07/31/2020 - Sentences We Never Thought We'd Say

Mark Blyth, political economist at Brown's Watson Institute, and political scientist Carrie Nordlund share their take on the news.

On this episode: {Not} containing coronavirus in the US; America's navel gazing and obsession with Hydroxychloroquine; making sense of the GDP numbers; the coronavirus and Trump's chaotic campaign strategy; disparaging women in politics; Biden's VP selection conundrum; and Mark finally watched 'The Crown'.


DAN RICHARDS: Hey, there. This is Dan, the producer of Mark & Carrie. If you like this show, we highly recommend you check out Watson's other podcast, Trending Globally. You'll hear more in-depth conversations about politics and policy from some of the world's leading experts, including, occasionally, Mark and Carrie.

You can find it by subscribing to Trending Globally on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you listen to podcasts. All right, on with the show. Thanks!


CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, hello there. Welcome to Mark & Carrie. Hi, Mark!

MARK BLYTH: Hello, Carrie!

CARRIE NORDLUND: How are you doing?

MARK BLYTH: I'm all right. You're still in DC, right?

CARRIE NORDLUND: I am. Yes. Where it's 4,000 degrees.

MARK BLYTH: Ah, yeah. Of course, God. I used to live in Baltimore.


MARK BLYTH: And after maybe a decade there, I finally got used to the fact that you would take a shower, walk outside, and have another shower instantly.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, that's the thing. You stay in air conditioning all day because it's too hot and too humid to go out. But then you're dying to go outside. But then you do, that's exactly what happens.

MARK BLYTH: And then you get the chills when you go back in. Because it's such an incredibly huge temperature drop. There's many problems in the Northeast. But luckily, humidity is not one of them.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, just as a side note to that, I did see Providence was 100 degrees for the first time since Twenty-Eleven. So it's been hot--

MARK BLYTH: It was hot.

CARRIE NORDLUND: --up in New England.

MARK BLYTH: But again, the relative humidity, it's still not as bad as where you are.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Has the heat killed COVID, like it was predicted in the spring?

MARK BLYTH: I don't think it has. I actually think that it's not really heat sensitive. This is something that's actually interesting that's come up. So this is not on our notes. But I was reading it yesterday.

So remember that whole thing about COVID living on surfaces? Right, you know?


MARK BLYTH: So apparently, the way--

CARRIE NORDLUND: We were scared about groceries.

MARK BLYTH: --right. But there's no reason to be. Because it basically is just an airborne virus. I was reading Nature. And they had this study that basically said, I think it was Nature, that the way they did that test was right, but they used a very high concentration to establish the effect.

So then what you do is you reduce the concentration. And you get to a point where it's, like, it doesn't work, right? And the media never quite got that. But basically, there was this kind of decline in function. Right?

So what they did is they said, oh, my God. It lives for four hours on everything. Well, you know how many people you would need to have sneezing on something for that to be true? 150 people with COVID for an hour.

So all the stuff that we'd be wiping stuff and all that, it's probably somewhat helpful. It's actually probably not. Because that's my little pet theory as to why so many people have allergies. It's because we grew up in a Lysol environment and we killed all the bugs.

And we're hearing that again. But as far as COVID's concerned, that doesn't seem to be the main thing. But anyway, COVID's back in the news. Let's start there.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, to your point, Mark, I mean, it's that bars are the most dangerous place to be, being indoors at a bar, up close to a bunch of people. I mean, you can wipe your groceries down and your door handles all you want. But once you do that, things are really going to go South for you.

I mean, the numbers around the country are high. Though they don't seem to be spiking as much. I mean, they're still growing. I looked up this morning, Mississippi, Kentucky, Oklahoma. But then there are rising numbers in the Northeast, too. Rhode Island and Massachusetts are both increasing right now. So it's an interesting mix of states that you have when you look at the map and you see those red spots.

MARK BLYTH: Well, the red spot for Rhode Island, I mean, we had 116 cases in the day off a base population of about 2 million, which is a large increase from where it is. But it's still good, right? The governor here, Raimondo, has basically said, OK, you're all hanging out in each other's backyards too much, too concentrated. Reduce the numbers. Right?

