Join Jonah on today’s episode of The Remnant with our first-time guest: CBS’s John Dickerson. The subjects included in John’s latest book, The Hardest Job in the World, will allow you to get a fix of incredible nerdiness about presidential history in equal proportion to your daily recommended dosage of rank punditry. Why is it that we’ve made the presidency, in John’s words “essentially an impossible job”? Another shock: Many of the parts of presidential decorum that we consider par for the course are actually pretty ahistorical, and John makes the case that this weird, patristic view of the presidency in which the Executive has to appear in person at every important going-on throughout the country actually erodes some of the prudential, quiet, considered principles meant to undergird the job. Oh, and there’s some mutual Wilson-bashing in store as well, which is always a bonus.

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Why are Supreme Court vacancies more important to Republicans than they are to Democrats at the ballot box? It all goes back to conservative resistance to living constitutionalism, Judicial Crisis Network president Carrie Severino tells Steve and Sarah on today’s episode. “We know historically, it has been conservatives who are incredibly engaged by the Supreme Court,” Severino argues, because “it’s been conservatives on the receiving end of judicial activism.” In recent decades, the Supreme Court itself has made a point of constitutionalizing issues that simply aren’t in the Constitution, which can be traced to the left’s complete misunderstanding of our country’s founding charter.

Severino argues that the underlying logic of judicial activism is as follows: “If it’s constitutional it must be good, if it’s not constitutional it must be bad, and likewise, if it’s good, then it must be required by the Constitution, if it’s bad it must be forbidden by the Constitution.” Tune in for some punditry on Democrats’ religious tests for conservative Supreme Court nominees, the prudence of confirming a Supreme Court justice during an election year, and Republican Sen. Josh Hawley’s insistence that he won’t confirm a Supreme Court nominee who hasn’t vowed on record to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Jonah’s longtime friend Tevi Troy makes his second appearance on the program, this time to discuss not only the history of presidential debates, but also to share some info on how the sausage gets made from his time doing debate prep for George W. Bush. Beyond simply recounting some of the best zingers in the history of these debates (“The youth and inexperience of my opponent…” “You’re no Jack Kennedy.”), they discuss the degree to which these moments are actually staged, and how the pretzel-like overcomplicated logic of certain debate preppers actually contribute to their candidate looking pretty silly on national TV. Keeping this history in mind, Tevi also talks about what he’ll be looking for in the upcoming debates (both campaigns should be taking notes, honestly), and happily discovers that he has reached “Vin Cannato Equilibrium” in the canon of the REU (Remnant Extended Universe).

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We’re back with another edition of the World’s Most Non-Partisan Podcast®. This week, some thoughts on Linda Hunt (the actess, not the character Tom Cruise plays in Mission Impossible), John is watching a documentary about a weird sex cult that includes obscure European royalty in its ranks, and deep dive into cooking shows, the movie Who Is Killing The Great Chefs of Europe, and why you should see it, that Karate Kid inspired Cobra Kai TV show, why shows about old England or the best –or the worst– depending on your point of view, and we remember the great American actor Paul “Bob” Willson, Bruce Babbit, and of course, Miss Bab.

 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday immediately kickstarted a battle among conservative pundits and politicians over the prudence of pushing through a Supreme Court nominee before November 3. The first problem is that mail-in voting is already under way, meaning Republicans would technically be advancing a nominee during an election. Republicans have also been hypocrites about this in the past with their opposition to Merrick Garland’s hearing in 2016. Steve thinks we should push through a nominee, but David, Jonah, and Sarah are more sympathetic to arguments that Trump should nominate a justice and the Senate should wait to confirm until after the election, keeping in mind Democrats’ threats to throw out the filibuster, pack the court, and add Puerto Rico and D.C. to the union if Republicans have their way with Trump’s forthcoming nominee.

David and Jonah propose a deal: If Trump wins, the Senate confirms his nominee; if Biden wins, he agrees not to pack the court. Others argue that confirming a justice during an election year is just politics, meaning whichever party is in power gets to do whatever it wants. But what about principled conservatism? “My main critique of philosophical pragmatism is we are now talking about basically saying power decides every question of principle,” Jonah says on today’s podcast. This puts Republicans and conservatives in a bind, he argues, “particularly because for the last give or take 5,000 years, one of the jobs of conservatives has been to make a distinction between things you can do and things you should do.” Tune in for a conversation about the forthcoming attacks on Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholic faith should she be Trump’s nominee, the upcoming presidential debate next week, and the New York Times’ eagerness to rewrite its own history surrounding the 1619 Project.

Fellow Dispatcher David French returns to the program on the publishing date of his new book, Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation. If you’ve looked around at American politics over the last few years, and you’ve started to view the coastal states and the middle of the country as a bickering couple – wondering, “Why don’t they just break up already? – David’s book is for you. Jonah asks David to outline some of the scenarios by which a fracturing of the republic could happen, and works through the ways that America’s spirit could be successfully restored – all while avoiding an Articles of Confederation-style mess in which the country’s regions become too individually weak to do anything. Join for this enlightening discussion, and stick around until the end for characteristic rankness on Tenet, Amazon’s The Boys, and the mighty Dune.

