Eugene Robinson Live (Feb. 19)

Hi, everybody, and welcome to our regularly scheduled chat. Well, we're still in a state of national emergency, I guess. I'm still having trouble getting past President Trump's performance in the rose garden last Friday. Perhaps there has been a stranger encounter between a president and the American public in that historic setting, but I can't think of one. Ever. The sing-song recitation of what the courts will likely do with his declaration was -- and I think I'm being more than fair here -- totally unhinged. Maybe it's just me, but I thought Article I of the Constitution was quite clear about who gets to decide how public funds are spent. In other news, I guess we'll be Feelin' the Bern again this year -- Sen. Sanders announced this morning that he's running again for president. And today's column is on the Green New Deal. Yes, it's aspirational. And that's a good thing. Let's get started.

Honestly admit I'd never heard of Joe Crowley before last year, but he seems like a nice person and gracious in defeat. Pretty much EVERY SINGLE news piece I see on his successor mentions her defeating him which begs the question, if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had just won an open seat, would she matter as much or justify the extreme level of coverage?

No, she wouldn't. Actually, even though she defeated Crowley, nothing justifies the 24-7 coverage she's getting. Republicans and the right-wing echo chamber believe they can turn her into a monster who frightens and energizes GOP voters. But what if she energizes progressives, too?

Is the Space Race really the best way to frame environmentalism? One it ignores that federal environmental policy existed in the Kennedy and Johnson administration (I know other people act like A.O.C. invited the idea). Two, what's the U.S.S.R. in all this because I'm not upset in China or India or Russia come up with a greener economy first. Three Pres. Kennedy wasn't subtle that way beyond scientific purposes, the true goals were propagandistic.

I mentioned the space race because it was a big and audacious national project, which is what I think we need now to confront climate change. (And there was environmental policy when Republicans were in the White House too, once upon a time. Richard Nixon established the EPA.)

While the M.A.G.A. crown ought to embrace the G.N.D., I'm a bit surprised Fox News echo chamber has started comparing it to the Mao's well-intentioned -but-ultimately-disastrous "Great Leap Forward"? http://dailycaller.com/2019/02/11/olowski-green-leap/ http://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/429675-chinas-great-leap-forward-a-hard-lesson-for-green-new-deal

That's a totally ridiculous comparison, as will be evident to anyone who reads or even skims a history book.

I think after having read the reports, it isn't just how horrible she was to her staff, but the staffers were trying to get across how her ineffective micromanaging wasted too much of her time, energy, and focus on menial stuff and it was as important to her as the "big picture" stuff which I don't think is an unfair critique of somebody wanting to the next President of the United States and separate from the "bad boss" stuff?

I've begun to think that Sen. Klobuchar's management style will not be a big deal. At this point, I think she's heard the criticism. I think voters will be more inclined to judge her on her vision.

Reading the article in today's Washington Post regarding an Alabama newspaper editor wanting to bring back lynching reminds me how I sometimes feel as if I am living in an alternative reality. It is hard enough understanding how so many Republicans can remain silent or be supportive of statements and actions of Trump that many of us feel are supportive of intolerance. I feel like I am living in my own closed bubble devoid of understanding of people around me. Here in Texas we have many statues to Confederate leaders and there is still no push to remove all of these monuments. Will we ever see monuments erected to lynching victims at each of the lynching sites in this country during my lifetime?

Probably not -- although what I hear is a terrific museum that documents lynchings opened last year in Alabama. That newspaper editor has doubtless nurtured those views for a long, long time. Why is he now willing to share them publicly? 

