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Episode 99

Senate History & Mitch McConnell’s Betrayal featuring Ira Shapiro

Episode  99
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Author Ira Shapiro has captured sixty years of Senate history in his trilogy of books documenting the dangerous decent of what should be our more deliberative, collegial government body. Mr. Shapiro’s most recent installment is The Betrayal: How Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans Abandoned America. It serves as a call to action. Yes, The Senate’s intransigent refusal to pass legislation that helps Americans is appalling. But what can we, the people, do about? Ira Shapiro has thoughts and ideas.

More Path Links

Ira Shapiro

The Betrayal: How Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans Abandoned America by Ira Shapiro

The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis

Broken: Can the Senate Save Itself and the Country? 

Watergate: Blueprint For a Scandal-CNN

Gaslit - Starz

The Staircase - HBO

The Staircase - Netflix
Grey Gardens Documentary
Grey Gardens Docudrama

An American Family

Cinema Verite  - HBO

Cinema Verite - Amazon

Gift of Democracy. com

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Louise Palanker (00:00:04):

Welcome to Media Path. I'm Louise Palanker.

Fritz Coleman  (00:00:07):

And I'm Fritz Coleman.

Louise Palanker (00:00:08):

We are here to lead you down pathways rich with movies, books, TV shows, and the quality content that has you happily tapping Play Next. Plus, we bring you fascinating guests whose stories will enrich and enlighten you and send you madly scrambling for their fine works. Today we've got Washington Insider, Irish Shapiro, the author of a series of books about the Senate, his latest being The Betrayal, how Mitch McConnell and the Republicans Abandon America. Ira will join us very shortly, but first, Fritz, what?

Fritz Coleman  (00:00:36):

Well, I think this is timely. I, I, I wanna talk about maybe the first great baby boomer obsession of the 20th century, which was following the Watergate hearings. I was working midnight to six at a radio station at the time back in Philadelphia, and I would get off work at Sunrise. I would go to Duncan Donuts, I would buy coffee and a bag of regular glazed, and I would head to a men's clothing store where I worked in high school. You were

Louise Palanker (00:01:02):

A strange boy.

Fritz Coleman  (00:01:03):

And, and, well, this all makes sense. <laugh>. The store was owned by an Italian immigrant Taylor, who was equally obsessed with the Watergate hearings. But his fascination for the hearings was the disappointment of a new American citizen in the dark politics of his new country. It was a really interesting perspective. He would open his store an hour early, and we would sit in front of a 19 inch black and white Philco television and watch these proceedings into the afternoon while I would finally nod off. Now, it's 50 years later and CNN has done a four-part series called Watergate Blueprint of a Scandal. Over the years, Americans have parsed and picked and absorbed every morsel of Watergate. Lauren, I know you have Weezy, but the historic coincidence of the 50th anniversary up against our current congressional hearings makes it worth a look. It's a great primer for what we're watching unfold right now.


One of the main themes is past is prologue. We see a similar political divide back then that we have now. We see similar patterns in the coverup. We see that like now, not everybody is on board or interested. Only 50% of Americans knew anything or cared anything about Watergate, and most still supported Nixon. Sound familiar? My biggest question gets pondered. How could smart people get sucked into the circle of conspiracy? One line of the series really highlights my whole feeling about all these guys that were Nixon's talent pool and currently being outed in Trump's talent pool. How could accomplished people, political players, cabinet secretaries, people who had carved out admirable careers in public service, how could they enter into all these illegal dealings? John Dean's answer was perfect. He said, the power of the presidency causes blind loyalty. Man, that's an understatement. The last episode of the four aired Sunday night, but you can stream it on the CNN app. It's worth a,

Louise Palanker (00:02:59):

I recommend you watch this doc back to back with gas lit on star. Absolutely. Based on the way John Dean is depicted in gas lit, he's doing some cleanup on Isle Legacy <laugh>, his name, his name, and his life's work have been embossed with the word Watergate. He has made that work through his contrition and his candor. But John Deans is a cautionary tale for any young person getting in over their head and wondering, is this how things are supposed to work when you are asked to do something that feels wrong? Talk to a trusted, principled person who has logged at least 15 years of adulting <laugh>. You know, and I, I know he felt like he couldn't do that because it was all top secret stuff, but,

Fritz Coleman  (00:03:35):

But I thought he was brilliant in one way. What he did was a preemptive strike, because he knew Haldeman and Oliman were gonna throw him under the bus, and he beat him to it. And he was the guy that turned over the biggest rock and ultimately led to Nixon's

Louise Palanker (00:03:46):

Resignation. Tremendous level of courage. Yeah. And I, and I think his wife really helped him get there. Yeah. So Maureen Dean. Awesome. So I watched, um, the 13 Parts Staircase documentary on Netflix and the eight episode staircase docudrama on H B O that makes 21 flights live, the telephone of staircase. And I am gonna stop climbing and or falling and live to talk about it. Yes. Yeah. So much of what we think we know is dictated by spin and messaging. As with a news event such as Watergate or Trump's big Lie, any film or book or newscast can tell you the story. It would like you to learn and to believe once you have come to understand a story one way. How invested are you in that version of events? Are you willing to have your mind swayed by a wider lens, more nuance, shadings, and important factors?


If you first watch the staircase Netflix doc, you will see the story that those filmmakers decided to tell you. They embed themselves with the Peterson family who are facing the death of a mother and a father's accusation of murder. The filmmakers here are a fourth wall. They are not seen or heard, and they appear to be simply providing you with a window into events. In the H B O's scripted version of the story, starring Colin Firth and Tony Collette, the viewer is given a wider view, which includes the filmmakers as important story elements. The filmmakers are influenced by the relationships they build, and they, in turn impact the Peterson family. You can watch this fascinating dynamic play out also in the 1975 documentary Gray Gardens and the subsequent scripted telling starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lang as an eccentric mother and daughter living in a decaying Newport Rhode Island mansion.


In the dramatic version, the documentarians become cast members and informed the story. A similar scenario plays out in an American family, the original unscripted program, which aired on P B S in 1973, in the docudrama telling of their story on HBO O called Cinema Verte. We see how significantly the filmmakers influence the loud family. It's impossible for documentary filmmakers to simply be a fourth wall. They are people, and people affect people, and I found this in making my film family ban the cow seal story. Even the presence of cameras alone will influence the compartment of the subjects and asking them to tell their stories impacts what they come to understand about themselves and one another. We are all constantly affecting one another, and we should each forever remember that we are important players in thousands of stories.

Fritz Coleman  (00:06:19):

Great analysis of the combination too. I haven't seen the H B O Max, the fictionalized version. Many people think that's better than the staircase. But what was interesting about the staircase, and I think why you brought up what you did, was the staircase was from the defense's point of view. So everything, all the family scenarios, the, uh, the defense planning session, well, that was the astonishing thing to me, that they got access to everything. The courtroom, the judge, the jury, all the stuff where you're not used to seeing cameras. I thought that was fascinating, but it was slanted toward the defense point of view. And I hear that the H B O Max version, which I still have to watch, was a little more, uh, interesting and, uh, a, a better overview.