And we can't really go to phase four, which is more or less full opening. But we're still trying to hold the line there. We're actually still doing pretty good. Your neck of the woods, the Midwest, seems to be the one that's going to get really walloped next.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, it looks like it. [INAUDIBLE] following up on the Mississippi, Kentucky, Oklahoma, those states, and I was curious what precautions or law, I don't know if it's a law or face mask requirements, mandates, that those states have. And of course, those states are all open-- movie theater, salons, bars, indoor dining, et cetera. So I mean, one could draw a connection between that and then why these states continue to see high numbers. But you're right, the Midwest looks like it's up next for a surge or an increase or whatever word we want to use for it.

MARK BLYTH: So you got Herman Cain, God rest his soul, goes to a Trump rally without a mask, couple of weeks later. You'd think that people would start drawing the conclusion that this really isn't a conspiracy. What's it called again, chlorahex or whatever the hell it is, isn't really the answer.

Did you follow that when that was busting out last week. And then you got that note last week and then you got-- who are also people who couldn't believe that AIDS is actually caused by a virus, seemed to have a problem with viruses. What was going on with that?

CARRIE NORDLUND: I mean, I did. I picked up since some of the more salacious bits. But the president had this white coats grouping of doctors and then highlighted or retweeted one of the doctors who said that hydroxychloroquine was the answer. And I mean, he's still really stuck on that, is the other thing. I mean, as the potential, even after other doctors have said there is nothing there.

MARK BLYTH: So here's the bit that I just find truly astonishing about this, and this is kind of what worries me about America in this moment, is I've never seen so much internal navel gazing, it's as if the rest of the world doesn't exist. So just follow this one for me.

So let's say that you think that Fauci engineered it from genetic bits of a monkey virus, which by the way is impossible. Let's say that it's all a conspiracy to make us take vaccines, even though the margin on vaccines is actually very low. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. This is all true, right?

Now let's say that you're a country that's suffering really, really badly because of this. Let's say you're called India. And you don't have to give a damn about American pharma because you are the largest producer of generics in the world. This is a generic drug. If this thing had any efficacy whatsoever, don't you think that India would be putting it in the water supply at this point? And yet nobody is.

So the rest of the world isn't buying this. And they are not part of your conspiracy. So why is it that hugely important piece of information gets filtered out? And the answer is, not that I'm plugging the book, because we're all so angry with each other that we actually can't even reason at this point.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Just to your point about Herman Cain who passed away, the president cannot drum up any empathy for his friend. And in fact, the first thing he says is that he dies from the China virus. He can't say, I'm so sorry. [INAUDIBLE] basic lie because he's so pissed off of at the rest of the world for ruining his presidency, or mad at COVID for that reason.

MARK BLYTH: Well, it's very easy to go off on outrage or slight of the week. But you know, let's stay focused on this one. The one I'm concerned about is school.


MARK BLYTH: Like many, many people, right? If you had the problem of you shut down in March and then you kill it early for the summer vacation, the assumption was we're all going back in the fall. Now in some states like Rhode Island that's looking problematic, but possible.

Brown University is definitely going to try and go back. I'm going to try and teach as much as possible with real people. We're going to try our best to make this work.

But there are other parts of the country where this simply isn't going to work. And now we've got this standoff brewing with teachers. Because teachers tend to be older. Teachers, although they tend to be women and women tend to get this and survive better than men, nonetheless, they tend to be of an older demographic. They may have underlying conditions.

And you're putting them basically into places where there's been very little investment in anything that would abate this. So there's an incredible ask being made of these teachers. And we regard that as parents as, like, no, no, this has to happen so that my life can go forward. We're not connecting the dots.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, it is an interesting discussion and debate around-- and then this, of course, veers into that. Especially at the younger age, that school is daycare and allows parents to work, and especially women who bear the load of domestic duties. And so, I mean, it's entangled in so many different ways.

But talking to my friends who are teachers, one of the things that they want to know is just what is the protocol? Like, just tell me what I have to do, and I will do it. But you, who've told me that I have to buy my own Clorox wipes and my thermometers will also say that if a little student gets sick, then the whole thing shuts down.

So what's the plan? Am I taking little Bobby's temperature and sending him home? Or are we shutting down if he gets it? I think that is just such confusion.

MARK BLYTH: And the other thing here, again, is about the international comparisons. If you look at Europe, everybody in Europe looks at everybody else in Europe.


MARK BLYTH: Right? And around the rest of the world and at places like Japan and at places like South Korea, and we figure out things, like, hey, it seems that the way the Danes have done this is they have group bubbles. So if any one kid is problematic, then that kid is taken out. And that bubble is then put into another part of the school. It's not shut down, right?

