PG 65: Mexican Trips, FBI Files, Slavery Reparations, & Colin Kaepernick

This week, Mike and Jay start off by talking about Donald Trump’s surprise trip to Mexico, where he sounded almost moderate at times. That was followed up by a more characteristic Trump appearance in Arizona, where he was back to his usual ‘we’ll build a wall, and Mexico will pay for it’ form. Trump’s week was actually pretty good – or at least not bad – and the polls have started to tighten. The Guys remind everyone that this was to be expected, and that much of the media is, once again, overreacting. Mike has no interest in spending more time talking about Hillary Clinton’s email, but Jay presses the point (at least a little). Then it’s on to Georgetown University’s attempt to make amends for its slave-owning past and reactions to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem.

8 thoughts on “PG 65: Mexican Trips, FBI Files, Slavery Reparations, & Colin Kaepernick”

    1. I can’t speak for Jay, but I thought I was being consistent in using either both candidates first names, or both last names. I consider myself a feminist, and I wouldn’t ever consciously diminish a female by using her first name. Thanks for pointing this out – in the future, I’ll definitely heighten my awareness. (Also – I’d love to share this comment on our next show – would that be okay with you? If so, I’d like to say that it came from Dixie from … well, I’ll need to know where you’re from to do that.)

      1. Mike and Dixie
        I was struck by this disparity in media coverage some time ago, and looked it up.
        Quite apart from issues of sexism, there is a clear branding difference between the campaigns.
        Hillary Clinton uses ‘Hillary’ predominantly, rather than her name in full, and almost never uses ‘Clinton’ alone. See, for example, ‘Hillary for America’. It also serves the useful purpose of distinguishing the candidate from her husband, in circumstances where there could be some confusion.
        Donald Trump uses ‘Trump’ predominantly, even to the extent of speaking of himself in the third person. Even his surrogates often refer to him as ‘Mr Trump’.
        Keep up the good work, Mike and Jay.

        1. I hadn’t realized that – nice catch! I feel like there’s a research paper in this, or at least an interesting analysis piece about gender roles and expectations in politics. I’m not the guy to write it, but it is food for thought.

  1. Hey guys. I’m new to the show and have enjoyed the first 3-4 podcasts I’ve listened to (your most recent). I agree with your overall point that people are overreacting to the polls tightening, and that the tightening was almost inevitable. But I think the move is significant nonetheless, and here’s why:

    In mid-August, the polls had gotten to a critical point. Clinton’s lead had grown to high single-digits. As the race approached traditional Labor Day ramp-up, GOP fund-raisers and candidates were starting to face a huge question: Stay with Trump, or give him up as lost cause and focus on winnable Senate/House races. If Clinton had been able to push that lead a few more points into the low double-digits, those decisions might have gone against Trump and put into motion a self-fulfilling prophecy: GOP leaders think Trump can’t win, so they divert resources away from him, making it even more difficult for him to win. GOP candidates start to think that the hard-core votes they’ll lose by abandoning Trump will be exceeded by the moderate votes they’ll pick up, and they abandon Trump. And, even before the first debate, Trump is essentially Dead Man Walking.

    Instead, Trump closed the gap by a couple of percentage points, which makes the abandon/support Trump math point heavily toward support, which in turn has helped cut another 2 percentage points into Clinton’s lead. We’re at a very interesting point, with consensus (per 538) that Clinton is up about 3 1/2 points. If Trump cuts that by even 1 more point, some of those swing states start pointing in his direction, and we have very competitive race, within the margin of error of nearly all polls.

    1. That’s a really interesting point, and something I hadn’t considered. That made me wonder if maybe this tightening is actually good for the Democrats – if the GOP abandons Trump and sinks those resources into Congressional races, they might end up saving more seats than they would by sticking with him and having fewer resources for Congressional contests. Of course, we still have the debates ahead of us and who knows – maybe Trump craters (or maybe Clinton does) and things change once again. Thanks for the great comment!

  2. Mike and Jay

    I have been listening to your show for a few weeks now, and it enjoying greatly. I am an Australian, and a curious observer of American politics.

    I was interested to hear your reactions to both the Georgetown and Kaepernick situations and the description of each as a case of ‘moral preening’. I can certainly see why you may say that, and it may even be true, but I wonder whether your reaction to it shows a cultural difference between the US and Australia. In particular, you seemed to show a preference for quiet financial payments.

    The question I ask myself is, ‘What is the reasonable alternative to Georgetown’s and Kaepernick’s actions which would have the greatest effect, that would not attract the label?’

    In each case, Mike, your alternative suggestion involved payment of money (or, the equivalent in free tuition). As an outside observer, I submit that a public donation, or establishment of a scholarship fund or similar, would have been just as open to the ‘moral preening’ charge — essentially any action done publicly and with significant publicity would be open to that. However, mere payments of money would not convey the same ‘message’.

    Take the Kaepernick example first: a donation, and even a donation challenge, would have been seen by many as simply a rich liberal seeking attention and flaunting his wealth. It would have been either ignored outright, or it would have been forgotten within a day or two. He is a successful sportsperson (or so I understand — I had never heard of him before), but as an American footballer, he is not a global celebrity whose every ordinary action is watched and analysed (compared to, say, LeBron James). He could reasonably feel that he could do the most good by causing a controversy and attracting a lot more attention to his message than a mere $1 million donation could ever do. Is it really ‘moral preening’ to do so when he must have known that he would receive widespread criticism for doing so. Presumably he thought the trade-off was worth it.

    (Another outside observer point — Americans’ observances of the flag and national anthem appear to be the pinnacle of political correctness, because any departure from orthodoxy invites scathing criticism. Surely, free speech is free speech. I say this as someone from another nation that cherishes the history embodied in its flag and anthem, while recognising past injustices committed in and by the nation.)

    The case of Georgetown is more difficult. The question of reparations of whatever sort for past injustices is an almost insoluble problem. It is a choice between poor options. I submit that any payment specifically to the descendants of particular slaves is the worst option. A payment to one generation of descendants cannot be true recompense for the suffering of forebears, nor a sure advantage to following generations. It is merely a ‘blood price’ payment, buying forgiveness, and requiring no true acceptance of moral responsibility. A full scholarship is worse in that it only assists those who have the interest and the aptitude to take advantage of it (some would, some would not, as in any group of people). Any perpetual scholarship program would create, over time, an entitled subset of the descendants of slaves.

    To the contrary, symbolic changes — such as the creation of a new faculty, the renaming of buildings to recognise the past wrong, and the encouragement of greater student diversity — are ones which have the potential to be truly transformative of a culture over the longer term. Those sorts of cultural change will be resisted and criticised at first (as they always are), but perhaps the allegation of ‘moral preening’ is just another part of the sackcloth and ashes that an institution such as Georgetown must bear.

    Thanks for your work.
    Adam in Adelaide, South Australia.

    1. Those are some excellent points – one of the great things about having a large number of listeners from outside the US is that we can get perspectives that, as lifelong US residents – neither Jay nor I may have considered. (We seem to have a lot of listeners in Australia, which I think is particularly cool, since I’ve always wanted to visit.) Thanks for commenting!

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