Louise Palanker (00:07:01):

Well, there are dynamics that take place, uh, in the relationships that are built between filmmakers and Petersons that I'm not going to spoil for you, but watch it and your mind will be blown.

Fritz Coleman  (00:07:10):

Cool. I'm looking forward to it.

Louise Palanker (00:07:12):

All right. A man who has devoted himself to sharing the stories that unfold inside the rooms where our government happens is Irish Shapiro. Irish Shapiro spent the first half of his 45 year Washington career as a Senate staffer and Clinton administration trade ambassador before writing a series of books about the Senate, which Brookings Scholar, William a Galston, calls an epic trilogy. Mr. Shapiro's current book is The Betrayal, how Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans Abandoned America. Robert Rice said Ira Shapiro holds Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate accountable for their deliberate and catastrophic failure to stop Donald Trump, even when American lives and our democracy were at stake. A gripping narrative and a must read. Ira, could you begin by telling us about your earlier books in your passion for the Senate, when it works for the people?

Ira Shapiro (00:08:00):

Thanks so much for having me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, it's wonderful to be able to have a conversation like this cuz they, we get into details and we get to talk, and it's not like being on television for 60 seconds. Right. Uh, and also, I appreciate your bringing me to your audience, the audience that you've built over a long period of time. Um, I got hooked on the Senate early. I actually was, I came of age at the time in last crisis, Vietnam, which morphed into over time Watergate mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so I was in college and law school at that time, and at that time, the Senate was sort of a beacon for a lot of us who were opposed to the war and also distrusted the presidency, what Johnson's had become and what Nixon's was likely to be. And the Senate attracted us. I was lucky enough to get an internship there, and I got hooked on it. And I came, I changed my life career, career, went to law school because the lawyers were dominant at that time. And so I came back, worked in the Senate for 12 years, and found it to be as rewarding as I thought it would be. Then went on two other things, the Clinton administration and other things looped back years later, troubled by the decline of the Senate. I looped back to write the first book, which was the last great Senate spoiler alert. It was the only great Senate

Louise Palanker (00:09:42):

<laugh> Wow.

Ira Shapiro (00:09:43):

The late, the sixties and the seventies Senate. And I wrote that book to show what it was like when the Senate actually worked mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then I wrote a second one as things continued to get somewhat worse, and finally didn't expect to write this one, but reacted to the catastrophic events of 2020 and the Senate's complete abdication.

Fritz Coleman  (00:10:07):

You know, I loved your book. Uh, I, it, it, and I, I it was, it was an echo chamber for me because I had some pre-existing conditions about Mitch McConnell, and you just sort of substantiated those with facts. But after I read your book, it occurred to me that because of his obstruction as a leader and his Machiavelli in politics, he might be as responsible for our current situation as Donald Trump is.

Ira Shapiro (00:10:31):

No, absolutely. I mean, look, I, the way I phrased it, it is that I believe the tr Donald Trump's presidency was a catastrophe for the country, and it continues to have repercussions. The catastrophic failure of government was the Senate. The founders believed that they anticipated that we might have a corrupt or rogue president, but they thought we had a strong enough system to withstand it. And the Senate, the strongest upper house in the world that they had designed was an important part of that. And then what happened 234 years later when this authoritarian shows up, the Senate degraded by its long decline is completely unable to deal with the problem. So I, I think the Senate bears a lot of responsibility, and I think particularly Ms. McConnell does, because he was responsible for damaging the Senate before Trump came down the escalator to run for president mm-hmm.

Louise Palanker (00:11:44):

<affirmative>. Now, do you think that maybe in the age of all this connectivity, it's, it's enhanced, but it feels like they all get their talking every morning via email, and because you hear them kind of reciting them throughout the day. Is is, are they, are they instructed to be that disciplined? Are there weekly meetings, you know, what keeps them this, uh, following that party line?

Ira Shapiro (00:12:09):

Well, I think they, I think they are very disciplined. I think that our politics are obviously more polarized than they were. The parties are genuinely further apart. I don't dispute that, but than, than they were in the sort of last great Senate. But my view of it is that they're supposed to be United States senators. They can care about their party, but they're not supposed to be partisan hacks. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they care about their states, but they're really not state legislators. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they're supposed to have a national responsibility. I've been in politics and around it long enough that I don't expect miracles or perfection, but I do think that they're obligated to step up for the national interest, particularly in times of crisis. Somebody in one of my interviews said, well, you're saying the betrayal, that's a pretty serious charge. I say, yeah, but it wasn't chosen lightly. That's exactly what they did. They had the responsibility and they failed knowingly, and they failed during a catastrophic period for our, our country. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we're talking about an unhinged president not dealing with the pandemic, but signaling that he was not going to accept the results of the election. If you ever needed a Senate, that was the time you needed it.

Fritz Coleman  (00:13:45):

You, you, uh, have said in your book that the last great bipartisan senate leaders were guys like Mike Mansfield and Everett Dirkson, that it was all downhill from there. What was the scene like at that time?

Ira Shapiro (00:13:58):

Well, not, not quite all that far downhill. Quite that much, because I believe that after Mansfield and Dirkson, and they stop and view Scott, they established a way that the Senate should work bipartisan, trust, respect, mutual respect. It carried over. Robert Bird and Howard Baker were great leaders in that regard. And Bob Dole came on, and he was, and George Mitchell, we can point to others, they kept some momentum through the eighties. What it was like was, it was like being in a sort of a healthy ecosystem. I mean, people weren't, I worked with a lot of, I worked with a lot of Republicans when if you were a Democrat and you had an idea and you went a Democratic senator who you worked for, he would say, that's such a good idea. Find a Republican. And it wasn't hard to find a Republican. That's what we were there doing. Some of my, not to be cliched, but some of my best friends go back to that period, including the Republicans. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it was just a healthy system. But partly, and here's the key senators, Robert Bird, the longest serving of all of them once said, somebody said to him, Senator, you served under 11 precedents. And by bristle I served with 11 presidents. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he was an independent. Senators are not supposed to serve under the presidents. Right.

Fritz Coleman  (00:15:40):

I, I, I think that that's a great point, and this is a great time to sort of do the overview. What was Madison's idea for the Senates? The highest body? It was a V and consent. What does that mean exactly?

Ira Shapiro (00:15:54):

Well, the sort of the political side, which was the ultimate compromise, two senators from each state, the small states had to be treated equally so that they would support the Constitution. Putting that aside, the notion of the Senate was we're going to have people who are people of stature, uh, the best. And it was then men, of course, only the best men in the states, people of stature. We're gonna give them six year terms. We're gonna give them more, uh, responsibility, ability to, uh, have to approve treaties, nominations, et cetera, that will give them, they'll be the strongest upper house in the world. And as a result, we think they will work with presidents when possible, check them when necessary, contrary to the passions that might overrun the people's house, the senators will be a moderating force. Now, look through history doesn't always work quite that way for long periods of time. They weren't just a moderating force. They were a block on the nation's progress. That's why when I wrote about the last Great Senate, and I only partly joked, it was the only great Senate, it didn't always work that way. But at its best, the Senate plays a crucial role. And Walter Mondale, once former senator and vice president once referred to it as the nation's mediator. That's where we're gonna work out the hard problems. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And if you don't do it there, it won't happen.

