The Gabfest on Bain Capital, the Dismal State of Political Washington, and Dharun Ravi’s Sentencing

Slate's weekly political roundtable.
May 25 2012 12:04 PM

The Washington Is Just Awful, but You, Dear Listener, Are Wonderful Gabfest

Listen to Slate's show about Bain Capital, the dismal state of political Washington, and Dharun Ravi’s sentencing.


Become a fan of the Political Gabfest on Facebook. We post to the Facebook page throughout the week, so keep the conversation going by joining us there.

To listen to the main discussion, use the player below:

To listen to the Q&A session, use this player:

The Gabfest is sponsored this week by GoToMeeting with HD Faces, and by For a free trial of either service, visit their web sites and use the promo code “GABFEST”

This week’s Slate Political Gabfest was recorded live at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C. On the show, David Plotz, Emily Bazelon, and John Dickerson discuss the Obama and Romney campaigns’ fight over Bain Capital, the dismal state of political Washington, and the sentencing of Dharun Ravi. They also did a Q&A after the show. Watch video of the event at C-SPAN.

Here are some of the links and references mentioned during this week's show:

  • David Haglund’s Slate piece on the misleading study claiming Congress talks like 10th graders.
  • Barack Obama’s campaign ad, “Steel,” attacking Romney for his record at Bain Capital.
  • John’s Slate piece about Cory Booker’s comment calling Obama’s ad “nauseating.”
  • The New York Times article on Joe Ricketts’ super PAC and its plan to use the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in an attack campaign on Obama.
  • Keith Poole’s study of polarization, finding that the most liberal Republican is still to the right of the most conservative Democrat.
  • Matt Miller’s Washington Post column comparing Obama’s restructuring of the auto industry to what Bain Capital does.
  • A Wall Street Journal study finding that the rate of failure at Bain’s 77 companies is higher than other private-equity firms.
  • Thomas Byrne Edsall’s book, The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics.
  • Jonathan Chait’s New York Magazine piece on the increasingly extreme and unsustainable GOP.
  • Matt Bai’s New York Times piece on the “grand bargain” of the debt deal negotiations.
  • Emily’s Slate piece on why Dharun Ravi’s light sentence was ultimately fair.

John chatters about David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005.

Emily chatters about Samantha Shapiro’s New York Times Magazine piece on Ina May Gaskin, the original home birth evangelist, and the home birth movement.

David chatters about an essay written by his father, Paul Plotz, on becoming a scientist, which will be published as part of a Slate series on science education.

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

Podcast production by Andrew Bouvé and Dale Willman. Links compiled by Aviva Shen.

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.



The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You

It spreads slowly.

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative


Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.


Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?