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Just as there are different Enlightenments, there are different nationalisms, too. In both cases, it’s important to see what points they all converge on. On this edition of the Ruminant, Jonah walks through the ways in which we’ve seen this all before – even in spite of how strange this moment feels. Confucius says: “Enjoy your weekend!”

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“People ask me this all the time, ‘Why the hell did you stay?’ ” explains Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff for the Department of Homeland Security under the Trump administration and founder of the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform (REPAIR). “And my response is: If you saw what was happening, why the hell wouldn’t you stay if you cared about your country?” On today’s episode, Miles Taylor gives Sarah and Steve an inside scoop as to what it’s like working for a president who constantly gives you orders to break the law and who believes he has “magical powers” to do whatever he wants. The most frustrating part of his job as DHS chief of staff, he said, was watching high officials who expressed disdain for the president in private but refused to speak up when it mattered most. “There was another time that we were in [the Oval Office] and he went off on a tirade about the Mexicans,” Taylor explains, “In the conversations he said, ‘Look, Mexico is just a total hellhole, isn’t it? It’s just a total hellhole.’ And he kind of looked around the room for agreement, and he was like, ‘Right? You know I can’t say [expletive]hole countries anymore but it’s a hellhole, right?” Taylor said most people in the room—except for one official who Taylor didn’t name—laughed it off and nodded rather than standing up to the president.

Taylor said he and his colleagues went into that administration recognizing that Donald Trump was a man of pretty poor character, but there was a hope that the office itself would perhaps change the president for the better. “I really think once he had the powers of the presidency, he got drunk on the powers of the presidency and they did not have that sobering effect, they had a very inebriating effect on President Trump and magnified some of his worst impulses.” Tune in to hear Miles explain what it’s like having a Trump tweet change the trajectory of your entire day as a DHS staffer, whether Republicans should vote for Biden this election cycle, and how REPAIR hopes to fix the GOP in the post-Trump era. If anything, tune just in to hear Taylor explain why “every single day in the Donald Trump administration was a pride swallowing siege.”

“We need to agree that the Senate doesn’t work,” Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse tells Jonah on today’s episode of The Remnant. “The Founders had this great idea that you separate power vertically and horizontally if you believe in universal human dignity, and the Senate is kind of the most unique single institution that the Founders created in the Constitution.” Sasse’s appearance comes on the heels of his Wall Street Journal op-ed, in which he calls for modified Senate term limits, repealing the 17th Amendment, and cutting the C-SPAN cameras to improve debate on the Senate floor. “The cameras change the dynamic in the room because people don’t ask real questions if they’re instead trolling for a sound bite that they can hope goes viral,” Sasse explains. What’s worse, senators use the C-SPAN camera rules to trick their constituents into thinking they’re debating their colleagues when they’re not. “They regularly do this, hand gesturing to the senator right next to them that they’re supposedly rebutting, but the rules in the Senate require the C-SPAN cameras to be cropped right around their head and shoulders, so you don’t know as a viewer that there’s no one there in the Senate.” After railing against the senatorial political posturing that’s poisoning our parliamentary system, Sasse and Jonah discuss the filibuster, clickbait journalism, and the dangers of perceiving politics as religion. Learn alongside Jonah, and stick around to the end to hear Sasse school his colleagues in real time.

Show Notes:

On Tuesday, Israel signed two historic peace agreements with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in a major step toward greater diplomacy in the Middle East. Though the Trump administration played a crucial role in brokering both peace deals—with the signing ceremonies themselves taking place in the White House—media coverage of the deals has been scarce, begrudging, and dismissive of the president’s involvement in the negotiations. How much credit should the Trump administration get for facilitating the deal? And more importantly, will other countries follow suit in normalizing relations with Israel? “The UAE is like a beta test of the bigger deal with Saudi Arabia if it is to come,” David explains on today’s episode. “This is sort of dipping the toe in the waters.” As we inch toward November 3, will this deal be a major selling point for Trump’s re-election campaign? According to Sarah, probably not. “Our politics goes in cycles of foreign policy having domestic policy relevance, normally when we’re talking about having our people overseas,” Sarah explains, “This is not one of those elections.” Much to the Trump administration’s chagrin, this deal is simply not getting the coverage it deserves and many Americans who are more focused on domestic issues may never even hear about it at all. After a foray into the foreign policy world, our podcast hosts discuss The Big Ten’s return, the conspiratorial trajectory of American politics, many Republicans’ conviction that Joe Biden is nothing but a cardboard cutout for the progressive far-left, and … Grover Cleveland!

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Let the waves of optimism wash over you as return-guests Ron Bailey (Reason) and Marian Tupy (Cato Institute) join forces as Jonah’s tour guides through the last several centuries of human progress. Listen to the first half to hear why there is actual good news about the human condition – even during a pandemic – and stick around in the second half for a satisfying helping of philosophical eggheadery on education, personal liberty, and the logic of nonviolent protest.