"I don't agree with her 100% and maybe she's too extreme or speaks before thinking causing the occasional "foot-in-mouth" moment, but I totally love her energy and she got a lot of support out there because she's talking about real issues. Also she gets the press's attention like nobody else re-framing the conservation and really can't stand how over-the-top and outright mean some particular members of the media are to her especially on meaningless trivia stuff always trying to caricaturing her as a non-serious idiot to impugn the policies (although less extreme) I agree with." Who does this describe? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez today or Sarah Palin circa 2009/2010? Just a heartfelt warning from a conservative who didn't see it coming. I know, I know. The left is always smarter than the right and Sarah Palin was just obviously dumb from day one, right? Just ignore how her approval rating was consistently #1 among the 50 governors before the McCain campaign picked her because what do Alaskans know...

We don't know who AOC will grow up to be. She could, indeed, become the left's Palin. Or she could become a more substantial and important figure. We'll see.

Can a Democrat win on a platform that focuses on the future, contrasting himself or herself with the backward-looking Trump? All sorts of easy-to-understand campaign points spring from this orientation. Our CURRENT demographic makeup REQUIRES us to stop this ruinous division of one ethnic group from another. Almost everyone agrees that fossil fuels are fossils. And if you call yourself a capitalist, you have to deal realistically with globalism. Even I could do a poster.

Are you a senator? You sound like you're running!

Excited to vote for the Bern again, and then whatever Dem makes it to the general, just like we all did last time. What do you think of the narrative that persists in which people blame Bernie for Trump when a majority of Bernie voters went Clinton? It's a fact that former Obama voting Democrats either voted Trump or didn't show up. The minority vote shrank and Trump won older white women, not exactly Bernie's demographic.

I don't blame Bernie for Trump's victory And I hope Democrats don't spend too much time relitigating 2016. Worry about 2020.

Hi Gene -- thanks for taking questions today and for providing the free therapy. It might just be me, but it seems like McCabe's "bombshells" of late about Trump, the Russians, the 25th Amendment, etc. etc. have mostly been met with a collective shrug. There are no surprises left. We have a president who favors Russia's interests over own, and discussions about ways to remove him from office actually took place. Yawn. Speaking for myself, I am completely worn down by it all, and maybe that's the strategy, even if not intentional. Nothing is shocking if everything is shocking. What do we do?

It's hard to avoid succumbing to Outrage Fatigue. But we have to try. McCabe's revelations add to what we already knew, but don't change the basic outrage, which is Trump's unfitness for the presidency on so many levels.

I'm not afraid of the Green Deal either as we have no choice but to call all hands on deck to fix this. We are already going to see migration from places due to lands that can't be farmed, fresh water sources drying up and does anyone really want to live in places (like Phoenix) where summer temps will be in the 120 degree range? And wouldn't we rather pump money into fixing this rather than the now yearly hurricane and wildfire disasters? As the father of two daughters in their 20's I'd like for them to be able to live on as safe a planet as possible.

I'm with you. We have to act on behalf of future generations. And we can.

Has anyone asked that question? The President keeps saying that construction has started, but where? And if so, why hasn't he had a photo-op beside/in front of it? You'd think he'd want to brag about it, right?

You'd think so. But of course there is no Great Wall of Trump to use for a photo-op. 

The headline in the Des Moines Register this morning shouted about the latest Iowa Poll results: Support increases for wall. Trump's Iowa rating reaches high point. I despair.

There is no point in despairing over the fact that some people still support President Trump. There's nothing you can do about that. Just go out and win elections.

Do they really think they can make the "emergency" last long enough to win again? I get that it worked the first time. But the campaign of a challenger is different than the campaign of an incumbent. Once you are in the oval office, whether what you have already done works for people is going to be more important. In addition, there will probably be a lot of very clever judges knocking down the structural overreach on the regular for months and months to come. And if William Weld gets any money behind him, a constant barrage of "this isn't what limited government looks like" (though at the regulation level, lots of dirty water and air and inadequate federal help for natural disaster victims really is) during a primary fight could damage him somewhat in the general election. No progress in the Middle East and a still very nuclear North Korea and a trade war with China and a diminished relationship with Europe, plus no wall and lots of irked 1040 filers is more than enough to offset the idea that somehow the courts will eventually let him build a wall, right?

