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2020 Politics War Room

Author: Native Creative Podcasts

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Political insiders James Carville and Al Hunt offer a backstage pass to the 2020 Election.
43 Episodes
The specter of 2016 still looms in the minds of Democrats everywhere, creating no small amount of fear and uncertainty about what might happen come November. But while caution may prove prudent, there is no denying that there are stark differences between four years ago and today. Hart Research Associates president Geoff Garin outlines key polling numbers explaining a likely turn away from Trump in the coming months. And nowhere is that resentment towards the current status quo felt more than among America's beaten and broken middle class, whom New York Times economics reporter Jim Tankersley explores the plight of in his new book "The Riches of the Land."
With all eyes on Trump v. Biden , it can be easy to forget that there's a lot more at stake this November than just the presidency. Even congressional races may finally be getting the attention they deserve. But National Democratic Redistricting Committee president Kelly Burton and Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee preside Jessica Post argue that the real work is far more granular, down at the local legislative level. And the world of political scandal, journalist Seth A. Richardson (The Cleveland Plain Dealer) highlights one of the most staggering examples of graft in American history, involving an energy company, a wide array of figures at the heart of Ohio politics, and $60 million in bribes.
Much of the blame for the sad state of affairs the United States is facing gets heaped at the feet of Donald J. Trump. But while a fair amount of guilt should be borne by his contemporary enablers, there has also been a clear path over the last 50 years that has led the Republican party towards the existential darkness the president is now dragging them into. Bradlee Professor of Government & the Press at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Thomas Patterson and Julian Zelizer, the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton School of Public & International Affairs, pinpoint the key players in this grand decline, including Nixon, Cohn, Reagan and Gingrich. 
While the coronavirus creates chaos and uncertainty in every sector, there are few things as vital to both the immediate and distant future of the United States as the country's education system. And its importance is matched only by the complexity involved in starting the school year safely in a few months. As West Des Moines Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy points out, every school is different, and no one plan will suffice for all of the nearly 13,000 school districts throughout the country. And on the topic of learning, author Ben Sheehan ("OMG WTF Does The Constitution Actually Say?") laments the lack of civic education and what that means for the future of American democracy.
The Hard Hat Riot of 1970 may have lost some of its historical importance in the eyes of everyone but the most astute modern day political operatives. But author David Paul Kuhn ("The Hard Hat Riot") and political strategist Stan Greenberg ("RIP GOP") make the case that any Democrat worth their salt should mark that infamous clash between college students and construction workers as the inception of the greatest electoral barrier their party has faced in the 50 years since. That is the disenfranchisement of blue collar whites, and their departure from the left was felt in the 2016, just as they may serve as Biden's key to victory in 2020. Plus, Al and James discuss Trump's latest outrages.
The prevailing belief of the day may be that the Republican Party has sold its soul to the devil and a Democratic victory in November is America's only hope for salvation. But Oklahoma Senator James Lankford begs to differ, asserting that his colleagues in Congress have made efforts to ensure rule of law and equality for all, including introducing police reform and voting protection measures. At the same time, journalist Matt Bai ("All The Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid") argues that by valuing urbanity over all else, the Democrats loosen their connection to some of the most important voters in the country, allowing Trumpism to take hold.
The Supreme Court has dealt powerful blows to the Trump agenda in recent days, protecting DACA recipients' status and upholding anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals. Duke University School of Law Douglas B. Maggs Professor Emeritus of Law Walter Dellinger notes that the conservative justices see beyond the current president, towards a lifetime of decision-making. But that does not mean the U.S. justice system will remain intact with William Barr at the helm, he warns. On the other hand, political consultants Keith Mason and Paul Begala find hope in the new direction communities around Atlanta and Houston are taking, no matter the outcome of 2020.
There is no doubt that footage of George Floyd's death at the hands of four Minneapolis police officer is as shocking as it is damning of the American criminal justice system. But it is far from being the first incident of its kind, and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism professor Howard French ("Everything Under The Heavens") refuses to let white people use the excuse they didn't already know this was the reality for black people across the country. He notes it is time for America's institutions to take a long, hard look at themselves if they want this tragedy to not be in vain. And political reporter Ron Brownstein (The Atlantic) crunches the numbers on demographic changes among both Democrat and Republican voters, as well as posits some suggestions for the coalition Biden could build. 
Few people have as deep and intimate an understanding of who Donald Trump is as a person as Bloomberg Opinion executive editor Timothy L. O'Brien. Not only has O'Brien written an entire biography of the man in his book "TrumpNation: "The Art of Being The Donald," he was even sued by Trump for libel for giving a true account of the scope of the president's financial worth. In due course, Timothy has actually become an astute observer of the Trump brand, peering beyond the fabricated persona to see what really lies beneath. Plus, Al and James discuss just what might happen if things don't go well for Trump in November.
Yet another death of an African American man at the hand's of the police has lead to demonstrations across United States and around the world. People are yet again demanding greater accountability, transparency and equality in treatment from their peace officers. But what will it really take to dramatically change how men and women in uniform interact with the public,  especially minorities? David Harris, the University of Pittsburgh School of Law's Sally Ann Semenko Endowed Chair, tries to answer some of the questions about the nature of this issue and suggest how policing systems can be changed at all levels of government. Plus, Al and James touch base on Trump's photo op and Senate election prospects.
