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[00:00:05]

Hello from the Lincoln Project, I'm runs Tussler. Welcome back to our weekly roundup, where we bring in a rotating panel of experts to discuss the truth. You need to know behind the most important stories of the week and how they shape the political landscape of this election. We have an incredible panel today joining us from an undisclosed location. We have national political strategist Steve Schmidt. Thanks for being on again, Steve. Good morning. And because one legendary ad maker and New York Times best selling author just wasn't going to be enough this week, we have both Rick Wilson and Stuart Stevens.

[00:00:36]

Gentlemen, it's great to have you both on. Great to be here.

[00:00:39]

Well done. Disclosed on today's episode, we're going to talk about the Republican National Convention. And I want to focus on the people who are still undecided about who to vote for and putting the Trump campaign's messaging into context for them. But before we get started with that, we were talking about before the show about the visual of this last night of the convention. Stuart, do you want to share your thoughts on that before we dig into the substance?

[00:01:05]

Well, these are the White House here is just a disgrace. And I know the reality that no one's done really hard time for violating the Hatch Act probably in a while, but. But what did the reason exist is to protect you as a taxpayer from having your tax dollars used for a political purpose that you may completely disagree with. It exists for the same reason that you can't run your campaign headquarters out of your congressional office or your senatorial office. It's a fundamental protection of taxpayers.

[00:01:39]

And what we've seen with the Trump campaign is just an extension of their complete lawlessness. They don't care about you, the taxpayers. So it's a true statement that what we saw last night and before in this convention, there are people out there and they're not a small number of people who will work their entire lives really hard, pay taxes and every dollar that they pay in taxes their entire life will have gone to put on this Trump show. And that's a disgrace.

[00:02:10]

That's an absolute disgrace. You know, I've shot in the White House before for President Bush, and you would only use the president and you go through extreme lengths not to use the White House staff. So there is the irony here, if that's the right word, is there actually, if Trump wanted to do this in the White House, there is a way he probably could have done it legally, tried to do it legally. They didn't even try.

[00:02:38]

I mean, they put it out there on the lawn, just sort of to announce, here we are, we're breaking the law, stop us. And it's a great metaphor for how they feel about the law. And I'm afraid it's what we're going to face between now and the election. Trump's not going to be asking permission to violate election law. He's just going to do it and then say, stop me. And when you have this incredibly weak group of Republicans around him, it's an extraordinarily dangerous situation.

[00:03:08]

Steve?

[00:03:09]

No, it sure is. You know, I spent a fair amount of time on TV this week and a lot of the discussion was around. Well, no one cares about the Hatch Act or the national press immediately jumps to, well, voters don't care about this. Right. This isn't going to be a voting issue. And I think that's the wrong take on this. This is an important issue. Whether people care about it or not, they should and specifically should care about three things that we saw this week.

[00:03:42]

The first is the dropping of any pretense of a platform by the Republican National Committee. There's no platform. So what the platform is, is obedience to Donald Trump. And so the Republican Party became this week a cult of personality, fully definition. That's just that's just what it is. Q What Stewart rightly called a disgrace, a lawless disgrace is the use of very powerful symbols of the American state for political purposes. And what are those symbols for McHenry?

[00:04:26]

The White House may be the most visually famous place in the world, arguably, certainly among the top 10 and that house, the president's residence is the people's house belongs to the American people. And the greatest honor the American people can bestow on somebody is giving them temporary custody of that residence as president of the United States. But it but it's not his. And so when Trump uses those powerful symbols of state, what he is saying is, I am the state.

[00:05:09]

And he is not that's not how a small D small R Democratic Republican form of government works. Nobody is above the law. And the last part about this is it's illegal and they know it's illegal. And they did it anyway, so what they're saying is that membership in the Republican Party now is dependent on obedience to Trump cult of personality. I am the state and I am the law. And when you have an American president basically asserting. I require obedience.

[00:05:53]

I am the state and I am the law. Trust me when I tell you this, right? The light has gone from flashing yellow to flashing red. We are in a lot of trouble and that there's nobody seemingly in the senior elected. Ranks of government who's able to articulate that should scare the shit out of everybody. Within reach of my voice, in and beyond, it is a liberal, it is autocratic and it's dangerous, just how you had something to add on this front, as Steve was saying, that all I could think of was basically that Trump is the bastard child of Louis the 14th and Judge Dredd.

[00:06:36]

I am the state and I am the law.

[00:06:38]

And and this entire this entire conceit of of lawlessness and being protected from consequence is enabled by not only Donald Trump's complete amorality and utter lack of character and all the low travelers' from John, you say around him, but also because he has Bill Barr, who is the ultimate check on any kind of of of of inspector general's report on any kind of DOJ complaint, on any kind of of of complaint that would rise to a level that would require or demand prosecution bill bars not going to do it.

