The Gabfest on Mitt Romney and Mormonism, The Dictator’s Learning Curve, and UVA President Teresa Sullivan’s Ouster

Slate's weekly political roundtable.
June 22 2012 1:40 PM

The Post-Solstice, Dictator Will Crush You Now Gabfest

Listen to Slate's show about the Mitt Romney’s religion; Will Dobson’s new book, The Dictator’s Learning Curve; and UVA President Teresa Sullivan’s ouster.


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 discussion, use the player below:

Don’t miss our live show next week at the Arts and Ideas Festival in New Haven, Conn., on June 27 at 5:30 p.m.

We need a new intern! Send your résumé to if you’re interested.

On this week’s Slate Political Gabfest, David Plotz, John Dickerson and guest panelist Will Dobson discuss Mitt Romney and Mormonism, Will’s new book The Dictator’s Learning Curve, and the controversial ousting of UVA President Teresa Sullivan.

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

  • A Gallup poll finding one in five Americans refuse to vote for a Mormon.
  • John’s Slate piece on Romney’s unwillingness to discuss his faith.
  • Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s New York Times piece on how religion has shaped Romney’s character.
  • The New York Times review of Will’s book, The Dictator’s Learning Curve.
  • Teresa Sullivan’s strategic memo discussing a “reputation gap” at UVA.
  • The email chain between Rector Helen Dragas and Vice Rector Mark Kington planning Sullivan’s exit.
  • Atul Gawande’s commencement speech at Williams College addressing failure.

John chatters about a 1952 New Yorker cartoon mocking instant punditry.

Will chatters about Joshua Hammer’s Atlantic piece about the world’s worst traffic jam in Lagos, Nigeria, which made a 40 mile trip 12 hours long.

David chatters about Capital: A Novel by John Lanchester.

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.

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

William J. Dobson is Slate’s politics and foreign affairs editor and the author of The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy.

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



Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Scotland Votes to Remain in U.K.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Can Democrats Keep Counting on Republicans to Offend Women as a Campaign Strategy?


Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.