You catalog some of the many headwinds blowing against Trump's reelection bid. Democrats need to anticipate a tough, close election, and they need to work their butts off. It worked for the midterms.

Hello. Manafort continued to lie to investigators, even when it would have dire consequences on his sentence. So, the explanation being bandied about is that he is expecting a pardon. I suppose a president can pardon whom he wants, but doesn't there have to be some basis for it? How could this one be explained away, when he was found guilty, and even plead guilty, to so many serious crimes? How could Trump claim that was Manafort was convicted unfairly, when he plead guilty?

The president's pardon to pardon those charged or convicted of federal crimes is close to absolute. He doesn't have to make a case that Manafort was treated unfairly. That said, if I were Manafort, I wouldn't bet the rest of my life on a pardon. If Trump thinks the political damage would be too great, he won't do it.

The far left adores her and she keeps giving great sound bites. I don't watch Fox so I don't know what they are about.

She's covered on Fox way, way more than she's covered on MSNBC or CNN. Not even close.

I have heard (over the years) that Jimmy Carter was famously difficult to work for. As (perhaps) is another white male who just declared for the race. I have no way to know if these are true, but I find it interesting that "how is he to work for?" is not a question that gets asked about white male candidates. Not saying there is a pattern there, just noting.

Your point is a good one. I've never known a president who couldn't be described as "demanding," at the very least. I should note, though, that there are extremes. President Trump is certainly a white male whose management style gets questioned.

Last Friday's press conference could have been said spoken verbatim by Alec Baldwin. Except, it really happened. Comedy and farce are getting harder and harder, because they have to be more outrageous than what actually happened... a high bar indeed. This is like living in an old issue of Mad Magazine.

I thought Baldwin's SNL cold open was less out-of-control than the news conference it was satirizing. We have indeed fallen through some rabbit hole.

I think you angling for the answer to be Trump. I think it's clicks, notoriety and money. I am constantly amazed to what people will do for those things.

You're talking about the racist Alabama editor, whose paper is not online. So it's not about clicks. He's serious.

What's your view? A genuine attack, or a hoax? How do you figure out who to believe?

Before today, on Morning Joe, I hadn't said or written anything about the Smollett matter. When I first heard his account, I thought that something didn't sound quite right. I didn't know, and still don't know, what happened. But I guess I was relying on many years of being a journalist and knowing that one rarely hears a true story with so many details that so perfectly reinforce the central narrative. White guys plus MAGA hats plus the bleach plus the noose plus what they allegedly said to him... As I said, I don't know what happened. But I had lots of questions.

Of all the Democratic candidates, which one has the best chance to unseat our “ dear leader”?

The one who gets nominated, I hope.

I grew up in California. I can recall no time when I saw someone in blackface at a party, school event, Halloween... etc. I now live in No VA, where it apparently was relatively common. What really got me is that Northham's photo was taken in the 80s. This kind of thing was really going on that recently, to the point that it was considered acceptable enough for a yearbook photo?

It wasn't acceptable then or now. Your post is a reminder that two of the top three officials in Virginia wore blackface in the 80s and the other is charged by two women with sexual assault. And all three remain in office.

Republicans want from 51 votes to 53 votes in the U.S. Senate.

And went from controlling majority to powerless minority in the House, thus breaking the GOP stranglehold on federal power. In case you've forgotten.

 

That's it for today, folks. Our time is up. Thanks for participating, and I'll see you again next week!

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Eugene Robinson
Eugene Robinson is an Associate Editor and twice-weekly columnist for The Washington Post. His column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays. In a 25-year career at The Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper's award-winning Style section. In 2005, he started writing a column for the Op-Ed page. He is the author of "Coal to Cream: A Black Man's Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race" (1999) and "Last Dance in Havana" (2004). Robinson is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and has received numerous journalism awards.
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