[00:07:19]

I mean, Donald Trump's old joke about killing somebody on Fifth Avenue is not a joke. Now, there is nothing he can do that Bill Barr and the Republicans in the Senate won't protect. There is nothing that he can do. I mean, he could explicitly tomorrow say, yeah, you know what? Screw it. I took a billion dollars in cash from Russia today and I'm going to spend it on my campaign. You know what happened? Nothing.

[00:07:43]

There would be no official response now. There would be a greater public outrage than it is right now. But he has gotten away with repeatedly violating the law with zero consequences. This is a terrifying precedent. It is a diminution of our country's status in the world because we now look like a third world kleptocracy from the nineteen seventies where you could buy the minister of defense for fifty grand that a couple of bottles of Johnnie Walker. This is not what a what Steve said small d democracy or small our republic looks like.

[00:08:21]

I would also add this right. When you've come up to this line, I'm going to tell you what's next. Should should he win one one hundred percent, you will see retribution against his political opponents, people who are in dissent about all of this. And you'll see the instruments of government, the instruments of the state turned against the citizen of a small democratic republic for asserting their constitutional rights to speech, to assembly, to to dissent. It's coming and it's coming because he's probing and they know that there's been no rebuke to his abuse of power.

[00:09:05]

There wasn't when he invented out of whole cloth a a tale of what he depicted really as a marauding and advancing Panzer division about to break through the southern border that was, in fact, poor and desperate people, refugees trying to get into the to the United States. We've seen the abuse of the military, which is throughout this week and throughout the presidency, the politicization of it. I think that the use of the Marine Corps as props in the naturalization ceremony, frankly, should have triggered a resignation from the commandant of the Marine Corps or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

[00:09:50]

But the record of Million Esper with regard to defending that institution is appalling. And so we see a failure at all of the circuit breakers, all of the people who could walk into the Oval Office and make a big deal and impose some type of restraint with the threat of resignation. And so I think it's important for everyone to understand this, which is that does anybody have any doubt that if Donald Trump could lock up his political opponents, that he would what?

[00:10:20]

Does anyone have any doubt that if Donald Trump could shutter a newspaper that he doesn't like or revoke a broadcasting license that he that he would? We are when you watch this play out, what it says is that you have a lawless administration, the very definition of it that has decided they can do anything they want to do because they are in charge. And that has never, ever, ever been asserted from the office of president of the United States before for no other reason except the low purpose of self-interest in our entire history.

[00:11:02]

I was going to ask you if we have any kind of historical reference for this or precedent for it in the country.

[00:11:07]

And now I had a Trump person the other day defend Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus in the civil war with Trump's action. I was like, this is not the analogy you want to be making, this really isn't and and he is doing these things in order to generate I mean, what makes it even worse is these abuses of power art are anything but Trump trying to prevent himself from being held accountable after he's out of office. I mean, he's trying to run out the clock on a number of different axes here.

[00:11:48]

But this this guy is going to burn Rome to the ground before in his mind, the Visigoths get there. I just have just one question it to all of you before we leave the this this part of the conversation in in all of your years on so many campaigns at the highest level, did you ever imagine that the that the institutions, these norms could could possibly be so fragile or are they not fragile and Donald Trump is just destroying them willfully?

[00:12:17]

It's both. They're much more fragile than I ever conceived of them. And the willingness of people to shatter them with no restraint is shocking to me.

[00:12:32]

What's different about this than Watergate is Republicans didn't know what was going on in Watergate. Republicans know what's going on now. Trump the secret Trump tapes are revealed every day. He just says it out loud. And to me, the most long lasting impact of Donald Trump is not going to be Donald Trump, it's the realization that a major American political party has completely collapsed and that there is nothing that they would do on any point of principle to stand up for their oath of office.

[00:13:08]

A guy once wrote a book called Everything Trump Touches Dies, and that included the Republican Party. You know, I work for a lot of these people. And I have no other conclusion that I can reach, then they lied to me, they lied when they said that they believed in these things and they haven't stood for what they said they did. They're nice people. I mean, if they lived next door, they'd be good neighbors. If they saw you stranded on the road, they'd stop and help you.

[00:13:44]

But they have completely failed the fundamental duty they had as custodians of this fragile. Concept of democracy, and I think it's absolutely shameful and it's how they're going to be remembered. I mean, I think Mitch McConnell thinks that Donald Trump can remember that as his fool. I'm pretty sure Mitch McConnell is going to be remembered as Donald Trump's fool. It's just how history works.

[00:14:10]

Steve, I lied because I have one other question, which is, if you can, I'd like you to speak to what the consequences of this collapse in these norms, in these institutions are for the lived experience of everyday Americans, because we're talking about these things at a very high level. But where does this road go? Well, it goes to nowhere good. George W. Bush was right about something fundamentally, and he was wrong about something just as fundamentally in his term right after the 9/11 attacks.