Louise Palanker (00:17:44):

Right. Well, in your book, you share the quote, he who rides a tiger does not decide when to dismount. And Mitch McConnell believes he is artful enough to thread this needle. He has successfully tricked his voters to vote against their interests for decades. But by training them to believe lies, does he lose control of where they dismount that tiger?

Ira Shapiro (00:18:05):

Great question. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, I love that quote because it reminded me that the Senate, republican senators went along with Trump. Either they, either they supported him or they just stood back and let him rampage. They went along with him, and McConnell got a lot out of it, no question. Particularly the Supreme Court. But he always, I believe he always thought he could control the situation. He basically thought when the election, when he decided the election was over, it was over, or when he decided that we're gonna now certify the electoral college vote, none of the Republicans are gonna be against it. Well, he was wrong on both counts. He lost control of it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So he who rides the tiger cannot choose where he dismounts.

Louise Palanker (00:19:02):

But now he's got voters who believe lies beyond the ones he wanted them to believe. They're into Q Andon, they're, they're, they're, uh, loyal to Trump at, you know, to a tremendous fault. And he's, there are Republicans who believe that Mitch McConnell is as evil as Hillary Clinton. You know, if you will. He's just lost them.

Ira Shapiro (00:19:26):

Well, <laugh>, you might think so. Yeah. And I understand, I understand that notion. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but McConnell only has two constituencies, sorry, maybe three. The people of Kentucky who have given him another six year term. So he is got four more years. The f the Republican caucus. As long as the senators stay with him, he's okay. He'll be the leader. And so those are the things he cares about. The other thing he cares about and handles very well is the Republican donor base. He raises money from them. He produces results that they like.

Louise Palanker (00:20:10):


Ira Shapiro (00:20:11):

It's not just the fossil fuel industry and the gun manufacturers and the nra, but those are important parts of his, of his donor base. So he, he's, look, I said to somebody, you gotta give him credit. He surfed the madness of the Republican party for 16 years. All those house leaders end up on the side of the road discarded, defeated, destroyed. Yeah. That's McConnell's still there. Yeah. So he is pretty skillful.

Louise Palanker (00:20:45):


Fritz Coleman  (00:20:45):

I I think one of the great, uh, first examples of this dark power that he wields was back in 2008. And as Weezy talked about voting against the interest of the American people, and particularly his constituency when he would not vote for the finance recovery package, were in the midst of the worst crisis since the depression, because he didn't want to give the dems of victory.

Ira Shapiro (00:21:07):

Right. Yeah. It's, it was early 2009, right after President Obama took office. And I focus on that because at the end in 2008, he actually voted for the TARP legislation to bail out the financial system. And he was proud of that, and I think it was the right thing to do. 90 days later, he flipped completely and wouldn't support economic stimulus by Obama, even though the country was teetering on the verge of a great second great depression, he didn't care. The only thing he cared about was that Obama had high approval ratings and it was necessary to take them down.

Louise Palanker (00:21:56):

So he, he,

Ira Shapiro (00:21:57):

It's shameful stuff.

Louise Palanker (00:21:58):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. I mean, his playbook is, is working and it's where you say, well, I can't vote for this because the Democrats have in ingested so much fluff in here that it's debilitating to, you know, to us financially. Like he'll, he'll constantly blame the Democrats, but how guilty are Democrats of adding stuff that they really, really want? You know? And I, I get it, but like, what's, what's your take on that?

Ira Shapiro (00:22:23):

I think that Democrats probably sometimes overreach and, but I don't believe in the view that both sides are e equally or similarly or close to at fault. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think the pattern, the most important things to know about politics in the last 30 years, one of them is the move of the Republican party in stages from conservatism to radicalism to neoism. We've got one political party fractious as it is the Democrats, and we've got another, which is more like an apocalyptic cult.

Louise Palanker (00:23:08):

Yeah, that's

Ira Shapiro (00:23:09):

Well said. And that's, that's a phrase that was used not by me, that was used by a Republican stalwart writing a book 10 years ago, describing his party as an apocalyptic cult.

Louise Palanker (00:23:22):

But I mean, that's not even, that's not even a euphemism when you think about the, um, conservative, uh, Christians who absolutely believe that the apocalypse is, is coming and certain things need to be in place in order for Jesus to come back. They don't say that stuff to us, but it's definitely informing some of their decision making, isn't it?

Ira Shapiro (00:23:42):

Yeah, it is. But


See, my, my her point of my book was that McConnell and others, Lindsey Graham, particularly Rob Portman Mar Alexander, respectable, accomplished public servants. Where were they? Where were they when Trump was running amok? Why didn't, if, if you look at the election, to take the big lie for a moment, if on November 7th when the networks and AP called the election, if McConnell and the others had stood up and said, well, it's a tough election, I'm sorry, we lost, we'll be back in four years, but Joe Biden's the president-elect, it wouldn't have been 50 million Americans, 70% of the Trump voters who would've thought the election was stolen. Right. They thought it was stolen because a Trump said it was stolen, and B, no one contradicted him in the Republican circle.

Fritz Coleman  (00:24:54):

And a step farther than what you're saying is exactly the same explanation for the speech that McConnell gave on January 6th, which was a spectacular speech. And you said in your book that had he given that speech a day or two before, it would've warded off the hold insurrection and changed the course of politics? Probably.

Ira Shapiro (00:25:13):

Well, I dunno if it was a day or two before, he might have had to give it weeks before. Yeah. I think he lost control between November 7th and December 14th. And that was when the big lie fo festered and fomented all over the place. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then McConnell, of course, gave a superb speech at the time of the second impeachment trial, and then managed somehow to not vote for Trump's conviction,

Louise Palanker (00:25:43):

<laugh>. Yep. That's

Ira Shapiro (00:25:45):

Simply put, simply put, he basically, he was appall a angry at Trump. He believed that Trump had done a terrible thing mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but he didn't think he could be taken down at that point.

Louise Palanker (00:26:00):

I mean, he feels like he's threading a needle, but to us it feels like hypocrisy. So how nervous is McConnell about the hearings?

Ira Shapiro (00:26:10):

Oh, I don't, I don't actually know. I think that McConnell, I believe that McConnell is counting on the dynamic of the off year elections, off year elections not great for the president at a time when the country is frustrated, angry, concerned, et cetera. Biden's approval ratings are down, inflation is terrible. There are other problems. McConnell's counting on that, uh, concerned actually, as, I guess as I think about it, as far as he's concerned, if the hearings take down Trump but don't hurt the Senate, he's fine with

Louise Palanker (00:26:55):

That. It's no blood on his hands. They've done his

Ira Shapiro (00:26:57):

Work that that's ideal from his standpoint. Yeah. He would love Trump to be gone,

Fritz Coleman  (00:27:01):

Takes care of the problem. Do you think that the, um, uh, the hearings will deflate the Republican surge that's predicted to come in the off year elections would help at all, or it'll just be nonplused?

