Brett Stephens: Hi, Gail. Damn, it’s hot.
Gail Collins: Ah Brett, we agree again. How inspiring to realize that even in these trying times, Americans of all political stripes can come together to complain about the weather.
Brett: Just give this conversation five more seconds….
Gail: And of course talk about Senator Joe Mnuchin, the coal-lover who keeps his feet on any serious effort to tackle climate change.
Am I moving out of my contract area?
Brett: Maybe a little. I am grateful to Manchin for fighting for American energy. We’ll all be complaining a lot more about climate change when power cuts and supply shocks leave us without air conditioning in rolling blackouts and long periods of heat. .
On the other hand, I mentioned in a previous conversation that I was going to Greenland later this summer. Wasn’t kidding! A mariner I know well enough wants to put his face in a melting glacier in hopes of some kind of Damascene transformation.
Gail: Great! Then we can join hands and lobby for tax incentives that will encourage Americans to buy electric cars and encourage power companies to trade coal for wind and solar, right?
Brett: Wind and solar power alone will never meet demand. We should build a lot more nuclear power, which France is doing again, and also extract more gas and oil in the US and Canada. However, if Joe Biden also wants to help me pay for a Tesla I don’t actually need, I probably won’t.
Speaking of the President, I wish him a speedy recovery. Is Covid something we can finally stop freaking out about?
Gail: Biden is clearly in a special risk group because of his age, but 79-year-olds surrounded by high-quality medical staff may not be the most vulnerable segment of the population.
Brett: Just hope the vice president’s office didn’t recommend Dr.
Gail: One of the biggest problems is still people who refuse to get vaccinated. And who is still being encouraged by several Republican candidates for higher office.
Brett: Okay, confession: I’m having a harder and harder time believing with vaccines Think Being less efficient than newer variants. How many boosters should we all be getting each year?
Gail: Oh Brett, Brett…
Brett: Never mind my Kamala joke, now I’m in real trouble. What were you talking about Republicans?
Gail: I was thinking of anti-vaxxers — or at least semi-anti-vaxxers — like Dan Cox, now the Republican candidate for governor of Maryland, thanks to Donald Trump’s endorsement and almost as much for Democratic Party TV ads. $1.16 million was paid. Governors Association, who think it will be easy to beat.
Brett: Such a shame that a state Republican Party with one of the few remaining Republican heroes in incumbent Governor Larry Hogan should nominate a stinker like Cox, who tried to overturn Mike Pence’s election. Called a “traitor” for not doing so. On January 6. His Democratic opponent, Wes Moore, is one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met and could be presidential material in a few years.
I expect Cox to lose by the largest margin in history. Of course I said that about Trump in 2016.
Gail: Likewise, but I just hate the Democrats’ strategy of giving terrible Republican candidates big boosts to boost their chances. It’s just the kind of thing that can come back to haunt you in an era when voters have shown they’re not always averse to contenders who have the slightest chance of being crazy.
Brett: Totally agree. We must work to restore the center. Two pieces of advice I have for deep-pocketed political donors: Don’t give a dime to an incumbent who has never worked on at least one meaningful bipartisan bill. And ask any political newcomer to identify one issue on which he breaks with party orthodoxy. If they don’t have a good answer, don’t write the check.
For example: bail reform. My jaw hit the floor when the guy who tried to stab Rep. Lee Zilden at a campaign event in New York last week walked free hours later, despite being rearrested under federal law. To be taken.
Gail: We have semi-disagreements on bail reform. I don’t think you should judge who can run based on how much money their families can raise. Anyone charged with a dangerous crime should stay locked up, and the rest should go home and prepare for their day in court.
The climate and the world are changing. What challenges will the future bring, and how should we respond to them?
Brett: There is theory and there is practice.
Gail: The Lee Zeldain thing, though, is pretty shocking. The Republican candidate for governor was attacked during a public speech. The judge obviously found a low-level serious threat – I think the attacker used a sharp key, and Zeldon fought back. But still, this was an attack on a major political candidate on the campaign trail, and you’d think it would be treated like a serious charge.
