from Mars and look at the numbers. Yeah. Nevada looks like a Democratic state that could go Republican. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:36

    That looks like looks almost equally though one of the numbers as like a Republican state that could go Democratic. Now it has they keep you know, never quite works out in North Carolina and the most frustrating state for Democrats probably in the last fifteen years repeatedly. So that maybe it won’t and it probably won’t be. I do wonder about North Carolina. I think it’s the other one that everyone kind of vaguely assumes, can’t come through at the end.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:58

    But there, I think they’re just over doing it. I mean, there isn’t the actual other senator for Ohio was a Democrat. I mean, it’s like, wow. It’s just amazing since the Democrat did win the Senate seat. So Could Ryan do what Broward has done?
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:08

    It’s possible against a flawed candidate. I think Utah is very interesting. We don’t — that’s an interesting case study. Through the opposite of Barnes where the Democrats to their credit in Utah — Yeah. — didn’t nominate
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:18

    anyone once
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:19

    even our friend, Evan McWhelan, was able to get himself off the balance independent it clear he was gonna gonna be able to mount a credible challenge to Mike Lee. He raised more money than Lee in the third quarter. Lee’s, there’s a huge influx of outside spending. To save lead. Again, ultimately, ultimately, if you have to bet, you know, you figure lead probably makes it by four or five points or maybe even a little more, but I don’t think that’s a done deal.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:43

    And Let’s see what happens, what the dynamics are out there. So these states are different. Here’s what I’ve been putting it. For the last twenty years, really, maybe thirty. The people who said demography his destiny, these states will revert to their fundamental affiliation at the presidential level, and that will drive everything else.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:02

    You know, and so don’t bet on some attractive candidate who looks attractive at a red state, some blue, you know, democratic candidate, or vice versa. They’re just not gonna make it. And that it’d be like me. He said, I don’t know, candidates matter, you know, these don’t be so deterministic. I was wrong.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:15

    They were right. You know? The deterministic types were were were right. But maybe that’s sort of run its course or not run its course, but maybe that’s been overdone almost So people don’t even look at you. So I need you see polls.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:28

    I mean, legit, authentic, non push polls, and they’re, I don’t know, two point gap between Lee and McMullen. He’s, like, looks kinda competitive to be and a competitor’s of forty seven and isn’t putting away his challenger. And then, no, no, no, what you talk can’t happen. So I I think there’s even some of these Oklahoma, there’s weird things going on in some of these states. So I I will and it could happen the other way too incidentally, they could be Republicans who win.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:52

    We’ve seen that in twenty twenty, right, in the Rio Grande Valley. So where Republicans are competitive for one, you know, seats that if wanted to assume we’re democratic forever, you know. So there’s a more malubility, I would say, than perhaps the conventional wisdom has it? Well, we’re
  • Speaker 1
    0:44:07

    just going to have to buckle up for the next few weeks. Bill Crystal, thank you so much for coming back on the podcast. We always appreciate it. Thanks, Charlie. I really enjoyed it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:44:16

    The Bologuard podcast is produced by Katie Cooper with audio production by Jonathan Seary. I’m Charlie Sykes. Thank you for listening today’s Bulwark podcast, and we’ll be back tomorrow. We’ll do this all over again. You’re
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:33

    worried about the economy. Inflation is high. Your paycheck doesn’t cover as much as it used to, and we live under the threat of a looming recession. And sure you’re doing okay, but you could be doing better. The
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    0:44:44

    afford anything podcast explains the economy and the market detailing how to make wise choices on the way you spend and invest. Afford
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    0:44:51

    anything talks about how to avoid common pitfalls, how to refine your mental models, and how to think about how to think Make smarter choices and build a better life.
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    0:44:59

    Avoid anything wherever you listen.
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