Ira Shapiro (00:27:18):

My guess is not any <laugh> prince. What, what, um, my wife and I have a saying that Iris predictions were really good in the 20th century

Louise Palanker (00:27:30):


Ira Shapiro (00:27:31):

We're 22 years into this century, and my predictions aren't always that great. Um, so I tried mostly to encourage people to do the right thing. Um, if I had to guess, I believe the hearings will be part of reducing Trump's impact. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think it's hurting Trump. I don't know if it's a hundred percent hurting Trump, but I think it's hurting Trump. I think, I think it will embolden, hopefully Merrick Garland, and I think it will embolden the Georgia prosecutor. I think that Trump, I have $20 riding on it with my wife, <laugh>. I don't believe that Trump will run again. No. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I don't think he can take another loss, and I don't think he'll risk it, but

Fritz Coleman  (00:28:23):

I hope he's an illegal quagmire by that time. We don't have to worry about it. That would be great.

Louise Palanker (00:28:27):

Well, we're kind of obsessed with this kind of leading to Trump. But if re Yeah. Yeah. If representatives and senators are found complicit in the insurrection, and if, for example, Ron Johnson and Rand Paul and I use them as an example, because there are Democratic governors in their state. So if we, if we pull out all of this garbage and we find not just Trump, but senators and people giving tours and uh, et cetera, and it takes out, uh, let's say for the sake of this conversation, Ron Johnson, does Andy Beshear or, um, does Tony, I evers get to a point their replacement?

Ira Shapiro (00:29:04):

Well, I guess I don't think it'll happen that quickly and, and senators Ron Johnson is sort of a special case, but senators, I think were more careful than some of the house members.

Louise Palanker (00:29:19):


Ira Shapiro (00:29:20):

I don't know that the senators have been asking for pardons yet. Some of the house members have been, because they probably need them or needed them. Um, but look, from my standpoint, somebody said to me, well, your book is really good, but it's really depressing.

Louise Palanker (00:29:38):

<laugh>. Well, what

Ira Shapiro (00:29:38):

Do you? And I said, yeah, but it is, it is a call to action. If you wanna change the politics of the country, you have to, we have to win some Senate elections.

Louise Palanker (00:29:52):


Ira Shapiro (00:29:53):

Yeah. We have to elect some Democrats and defeat some Republicans. And we shouldn't take for granted that I'm not taking for granted that Marco Rubio or, uh, Marco Rubio or Chuck Grassley should not be LA allowed to skate through. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we got a great candidate against Marco Rubio and Val Demings. Yeah. And we have a very good, very good candidate, uh, in Admiral Mike Franken in Iowa. Mm-hmm.

Louise Palanker (00:30:22):


Ira Shapiro (00:30:23):

Plus the fact, I was just working on a piece about Chuck Grassley, who has decided in his infinite wisdom that he needs an eighth term at the age of 88.

Fritz Coleman  (00:30:33):

What about term limits? I mean, seriously, and McConnell would be included in that.

Ira Shapiro (00:30:38):

Well, I, I've never favored term limits. I've always believed in competitive elections, but I think Grassley and McConnell have kind of changed my mind,

Louise Palanker (00:30:48):

And maybe even Diane Feinstein as well, because, well,

Ira Shapiro (00:30:51):

We need, I always, I mean, I've admired Diane Feinstein since I was a graduate student in Berkeley in 1969 and 70 when she was on the board of Supervisor, she started her career. I think it's a tragedy that she ran again.

Fritz Coleman  (00:31:07):

Yeah. She's wonderful.

Ira Shapiro (00:31:08):

It's all of her friends thought it was a tragedy. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:31:12):

Um, you know, the Senate just reached a framework deal to address gun violence. And in your book, you talk about how gratifying it is for senators to work together and pass legislation that actually helps people. It's a Moses moment that is incomparable. And your thesis is that it, the fun of finally getting to do this in the Biden administration, covid relief, the American rescue plan infrastructure, et cetera, um, will move Republican senators against the intransigence of McConnell.

Ira Shapiro (00:31:42):


Louise Palanker (00:31:43):

Or maybe not <laugh>. I'm

Ira Shapiro (00:31:44):

Always, I'm always try encouraging people to be their best selves. Yeah. And I think to some degree, my statement is true. I think the people who are in the group of whether it's 15 or 20, who are actually accomplishing things, I think they're very gratified to do it, and they feel the job is worthwhile for that reason. Mm-hmm.

Louise Palanker (00:32:07):


Ira Shapiro (00:32:08):

And I think most of these bipartisan accomplishments, and I would include the gun legisla, the gun agreement, if it is finalized, these are useful things in my view, and much better than nothing. But it's still, the Senate is still doing what McConnell permits it to

Louise Palanker (00:32:30):

Do. Okay.

Ira Shapiro (00:32:31):

McConnell permits it to do certain things. Uh, and he may have decided that he doesn't want to have a record of total obstruction. He'd like to point on, I, I did the infrastructure bill, I did the gun bill, I went to Ukraine, I did all those things. So you can make me majority leader. Um, he's very savvy in that.

Fritz Coleman  (00:32:59):

I, I'll tell you what's duplicitous about him, though, last week, he said publicly that he agreed with restrictions on automatic weapons, but that never made it into the final bill. So he can be a hero over here while they're messing around with this weaker bill in the house and the Senate. So he, I

Ira Shapiro (00:33:14):

Actually, I actually didn't see that. I'll have he to look at. He, he

Fritz Coleman  (00:33:17):

Made the comment that he could support, uh, uh, uh, assault weapons bans of some sort. And, and I just thought, well, that's, you know, it's easy for you to say that, but how about manipulate? You're the puppet master. Manipulate your people into putting that in the agreement.

Ira Shapiro (00:33:32):

Well, uh, you're telling me something I didn't know. I'm surprised he said that actually.

Fritz Coleman  (00:33:37):

Well, no, that, that makes me question it, but no, that, that, that was something that really peaked my eyes,

Ira Shapiro (00:33:42):

So I may have missed it. Yeah. I, I, some days, some days I'm focusing my obsession with McConnell on certain things and not others.

Fritz Coleman  (00:33:51):

<laugh>, you know, uh, a, a a a part of your book that I really loved, uh, and I also loved it in Robert Carroll's book, master of the Senate, talking about Johnson and how that is the discussion of how politics changed after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when the South started to lose the Democrats and the Northeast and Midwest Republicanism shifted south. That was a catastrophic, uh, moment in American politics fix.

