A Conversation: Another Chaotic Week in DC [Being Right + What’s Left]

Eli Cousin and Ryan Zoellner, Maroon-News Staff

Eli: For those of you brave Maroon-News readers out there, Ryan and I have decided to add a little flair to the weekly left-right column for this edition. 

Ryan: Spice, some might say. 

Eli: If you are familiar with the weekly New York Times column written by Gail Collins and Bret Stephens—a liberal and a conservative, respectively—they converse about a variety of topics from the past week in politics. Hopefully, Ryan and I can at least adequately replicate this presentation, although I do hope we can produce something of an even higher quality. 

Ryan: *Anti-Trump conservative* which makes this almost analogous—I’ve been writing for MN as a pseudo-conservative independent next to Eli in these columns for four years, I’m excited to be trying something new.     

Eli: For the record, I fully embrace the Democratic party and am in line with much of the party’s policy positions, but I am always glad to hear you reject Trump and what is now fully his Republican Party. I am curious to hear how you would describe yourself, Ryan, in the context of today’s political environment?

Ryan: Alarmed. Next question. 

Eli: Fair enough—I think more people should be. As for me, I definitely am an unabashed progressive, although I might not qualify as a full blown “Twitter leftist.” I would certainly prefer the more liberal members of the Democratic field than Uncle Joe, but at the moment I think we need a nominee who can usher in a new generation of leadership and offer bold, structural change. 

Ryan: Step one, there is beating an orange crayon, and I think with this field that’s far from guaranteed. Biden, Sanders and Warren are actually who you came up with? I’m in the demographic willing to vote for nearly anyone to just make it stop. Why have you done this to us?  

Eli: I agree that the “top three” all have question marks, to some variation, although, of course, they would be quite a step-up from the current president. That’s where my guy Pete Buttigieg comes in—someone who is young, can unite different parts of the country and, in my opinion, can excite both the Democratic base and those like you who just want to “stop the bleeding.” 

Ryan: Yes so to clarify these “question marks,” two are visibly falling apart, two are social-spending mad libs games and two already have Trump-appointed Twitter nicknames—the problem is it actually doesn’t matter which is which.    

Eli: Say what you want about Sanders, but you have to give the man credit for still kicking—I do think the media continues to underestimate his appeal. I don’t have much good to say about Biden, but I do think Warren would make for an exceptional president. If you could snap your fingers and pick the nominee, who would you prefer? 

Ryan: Fair, the Sanders train still running is impressive. And there is clear personal leadership potential in Warren, but what happens when she can’t wave a magic wand and no promises are fulfilled? I think Democrats should be legitimately concerned about a candidate with a million high hopes and “plan for everything” whose strategy is to hope that maybe some of them get done. Trump ran and won on exposing busted promises, I think the Warren “see what sticks” plan is asking for Trump 2.0.   

Eli: On healthcare, I do think Warren is in a pickle. But the overwhelming majority of her plans are spot on—I’d feel confident that she would take on corruption and corporate greed. And America would be well served to have someone as wicked smart as she is in the White House; which is of course another reason I support Pete—the dude is a wiz kid. There was a quote in the Times from an Iowa man who said, “He’s a veteran. He’s a Rhodes scholar. He’s everything.” I think that sums it up quite nicely. 

Ryan: If I could switch lives/resumes with anyone in this race, Pete is the guy. I actually think he’s a positive new face for the party. When Biden bows out, Buttigieg is going to move right into driving the moderate lane (yes, please, that one the whole country wants filled) and this is exciting. I’m imagining that when this happens he’ll tamp down some earlier pronouncements about medicare-for-all and the Electoral College (surprisingly, more populism does not fix surges in populism) and in that case, I’ll gladly vote for him.    

Eli: I, for one, hope Pete sticks with his focus on bold, structural reform. I’m not a single issue voter, but if I was, abolishing the electoral college would be very high on my list. At the end of the day, hopefully I’ve at least made it clear that I’d vote for any candidate with a (D) next to their name. Hell, I’d even vote for Tulsi. What a warped universe that would be. But anything to beat Trump. Speaking of which, yet another week of absurdity from the White House. Three years later and everything seems to blur together, but what are your thoughts on some of the most recent events?

Ryan: Hey, be nice to Tulsi. But yes what a week. I think after testimony from the envoy to Ukraine, admissions about Guiliani and now this report from Lt. Col. Vindamin about Trump’s staff omitting details from the White House transcript of the call, it’s all but clear.  

Eli: Can I just interject by saying that I cannot believe how few people are talking about Bill Taylor’s testimony and the fact that it explicitly points to a quid-pro-quo. 

Ryan: Agreed, but still I don’t think a complete impeachment is happening. Senate Republicans seem completely dug in and preserving a majority on this issue. More seriously, I think for those who are sadly wearing the Trump electoral identity now, there’s every incentive to let the Democrats keep putting out their mix of some true and some crazy things, and to scream up and down about “witchhunts.” Why is a reasonable tone on these things so hard to come by?          

Eli: Perhaps before we go down the impeachment rabbit hole (I won’t hold my breath for Senate Republicans to act in good faith), can I pivot to hear your thoughts on Syria and the al-Baghdadi raid? 

Ryan: Yes, specifically on the al-Baghdadi raid, I’ll quote Ben Sasse’s official statement on the matter, “we killed the last murderer who ran ISIS, let’s go get the next one.” And I’ll add, as I’m sure you agree, the President’s rhetoric after the raid was embarrassing. The broader situation in Syria and increasingly in Iraq is however much more troubling. Pulling out of Syria as we did is an outright betrayal of Kurdish fighters without whom the “defeat of ISIS” and anything that resembled security in Syria would have been impossible. As almost anyone who speculates on these things had guessed, Turkey is now poised to annex most of Kurdish Syria (thanks for that one, Mr. Vice President) and our former allies in the region are now negotiating for security arrangements with Russia. Don’t be surprised when China shows up next month.          

Eli: Ah yes Ben Sasse, a profile in courage. Sorry, I forgot we weren’t talking about impeachment. I certainly agree with your phrasing of the withdrawal as a “betrayal.” The president has continuously demonstrated a complete and utter disrespect for the men and women who put their lives on the line to serve. And I will second your comment on Trump’s rhetoric—even when the White House does have a success, it is so gosh darn hard to applaud the man, precisely because of his rhetoric and the way he deliberately seeks to divide our country.  

Ryan: That actually gets me back to another point about the three forerunners—any of them would be inheriting the most chaotic four years of foreign policy in recent history, yet none have a plan they care much to talk about. Rebuilding a stable image for the country on the world stage will be one of the largest tasks of any Trump-defeater, we need to talk about it.     

Eli: I certainly think Buttigieg is up to the task and I can’t quite imagine a better replacement for President Bone-Spurs than a man who donned the uniform himself.

Ryan: Add on a decade of national experience and a couple more incentives for moderates and I’m probably in.  

Eli: Well, we’ve come full circle here. Especially during a time of constant chaos within our politics, it’s nice to know that four years into our Colgate experience, you and I can still converse diplomatically. 

Ryan: It’s always a pleasure. And for our readers, I would recommend trying this at home.