Rank #1: It's Biden
Bernie Sanders announced the suspension of his presidential campaign this week, making Joe Biden the official presumptive Democratic nominee. What is the legacy of his campaign? Does it signal a complete lack of interest in very left policies and a major win for conservatives in the US, or does it show gradual change?
Wisconsin’s primary election went ahead this week as scheduled, despite the coronavirus pandemic. Is this a preview of future primaries and the general election in November? Should both Democrats and Republicans favor voting by mail?
President Trump is being criticized for taking too much of the spotlight during daily coronavirus briefings at the expense of medical experts. Is it time for that to change? Is President Trump capable of changing that?
Finally: one concerning theme of this pandemic is the political polarization of attitudes about it, but polling suggests that even though Democrats and Republicans might be saying opposite things, they’re pretty much behaving the same way: staying home, avoiding social contact, following guidelines. But this pandemic also feels like a crisis that could also be the nexus of other American crises: low trust in government, fake news and motivated reasoning. Cognitive scientist Hugo Mercier says people are relatively good at distinguishing good information from bad information, especially when their lives depend on it.
Apr 10 2020
Rank #2: Iranian general killed in US airstrike
Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was killed in an American airstrike at the Baghdad airport. General Soleimani was arguably the second most powerful person in Iran and a destabilizing force in the Middle East for decades. He led Iran’s interventions in other countries in the region, including support for militias in Iraq that killed hundreds of American soldiers.
The targeted killing of Soleimani was a major escalation in the conflict with Iran. Lawmakers are debating over whether the strike was wise, and what the costs to American interests will be. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the attack on Soleimani was based on intelligence that he was imminently going to undertake an attack that could have killed Americans. What Iran will do now that Soleimani is dead? And could the US be drawn into a broader war? Michael Singh of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy joins the panel to analyze the attack and the aftermath so far.
Then: Natahsha Sarin of the University of Pennsylvania joins the panel to talk about California utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric, the troubled utility whose aging infrastructure has sparked wildfires, required widespread blackouts and driven the company into bankruptcy for the second time in two decades. Does the US succeed or fail at holding companies like PG&E accountable? Natasha also talk about the debate over wealth taxes proposed by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and whether they will generate as much revenue as the candidates claim.
Jan 04 2020
Rank #3: Where is the Center?
Who is the center? Are there swing voters anymore, and what do they want? How did Donald Trump succeed at appealing at enough of the center to win the 2016 election, and what kind of candidate do Democrats need to pick to win the center back over?
Political scientist Lee Drutman will tell us who these voters are, and how being a swing voter doesn’t necessarily mean being an ideological moderate. Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and Erin McPike talk about policy making, what’s misunderstood about voters in the center, and what centrist voters are looking for in the 2020 field.
Then, Josh talks with two Left, Right & Center regulars, Kelli Goff and Tom Nichols, about their difficulty figuring out where we can fit in this increasingly polarized political system. They talk about the road to political independence and Josh makes the case for being in a political party, even if you don’t like it very much.
Dec 27 2019
Rank #4: Front row at the Trump show
At least ten million Americans filed for unemployment in the last two weeks of March, and that’s not the end of it. Has the federal government done enough to support Americans financially through this crisis? Is there a missed opportunity for reform and bigger, longer term ideas in the response? And what will the government have to do more of as this crisis continues?
Rich Lowry argues this real crisis puts previous crises in perspective, like impeachment and the Mueller investigation. Elizabeth Bruenig brings up the moral questions that underly a pandemic and our responses to it.
Jonathan Karl, chief White House correspondent for ABC News, has a new book called Front Row At The Trump Show. Jon talks about President Trump’s long coronavirus briefings and what it’s like to cover them, the similarities between his reaction to the pandemic and to Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Dorian, how the president actually feels about reporters (and vice versa), and what we can expect to see from him as the pandemic crisis bears down on the general election.
Also: the Democratic presidential primary is technically still going on. Is Joe Biden doing the right thing by laying (somewhat) low?
Apr 03 2020
Rank #5: Laughed out of Europe
President Trump was in the UK earlier in the week for the annual NATO summit, where he fought openly with French President Emmanuel Macron about policy toward ISIS.
Macron was caught on camera having an incredulous conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They were laughing about Trump’s rambling press conferences. So Trump cancelled his final press conference at the summit and left early to head back to Washington.
Jonathan Katz, senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, discusses what the President’s odd diplomacy means for U.S. relationships and alliances.
Plus, the impeachment process moved to a new phase with law professors making the case for or against Impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee. But did the professors add anything useful? Jonathan Adler, Case Western Reserve law professor explains.
Dec 06 2019
Rank #6: Impeached
Donald Trump is officially the third president to be impeached. The Democrats held together, with just one defection to the GOP and one “present” vote than they had a few weeks ago to open the impeachment inquiry.
After the impeachment vote, Nancy Pelosi surprised everyone by saying she wouldn’t send the impeachment articles to the Senate for now. What’s up with that?
Then, the Democratic presidential candidates had their liveliest debate yet. They fought over who has the necessary experience to win, Afghanistan policy, trade, health care, and who’s been spending too much in wine caves, and more. Josh Barro, Rich Lowry, Liz Bruenig and Gustavo Arellano discuss.
Dec 21 2019
Rank #7: Iran, Iraq and impeachment
Iran’s response to our attack that killed Qassem Soleimani looks like a climbdown, for now. Is it time for President Trump to take a victory lap? Should we be watching for unconventional reprisals from Iran? Much of the coverage this week has centered around Iran, but what impact has this had on our already-fragile relationship with Iraq? Jarrett Blanc of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace talks about the way forward with Iran, including what remains of the Iran nuclear deal and if there’s any way more sanctions could have an impact on Iran.
Plus: lawmakers’ reaction to the strike, flashbacks to 2002, and impeachment -- is that still happening?
Jan 10 2020
Rank #8: What’s our prognosis?
The US now leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, but it appears we haven’t reached the worst yet.President Trump signed a $2 trillion economic relief package for Americans and businesses. How much relief is in the relief bill? And will it be enough? The president is also eager to reopen the country, which could be a disaster if it’s done too early. Is President Trump wrong to say he doesn’t think New York will need tens of thousands of ventilators? How is the American healthcare system responding so far? Aaron Carroll and Betsey Stevenson join the panel for this week’s episode.
Mar 27 2020
Rank #9: Impeach and cooperate
The House of Representatives is almost ready to impeach President Trump, but they’re also working weirdly closely with him. This week they’ve approved a spending deal, signing off on his Space Force in exchange for federal employee parental leave, getting ready to approve his signature Nafta update. And the president’s phase one trade deal with China is maybe sorta done?
On the other side of the pond, Boris Johnson won a resounding victory in the United Kingdom and is somehow set to be the most politically successful conservative prime minister since Margaret Thatcher. How the bloody hell did that happen? Andrew Sullivan joins the panel to talk about Johnson’s strange appeal, how the British Left went so wrong, and what lessons (if any) there are for the United States.
Dec 14 2019