[00:14:47]

It was right to look for the root causes of what inspires 19 young men to hijack airplanes and to fly them into two buildings and one observation, which was correct, was that by and large, though, this would not prove to be the case. Is this metastasised later with ISIS, where we saw a lot of volunteers from Western countries, but at the time saying that, well, people from democracies don't do this. They don't they don't fly these buildings into plane.

[00:15:20]

They're coming from autocracies, desperate places, political repression. And so we need to have more democracies. And so it's the policy of the government of the United States to spread democracy and that the way that you accomplish that is by holding elections. Now, the what he was wrong about was that elections are what propagated democracy. And so we have an election in the Gaza Strip and Hamas, which is not a democratic institution, to say the least, or you look what happens in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood.

[00:15:58]

What what makes democracy possible is not an election. It is a tradition of the rule of law.

[00:16:07]

A rule of law that says no one is above and no one is below the law. And so when you establish the proposition that the political leadership of the country can break the law, can do it openly and willingly. What will happen is there will be more law breaking. That's how incentives work and the lawbreaking will eventually move into the space of infringing on people's rights. Right to speak, right to pray, right to assemble in the interest of the leader.

[00:16:51]

This didn't happen in a long ago era, but the president of the United States cleared out on the order of the attorney general, the square between the White House and St. John's Church, Lafayette Square. The violence of the state loosed again, peacefully protesting people so the president could go hold a Bible upside down. And so if anybody thinks that we're not on a trajectory to see IRS audits, prosecutions, we've seen criminal behavior explicated by the president in the form of Roger Stone and the other criminals that surround him.

[00:17:35]

Drew an abuse of the pardon process. Everyone should understand that he's up on the line and what comes next is the offensive abuse of power using the power of the state to crush dissent in opposition. Why do I say that? Well, look no further than the Republican Party platform. It's now built on one idea of obedience to Donald Trump and then the co-option of the symbols of the country. The assertion and I don't say it lightly and I don't say it hyperbolically, if you looked at the images last night, what he said was, I am America.

[00:18:20]

I am the state very dangerous in a democracy, terrible.

[00:18:25]

The acceleration of abuses is going to continue. They will continue to ramp this up. That will continue to get worse. It will continue to get more and more exaggerated. And look in the campaign is a preview right now. The campaign is out there bragging. They're assembling dossiers on on enemies of Donald Trump. And we know from their some of their allies that they're doing that. Regarding regard to the Lincoln project, we know some of their allies are doing that aggressively right now.

[00:18:54]

And we're going to have probably more to say on that very soon. But they're starting to do the things that that are are essentially you will see a stasis for Donald Trump emerge. You will see domestic retribution, as Steve said, against political opponents of the state and of and of the Trump Party. And it is as this this echoes the way that Eastern Europe looked after a war two, where you saw these highly politicized moments where where state power met modern technology at the time and it was turned against its people.

[00:19:31]

Not not in not not immediately. And in labor camps, gulags and death camps, but in the small stuff of trying to make sure that people that opposed the state and opposed the leadership couldn't have a business, couldn't have a life, couldn't deal with, wouldn't be trusted by their friends or their neighbors. And this is the kind of corrosive thing that authoritarians do.

[00:19:52]

So. Rick, I know you have to run, but that is actually a perfect segue to the next part of this conversation where I want to dig into the substance of what we saw this week before we get to Trump's speech, but which is which is a very dystopian future. After promising a positive convention, the Trump campaign painted a really bleak outlook if Joe Biden gets elected. Congressman Matt Gates said that under a Biden administration, they'll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS 13 to live next door.

[00:20:25]

And I'm quoting him, Mike Pence told viewers that you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America in his law and order appeal. And Trump also talked about Biden giving free rein to violent anarchists, agitators and criminals. We don't need to look very far to see that the dystopia that they're saying Biden will usher in is happening right now during the Trump administration. All of the violence and protesting Trump's campaign is warning us about is literally happening right now. Just this week, we witnessed another shooting of a black man by police and a 17 year old killed two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

[00:21:03]

Trump's record of division has been on full display. We saw it. We saw it in Charlottesville. We saw it in defense of Confederate statues. We saw it in the shock troops in Portland. The point is, it's happening right now. So, Stuart, why is Trump stoking this fear and white grievance politics, which you and I talked about on a previous episode, why does he do this so consistently?

[00:21:28]

Well, Trump does it because he's a racist. I mean, this is how he sees the world. This is a guy who still says that the Central Park five should be prosecuted even though they've been proven innocent or proven not guilty. Trump's a racist.

