Slate's Political Gabfest for Dec. 31.

Slate's Political Gabfest for Dec. 31.

Slate's Political Gabfest for Dec. 31.

Slate's weekly political roundtable.
Dec. 31 2008 12:13 PM

The Blagojevich Blowout Gabfest

Listen to Slate's review of the week in politics.

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Listen to the Gabfest for Dec. 31 by clicking the arrow on the audio player below: You can also download the program here, or you can subscribe to the weekly Gabfest podcast feed in iTunes by clicking here.

David Plotz, Terence Samuel, and Bill Smee talk politics. This week, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appoints a senator to replace Barack Obama, war rages in Gaza, and it's NFL playoff time.

Here are links to some of the articles and other items mentioned in the show:

On Tuesday, embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Roland Burris to fill the remaining Senate term of President-elect Barack Obama. A quick reaction came from the U.S. Senate, where some members are vowing not to let Burris take office. David points to a Slate piece that advocated a speedy appointment.

Terence points out that with Obama leaving the Senate, there are now no blacks serving in that body.

Bill says the ongoing attacks by Israel in Gaza might lead to an outpouring of sympathy for Hamas leaders, at least in some quarters. David says the attacks will force Obama to take a stronger stand on the Mideast conflict.

It's playoff time in pro football, but one team set a historic regular-season low, prompting the group to ask, "The car companies may be in financial trouble, but who will bail out the Detroit Lions?"

Terence chatters about the inauguration. He says this weekend everyone in Washington will be talking about who is invited to which inaugural balls and who is leaving town because of the expected crowds. He predicts the hot ticket will be the Illinois inaugural ball.

Bill recommends two newspaper stories on the nation's financial mess: The New York Times' profile of the rise and fall of Washington Mutual and a three-part series in the Washington Post outlining how Wall Street stayed ahead of Washington regulators.

David hates Milk.

The e-mail address for the Political Gabfest is gabfest@slate.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

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Posted on Dec. 31 by Dale Willman at 11:15 a.m.

Dec. 26, 2008

Listen to the Gabfest for Dec. 26 by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

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You can also download the program here, or you can subscribe to the weekly Gabfest podcast feed in iTunes by clicking here.

Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz talk politics. This week, a free-flowing wrap-up of some of the year's most memorable stories.

Here are links to some of the articles and other items mentioned in the show:

Emily talks about the heightened role of women on the national political stage this year, especially Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska. There was a knock-on effect for comedian Tina Fey, who grabbed attention with her portrayal of Palin during several Saturday Night Live sketches.

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The group recalls the doubts many had that Barack Obama could win the general election in November.

They also ponder the political demise of former Sen. John Edwards, who began the political season as a strong contender for the Democratic nomination but flamed out amid revelations of an extramarital affair after his withdrawal from the race.

Which scandal was worse: that of John Edwards and his affair or the charges of corruption filed against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich?

Emily says it will be interesting to see how former President Bill Clinton behaves if Hillary Clinton gets confirmed as Obama's secretary of state.

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Emily honors Harriet McBryde Johnson, who died on June 5, 2008. Johnson's response to the Terry Schiavo controversy was among the first things Emily edited when she began working at Slate.

David says his guilty pleasure of the year was listening to the musical group Vampire Weekend.

John chatters about the Canadian show Slings and Arrows, which he discovered this year.

The e-mail address for the Political Gabfest is gabfest@slate.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

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Posted on Dec. 26 by Dale Willman at 10:47 a.m.

Dec. 19, 2008

Listen to the Gabfest for Dec. 19 by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

You can also download the program here, or you can subscribe to the weekly Gabfest podcast feed in iTunes by clicking here.

Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz talk politics. This week: an inauguration controversy, a Kennedy mystery, and a torture debate.

Here are links to some of the articles and other items mentioned in the show:

Details of the live Gabfest in Washington, D.C., have been announced. The event will be held at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 19, at the Sixth & I Synagogue. Those who have submitted ticket requests will soon be notified if they have won seats.

President-elect Obama has announced that the Rev. Rick Warren will present the invocation at his inauguration. Warren is the pastor of Saddleback Church, an evangelical megachurch in California. The announcement has drawn criticism from some gay rights leaders, as well as liberal organizations, because of Warren's positions on abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and stem-cell research.

The group discussed the latest news on the Obama Cabinet. John says he's pleased with the nomination of a Nobel physics laureate to the position of secretary of energy. Steven Chu is a strong proponent of combating climate change.

Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa, was nominated to head the Department of Agriculture. Vilsack is considered a friend of the biofuels industry.

Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, announced this week that she wants to be considered as a possible replacement to fill New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's seat if Clinton is confirmed as the next secretary of state. Emily says she is apoplectic about the prospect. While Kennedy has raised money for New York City schools and has done other charitable work, she is not qualified to be a senator. Emily says appointing someone to such a powerful position on the basis of her last name does not serve feminism. Kennedy, meanwhile, is mirroring a tour of upstate New York that Clinton took when she decided to run for the Senate.