Brett: This particular case scenario speaks to me. His assailant was released because New York judges are barred by law from granting bail for “attempted assault,” which in this case was only nonviolent because Zelden was able to foil the attack. It’s not a law that Democrats should defend in the midterms.
Gail: Hey, we haven’t even talked about Congress yet – tripping over the wire! Any thoughts?
Brett: Well, if this Congress is remembered for nothing else, it will be for the work of the January 6 Special Committee. Senator Josh’s Look”Fredo“Hawley running for Hafiz is an image that should last the rest of his career. And there will be many former Trump voters who may find it hard to shake the fact that Donald Trump called Mike Pence a vamp and Then stood for hours while his vice president was in mortal danger.
Gail: Very disturbing how all parts of Pence in the story are sympathetic to brave. Have to keep reminding yourself that this is the guy whose idea of public enemy is Planned Parenthood.
Brett: Another positive development is that a bipartisan group of senators plans to ignore the Electoral Count Act of 1887 so that it can never again be used as a lame excuse to try to overturn an election. My only question is why rewrite the law instead of repealing it completely? This is history you know better than I do.
Gail Collins: Oh gosh, Brett, do you realize you just gave me a chance to talk about Samuel Tilden?
Brett: They said who wins, right?
Gail: I walk by Tilden every day because there’s a very obscure statue of him about two blocks from our apartment, next to a very obscure piece of parkland where I walk the dog. He was the Democratic governor of New York who, by all rational standards, was elected president in 1876. He won more than 250,000 popular votes, but his margin of victory in the electoral vote was close, with three southern states sending votes in two seats. Returns
Brett: Were there hanging chads?
Gail: The result, at least as we Tilden fans see it, was that the Republican-dominated Congress created an election commission that threw Rutherford B. Hayes into the race. Southern votes were exchanged in a secret agreement that included the withdrawal of federal troops to protect newly enfranchised black voters. Which of course ended America’s first attempt at multiracial democracy.
In response to this terrible mess, Congress enacted the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which was terrible enough in itself, making it all too easy for a disgruntled candidate to throw the entire presidential succession into crisis. You’re right that it should be repealed entirely — this bipartisan bill still leaves some unnecessary opportunities for complicated do-overs — but it’s an improvement and I’m kind of in takeoff land that we can get
Brett: We completely agree.
Gail: God, what a coincidence. Must be hot. But let’s…
Brett: No member of Congress should have a hand in obstructing the presidential election. Just repeal the law and let the courts decide future disputes. It’s worth noting that not a single Trump-appointed judge went along with Trump’s attempted theft.
Last question, since we are talking about the 19th century: A A new study The University of California, Davis, found that more than half of Americans suspect we are headed for a second civil war. Do you share this fear?
Gail: Well, it’s definitely impossible not to worry, but I’m going to give you my optimistic analysis once again, just so we can get back to normal life with a pleasant step.
Brett: Please do.
Gail: It is very possible that things will look worse than they are because we are experiencing a revolution in communications more dramatic than anything since the invention of the National Postal Service. At that time many people believed that they agreed with their neighbors about everything because they only discussed the weather and the crops and the ban on marriage.
Then, wow – a lot of hyperpartisan newspapers and pamphlets got into people’s hands and it turns out there were a lot of differences of opinion. The popular elections involved wild campaigns with numerous false political accusations. Then came mass media, which wanted to appeal to the masses and was therefore even more homogenous. And now everyone is online and it’s another time…
Brett: But aren’t we already back to the age of hyper-partisanship? In healthy democracies, the fringes tilt toward the center. In our democracy, the center always seems to lean towards the limit. This can’t end well, can it?
Gail: There is no problem like slavery so profound that it cannot be solved without armed conflict. We just have to live with a lot of noisy people trying to get attention by making nutty arguments.
Brett: It would be good to get more people of different views used to talking, not trying to annihilate.