[00:21:45]

It's really not complicated or interesting or novel. He's just sort of a garden variety racist. Trump has it made people more racist, I think. But he's validated racism. And history shows that when a major political party goes along and validates hate, which is what the Republican Party has done by validating Trump's racism and his general bigotry, its attacks against Muslims, calling judges born in Indiana Mexicans, that it's very difficult to get this undone in a strict electoral sense.

[00:22:21]

You know, I just go back to this all of this industry of why Trump won in 2016. On one level, he won for very simple reason. He ran a year in a year in which a Republican could win with forty six point one percent. Romney lost with forty seven point two percent. So how did he do that? It was an increase in third party, which isn't going to happen this year, it looks like, but most importantly, non-white turnout declined for the first time in 20 years.

[00:22:49]

So Trump isn't out there trying to build a new coalition with any effort he needs to get every white vote he can get.

[00:23:01]

And really, if you read George Wallace's famous speech in 1968, in October in Madison Square Garden, it could have been given by Trump last night and Trump in a way to give it last night. And Mike Pence, who is one of the you know. Smallest men in America, they want to make you afraid of other Americans. That's the essence of it. The voice of Trump is to feel worse about your country, to feel worse about being an American, to be born in America during the Reagan years was to win life's lottery.

[00:23:40]

You're the luckiest person in the world to be born. An American and to be an American in the Trump years is you're a chump. You're a sucker. There are these powerful forces out there like Canada that are taking advantage of us. It's just a completely different version of how the world is. I don't think it's going to work. I mean, I just go back to we always are talking about these extraordinary things about Trump. But if Trump was a normal president, they sort of just a governor from a state who got elected, who was running in an environment in which you have more people are unemployed during the Republican convention in August than any August in American history.

[00:24:24]

More Americans have died in the last five months from a disease than any other time in American history. So it's very difficult to get this race away from those realities, maybe do it for a news cycle when there's racial violence and murder. But it really is not possible, I think, to make people care, many people, enough people to win an election care about something that's not affecting their lives. And what's going to be affecting people's lives the next two months is the economy and the fact that the schools are going to be closing.

[00:25:03]

I mean, I think, you know, when you look at where race is going to go, that's where the race is going. It's hard to imagine that the first debate isn't school closures, isn't going to be a huge, huge issue in that debate. These colleges that are attempting to open are going to close. College kids are going to come back home and you're going to have parents just in this terrible bind. What do they do with their children?

[00:25:30]

And there's no plan to address that for Donald Trump. And it just doesn't it's not anything he cares about. He'll just say that it's not happening. I think we're in for a very, very, very ugly period in our politics, in a very dangerous period, because Trump is a gangster and gangsters will do anything to stay, you know, to keep that government contract.

[00:25:55]

You know, a couple couple of things on top of what Stewart said tonight. I want to stand up and cheer after listening to what he said. And I think it's really important. The first thing is, is Trump, without question, is the most incompetent leader in a crisis that the country's ever had the misfortune to have at the helm. And as a result, American life, the American way of life is wrecked from kids being able to go to school from the rituals of college football in the fall.

[00:26:25]

That won't happen to a devastated economy, a million broken dreams, shuttering small businesses and and not least of which is the consequences of as we get ready to cross the two hundred thousand debt Americans barrier, we are the epicenter of a deadly virus, the most sophisticated math and science medical country in the world. None of it. None of it had to happen now. This convention was from an alternate reality, from the delusion sphere where covid is behind us.

[00:27:04]

We're not really happening at all, where the economy is roaring and everybody in America is safe. And the paternalistic hands of the leader, Donald Trump, who we were told over and over again is a deeply caring man, an honest man, somebody who keeps his commitments and his words and that you can trust, which, of course, is all bullshit. But you talked, Ron, about some of the things that came out of the mouth of Matt Gates.

[00:27:37]

And I want to talk about what I what I think is the most significant event that that happened that happened this week, which is in relation to the most tragic event that we all share together on national television this week, which was the shooting in the back seven times of a black man, again by ill trained. Police, I don't I don't know, maybe it's inappropriate to speculate about the about the motive, but but it looked to me on camera that that neither of those cops should have been within one hundred miles of a firearm in response to that.

[00:28:21]

Right. What did we see at the convention? We saw on the first night we saw a couple who are bad people. Yeah, I. I'm not I'm going to talk about what makes them bad people before we talk about the bad thing they did on their on their lawn. Right. So these are who these people are. They live next door to a synagogue. And honey is a important part of some of the Jewish people ceremonies and holidays.

[00:28:50]

And they put beehives on the back of the property. And this was something an activity that was done by the by the kids at the at the synagogue. And apparently the beehives encroached on that couples', the McCluskey's property, by a few inches. Now, what is a normal person do normal person. So that's why I live next to a synagogue and I got a big property and there's beehives on it and they're six inches over the line. You know what you do?

