Jason Dick

A conversation with the Senate historian: Duels, bathtubs and other mysteries
Political Theater, Episode 89

Politicians and pundits are fond of saying that Washington has never been more polarized and that the Senate, in particular, may never recover from contemporary hyper-partisanship and rule-bending.

But it is assistant Senate historian Daniel S. Holt’s job to remind us all that disputes in the chamber used to result in pistols at dawn instead of dueling tweets.

So much Iowa, so little time
Snapshots of a state that will be a big deal politically for a while

DES MOINES, Iowa — It is difficult for some people to accept that Iowa, a relatively small state in the middle of the country, has such an outsize role in determining the next president. But the Hawkeye State is more of a microcosm of U.S. politics and the country than it might first appear.

Iowa’s population of roughly 3 million people is tiny compared to mega-states like California, Texas and Florida, and it has a lack of racial diversity (it is about 87 percent white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau). But its voting patterns and political infrastructure make it a valuable barometer. 

See the Iowa Caucuses early on Aug. 30!
Iowa Cubs baseball team renames itself after home-state political process

DES MOINES, Iowa — If you just cannot wait until Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses on Feb. 3, 2020, then consider visiting here on Aug. 30, when Minor League Baseball’s Iowa Cubs rebrand themselves for the night as, yes, the Iowa Caucuses. 

“I absolutely love it,” said David Redlawsk, chairman of the political science department at the University of Delaware and author of “Why Iowa?: How Caucuses and Sequential Elections Improve the Presidential Nominating Process.”

The Iowa State Fair: Our hits, misses and lessons learned
Political Theater, Episode 88

DES MOINES, Iowa — For all its quaintness and fun, the Iowa State Fair does a pretty good job of approximating politics at the national level, be it questions about electability and charisma or trade and agricultural policy.

“The debate within the party that is happening right now, is happening right in front of me at the Iowa State Fair between these two people,” CQ Roll Call senior politics writer Bridget Bowman says, recounting a conversation between a couple after hearing South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg speak at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox on Aug. 13. The couple, both of whom told Bridget they were impressed with Buttigieg, were torn between what was more important for a Democratic candidate: offering bold ideas or being more likely to beat President Donald Trump.

The Iowa State Fair: Why do you have to come here to be president?
Political Theater, Episode 87

Iowa plays a big role in presidential politics because of its first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. Even by that standard, though, the Hawkeye State this time feels busier, more significant.

There are more than 20 Democrats running for president, and unlike in previous years, no one is writing the state off. There are also several competitive congressional races here. That means a very busy Iowa State Fair, because all these politicians want to meet voters, make their case at The Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox, flip pork chops at the pork tent and eat.

The Iowa State Fair: A day in the deep-fried life
Political Theater, Episode 86

Yes, there are a lot of politicians who attend the Iowa State Fair to court voters. But there is so much else to this unique event, from the almost 70 fried foods on a stick, to giant slides, sea lions, butter cows and butter Big Birds; even arm-wrestling. A day in the life of the Iowa State Fair with Political Theater. 

‘Embrace it and take it all in’: Former Rep. David Young on the Iowa State Fair

Political Theater host Jason Dick sat down with former GOP Rep. David Young at the Iowa State Fair, where the congressman once worked as a teenager. Young is running once again for his old congressional seat, now held by Democratic Rep. Read more...
The Iowa State Fair: Our proactive primer on politics, pork and public officials
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 85

Political Theater is heading to the Iowa State Fair to check out how the 2020 races for president and Senate and four competitive House contests are shaping up in this bellwether state. Why Iowa? Because that’s where the candidates are.

Bridget Bowman, our senior political writer, and Leah Askarinam of Inside Elections lay it all out for us on the latest episode of Political Theater. 

‘The Great Hack,’ Cambridge Analytica and our blurred reality
Political Theater, Episode 84

How do you make a story about data privacy interesting? That was the challenge of the documentary “The Great Hack.”

Filmmakers Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim set out to chronicle the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which millions of Facebook users had their personal data compromised to influence the 2016 election.

Robert Mueller was sobering. That spilled over to D.C. bars
Political Theater, Episode 83

Have we hit peak Mueller?

That would seem to be the former special counsel’s preference, which was certainly reflected in a blah reaction from those tuning in.

