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The Political Wire Podcast

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Engaging interviews and discussions of elections and the political issues of the day. Updated weekly.

Engaging interviews and discussions of elections and the political issues of the day. Updated weekly.
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Engaging interviews and discussions of elections and the political issues of the day. Updated weekly.




Sen. Maggie Hassan: 'No More Medical Surprises'

So you’re in a restaurant. Great meal. The bill comes, and it’s got a surprise – an unexpected $10 charge because, well it turns out your entrée required a special ingredient the server forgot to mention. Would you pay it? Would you expect to have to pay it? Now look at our health care. You go to the Emergency Room. They take your insurance. Only it turns out, your in-network ER is being staffed by out-of-network providers. Suddenly, in addition to the surprise of having landed in the ER...


Live from Harvard's Kennedy School

This is a special live edition of Political Wire Conversations. On Friday, I hosted an outstanding live event and discussion at Harvard’s Kennedy School: Midterm Elections Preview: Blue Wave or Red Save? I was joined onstage by an All Star cast of panelists:


Richard Clarke: Democracy Is On the Ballot

The countdown to Midterms is on. With less than three weeks to go, many questions remain and the stakes couldn’t be higher. How high? According to my guest today, “the nature of our democracy is on the ballot.” I’m not sure I disagree. You may remember Richard Clarke for his 30 years in the U.S government, including 10 continuous years as a White House official, serving three consecutive presidents as Special Assistant to the President for Global Affairs, Special Adviser to the President...


Michael Lewis: Who’s Actually Running Our Government?

How do you make the most arcane, overlooked, eyes-glaze-over – and most critical – aspect of the U.S. government – interesting? How do you help folks understand that the so-called deep state – the parts of the bureaucracy that some people ignore and belittle – is actually vital to our safety, well-being and, frankly, our future? Simple: Have Michael Lewis write about. And now he has. In his new book, The Fifth Risk, goes inside several government departments – Energy, Agriculture,...


Rebecca Traister: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger

One thing is sure about the extraordinary, once-in-a-generation Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing last week: There was a lot of anger in the room. Judge Brett Kavanaugh: Angry. Senator Lindsay Graham: Angry. But it might have been the anger outside the room that changed everything. You’ve seen the video – two women somehow got hold of Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator, and they unleashed: “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” one shouted. “Don’t look away from me!” For many, watching...


Major Garrett: What’s It Like to Cover the Trump White House

Think your life is crazy? How’d you like to be a White House correspondent with Donald Trump in the Oval Office? After all, if your daily schedule doesn’t get turned around multiple times, you always could get cursed or threatened at a campaign rally. In fact, just 60 minutes before my conversation with CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett began, news broke that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had resigned. Or was fired. Either way, he was gone. Then, 20 minutes...


Doris Kearns Goodwin: Trolling Trump on Leadership

Doris Kearns Goodwin. Do I need to say more? Seven books; multiple New York Times’ best sellers; Pulitzer Prize. She is simply one of our nation’s great presidential historians. And Doris has spent much of her career studying four of the best – Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and LBJ. Now she takes a new look at all of them through a lens that – as you’ll hear – feels as much a commentary about today as it does on history. It’s titled “Leadership in Turbulent Times.” Doris explores the...


David Kaplan: The Most Dangerous Branch of Government

How important has the Supreme Court become in American life? From gun rights to personal relationships, from money in politics to healthcare, whether it’s access to abortion, the voting booth or even our borders, the Supreme Court increasingly dominates how we work, live, and play – it defines, quite often, what kind of country we are. You could argue that it was the deciding factor for millions of voters in the last Presidential election – potentially the deciding factor in the election...


Michael D’Antonio and Peter Eisner: Who Is Mike Pence?

Who is Mike Pence? It seems strange, but more than two years after he entered our national stage, how much do you feel you know about the Vice President? He’s a man of faith – we know that… but what exactly does it mean? He has acted as something of an economic libertarian – he’s a favorite of the Koch Brothers. But again, what does that mean – and how does it connect with his religious beliefs? And then there’s his treatment of Donald Trump – George Will notably called Pence a...


Jason Kander: Lessons In Everyday Courage

Jason Kander has a lot going on. To begin, he’s running for mayor of Kansas City. For most of us, that would be a full-time job. But as you’ll hear, Jason Kander is most definitely not the rest of us. It’s not just that he can rebuild a combat weapon while blindfolded, as he proved in a 2016 political ad. It’s also not simply that in reaction to 9/11, he did what only a few other brave and patriotic people did – volunteered for US military service and got himself sent to...