[00:29:25]

You ignore it. No big deal, right? Let's say you're that person, though, and your is your property. You you pick up the phone and you call the rabbi and you and you say, would you mind moving the beehives off of my property line? What did this guy do? Well, this guy went out there with an axe and smashed all the beehives. That's who they are. So when these peaceful protesters walked down their street, you saw them come out holding guns on those protesters and were appropriately charged with a felony.

[00:30:03]

And by the way, this is not how you hold a firearm, right?

[00:30:07]

It's a miracle that those two fools didn't shoot somebody. But but the larger point is, why were they at the convention? Well, they were at a convention. Their achievement, their qualification, as Stewart pointed out to us the other day, is they pointed guns at black people. Yeah. And then you look at what Matt Gates said about the rising tide of enemies. Is it any wonder that a 17 year old in Indiana finally received enough poison, his mind poisoned by this bullshit, by this propaganda that he was radicalized not fundamentally any differently than a Palestinian teenager?

[00:30:55]

Or a Saudi teenager who's radicalized to strap a suicide vest on them and blow up and kill innocent people in a market. This kid was radicalized. And he took his AR 15 and he drove to Wisconsin and became a kill. And there is a direct one. Cause and effect between Trump's rhetoric. And what he hears on Fox News and what he hears from the convention speakers that. Accomplishes this. And we should we should make no mistake about it, all over the country now inspired by Trump.

[00:31:39]

And it's not coincidental that this kid was in a in a front row Trump rally, we have lonely people. We have people on the margins, aggrieved people, boys and people connected together through the perniciousness of Facebook. And they're radicalized. We saw them in the state capital with their long guns and we're seeing them all over the country and they are committing violence now, not just threatening. And they're doing it in the name of Trump. Yes. And in service of Trump's dystopian vision to fight back against the threat, listen to the words that were said.

[00:32:27]

Now, they were breathtakingly dishonest. This was this was a convention. It was it was breathtaking in its in its constant deception and lying and dishonesty. But listen to the words and then observe the actions that follow the words. They are connected. It's dangerous. Trump is inciting violence and people are committing violent acts in response to the incitement. And it's going to get worse and more dangerous over these next months.

[00:33:04]

I want to ask sort of two questions, but Steve, The New York Times has done some some good reporting comparison on the similarities between Nixon's law and order pitch in 1968 and Trump's pitch in twenty twenty. And I wonder, as you're thinking about that, I'd like you to to comment on what you think is similar. But at the same time, we know that over 15 million people watched the third night of the RNC and we're waiting on numbers from last night.

[00:33:29]

But we know that millions of people watched this convention this week and many of them will believe this image that the Trump campaign is painting of what a Biden presidency would look like. And so with with the context of history and I love I love to hear your thoughts on on Nixon 1968 versus Trump 2020. How should voters who are on the fence think about that dystopia that he's that he's that he's painting? Well, the the point that's just so profoundly wrong about the comparison is Richard Nixon was the challenger candidate in nineteen sixty eight.

[00:34:05]

Lyndon Johnson was the incumbent. That was happening in Lyndon Johnson's America and Lyndon Johnson's America. Lyndon Johnson understood that he couldn't run for president again, that he decided not to run. He famously said, I shall not accept, I will not seek my party's nomination for another term. So this idea of America will look like today, right? Will look like look like under a Biden administration. What it looks like today is nonsensical now, right? That it doesn't matter, though, right.

[00:34:41]

If you are in service to a cult of personality. Right. And this is this is something that's been true from the beginning. Right. And why this incident matter? All politicians or many politicians don't want to say or many politicians lie. And there's really two categories of why that the politician tells. Now, politics is a unique business, right, that separates itself from every other type of job in the world in the sense that if you are a plumber or your accountant or lawyer or teacher talked about themselves the way that a politician does in superlatives, you would want that person to be institutionalized.

[00:35:29]

Great business, right? We have to talk about how great you are. Right. Compared to another person as you're trying to be, is you're trying to be elected. So you have many politicians commit a sin of puffery. They're a little bit closer to the front line. Right. They were a little closer to danger. Right. The kid that fell and tripped in the shallow end of the pool becomes a drowning response.

[00:36:01]

Right. Puffery. You have the type of lie that's borne out of trying to evade embarrassment. I didn't have sex with that woman. Right. You know, the normal human foibles that and mistakes that people make. But that happened under a magnifying glass of national politics. They lie. Trump's lies are different. And their lies of authority right now are lies that are obviously so, but demand submission to a truth. That is subjective to the leaders when straight out of nineteen eighty four and at the end of the book is Winston being tortured, is with a party official who holds up four fingers and says to Winston, How many fingers am I holding up?