Show Notes:

This week on GLoP, a slight shorter show than normal, but don’t fret — we’ll be doing –count ’em– THREE shows this month, including another live on Zoom, presumably with some adult beverages being consumed. In the meantime, we’ve on this show, John and Jonah have seen Tenet, the Oscars® get woke, and the boys recommend some podcasts (other than the ones they are on) for your dining and dancing pleasure.

What happens when you make a pundit talk about Antifa, the Dune trailer, the Republic of Venice, and 60s Iron Man cartoons all in one go? Tune in to the weekend Ruminant to find out!

Show Notes:

It’s the 19th anniversary of September 11, 2001, one of the most harrowing historical events in living memory. Today, our podcast hosts reflect on their personal memories of the day as a launching point into a discussion about the United States’ current understanding of al-Qaeda nearly two decades later. In reality, we don’t talk about al-Qaeda much anymore other than within the context of Trump’s “endless wars” rhetoric. Just this week, the Trump administration announced that troops in Iraq will be reduced to 3,000. What’s more, peace negotiations are taking place with Taliban representatives, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and representatives of the Afghan government this weekend. So as Steve points out, “You’d be forgiven for thinking this is all over.” But as Dispatch Podcast guest Tom Joscelyn reminds us on today’s episode, “Al-Qaeda is still very much alive.” Though Tom concedes that there’s a lot you can criticize about U.S. military intervention post-9/11, “It’s much more common, in my experience, that people who are against the U.S. using military force or U.S. military action to play disconnect the dots than it is for some sort of a so-called hawk to overconnect the dots.” On today’s episode, Tom, Sarah, and Steve discuss American intelligence officials’ current misunderstanding of al-Qaeda, the UAE and Bahrain’s plans to normalize their relationship with Israel, and the real and imagined foreign threats to the upcoming election.

Show Notes:

Andrew Ferguson’s follow-up appearance on The Remnant has been a long time coming, and you can tell; he and Jonah are filled with plenty of wisdom on the state of modern journalism, what the conservative media landscape used to be like, and how to not go completely hollow while keeping up with the news cycle.

News broke overnight of President Trump’s plans to reduce U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, less than a week after Jeffrey Goldberg’s bombshell article in The Atlantic highlighted anonymous accusations of the president’s poor conduct toward American veterans. Sarah, Steve, and Jonah tackle some of the move’s political implications for Trump’s re-election campaign before launching into a lively debate over the ethics of using anonymous sources in journalism. “It is the case that reporters can pick and choose their anonymous sources to tell the story that their predetermined narrative would have them tell,” said Steve. “But I think you judge anonymous sources to a certain extent based on the amount of credence you give to the particular reporter who’s using them.”

The Dispatch Podcast also covers curveballs that could upset current polling favoring a handed Joe Biden victory—namely, the Hispanic vote and presidential debates. New data out of Florida reveals that the former VP might not have the Hispanic vote locked down, but as our hosts point out, assuming that a diverse group of people will vote as a monolithic bloc has always been a dangerous oversimplification. Steve, Sarah and Jonah also chat about the upcoming debates and how possible Biden blunders could either hurt him or paint him as a sympathetic figure, depending on how the president chooses to respond.

Fresh off the heels of his new manifesto (not of the communist variety, though), Iain Murray, CEI senior fellow, joins Jonah on The Remnant to discuss The Socialist Temptation: what it is, who it hits hardest, why socialism isn’t really even an economic theory, and what to do about it.

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Who actually believes the media anymore? Can you really call yourself a liberal if you’re also a socialist? And what dog species does Zoë hate with a burning passion? It’s the weekend, and you know what that means: These questions and many more will be answered on this edition of Jonah’s Ruminant.

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Erick Erickson, host of 95.5 WSB’s Atlanta’s Evening News and creator of The Resurgent, joins Sarah and Steve on the latest Dispatch Podcast to state the case for the president’s re-election, despite his own wide-ranging reservations about Trumpism and the future of the Republican party. To Erickson, Trump represents the lesser of two evils—acting on the better judgement of behind-the-scenes administration officials to move forward beneficial policies like the Israel-UAE deal, the Trump Tax Reform Plan, and economic deregulation.

When pressed about dangerous outgrowths of the populist right, like the QAnon conspiracy theory, Erickson contends that the misinformation crisis coincided with the country’s lost faith in the media. He says that when journalists for self-described nonpartisan mainstream news sources publicly exposed their biases on verified Twitter accounts, many Americans abandoned orthodox news sources in favor of word-of-mouth and alternative media. “All of this plays into more and more people tuning out of media and tuning into their friends on Facebook, and not being able to distinguish truth from fiction,” Erickson said.

In the words of a famed conservative activist, “When they go low, we go high.” That’s what we’re doing today on The Remnant by getting out of the muck of American domestic politics and having a conversation with veteran guest Kenneth Pollack on the intricacies of the Israel-UAE deal instead. What does this mean for the region, and what are the historical corollaries (Hint: It might be on your Remnant Bingo card)?

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