Get used to it: Trumpism without Trump
Political Theater, Episode 82

Political scientist Shadi Hamid remembers growing up in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, the son of Egyptian immigrants. In what was then a solidly Republican enclave of the Philadelphia suburbs, his parents and many of his Muslim neighbors voted for George W. Bush.

That seems like a long time ago, as that critical swing area of Philly has swung increasingly Democratic, along with most of America’s Muslims. So why would President Donald Trump spend so much time attacking Muslims and, in particular, a high-profile group of Democratic congresswomen, a.k.a. “the squad,” that has two Muslim members, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan? Well, because attacking your opponents across racial lines and defining them as a sinister other is a basic tenet of Trumpism, and the president and many of his Republican allies are all in. 

House’s condemnation of Trump may just be the beginning
Now the debate is over push by some Democrats for impeachment

Although Tuesday’s long day of heated debate ended with the House voting to condemn President Donald Trump for racist tweets, the chamber’s brawl over the president’s behavior may be just beginning. 

The House voted, 240-187, to approve a nonbinding resolution that says the chamber “strongly condemns” Trump’s “racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”

Harry Reid in winter: Still grappling, and dabbling, in politics
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 81

Harry Reid might have retired from the Senate in 2017 and started battling cancer a year later, but the former Senate Democratic leader doesn’t seem to be the retiring type, especially when it comes to Nevada politics.

“I’m a political junkie, to say the least,” he tells our own Niels Lesniewski in a wide-ranging interview in Las Vegas that we’ve excerpted for this edition of the Political Theater podcast.

Ross Perot, a consistent and colorful presence at the Capitol
Billionaire political, business iconoclast is dead at 89

Ross Perot, the iconoclastic Texas billionaire who died on Tuesday at age 89, was well known for roiling presidential politics in the 1990s. But he was also a consistent and colorful presence on Capitol Hill, advocating for a variety of causes, including veterans affairs, deficits and trade policy.

“NAFTA is like a bad-tasting dog food,” Perot said on the Capitol grounds on Nov. 8, 1993, rattling off just one of the pithy, and head-scratching, Lone Star-fried aphorisms that came to help define the man. His enmity for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he predicted would give way to a “giant-sucking sound” of jobs to Mexico, would be right at home in today’s political debates on trade, particularly as Congress considers NAFTA’s successor, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

‘Mike Wallace Is Here’ shows how we got here
Political Theater podcast, Episode 80

The new film “Mike Wallace Is Here” shows how legendary journalist Mike Wallace pioneered holding the powerful accountable, be they politicians, celebrities or real estate developers. But today’s world is one where journalists are in danger and the credibility of its practitioners is constantly called into question. What happened?

On the latest Political Theater podcast, the documentary’s director, Avi Belkin, discusses the arc of Wallace’s career and where things started to shift. In the course of compiling the movie — from thousands of hours of archival footage from CBS’ “60 Minutes” program that made Wallace a star — Belkin says he noticed just how much richer and articulate conversation was among journalists and the subjects they covered. And he argues that the audience bears a responsibility in all this too. 

The biggest question marks ahead of July Fourth ‘Salute to America’
Protests, transit closures, reimbursements, red meat and the weather loom over festivities

As the nation prepares for the July Fourth “Salute to America” on the National Mall, with a contentious appearance scheduled by President Donald Trump, there are several unanswered questions that will go a long way to determining how the whole thing unfolds.

From how extensive protests will be, to the tenor of Trump’s remarks, to how much of a damper the weather might put on things, here is a short list of what to keep an eye on. 

Field notes from a North Carolina runoff and a reparations hearing
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 79

There is always a special congressional election somewhere. For the purposes of this particular Political Theater podcast, it is the upcoming Republican primary runoff in North Carolina’s 3rd District.

This is the seat that became vacant when longtime GOP Rep. Walter B. Jones died earlier this year. The April 30 GOP primary ended with two candidates heading to a July 9 runoff: state Rep. Greg Murphy and political newcomer Joan Perry. (The winner will face Democrat Allen Thomas, the former mayor of Greenville, in a Sept. 10 special general election to serve out the remainder of the 116th Congress.)

What’s in a vote? In the Senate, it’s in the eye, or ear, of the clerk
A look at the more common voting gestures seen on the chamber floor

How do I vote thee? Let me count the ways. 

Unlike the House, where the utilitarian electronic voting card does all the work, senators have so, so many ways to say “yes” or “no.”