Rick Wilson: A GOP Strategist on the 'Worst President Ever'

Rick Wilson doesn’t expect you to like him. For the last 30 years, Rick has been part of the underbelly of American politics: A self-described “Republican political strategist and infamous negative ad-maker.” And he’s done it for Republicans at all levels – state, local, & national, ranging from George H.W. Bush to Rudy Giuliani. As he says, he’s the one you called when you needed an attack. Not that feels his Democratic competitors were any better. But among them all, they helped make...


Catherine Rampell: What, Exactly, is Trumponomics?

The latest economic numbers are out, and by the time you hear this podcast, Donald Trump surely will have told us all why they are great, why tariffs work, and why this economy is the best ever. But you know better. Or at least Washington Post opinion columnist Catherine Rampell does. While we may have one or multiple months of strong GDP, the key question remains: Is that growth sustainable? And as she wrote, “Right now, under Trump’s policies, the answer looks like a big fat no.” So...


Nicholas Burns: 'I Don’t Think He’s Fit for Office'

Well, that was quite a week. And no doubt, in the few hours between my recording this intro and when the podcast drops, another extraordinary week will have passed. How to make sense of it? To fashionably employ the double negative – it’s so good to see grammar finally get its due on the world stage – I don’t think it’s unfair to ask: Where are we as a nation? For guidance, I turned to former U.S. Ambassador and current professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Nicholas Burns....


Brian Abrams: Understanding Obama

It feels like a lifetime ago, I know. But so much of what’s happening today – the divides, anger, insults, policy realities – have emerged as a reaction to the Obama years. To understand today, it helps to understand what came before. Brian Abrams makes an important contribution to the process. Abrams specializes in oral histories – talking with key players and letting their words, almost exclusively, tell the story. Done well, this approachthoughtful narrative. That’s exactly what Abrams...


Dan Pfeiffer: What Comes Next for Democrats

So here’s the timeline: Two days ago, I spoke with Dan Pfeiffer. As you surely know, he’s President Obama's former communications director and senior advisor and co-host of a podcast you might have heard of: Pod Save America. Then yesterday, Dan’s new book -- Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump – debuts at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. Co-incidence? I’ll let you decide. All I can do is accurately portray the facts. The other thing I can do:...


Steven Brill: The Fifty-Year Fall of America

In the face of jailing immigrant children, questions about capitalism amid tariffs and possible trade wars, and concerns about democracy as we reject western allies and warmly welcome authoritarians and dictators, a lot of us are wondering not just who are we, but also, how in the world did we get here? Steven Brill feels he has an answer. You likely know: Brill is a serial ideas entrepreneur. He founded, among other ventures, American Lawyer and Court TV. He has taken on some of our...


Scott Jennings: What's Happening to the Republican Party?

For many on the right and left, the question has been “what’s happening to the GOP?” Free Trade? Gone.Budget deficits? No problemFree movement of labor? Not so much.Military war exercises? Who needs’em?Russia as outlaw state? How about Russia in the G8?I think a more fair – and probably more relevant question: What is the GOP? And frankly, the question comes more from the right than the left. Bob Corker basically asked it this week on the Senate floor. Conservative writers ask it in...


Harry Litman: Does President Trump Think He's a King?

Does President Trump think he’s a king? That was the provocative headline to a recent piece by Harry Litman, a former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General. Litman made his argument after reviewing the legal arguments made in that confidential 20-page memo sent by President Trump’s lawyers to the special counsel, Robert Mueller. I wanted to talk with Litman for many reasons, not least of which: He’s a Constitutional Law expert. We discussed other major legal questions,...


Bill Browder: Vladimir Putin's Public Enemy No. 1

If you know Bill Browder's story already, you surely won’t mind hearing it again. It’s extraordinary. If you haven’t heard it before, get ready. Bill Browder very well may be Vladimir Putin’s public enemy No. 1. Why? Remember that “Hillary dirt” Russia meeting that Don Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort had with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016 – the one the White House said was about Russian adoptions? As you’ll hear, “Russian adoptions” is code for the Magnitsky Act –...


Gen. Michael Hayden: Trump's Assault on Intelligence

Of the many institutions that Donald Trump has attacked – Courts, Congress, media, political parties, diplomats, former Presidents – perhaps the most surprising and unnerving has been the relentless attacks on our intelligence community. Even before that second day in office – the one where he stood before the 117 stars honoring the CIA’s fallen and said we should’ve kept Iraq’s oil, claimed almost everyone in the room voted for him, and, of course, raved about the inauguration crowd size...