How has the Republican party fallen so far from grace? Is the rise of Trumpism the cause of this rapid decline, or a symptom of the party leadership's disconnection from its base? What does the future hold for a political organization that has sold it soul for victory? These are just some of the questions Charlie Sykes, editor-in-chief, and Tim Miller, and contributor for the Never-Trump, conservative news site The Bulwark, try to answer. Historian Ron Chernow ("Alexander Hamilton") sets the record straight about Ulysses S. Grant's military prowess, presidential record and alcoholism. Plus Al and James give a rundown on the Senate seats up for grabs in November. 
To many Americans, the economy is mystery. Normal market trends and fiscal policy aside, though, the coronavirus pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge for understanding how the country might weather the storm of soaring unemployment and a near total halt to business as usual. That's where David Wessel,  director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution, steps in, providing unique insight into what extremely low interest rates and climbing national debt mean for investors and individuals of all stripes. Plus, James presents an outline for how Joe Biden's campaign can springboard off of an existing network of talented creatives rather than build an entire movement from the ground up. 
Balanced, accurate and informative journalism is possibly more important now than it ever has been. Yet with financial limitations and logistical nightmares a plenty, publishing the most important stories in an rapidly changing world is no easy task. Los Angeles Times executive editor Norman Pearlstine expounds on the precautions his newspaper has taken, as well as the need to shift focus away from from Europe and North America. In that same vein, Brookings Institute senior fellow and former CIA analyst Jung H. Pak explains how the often maligned and misunderstood dictator of North Korea poses a greater threat to global peace than many anticipate, as laid out in her book “Becoming Kim Jong Un: A Former CIA Officer’s Insights into North Korea’s Enigmatic Young Dictator."
While facing the global pandemic on your own might seem frightening and difficult, going through this one-of-a-kind crisis with a partner does still present its own challenges. How does one keep themselves and their significant other healthy, safe and entertained enough in quarantine to not be at each others' throats? Well actress Marlo Thomas and her husband, American media personality Phil Donahue, have 40 years of successful marriage to pull from in that regard, in addition to the cumulative knowledge gathered for their forthcoming book "What Makes a Marriage Last — 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets to a Happy Life." Plus, Al and James discuss the moral and intellectual incompetence of the Trump administration's coronavirus response.
The grim toll of the coronavirus pandemic is a reality many Americans have come face-to-face with in recent months. And with the number of COVID-19 related deaths rising daily, it can be difficult for those who have yet to experience loss from it firsthand to understand the scope of this terrible disease. There is historical precedent, however, for how the country has dealt with this sort of tragedy, author and former Harvard president Drew Faust (The Republic of Suffering) notes. How the U.S. handled its hundreds of thousands of Civil War dead revealed a great deal about the country, she says, as does the current crisis. And while many of us might seek reprieve from our harrowing circumstances in the world of basketball, baseball or football, sports writer John Feinstein (The First Major) paints an unfortunately complex and nuanced picture of what it might take for athletes to get back to their respective games.
If the title of president of the Brookings Institution isn't impressive. enough, John R. Allen has plenty on his resume to raise your eyebrows at. Retired four-star Marine Corps general. Former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. Department of State Distinguished Honor Award winner. So when he suggests that America's adversaries are taking advantage of the global pandemic, it's time to pay attention. But when he says that the country's military has never been more ready to take on these looming threats, it should offer some solace. Plus, Al and James talk out the pros and cons of Klobuchar, Harris and other possibilities for Biden's VP spot.
From Secretary of State to Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright has been a major player on the world stage in many different capacities, and therefore has spent a decades-long career embracing the bigger picture and seeking solutions to humanity's problems on a global scale. So there are few people better equipped to step back and evaluate the magnitude of America's involvement in geopolitics and the need for its leadership in an ongoing crisis like the coronavirus. She also acknowledges that the next step our government should take is to look within and try to heal the partisan fracturing in order to better deal with the larger issues at play. In that vein, Al and James offer praise to governors on the other side of the aisle who have taken it upon themselves to go against the White House and their party leadership in addressing the pandemic.
Associated Press Deputy Bureau Chief for all White House, Congressional and political coverage Michael Tackett has seen a lot in his career, and never backed down from a challenge. He discusses how covering controversial basketball coach Bobby Knight in college trained him to deal with Trump, and explains how he stays focused on the issues at hand, even when the president makes things personal. Meanwhile, journalist Joanne Lipman (USA Today, Wall Street Journal) shares details of one the most important stories surrounding the coronavirus pandemic: its impact on a variety of medical treatments and procedures, many of which are lifesaving. And to top things off, Bernie Sander's surprise announcement creates clarity for November.
As a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Shribman (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/Boston Globe) has had keen insight into how the two countries have been operating since coronavirus first reached North America. On the one hand, he notes, Canada has taken decisive action directed by a head of government who exemplifies the seriousness and gravitas needed for these extreme circumstances. On the other, he points out that the U.S. has been directionless and far from uniform in its approach, and the difference shows. Al and James also hold their breath in the hopes that things don't get any more outrageous before November.
Author Deborah Fallows and journalist James Fallows spent years traveling to small cities and towns outside America's major population centers in order to research their national bestseller "Our Towns A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America." In following up with those communities recently, they are able to share how individual leaders and local groups have stepped up to deal with the growing coronavirus outbreak in spite of the lack of guidance from higher levels of government. Al and James also ponder what a candidate like Joe Biden can do in a situation as dire as this.
Comments (2)

Jeannie Bremer

Such an outstanding show. Really interesting discussion

Jul 24th

Yasmine C

I bet it's mostly madness.

Jun 23rd
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