That seems to be an interesting concept. It's as if, like, again, there is no other part of the world. There's nothing to learn from anyone else. And we're all in panic mode. And it's either a conspiracy or a tragedy. And there's nothing else going on.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, as you just look at the pictures, I see it just on Twitter, so who knows, it could be wrong, but just the Plexiglas around the desks. Is there any plan to have Plexiglas in Providence public schools around-- I mean, just those, sorts of as precautions, seem like they--

MARK BLYTH: If it's airborne, unless you're spitting into the Plexiglas, is that even the answer? We're literally spit balling stuff here. Yet there are countries that have successfully reopened. Why are we incapable of asking how they did it.

CARRIE NORDLUND: I guess that takes us to your really wonderful and light point full of sunshine, which is the total decline of GDP here in the US and then also in Europe as well. Unemployment numbers, of course, the stock market, I think there was a decline yesterday. It just seems like on the economic side of COVID it's just lots and lots of bad news.

MARK BLYTH: Well, there's clearly going to be what finance people call volatility, ups and downs, right? And when it came out at first, huge down, Fed walks in, [INAUDIBLE] comes in, puts a floor under asset prices, things stabilize. Well, nothing much has changed.

You still don't need those planes. Boeing took out all the extra debt to tide themselves over. Nobody's going to buy the 777X. Nobody needs the 737. The secondhand aircraft market is going to be flooded for the next five years.

So there's real issues there as to the valuing of stocks. And if anything, the stock market has been over here, and the real economy has been down here. There kind of does need to be an adjustment.

The thing about the big scary numbers, like, the largest quarterly decline, 33% GDP, they're not actually saying we've lost a third of the economy. What they're actually saying is that there has been a very large debt over a very short period. If that continues, there'll be another large debt over a slightly longer period.

No doubt this is serious, but it's not exactly the end of the world as we know it. Right? A 33% decline on quarterly GDP means you're 1/3 worse than you were in terms of your growth the last time you checked. It's not we've lost a third of the GDP. So a lot of this is scare mongering.

But in my opinion, the stock market basically will have a lot of volatility in here as people realize that things like commercial real estate is not coming back the same way. Aircraft, forget it. Cruise lines, forget it. So all that stuff that we were temporarily bailing, not working. You should have been bailing people instead.

CARRIE NORDLUND: So what was the productivity? Here's my elementary understanding of the economy is that our productivity has decreased. And so all that stuff that you just listed, that stuff isn't producing wages, isn't producing stuff. And therefore, at a much larger scale, we see a decline. Is that close to being accurate?

MARK BLYTH: I mean, productivity is how much input you get for how much output you get out, which is a kind of steady state problem. If we didn't have COVID, you could worry about productivity.


MARK BLYTH: What we've got here is a kind of demand shock, which is basically people aren't spending. A lot of people are unemployed. And it's going to get worse when the unemployment excess payment goes away.

And then you've got supply shock, which is basically companies can't make stuff because they can't bring their workers in to make stuff. So that's a shrinkage of the whole economy, which is why you see the big drop, so not so much productivity itself. But it's like you're walking down the road and you think to yourself, I'm not walking as fast as I used to. That's a productivity problem.

Here's what's going on. I'm walking down the road. Somebody just hit me in the face with an iron bar. And they kicked me. Right? That's what just happened. It's a different type of problem.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Is walking among many other problems I now suffer from? I'm really--

MARK BLYTH: Exactly.

CARRIE NORDLUND: --stuck on this. And we talked a little bit about this before. But this connects to that the relief bill that's being debated in Congress. And that they've cut the $600 per week to $200 a week.

And the basic argument, as I see it, is that $600 per week is too much money for people and is the wrong incentive. They don't want to go to work because they make more money than if they did go to work. And to me, that argument just doesn't sit right with me for a number of reasons. One, it says that our only value is our labor.

But it also says that $2,400 is, like, a million zillion dollars. And it's just, like, this enormous amount of money that I'm just going to stay home and eat my bon bons all day. And I think it also suggests something that politicians don't know how much a gallon of milk costs or something. There are all those things. But I've never been able to articulate it very well. So I'm just curious what your take on that proposed new relief bill is.

MARK BLYTH: Well, I think it sums up to this. There's no doubt that there are incentive effects. I mean, I've been asking people around Rhode Island, do you know anyone that's like not going back to work because they're getting more in unemployment? And people say, yeah, absolutely, that's true. So that's real.