[00:36:58]

And Winston says, and tears and pain. I see only four. And the party official makes the point that. The party will tell them how many fingers he sees, and so when Trump spokesperson comes out literally on day one. And says there's two pictures. The picture on the right with the smaller crowd, in fact, is the record setting bigger crowds bigger than the one Obama had? And a normal person sits there and says, well, holy shit.

[00:37:32]

God, that's fucking stupid. And obviously not true, so why would you say it? Well, three and a half years on from day one forward. We now know that tens of millions of our fellow citizens are prepared. To believe that what they can see with their eyes is not so on the basis of what the leader commands. And as Stewart pointed out, the collapse, the submission, the destruction of a political party, its descent into being a cult of personality.

[00:38:10]

And that's what we saw this week. I am the law. I am the state. I am the truth. I can do whatever I want. It's so contrary to the American tradition. There's not a word for it. And it's really, really dangerous. Democracy's exist on a hard granite bedrock of truth. Autocratic societies exist on a garbage heap of lies. The lying is like pancreatic cancer. The dishonesty is like cancer. Metastatic, fatal, incurable cancer.

[00:39:00]

And we are at a very, very, very fragile moment in the history of American democracy and at a very dangerous hour in the life of the nation. That's where we are today.

[00:39:12]

Stewart, you noted something earlier about Trump's speech, which is that he. Didn't even say the word pandemic covid he didn't mention it in the speech and we're still in the middle of this pandemic. The death toll is continuing to rise. Over one hundred and seventy thousand Americans as of right now have died. And and there will be many more before the campaign is over, before the pandemic is over. They framed this entire. Future vision about essentially public safety, how should voters be thinking about public safety during the election when the president won't even mention the most pressing topic on everyone's minds?

[00:39:57]

And many speakers at the convention referred to it as if it was over, Larry Kudlow referred to it as if it were in the past tense. Overstuff, Larry.

[00:40:05]

Larry Kudlow and reality. I'm not sure if this century, you know, is a nice, kind of sweet man who exists in a separate reality. It look, this really isn't complicated. If we had done the same job as Germany did, one hundred and thirty nine thousand more Americans would be alive. One hundred thirty nine thousand. Their fatality rate is 111 per million. Ours is five hundred and forty four per million. So, you know, we're not a country that lacked resources.

[00:40:46]

We're not a country that was caught unawares more than Germany was simply a country that bungled the use of the resources that we have. And it quickly became a response to the sort of culmination of long term trends in the Republican Party emerged combined to kill a lot of people and they're still killing a lot of people. That's anti science attitude that the Republican Party has developed. As Bobby Jindal famously said, you know, let's don't become the stupid party, but we have become the stupid party.

[00:41:32]

This attack on higher education, that higher education is somehow a conversion therapy to socialism. When I hear these people like, you know, the governor of South Dakota saying, let's don't listen to the experts, it's basically what the Red Guard said in China. It's what the Khmer Rouge said in Cambodia.

[00:41:53]

Let's let's let's just lock up all these people who are actually educated. And the tragedy is really not just Donald Trump, but it's the failure of leadership in the Republican Party, you have some extraordinarily well educated people in the Republican Party who because they feel that it's in their best interest to have gone along with this notion that stupidity is good. I mean, you take someone like Cachalia, Missouri. I mean, here's a guy who rails against the elites who went to Stanford, who taught at St.

[00:42:27]

is in London, which is found in the fourteen hundreds who went to Yale Law School, who were very good little biography of Teddy Roosevelt, published when he was 28 years old. And he's railing against the elites. It's like really Jewish instead of trying to. Take the knowledge that is in this country and use it. To save Americans. So it's not it's not a bloodless crime. One hundred and thirty nine thousand people dead unnecessarily, and the German to us, comparison is pretty valid.

[00:43:05]

It's nothing Germany doesn't have something they didn't have a natural resource that we didn't have, they didn't have a lack of more secure borders than we had or something, there wasn't like the radiation cloud came more over the United States. It's just stupidity and incompetence. And the Republican Party is really at the root of this Republican Party, responsible for a lot a lot of people getting killed for sure.

[00:43:35]

And big difference between Germany and the United States.

[00:43:39]

And this is that Germany has a competent and a moral leader, whereas the United States doesn't. And and I think that there's an important aspect to this and we put an ad up about it this week called Evil. And we had a long discussion about whether that's the right word to use. And we decided it was exactly the right word to use because of the premeditation of the act that occurred in the White House when it was decided at an ordinary meeting.