Ira Shapiro (00:34:20):

Well, it, it was a historic change. And as you know, it's the, uh, Johnson knew it at the time. He said, we've lost the South for a generation, um, once he signed the Civil Rights Act, but it was worth it. He thought it was more important. But certainly what's happened is over that period, long period of time is the parties have aligned on regional racial and ideological grounds in a way that makes it much more difficult to govern. Uh, makes it sometimes impossible to govern. But that's, that's kind of why I think that's why I can't actually forgive the Portmans or the Alexanders or these people, uh, for not doing better. They have a rare privilege of being United States Senators, and they should do better. And it's, you know, when Rob Portman, who I knew when he was trade representative, he's a very capable and accomplished public sermon when he just announced his retirement and said he was leaving because the partisanship was so serious that you couldn't get things done. I'm Well, no one told you to give your proxy to McConnell on everything, you know, you created it.

Louise Palanker (00:35:45):

Yeah. But we don't, do you have any concept of like, what kind of conversations go on or what, what McConnell actually says to senators to keep them in line? Because it, it would be, it would seem like it should be like herding cats. They each have a state that they have to report back to. But it, it just seems like as we make more and more progress as humans on Earth, that becomes increasingly terrifying to certain types of people. You know, there were hundreds and hundreds of years where life on Earth didn't change all that much, and now we're kind of like moving at warp speed. And so some people are, are just stunned and terrified. And this, this Republican party is embracing that fear and sort of weaponizing it. So what, what do you think he says to people to justify helping their folks stay scared,

Ira Shapiro (00:36:39):

<laugh>? Well, that's a great, great question. I think it varies depending who the people are. Um, I think that our politics are tribal, and there's a great incentive to stick with the tribe and not go against it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, why, why did eight of them who were retiring all vote for Amy Coney Barrett eight days before the election?

Louise Palanker (00:37:07):


Ira Shapiro (00:37:08):

When they knew it was the wrong thing to do. Well, they didn't wanna be hassled in restaurants or at the country club, or wherever they were, were going mm-hmm. <affirmative> politics being tribal. Mm-hmm.

Louise Palanker (00:37:19):


Ira Shapiro (00:37:22):

Stick with me and we'll get back in the majority, I major chairman before they, they respect his political judgment. Um, but one, one person who endorsed by book, uh, never Trump or Bill cl. Bill Crystal.

Louise Palanker (00:37:38):


Ira Shapiro (00:37:39):

Bill said to me once, um, I'm always amazed that people have an infinite capacity for rationalization

Fritz Coleman  (00:37:47):


Ira Shapiro (00:37:48):

He's, so, if you're Rob Portman of Ohio, well, I can do more for Ohio if I get along with Trump. Okay. Or if I'm not there, someone more radical would be there. Got it. There's always something. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you can come up with some justification, but the truth is, we have the, we have had the most serious threat to our democracy and history, and they missed it. You know? That's, that's the betrayal. That's the betrayal.

Fritz Coleman  (00:38:22):

You, you brought up Amy Coney Barrett, and, and, and McConnell has said that he thinks getting her passed and approved was the greatest accomplishment of his career. And his, his main mandate has been court stacking with conservative judges, and we see where the Supreme Court is now. And, um, let's talk about his origin story. What gave him that victory all to want to do that? It goes back to the Robert Bork story. Tell that story.

Ira Shapiro (00:38:49):

Well, it's, it could go back to Bork might have gone back even further because McConnell actually shared an office with a young lawyer who turned out to be Antonin Scalia in the seventies. But the basic story that you, you were, you were suggesting there's a long march of the Republicans spearheaded by the Federalist Society after the defeat of Robert Borks nomination Long March to try to move the court to the right. Now, the reason I think it's a rat, it's not a conservative march, it's a radical march. And the reason I say that is between 1969 and 19 93, 24 years, Republican presidents nominated and had confirmed 10 justices in a row, Republicans, and they were pretty cons, you know, pretty conservative court. Not a, not a radical court, but they were fair minded judges, mostly fair minded conservatives, constitutionalists. And that was too much for the Federalist Society. The Federalist Society kept pushing, gotta get further to the right. They made their vetting process better and better, and they hung in there. It's been a long, makes mild ST's March look like a walk in the park <laugh>. And they accomplished it. They accomplished it because McConnell held up Garland and succeeded, came up a winner with Trump, and that led to three Justices.

Fritz Coleman  (00:40:39):

Well, how did Kavanaugh get picked? Cuz he was not a Federalist Society pick.

Ira Shapiro (00:40:43):

He, he actually was eventually he was not. You're right. Though he was not on the first list. As I say in my book, there was Le Leonard, Leo, the Vice President of the Federalist Society, thought Kavanaugh might be a swamp preacher in Washington <laugh>. He hung out with too many people and he taught at part-time at Harvard, in Yale. They were afraid of him a little bit, but Don McGahn, the White House Council, prevailed and said, you know, you don't have to worry about Brett Kavanaugh. And we got 'em on the Federalist List.

Louise Palanker (00:41:21):

Well, it feels to me like these guys are kind of vetted out of high school or something. Like they're, they're, they're very close and, and you know, cuz there's rumors about gambling debts being paid off and stuff like that. Like they, I think they owe their souls to the heritage and, and Federalists and they, they will stay in line because there's more that's transpired than we're aware of. What are your thoughts?

Ira Shapiro (00:41:44):

Well, they're vetted pretty, pretty early. Yeah. I mean, John Rod Roberts was sort of nurtured as from a pup basically. They were, he was the, uh, chief justice to be from about the eighties on. And they have this series of things whereby both Kavanaugh and Gorsuch were clerks of, uh,

Fritz Coleman  (00:42:08):

Well, they say that Trump loved Kavanaugh because Kavanaugh was in Ken's staff trying to take down the Clintons.

Ira Shapiro (00:42:14):

Yeah. I mean, look, Kavanaugh, but McConnell, as you know from the book, McConnell was a little worried about Kavanaugh. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he had a paper record that was huge. He had been on star staff and the Senate judiciary, Democrats thought he was, had perjured himself the first time around.

Louise Palanker (00:42:33):


Ira Shapiro (00:42:34):

When he was got to the bench. Look, my view of Kavanaugh was simple. Actually, I wrote pieces right when he was nominated. I'm against him cause he's an extremist. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, basically. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he's on the Federalist list because he's an extremist. Have you seen his views on not only abortion, but how about guns, presidential power and the environment? Just an extremist

Fritz Coleman  (00:43:01):

Can, can I talk to you about that? Uh, he, and, and I think the most glaring, disturbing aspect of Barr was that he, as is Kavanaugh, uh, a believer in the unitary executive theory, which is, you know, this expansive power of the executive branch. Where does that come from? What happened to the equal balance of power between the three branches of government? Who, what, what makes them think that that's, that was in, you know, the founder's original plan?