The bigger question behind that is why does the richest country in the world have such a low wage economy?


MARK BLYTH: Right? That's really it. So let's do the math on this, right?

So $2,400 a month plus the basic payment, which is probably about another $1,000. So let's say that's $3,400, top case. So what you're doing is $40,000 a year. That's a lot more than people on minimum wage get.

And there are [? 16 ?] million minimum wage workers in the United States. I think that's the figure. It may actually be double that, but nonetheless. And then staggering up from that, there's very marginal increments.

So the real question is why is it that a country that generates this much wealth-- you know, Bezos goes to sleep and wakes up with an extra $5 billion. Meanwhile, we have to cut unemployment benefit down so that people get back down to the poverty wages they had before so we can force them into jobs which they have no control over and the employers have no control over. Because they might open up and there's a COVID spike and then it shuts down again.

So in a sense, pushing the incentive angle only makes sense of the fact that you're totally comfortable with having a low wage economy and those jobs are actually there. And if they're not actually there because of the virus, then you're kind of just punishing people because that's what you do.

CARRIE NORDLUND: So I mean, does a basic, higher minimum wage, or a universal basic income, does that solve that, just on the pure economics of it? Or does it just create a whole host of different problems?

MARK BLYTH: Well, Martin Sundberg, who's a Financial Times journalist, has a great book called The Economics of Belonging. And one of the chapters is about car washes. You'll learn a lot from a car wash.

So here in Providence, I can drive to a place and get a car wash done where the guy drives it through. And then two other guys get out and then they clean the inside a whole lot. And it's basically, like, $12.

CARRIE NORDLUND: I know that place.

MARK BLYTH: I mean, it's astonishing--


MARK BLYTH: --if you think of it. Yeah, right. Exactly, it's great, right? It's great for us, right? Now, they live off tips. And you got a couple of dollars for this, couple of dollars for that. This is incredibly low margin for the whole business, for everybody involved.

If you go to Europe, you don't find that. Basically, all car washes are automated. You drive in. It's a robot does the whole thing.

You walk out. You're responsible for the interior. You've eliminated those jobs because you have a higher minimum wage. Now does that mean that those people will never work again?

Well, it depends on what you do in terms of skills. It depends in terms of what you do with mobility. It depends on whether you have an ethnicized labor market that systematically excludes millions of people, which lots of countries don't, but America does.

So there's definitely trade offs. But what we've seen from the American experience of the past 10 years is raising minimum wages does not create more local unemployment. It's simply not true. What it does, probably, is make less profitable businesses that are marginally profitable to start with. And they either shut down or they automate which, I think is a good thing.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Right. So that car wash becomes robot. And I have to clean my own interior. Yeah.

MARK BLYTH: Yeah. Big deal. So--

CARRIE NORDLUND: I'm taking a deep breath on this one, Blyth. Because it's about the president's tweet yesterday and delaying the general election. And I really don't even know where to start with this one.

MARK BLYTH: So let's just start there. We know he can't do it. Because Steve Calabrese wrote an op ed in The Times that said, hey, I'm like a really mod Republican. And this is totally outrageous. Right?

But what does it tell us that, basically, this is even in the cards? And then there's the whole thing about appointing the new guy who's the head of the post office, I don't know if you saw this, who says, oh, we're going to leave the mail lying on the floor because it's not profitable. It's, like, oh, just in time for the election, right?

I mean this is central European dictator crony nonsense. Right? Where are we [? with this? ?]

CARRIE NORDLUND: I mean, it's stunning. And it's hard to find the words for it. I mean, part of it is just the theatrics of Trump and that he loves to dominate the news.

I've gone arm chair psychologist on him. And I was thinking last week about when Fauci threw out the first pitch to the Nationals. And then Trump came back with that he was going to do the Yankees. And they never have scheduled it.

He just likes-- any press is good press for him. I don't think he cares. And he just likes to dominate. I don't know that he really wants to delay it.

Because I don't know that he really wants to be president. I think he likes Air Force One. And he likes the White House. But I think he thinks the job kind of sucks. Because he doesn't get to do everything that he wants to do.

And he has this pesky little thing to the side called Congress and all of these other annoying things. So is he really interested in it? I don't know.

