The Gabfest Debates Reparations

Slate's weekly political roundtable.
May 23 2014 12:56 PM

The Secret Waiting List Gabfest

Listen to Slate's show about the Veterans Affairs scandal, the Republican primaries, and the case for reparations to black Americans.

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On this week’s Slate Plus bonus segment, David interviewed Richard Rubin, author of The Last of the Doughboys. Slate Plus members get an ad-free version of this podcast with bonus segments. Visit and try it free for two weeks.

On this week’s Slate Political Gabfest, Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz discuss the Veterans Affairs scandal, what this week’s primaries mean for the GOP, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article “The Case for Reparations.”

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

  • Dozens of veterans died while waiting for treatment at VA hospitals, and the hospitals are accused of falsifying wait list records.
  • Unlike Benghazi, the IRS controversy, or the Obamacare rollout, the Veterans Affairs scandal is a real outrage, John writes.
  • The GOP is calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation.
  • The White House has sent Ron Nabors, one of Obama’s most trusted advisers, to Phoenix to investigate the allegations.
  • There are some advantages to the centralized structure of the VA health care system. Doctors discovered that a treatment for low testosterone was causing heart problems because they were able to compare the health records of thousands of veterans before and after they started testosterone therapy.
  • Six states held primary elections Tuesday, and the obvious story line about the outcome was that the Tea Party lost. But it’s more complicated than that, David Weigel writes—even in defeat, the Tea Party has changed what the GOP stands for.
  • Weigel also says the media is too loose with the term “Tea Party.”
  • An increasing number of Hispanics have changed their census identification to “white,” Nate Cohn writes in the New York Times. Also in the Times, Thomas Edsall argues that the Republican Party will be able to win by appealing only to white voters for a while to come.
  • Former Executive Editor Jill Abramson was fired from the New York Times last Wednesday.
  • America should consider the possibility of paying reparations to black Americans, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in the Atlantic.
  • For the past 25 years, Rep. John Conyers has introduced a bill in each session of Congress calling for a study of slavery and its lingering effects.
  • In 2011, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told young black men to “Pull your pants up and buy a belt, ’cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt.”
  • Jamelle Bouie describes what reparations might look like.

John chatters about the Week’s Bad Opinion Generator.

Emily chatters about a pair of readings on school reform: a recent New Yorker article by Dale Russakoff and The Teacher Wars by Dana Goldstein.

David chatters about the CIA’s announcement that it will no longer use immunization campaigns as part of its spy operations.

Topic ideas for next week? You can tweet suggestions, links, and questions to @SlateGabfest. The email address for the Political Gabfest is (Email may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Podcast production by Mike Vuolo. Links compiled by Rebecca Cohen.

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.



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