[00:44:10]

I'm sure that there was coffee service on the side and bottles of water like there is maybe maybe a snack bowl. And there were certainly iPads out and computers and there was paper, there were charts and there were estimates and there was a presentation of death count. And in a meeting led by Jared Kushner, his authority delegated to him by his father in law, a father in law who knows nothing about anything, refuses to read, refuses to do the work of a privileged princeling, a son in law who has no business being the second most powerful person in the United States government in that meeting made a deliberate, premeditated decision that there would be no national response to any of this, because at that moment it was, in his view, a blue state problem and thus that any political damage would wash up on the blue state governors and it wouldn't touch the president, which was both stupid political advice.

[00:45:11]

But more importantly, from a governing perspective, it was evil because that decision has led to, Stewart just pointed out, to the deaths of more than one hundred thousand Americans. Right. And you think then all of the surviving family members and kids in the broken dreams and the damage that's been done in a downrange sense, right. To the millions of people who survive those people. And I want to make this point about this. I've always been fascinated about the about the observations that Hannah Arendt, the writer, made about the Eichmann trial.

[00:45:54]

And we think about it right off Eichmann, the one of the architects of the final solution of the genocide, the Nazi genocide against the Jews and a monster. But he didn't appear to be so in the courtroom, he just looked like a middle aged man, he had the disposition of a shipping clerk, which is how Eichmann saw himself. Eichmann, literally to the moment he was hung, didn't quite understand what it is that he was being hung for.

[00:46:30]

He thought he was in the logistics business. He was an Army officer following orders. What would anyone do? And she wrote about what she called the banality of evil. Right, that. Evil doesn't manifest itself like it does in a Hollywood production, it's not monstrous or dangerous looking or different looking that it can be absolutely ordinary and it can be cultivated. It can be refined. It can be educated. It can be privileged. But that that's what we saw on this, this isn't just bungling and incompetence, it was a deliberate decision and all of the history of the White House.

[00:47:16]

One of the most consequential decisions that's ever been made. In the same proximate space to the decisions that were made that saved the world during the Cuban missile crisis. Proximate to the space where Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt would sit together during the Second World War and discuss the victory that had to happen and the world that they wish to see after the war. Same approximate physical face that Teddy Roosevelt sat in, that Ronald Reagan sat in. That LBJ met with Martin Luther King in.

[00:47:57]

A decision was made. Deliberately, premeditatedly. To let Americans suffer and die. For Donald Trump's political interest, and so this is one of the highest casualty events in the history of the country, we have. Almost three times now, the number of dead from the Vietnam War. Right. Would be four times as many dead as from the Korean War, more than World War One. At four hundred five thousand will pass the total casualties of the Second World War.

[00:48:37]

Six hundred thousand dead in the civil war. One of the most significant events in the history of the country from a death and suffering perspective, and you said something wrong that I just want to react to for a second. You said you we're in the middle of this. What makes you think we're in the middle of it? We're not in the middle of covid. We're still very close to the beginning. This is ravaging the country. It's out of control.

[00:49:04]

And we'll see a second wave descend on us this winter. You saw the vice president lie about the imminence of a vaccine. No evidence to suggest we're in the middle of this, we're at the beginning of this, you can make an argument that Germanies in the middle of it. Yeah, but not this country. And there's a singular reason for that. It's because of the fool behind the resolute desk.

[00:49:35]

So before we leave this topic, I want to look at this speech through the eyes of a busy voter. When Rita from Texas, she's 72 years old, came on the podcast, she told us that she wasn't paying attention during the 2016 election and she voted for Trump and she's not voting for him this year. So for those voters who don't watch a ton of cable news and they didn't watch a lot of the convention, but they've seen some clips of the speech, they're going to see Trump on the South Lawn talking about protecting our troops, protecting Social Security, Medicare, telling them that he's met the challenge of the coronavirus.

[00:50:12]

What would you say to those voters who've heard clips of the speech and believe the president?

[00:50:19]

How much credibility does someone, whenever you talk to someone you don't think is honest, tells you something to jump start to the very low credibility threshold here? His very unfavorable in polls hovers between 45 and 48, 49 percent. So there's really not many voters that are accessible to him where this race is today. And what happened at these conventions I don't think is going to be remotely relevant come the debate season. And what we're going to have here is basically a few weeks here and then we're going to be in the debate season and everything's going to be about the debates.

[00:50:55]

And Trump's not going to be able to use props in the debates. He's not going to be able to do it from the White House. It's just going to be Donald Trump up there and it's going to be Mike Pence, you know, the six vice president from Indiana against the first African-American woman from California. And that's what's going to matter here. That's that's the impression voters are going to have when they start to vote, there's nothing that changed the dynamic of this race that occurred.

[00:51:25]

And that's usually what happens in conventions. Really, the only time it's really changed is 92, when Bill Clinton shot up. But really, that was both an external force because Perot dropped out of the race, which sort of supercharged him. It wasn't the convention itself. It was the factors around the convention. And the fact that the Dukakis campaign started to falter after the Republican convention in 88 was really due to the fact that Dukakis sort of disappeared from the scene and went out and did this insane governor's tour in western mass.