But then what gave me pause were two tweets. One, when Secretary Pompeo said that the Department of Justice would make a final decision. And of course, Bill Barr, through testimony this week, clearly is just a partisan hack, carrying out what the president wants.

And then a tweet about state legislatures. They, of course, have to certify the electors. And in three battleground states, those are Republican legislatures, so Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio, maybe. And that gave me pause.

I think that maybe there's something there. I mean, I think this will die down. Because he'll tweet something in 10 seconds [INAUDIBLE].

But it is one of those moments you think, he doesn't have the power. But will he pursue this? And that's the question for me. And will the Department of Justice back him up on that?

MARK BLYTH: Well. Here's the thing. I mean, constitutionally, he doesn't have a leg to stand on. So what does it mean that the Department of Justice will make the final determination? What was Pompeo talking about?

CARRIE NORDLUND: That say they would decide the legality of that. So constitutionally, I mean, it's not clear.

It doesn't say the president can or cannot decide and move the election day. So in the absence of that very specific wording, does that mean the president does have the ability to do it? I mean, those are the readings or interpretation of the Constitution, that executive power rests in the president of the United States. So the executive gets to do what he or she wants.

But on the politics side of things, so that's where I think the DOJ would make that legal decision. Or that's what Pompeo's suggesting, at the very least. But on the politics side of things, it's clearly, I mean, everything that he does is to the base.

But this isn't a base election. He's not moving his suburban housewives, as he calls them. Everyone's kind of disgusted with Trump. And his negatives are so high.

And you think there's no way to turn negatives into positives. Once people think that you suck, people are, like, oh, now I'm going to give this person another chance? And suddenly think that [? they're ?] suddenly have positives about the person, especially in politics. So it's just hard to see how it's a base election when he has to move the voters that he continues to insult.

MARK BLYTH: But, again, isn't it also decided by tiny numbers of people? And as we saw last time, 5 states, 80,000 voters. [INAUDIBLE]. There's a large number of people who, in the current climate, will not admit to being Trump voters.

This is why right wing phone polls are always underestimating those things. So Biden's buffer may be huge. But I'd cut it in half every single time just on the fact that those folks are there.


MARK BLYTH: And if it does rile up the base, then they may be the people that may make the difference. But to me, the more interesting question is, what's the angle? Or let's say he does.

Let's say that Pompeo backs him and Barr backs them. And they get to delay the election, so eventually, you delay it to March, right? OK. So what? What's changed?

Is it going to be much better because of COVID, right? What's the real-- to me, this is more about essentially muddying the waters, saying that things were hurried, things were forced, and that there was confusion and there's corruption in the vote, even though there's no evidence the mail in ballots got compromised, right? It's about muddying all the ops so that basically, when push comes to shove, then you get to the problem with the electors need to be certified.

You say we're not doing it because we're concerned with mail in ballots. We need to have a forensic examination of the ballots. We postpone. Again, to me, this is more, every day, I'm just, like, I'm living in Turkmenistan. This is the type of stuff that you get in Central Asian dictatorships when the dictator comes under threat. This is what [? this feels like. ?]

CARRIE NORDLUND: I think that's totally right. And I was listening to this interview. Anne Applebaum, she's a writer for The Atlantic, has this book out about authoritarianism. And she makes the point about how the Russian [INAUDIBLE] could stand up against Putin whenever they wanted to. And the Polish whatever they call it could stand up against [INAUDIBLE] whenever they want. But they don't.

And in some ways, it's the same thing that Republicans in the Senate, at any point, could say this is total bullshit. And a couple of them have. I mean, very quietly, Marco Rubio said I wish the president wouldn't have tweeted that yesterday. But this is no profiles in courage. But they're not doing this.

And so you just wonder what are they waiting for in that respect. The other part of this is that I think you're right. It's the muddying of the waters, the sowing of the seeds.

But I also wonder if he's doing it for his own self-preservation. So that when you go to Trump Tower and he pulls out his map of the Twenty-Twenty election. And he's, like, look, I won. And he's able to always believe in his own head that he won, because he thought that it was a rigged election.

MARK BLYTH: Yeah. But the key thing, to return to the central Asian dictator example, I get this whole thing from Alex Cooley-- Hi, Alex-- the problem is, you've done stuff which, if you were a normal person, you would end up getting called in front of a court. And the people that you've hired have covered up for you, which is itself something that will land you in court. So essentially, there's a corporate interest in the top at never giving up power. Because if you do, there's a reasonable probability you're going to end up in a lot of trouble.