Ira Shapiro (00:43:31):

I don't know. I don't, I don't think you can find it in the founder's original plan. It's true. Look, the founders felt we needed a strong president, but it was still Article two, the Congress was Article one, but the founders thought the president had to have, be strong because the articles of Confederation had failed over time. As you know, in, in the 20th century, presidential power expanded the role, particularly World War ii, the Cold War, the presidency became more starting with F D R perhaps in the New Deal. But the presidency became more and more powerful. But we still had a balance of power. And the Congress reasserted itself after Watergate and after Vietnam, somewhere along the line, a number of these folks decided, well, we don't really like those constraints. I always think of Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld mm-hmm. <affirmative> as people who thought Congress was too intrusive, <laugh>. And, you know, they did mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they, they were in the Ford White House and they thought Congress overreached. So enough, a number of them became advocates of the Unary presidency, which was essentially any, as Trump would say, and as Nixon used to think anything the President does is legal because the President did it.


What there's no basis for it. But then again, there's no basis for the private right to own a gun under the Second Amendment. And one of the things that's most frightening about these court decisions is the speed of change and the radicalism of some of the decisions. And we may see a case, I hope not, but as the Senate and the House, uh, struggled to finalize this gun legislation, it's quite possible that the Supreme Court is going to rule that New York went too far in regulating handguns, you know, and the notion that not only is there a private right to own a gun, but by the way, despite what Justice Scalia said, states and localities can't really regulate much either.

Louise Palanker (00:46:02):

But did California do so a similar model to what Texas did with abortion? Did California do that with, with guns?

Ira Shapiro (00:46:12):


Louise Palanker (00:46:12):

To where you could,

Ira Shapiro (00:46:13):

You could something I don't know the answer.

Louise Palanker (00:46:15):

Yeah. Do you know what I'm talking about, Fritz? I thought it, it was like they were gonna sort of follow the lead where like, you could make a citizen, you could sue someone for being in possession of the gun that they're not supposed to be in possession of. I

Ira Shapiro (00:46:26):

Heard that. Yeah. I don't know if they've done it yet.

Fritz Coleman  (00:46:29):

Uh, another erosion that, uh, glaring erosion that McConnell caused was that puts us in a precarious position in both the 22 and 24 elections in that he did not wanna fund election security measures. And I think as part of the CARES Act, and, and I think that, that those statewide election manipulations are one of the greatest threats to both of the next two elections.

Ira Shapiro (00:46:57):

No, I agree with you. I agree with you. It's being fought out in various states. There are a lot of lawyers, a lot of lawyers, and a lot of activists on both sides. But the long, the long arc of politics is that one party doesn't seem to accept elections. They don't win. I mean, politics really isn't war supposed to be the alternative to war. It's got, it's a hard game, but it's got rules that you sort of work within. But if one side accepts that they can lose elections occasionally and the other side doesn't, you, you start losing the democracy.

Louise Palanker (00:47:43):

So when people begin to feel overwhelmed, as a lot of our friends are feeling. Yeah. And, and just fatalistic about the state of our democracy. What, what do you recommend? Like what can every citizen do to be a part of the solution?

Ira Shapiro (00:48:00):

I think everybody can do something to organize, contribute and vote. I think that the only solution now is an overwhelming political response. I think we have to win elections despite the machinations at the election official level. I think we have to win elections emphatically. And I, you know, somebody said to me, having heard me talk, somebody said, well, I wish I could share your optimism. I said, what? Optimism, <laugh>. I'm not being optimistic pr I think that we, everyone has to do, I think the democracy hangs by a thread. I think everyone has to do their best if they think that it's important. And, you know, I think everyone can do that.

Fritz Coleman  (00:48:57):

Do you think different ways, uh, um, we, we talked about the momentum coming from the hearings. Do you think there'll be enough residual momentum? It's all about timing because we, you know, we have the short American attention span. There'll be a enough momentum from the Roe Wade controversy and the, the gun malaise that we find ourselves in here to, to make a difference in the 22 elections or are, is are gonna be off to something else, or in inflation supersede that as the most important thing.

Ira Shapiro (00:49:29):

I don't know. We'll see. I think, I do think that Roe versus Wade and guns, uh, will mobilize a lot of people. I also think that climate change and the fact that McConnell and the Republicans have resisted everything in that area will motivate people. I've argued that the, you know, progressives and moderate Democrats, we should stop feuding and focus on the people that are blocking progress. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, whatever your issue is, what the possible exception of inflation, whatever your issue is, McConnell's at the intersection of all of them, he's at, he's done a lot of damage and we should unify and reduce his power.

Fritz Coleman  (00:50:22):

Productivity in the Senate all boils down to one thing, the filibuster. What's your opinion about that?

Ira Shapiro (00:50:31):

Well, I'm, for someone who's a Senate veteran, I actually have always been a critic of the rules. I, I believe that the filibuster, I think it's somewhat misunderstood in the sense that the Senate was always supposed to work by majority rule. It had unlimited debates. And then when they got tired, they voted by a majority cloture. And the idea of cutting off debate only happened when it became clear that debate was getting unlimited. So it was supposed to be a way of ending. I don't believe I, I'm willing to take whatever risk there is in majority rule. I don't believe that the filibuster should be continued. And I, you know, we'll see what happens. I mean, I know others disagree with that, but the senate's got a crisis, fundamental crisis of legitimacy. Right. Two senators from Wyoming, 600,000 people, two senators from California, 43 plus whatever million people.


There's a crisis of legitimacy. And you shouldn't make it a situation where they're more and more burden is put on that make it impossible to work. You know, I had this disagreement, I guess with Joe Manchin at one time. I wrote a piece, he always cited Robert Bird as somebody who believed in the filibuster. And I kind of knew Robert Bird and worked for him. At one time, Byrd did believe in the filibuster until he became a leader. And then he became passionately concerned about the paralyzed Senate. He would not have stood still for the paralysis of the Senate. The Senate has to function and the filibuster has stopped.

Fritz Coleman  (00:52:35):

And it seems like with all the packages that we've tried to pass, when it all boiled down to Mansion and cinema, I kept saying to myself, how is this all hanging in the balance on two people that go back and forth? That that just seems like it's not what, how the government should function either.

Ira Shapiro (00:52:52):

No, it's remarkable. It's remarkable. But, you know, in my, look, I've been frustrated by them, but I do believe that a 50 50 Senate is going to be very hard to work with. You get 54 senators, maybe mansion, cinema don't matter as much.

Louise Palanker (00:53:14):

You made a really interesting point in your book where you said, well, with the, with the Senate being so divisive, clearly these two will side with the Democrats, but they're, they, they're kind of ish siding with the Democrats, but also not siding with abolishing the filibuster who is holding their feet to a flame. It, it, we always wonder, I always wonder like, who owns these people? Like who are they responsible to or, or beyond what, what they say to cameras or what they say back in their home states.

Ira Shapiro (00:53:47):

I think principally they're looking at what they believe are their politics at home and their donors. Uh, I guess I would go further to give them some limited credit for actually they believe Mansion particularly, but both cinema and Mansion believe that it would be better if the Senate worked in a bipartisan way. I mean that, and by the way, I believe it would be better too if it was possible. But the result of that belief is that you're handing the keys to the castle to

Louise Palanker (00:54:27):


Ira Shapiro (00:54:28):

You, you're, you're, you're saying the only things we will do for the country are those that McConnell agrees to.