[00:51:58]

I don't think what's happened here is very important. There's nothing new. We heard from Donald Trump. They didn't indicate they're going in a different direction. I don't really think they're capable of going in a different direction. You've got the same amount of time left in this election. That's the one thing every candidate has the same amount of time. And it seems to me the Biden campaign is using their time better than the Trump campaign. Trump campaign now has pulled down all the television.

[00:52:23]

You don't do that if we think you have is working. So if I was in the Biden campaign and I looked at this, I would just kind of shrug, say, OK, great, you know, it's like a halftime show in the Super Bowl. It's OK. Fine, great. Nice. Let's go back and play the game.

[00:52:40]

I agree with every word that that Stewart said analytically, but. The the idea, though, that Donald Trump can be trusted, that he's telling you the truth, that he's the guardian of American civilization, right, that he's the one on the wall holding the hostage back. The only thing I can think about is the advice that the late, great Larry Meyer, my scoutmaster, first delivered to us boys on the Appalachian Trail at age 12, which was boys, bend over, grab your ears and pull your head out of your asses.

[00:53:20]

And. Wake up, people, and I mean this seriously. Wake up the country. Requires of its citizens a modicum of interest and attachment to reality and orientation towards facts.

[00:53:44]

And. To anybody who thinks that Donald Trump has their back, I got some news for you, and I say this with love and affection. I don't say it with anger. I say it with some sympathy, your remark you're getting CONJ. He calms everybody. Right, he's a dishonorable, amoral, lying miscreant. Who doesn't care about you or your family or the country, the country's future or your family's future? He doesn't care if your mom or your dad.

[00:54:29]

Will your son or your daughter dies of covid? He cares about one thing, cares about Donald Trump, and if you can't see that clearly now after three and a half years, stay home in November.

[00:54:52]

So last week, I told you we were going to start answering questions on the podcast and to wrap up today, I want to share a listener comment and answer a listener question. Katherine Hagan writes, Just wanted to say thank you for my absolute favorite podcast. I love being able to listen to the in-depth conversations that give me hope and make me realize that there are still people who care about decency and democracy. It's one of the few things these days that helps keep me sane.

[00:55:19]

Thanks again. I really appreciate every single episode. And Catherine, we appreciate you. Thanks for writing in. Another question I want to bring you is from JSI Dorgan, who says, I'm curious if we want Biden as Republicans. Shouldn't we put as much effort into getting control of Congress to keep him in check? Shouldn't we have a dual mandate? Steve, do you want to speak to that?

[00:55:41]

The governance of the country is going to move further left than we are comfortable with, likely for the simple reason that the Republican Party has surrendered and submitted itself fully to trumpet. And so there are no policies. There are no there is no vision. It's obedience to Trump. And that's why, as many of these senators have to go as possible, there has to be a market correction to this. The next group of senators that are up in twenty twenty two has to look at what happened to their colleagues in this election.

[00:56:28]

Right. And the reminder of their absence. Right. Will will linger with them because Trump ism isn't going away with the defeat of Donald Trump. Trump ism is here to stay, and it's going to be the work of many years to get all of the racial animus and to get all of the dishonesty and all of this white nationalism and all of this foolish populism buried back under the concrete sarcophagus.

[00:56:59]

Type of which rest's over Cherno, right, we have to put it back in the ground, and so I hope and I have optimism that Joe Biden is going to be focused on making this country stronger through a focus on reality. We have we have to get it under control. We have to we have to restore our broken alliances around the world. There's so much work to be done. There are so many issues that we can all work together on and not the least of which is coming full circle to the beginning of this conversation.

[00:57:37]

We need to do five things as a country outside of the covid response right away under a new administration, we need to see an update to the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act. We need a Foreign Interference Election Security Act. We need to secure the infrastructure of our of our elections. But we need fundamental ethics reform. A cleaning out of the DOJ, the shattering of norms is going to require a address through law. So none of this can ever happen again.

[00:58:13]

And and those are those are the things that I hope that that Vice President Biden should be focused on as president. Thank you to Rick Stewart and Steve for being on the show today. And thanks to all of you at home for listening. You can find more information about our movement at Lincoln Project US. If you have any questions, comments or advice for us, you can reach out to us podcast at Lincoln Project US. Please know that even if we don't respond, we read every email we get and we appreciate hearing from you.

[00:58:44]

If you haven't yet, it would really help us if you'd subscribe rate and review the show wherever you get your podcasts. This helps new voters find the show and join our mission to beat Trump. And Trump is at the ballot box for the Lincoln Project. I'm Ron Stessel. I'll see you in the next episode.