An investigation by the Senate armed services committee has found that top Pentagon officials were more involved in the development of torture techniques than had previously been thought. The group says this presents an interesting dilemma for Eric Holder, Obama's nominee for attorney general. It would be up to Holder to decide whether to investigate possible criminal misconduct in the use of torture.

Wall Street legend Bernard Madoff was arrested this week and accused of running a multibillion-dollar fraud scheme.

Emily chatters about Paul Tough's book Whatever It Takes.

David talks about an article in this month's Outside magazine about a discovery by MIT researcher Daniel Nocera and others. Nocera and his team have found a way to use solar power to derive hydrogen and oxygen from water.

John points out the good stuff at USA.Gov.

The e-mail address for the Political Gabfest is gabfest@slate.com . (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Posted on Dec. 19 by Dale Willman at 11:00 a.m.

Dec. 12, 2008

Listen to the Gabfest for Dec. 12 by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

You can also download the program here, or you can subscribe to the weekly Gabfest podcast feed in iTunes by clicking here.

Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz talk politics. This week, the Illinois governor faces charges, the incoming Obama administration names more Cabinet members, and journalism is in trouble.

Here are links to some of the articles and other items mentioned in the show:

A criminal complaint has been filed against Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, alleging the two men conspired to use their positions for personal and professional gain.

Emily talks about Patti Blagojevich, the governor's wife, and her involvement in the complaint against her husband. Emily points out that, according to the complaint, Blagojevich told her husband to hold up that "Cubs shit," a reference to issues with the Chicago Cubs baseball team and its owner, Sam Zell. Zell also owns the Chicago Tribune, which had been critical of the governor in its editorial pages.

David is less troubled about Blagojevich and his behavior. He compares selling the right to be named Illinois senator to President Bill Clinton allowing major contributors to spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom.

John talks about how Obama looked when the Blagojevich complaint became public. According to the complaint, Blagojevich was angry that Obama would not play along with his effort to benefit by appointing the next senator. But John says Obama's first public statements concerning Blagojevich left a good deal to be desired.

John also discusses recent public-opinion polls that indicate Americans have high hopes for the Obama administration. In one poll, 52 percent of respondents said they feel there will be great unity and compromise during the Obama presidency. David says that's wishful thinking.

The group talked about the apparent demise of journalism. As many as 30,000 jobs have been lost in the newspaper industry in 2008 as publishers struggle with reduced revenues. This week, National Public Radio (a Slate partner) announced 64 layoffs.

David chatters about Shin Dong-hyuk, a North Korean born in a political prison. A portion of one finger was cut off as punishment for dropping a sewing machine on the floor, and he was tortured with fire when he was 14 because he could not explain why his mother had tried to escape. Shin is the author of Escape to the Outside World.

Emily discusses a Supreme Court case argued this week that will decide whether Javaid Iqbal, a Pakistani citizen, can sue FBI Director Robert Mueller and former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Iqbal alleges that Muslim men arrested in New York City following the Sept. attacks were abused, and he wants to hold government officials responsible.

John talks about the video, "Dear Mr. Obama," a hit in conservative circles during the presidential campaign.

The e-mail address for the Political Gabfest is gabfest@slate.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Posted on Dec. 12 by Dale Willman at 5 p.m.

Dec. 5, 2008

Listen to the Gabfest for Dec. 5 by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

You can also download the program here, or you can subscribe to the weekly Gabfest podcast feed in iTunes by clicking here.

Emily Bazelon, David Plotz, and Hanna Rosin, sitting in for John Dickerson, talk politics. This week, Team Obama strengthens its identity, terrorism strikes India, and the Big Three automakers return to Capitol Hill.

Here are links to some of the articles and other items mentioned in the show:

President-elect Barack Obama officially announced his foreign-policy team, including Sen. Hillary Clinton as his nominee for secretary of state.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Obama's pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, was the subject of an offhand comment by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. He said Napolitano was perfect for the job because she had "no life." Napolitano is not married and does not have children.

Hanna also discussed the announcement of Obama's economic team. Several are noted for having strong personalities. Many are also considered Washington insiders, so Emily wondered just how different the Obama administration's policies would be.

The trio discussed the terrorist attacks in India. David said the response to the attacks by citizens in India was twofold: First, outrage at the government response, and second, anger at the involvement of Pakistanis.

Automakers returned to Capitol Hill this week in hopes of receiving as much as $38 billion in government loans. So far, their efforts have not been successful. However, union officials say they will consider making concessions.

Emily encourages everyone to see the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

Hanna predicts that people will be talking about the vote by conservative Episcopalians to create a new branch of the church.

David chatters about the controversy surrounding an article in Women's Wear Daily that discussed what Michelle Obama should wear when she moves into the White House. It was illustrated with a number of fashion designers' sketches showing very light-skinned women. The team wonders why it is so difficult for designers to draw a black woman in designer clothes.

The e-mail address for the Political Gabfest is gabfest@slate.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Posted on Dec. 5 by Dale Willman at 11:30 a.m.

Slate Senior Editor Emily Bazelon, Chief Political Correspondent John Dickerson, and Editor David Plotz host the Gabfest weekly. Bill is executive producer of Slate V, and Terence is deputy editor of The Root.