Louise Palanker (00:54:35):

Yeah. Because I mean, that's great in theory, but in practice it's not working. Right. And when the founders wrote whatever, you know, this kind of system of government, they were, this was a test tube. It was all theoretical. And now we've had how many years of, of practice to look at it and say, okay, let's amend this, let's amend that. And they kind of designed amendments, didn't they? <laugh> the founders?

Ira Shapiro (00:54:58):

Well, not many, unfortunately. Constitutions really hard to amend. Okay. But I also, I've just, I've criticized the Senate, you got rules that don't seem to be working. You haven't looked at the rules since 1979. Yeah. Trent lot in 2005. And he was no radical Trent. Lot said, when did these holes that started out as temporary courtesies, when did they become permanent impediments Wow. On legislation or, or nominations. Yeah. Well, that's a good question. Yeah. You'd think after 25 or 30 or 40 years, you might get into it a little

Louise Palanker (00:55:38):

Bit. Like something that you're gonna use as a courtesy to get us through this moment becomes, becomes a weapon in a, in a further moment. Like they keep blaming Harry Reid for blowing up the hill filibuster. Like they wouldn't have done it, you know, in his shoes to get what they wanted in that moment. You know, he didn't really have an option. Uh, but do you have thoughts on that? Yeah.

Ira Shapiro (00:55:57):

He may have made a mistake. Yeah. But the truth is McConnell would've done what he would've done right. When he wanted to.

Louise Palanker (00:56:03):


Ira Shapiro (00:56:04):

Yeah. And I've always felt, you know, an interesting fact that nobody knows, we all know Trump ran McConnell ran through a lot of federal judges. Yep. District court and court of appeals judges just ran the, uh, conveyor belt. It's actually the case that Jimmy Carter appointed more judges in four years than Trump did. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, nobody really knows that. But McConnell got younger judges and he won the big prize with the Supreme Court.

Fritz Coleman  (00:56:41):

Yeah. I wanna go back to West Virginia. So I went to college there. This is a fascinating state and mansion's power is fascinating to me cuz Trump won that state by 40, 50 points or something. Right. Yet he got elected. So he's doing this Highwire act, which is really kind of unbelievable. How did he get elected? Is he like a residual from the Robert Bird era? How did he even come to power?

Ira Shapiro (00:57:03):

Yeah. Well, I, I've got some history actually in West Virginia because I was Jay Rockefeller's first chief of staff when he came to the Senate in the mid eighties. So I used to know the state pretty well. If I was still there, it would still be Blue <laugh>. No, actually, um, no. Manchin was, he came up in Democratic politics, uh, and he was a Democratic governor and a popular one. And he got to the Senate. So he's still Democratic the Democrat, but he's a very conservative Democrat. The art, any article that refers to him as a moderate is wrong. I mean, he's just not a moderate. He

Louise Palanker (00:57:46):

Voted for Kavanaugh.

Ira Shapiro (00:57:48):

He's against, he's against abortion rights. He's favors no gun control up to this point. And, and he knows his politics. Um, but I guess my, if Manchin had said that Biden's build back better program, now that I've reduced it, now that I've cut it back to a reasonable size, I think it works for West Virginia and the nation. I don't think anyone would've questioned it in West Virginia.

Louise Palanker (00:58:24):

Yeah. Wow.

Ira Shapiro (00:58:25):

But, but he's very, very conservative and to be honest, as I try to be, uh, inflation has, you know, he was early on the concern of inflation and the rise in inflation has given him some additional ammunition.

Louise Palanker (00:58:43):

Yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Now, before we go, do you have any great stories from the Senate, from when you were a kid, wide-eyed kid walking in there? Do you have any stories for us?

Ira Shapiro (00:58:54):

<laugh>? I have a lot of great stories. Yeah, I bet. Um, I was on the Senate floor once, uh, working on the Senate code of ethics with gay Lord Nelson. We had a controversial provision. We were limiting outside earned income that senators could make from speeches. It was not a partisan issue. A lot of people hated us, including Ed Musky, because he used to make speeches at universities mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and he couldn't. And he started going, I don't know why you're taking away my right to earn a living <laugh>. I made these speeches and today I haven't figured out why you're doing it. But today in the Washington Post, I read an aid to Senator Nelson. Said, well, we can't control unearned income, investment income, but we can limit this kind of income. Nelson turned to me and said, did you say that <laugh>? I said, yeah, I did. Nelson stood up and said, well, I'll tell the senator from me. I don't know if one of my staff people said that <laugh>, but if he did, that was a very good insight.

Fritz Coleman  (01:00:14):

<laugh>. Oh, there

Ira Shapiro (01:00:14):

We go. Whereupon Nelson walks off the floor, he calls for a quorum call, walks off the floor, musky storms down the aisle to confront me. Oh. And Musky is like six four. I jump up to stand up and I knock over a pitcher of water all over.

Louise Palanker (01:00:36):


Fritz Coleman  (01:00:37):


Ira Shapiro (01:00:38):

And I thought he was gonna melt like the Wick Witch of the West. Yeah, no, there were many stories, but anyway.

Louise Palanker (01:00:46):

Oh, that's awesome.

Ira Shapiro (01:00:46):

I've got five others, but you don't have time for that.

Louise Palanker (01:00:49):

Oh, we'll have your back. I,

Fritz Coleman  (01:00:50):

I wanna ask you just to give your opinion about how you think the, the Congressional hearings are being orchestrated. Are they being effective? Are, are they doing it properly? And just what's your general opinion?

Ira Shapiro (01:01:03):

Well, I think, well, my general opinion is that the hearings are being done effectively. I worry that not enough people are watching them, but I think they're being done effectively. I've been very impressed by the January 6th committee generally. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think they're putting this thing together in an overwhelming way. Uh, I thought that even before the hearings, I think they, they know what their schedule is. They know they have to, when they have to finish their work, I think they're going to hand Merrick Garland, uh, an overwhelming case against high level officials write up to and including Trump. So, no, I think they're doing well. Um, we'll see what happens. Mm-hmm.

Louise Palanker (01:02:00):

<affirmative>, it's, it feels like it's an education like in like when, if you watch History of Watergate about how nobody, nobody cared about Watergate until the hearings, and then if, if we're educated, if everyone's educated that way, when Merrick Garland starts to actually indict people, there won't be warfare in the streets. Well, there, there'll be like, like a general understanding that these were bad guys and something needs to happen. Is that kind of, do I know that we're not supposed to, the House and the Senate are not supposed to be working together with the Department of Justice, but do you think that's kind of like the overall strategy as to how to handle this? No,

Ira Shapiro (01:02:41):

I, I think there is an effort to

Louise Palanker (01:02:43):


Ira Shapiro (01:02:45):

Uncover the whole story and put the whole story together for the public. And to the degree that helps prod the Justice Department, I think that's certainly in their minds as well. Um, but look, we started on Watergate. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, maybe we should finish on at contrasting this to Watergate.