So you will do whatever you can to stay in. And you might as well continue to push the envelope on what's legal and what's not. Because you're down that slope, anyway.


MARK BLYTH: That's Applebaum's [? slide ?] into it. And then the enablers basically are the ones who are sitting around who are quite happy to go either way, either he wins or he loses, I just don't want to be caught in the crossfire either way.

CARRIE NORDLUND: And I certainly don't want to lose my power, either. So as much as I can stand in the middle is where I'm going to stand. Though here's the one thing, I mean, looking at the election calendar, officially, the election, if we have it on November 3, is, like, 90--

MARK BLYTH: If you have it.

CARRIE NORDLUND: --days away or something like that. But actually, early voting states will start in something like 40 days. So it is interesting to think about that it's unlikely that the atmosphere is going to change in the next 40 days. That those mail in ballots are just-- I mean, as people vote early, this election is that-- there's no October surprise.

There's no room for that. I mean, the president has to get moving if he's going to get moving on this. Because people start voting in what, 40 days, six weeks?

MARK BLYTH: Yeah. So then the question becomes what's the constitutionality of delaying an election once people have voted?

CARRIE NORDLUND: I mean, this goes to the Supreme Court. And then is Ruth Bader Ginsburg still with us. And it's such a tangled--

MARK BLYTH: And do you get Florida'd all over again? My hunch is we're going to get Florida'd all over again. I think that's the way this plays.

But we're running out of time. So let's move on a little bit. Let's talk about the person who's running high in the polls that we never talk about, Joe Biden.


MARK BLYTH: He still hasn't got a running mate. What's going on?

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yeah. It was interesting. And there's a lot of insider baseball politics stuff that's kind of a snooze fest.

But a lot of stuff that I kind of put in this bucket of demeaning of women over the last week. And that has to do with Alexander Ocasio-Cortez's speech, where she was called the bleep bleep by the Republican congressperson. And then Liz Cheney, Dick Cheney's daughter, no question that she's a Republican, number three Republican in the House, was really criticized by her male House colleagues for being too critical of the president.

And then on the veep point, Kamala Harris was deemed as too ambitious and not remorseful enough for what she said during the debates last spring against the vice president. So just a bigger point that I've been thinking a lot about is just that, even in this, wherever we are in Twenty-Twenty, the MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, that women, and especially women of color, continue to get criticized when they speak out, when they don't act in ways that, I don't know, whoever society is anymore deems that they should speak.

I even thought in Barr's testimony, he was clearly physically more frustrated when women asked him really pointed questions and wouldn't let him answer then with men. He would shift in his seat or fiddle with his tie. And all that stuff was just annoying to me. So that's my rant on that.

I [INAUDIBLE] point, as I take a breath here, I would think that because of the press, they have to choose Kamala. But a lot of people are thinking that it's Karen Bass, who's the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, that she's a real contender. She doesn't want to run for president. She's been very clear about that.

She's really well-liked and respected. And she kind of has that law and order background to contrast with what's going on, for example, in the streets of Portland. So I think those look like the two top choices. But of course, Elizabeth Warren is still in there as well. What's your take?

MARK BLYTH: So-- well, my take is I have no clue what's going on, apart from the fact that you lose every time you make a choice.


MARK BLYTH: So if you take Warren, you might get the Bernie Warren people, but you will massively disappoint not just the Congressional Black Caucus, but the entire African-American community. If you choose an African-American woman running mate, let's face facts. Right? There's two ways you can calculate this.

Everybody who would fear that person being president on racial grounds is already in the Trump camp, so it doesn't make any difference. Or there's a whole bunch of people who would [INAUDIBLE] this is just one step too far. And that's what swings it. And that counteracts the energy and the numbers that you get that way.

So you're dealing with a deeply racially polarized society, economically and racially polarized. It's a very brave choice. It's the right moral choice to pick a running mate along the lines you've been suggested. But if they do, it might be an incredibly brave, bold, and exactly what to do, or we might look back and go, wow, that's where Trump got that extra 10%.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, I think it's a risk mitigation, in whatever way. I mean, you don't want to choose a Sarah Palin-like figure, who's just completely unqualified. But actually, Mark, polls show that it's white liberals that are most uncomfortable with a white woman on a ticket and are most comfortable with a Black woman on a ticket. And the Black community is, like, we just want to win it. We just want Trump out of office.