Louise Palanker (01:03:07):


Ira Shapiro (01:03:08):

One of the differences was that, well, there are two differences that come to mind. The first difference was there were Republicans who were outraged at Nixon. Mm-hmm.

Louise Palanker (01:03:20):

<affirmative>. Mm-hmm.

Ira Shapiro (01:03:20):

<affirmative> Nixon was ultimately pushed over the edge to resign because Republicans turned against him. And we had enough Republicans of character at that time. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we don't have enough of them at this time. God knows Liz Cheney has done a remarkable job. Yes. Uh, really deserves unbelievable, great credit for our coverage. Really great. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Um, but there, number one, number two, the difference actually is that Nixon was a real president. I mean, not John Dean said Watergate was a cancer on the presidency. Trump's whole presidency was a cancer. Yeah. I mean, you know, he had, he, he wasn't, I mean, I can think of a couple of things that he might get credit for, but, you know, this was an assault on the democracy from the beginning when Trump was first elected. I mean, I've made my living as an international trade lawyer and consultant. When Trump was elected, I was asked, you know, you must think his trade policy is terrible. I said, I think it's one of the least terrible things about him. <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I mean, I, at least I sort of recognize the trade policy, but it was the assault on the democracy that was visible from the beginning. I got out of the trade business and started worrying about that more. Right.

Louise Palanker (01:04:54):

So it was, anyway, it was a mob family inside the White House. So that was nothing presidential going on, ever for those four years. But, well, we need your media pick Ira Shapiro and you were gonna talk about Peaky Blinders.

Ira Shapiro (01:05:07):

<laugh>, um, I don't know if anyone's familiar with Peaky Blinders. Oh yes, they are, of course. Oh good. That's one of the most strong shows. Peaky Blinders a great show, uh, ran for like, I guess five seasons. I only saw it recently, but it ran years ago. It's about gangs in, in London and be, and, uh, other wires in, um, yes. That's Peaky blind. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> in, in uk. Uh, it's a marvelous show, and it's coming back for its last season, uh, starting, I think right about now. So everyone should watch PE Blind.

Louise Palanker (01:05:50):

Oh, that's great. What's the era?

Ira Shapiro (01:05:53):

Uh, post World War? I

Louise Palanker (01:05:55):

Post, yeah, twenties,

Ira Shapiro (01:05:57):

Years from 19, it goes from 1919 right up to the Great Depression Action.

Louise Palanker (01:06:04):

Okay. Fascinating. That's a great pick.

Ira Shapiro (01:06:05):

Yeah, it's a great, great piece of work.

Fritz Coleman  (01:06:08):

I gotta tell you, IRA, I I really enjoyed your book, and I think it just fits so well into the cannon of books that describe what you, yourself have described as maybe the most threatening era against democracy in the history of the United States. And I really, I enjoyed reading your book very much, and I wish you best. Do you have a project in the works now? Another one?

Ira Shapiro (01:06:27):

No, not yet. Uh, for the next five months, it's just anything I can do to sort of be involved or help in the Senate elections. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Oh, wonderful. You know, every author wants the book to do well, but I want the book as a platform to talk about the issues and the importance of the Senate

Louise Palanker (01:06:46):

Elections. Well, something that we've done here, Iris, we've created a website called Gift of Democracy. So it's really kind of like a directory that sends you to the merchandise pages of candidates and causes who are defending our democracy. So it's, instead of getting your data tie on Amazon, if you go here and you click, uh, anywhere, you'll be taken directly to the merchandise page of all these candidates, uh, who are running. Oh, that's great. To protect our democracy. Click on any of those, Thomas, and you'll get an example.

Ira Shapiro (01:07:17):

<laugh>. That's great.

Louise Palanker (01:07:18):

And there's some fun merch that you can, you can purchase and, uh, for your dad, especially with Father's Day coming up, and I think there's a lot of dads that would appreciate that, uh, you know, ahead of whatever, uh, apron you were gonna pick out for barbecuing, but they do have aprons. Well, that's terrific. Yeah. So, so

Ira Shapiro (01:07:36):

What I should, can I assume you're in California somewhere? Yes,

Louise Palanker (01:07:40):

We are.

Ira Shapiro (01:07:41):

Yeah. Yeah, we are. Because I remember using

Louise Palanker (01:07:44):

That. We're in Los Angeles.

Ira Shapiro (01:07:45):

I will say, since I have a new website, I'll just mention it. Yes,

Fritz Coleman  (01:07:50):


Ira Shapiro (01:07:50):

Do. Ww irish shapiro

Louise Palanker (01:07:54):

Oh, okay. We'll definitely post a link to that next, and

Ira Shapiro (01:07:56):

It's the great cover on the book, which shows McConnell and Trump Meldy.

Louise Palanker (01:08:02):


Fritz Coleman  (01:08:02):

Cool. It's a fantastic cover.

Louise Palanker (01:08:04):

Oh, yeah. That's very

Fritz Coleman  (01:08:05):

Cool. Great. What,

Louise Palanker (01:08:06):

What? Give a shout out to that artist

Fritz Coleman  (01:08:08):

Who did that art, uh, uh, artwork.

Ira Shapiro (01:08:10):

It was designed by a woman named Sally Reinhart, but there's a cartoonist, political cartoonist named David Smith.

Louise Palanker (01:08:18):


Ira Shapiro (01:08:18):

Wonderful. And I think they did a great job. They

Louise Palanker (01:08:20):

Really did. Okay, here come our closing credits. Thank you so much for joining us. We would love to continue this conversation with you on Instagram and Twitter, where we are at Media Path Pod, and on Facebook where our show page is, media Path Podcast. And our Facebook group is Media Path with Fritz and Weezy podcast community. You can find full video podcast episodes loaded with bonus visual content on our YouTube channel Media Path podcast. You can write to us at Media Path If you enjoy the show, please give us a nice rating in the Apple Podcast store and talk about us on social media. Then post another cute pick of your doggy. We know he's just the cutest. You can sign up for our Fun and Dishy We wanna thank our wonderful guest, Irish Shapiro. Hey, did you have any shows that you wanted to shout out, Fritz, before

Fritz Coleman  (01:09:05):

I, yes, I have. Uh, I'm, I'm opening for a great r and b singer, uh, Mark Arthur Miller on, uh, Sunday, August 7th at the world famous Catalina Jazz Club on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. I'll be his opening act. And not only is this guy a great song stylist, doing the great r and b of the sixties, this is like a Boomer Nirvana, but his father has a great story that he tells on stage about being the first white writer of songs at Motown. It's a wonderful show. I hope you'll come and

Louise Palanker (01:09:35):

See us. Yes, absolutely. Our team includes Tina Friedman, John Maddox, Sharon Beo, bill Philipp, Thomas Hubble, Mason Brown, and you. Our theme music is by me and John Maddox. I am Louise Lanker here with Fritz Coleman and Irish Shapiro. And we will see you along the media path,

Ira Shapiro (01:09:58):

Um, opportunity, and the conversation is wonderful.

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