MARK BLYTH: But what about all the people in the country who are not white liberals?

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, right. Those are the people who will swing the election.


MARK BLYTH: [INAUDIBLE] people who will swing the election. It's not white liberals. It has nothing to do with white liberals. That's where I see this becoming the reason they've taken so long to get there.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, and that's why I wonder if the law and order background, whatever that means right now is something that will make that group of voters possibly more comfortable? I mean, we can talk about this for hours and lots of negative stuff that happens. But to choose a Black woman with a law and order background, if that makes it seem more-- it just seems more safe than one without it.

MARK BLYTH: No. Absolutely. And I get exactly the signaling.

But the point is, in a highly polarized electorate, where race has become, once again, a touchstone, where the president is actively pushing racialized themes-- I mean, for God's sake, the thing that he said the other day, which is I promise I won't build low income housing anywhere near your nice suburbs, I forget who said it. But someone said that this isn't dog whistling. This is literally just letting the dogs out.


So we are into that type of politics. So you'd bet that if you pick someone who's a non-white running mate, that's exactly the angle of attack. This is going to be [? horrible. ?]

CARRIE NORDLUND: I mean, Elizabeth Warren or a Gretchen Whitmer, I mean, theyd' come with-- I mean, Elizabeth Warren has a ton of baggage, right?

MARK BLYTH: Absolutely. They come with a ton of baggage, absolutely. There's no easy choice there. That's what I'm saying. There's no easy choice. So what are we going to end with? What's been fun and also and helpful and lovely? Anything in your world?

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, something that's been fun, or I don't even know if it [INAUDIBLE] just I laughed was the doctor that Trump retweeted, Dr. Emanuel who-- hydroxychlorine or whatever.


CARRIE NORDLUND: And who say-- she has a long YouTube video in which she talks about demon dreams and demon sperm, which I never thought I'd say to you.

MARK BLYTH: Or anyone.


Or anyone for that matter. You never thought you would see those words together.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Correct. And so I mean, that just made me laugh. Because I mean, the President of the United States. I mean, yesterday at John Lewis' funeral, you saw Bush, Clinton, Obama, and for all their negatives, they act like presidents of the United States. And meanwhile, Trump didn't show up.

MARK BLYTH: Yeah. We're not going. Forget it.


MARK BLYTH: Doesn't like him. We're done. Yeah, totally.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yeah. What about you? Anything lighter, sunnier?

MARK BLYTH: I've been watching The Crown final.


MARK BLYTH: It's very good. I have to say. It's a sort of straight period drama type thing. It's very well-acted.

And it does get into sort of like some of the political nuances. So if you're a politics junkie, I think if you were a British politics junkie, you could probably really get into it because of this whole relationship between the prime minister. And that changes all the way through, and then cabinet and the government of the day and the Royals, and then as they go on, the media, and all the rest of it.

It's very well done. So I've been sort of enjoying that. So in words, what I'm doing is I'm losing myself in nostalgia for monarchy. That's how sad I am.


CARRIE NORDLUND: Wow. Things have really--

MARK BLYTH: And there's a sentence I never thought I would say.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Well, I also saw that Boris lost a stone in weight. It that 14 pounds, a stone?

MARK BLYTH: 14 pounds is pretty good. I mean, I've got to hand it to him. I wish I could lose 14 pounds. So he's doing pretty well. I want his trick.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yeah, I mean, he must've stopped eating junk. Well, he did say, because he's starting a big campaign, he'd stop eating so much junk food. So I guess those are all positive things.

MARK BLYTH: That's a positive.


MARK BLYTH: Yeah. Here's our positive things. I'm basically eating nostalgia. And Boris Johnson is doing well because he's not eating junk food.


That's where we are today.

CARRIE NORDLUND: Yes. Yeah. And I'm now getting to go stress eat some junk food.

MARK BLYTH: Excellent. I'm probably going to do exactly the same thing. I've got some leftover pizza that I made. So [INAUDIBLE].

CARRIE NORDLUND: Oh, that sounds really good. Well, it was great to see you. We'll talk to you next time.


CARRIE NORDLUND: Thanks, everybody for listening. Bye.

MARK BLYTH: All the best. Bye bye.

About the Podcast

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Mark and Carrie
Mark Blyth, political economist at The Watson Ins…

About your hosts

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Mark Blyth

Host, Rhodes Center Podcast
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Carrie Nordlund

Co-Host, Mark and Carrie