political-theater-podcast

What Really Happens During Congress’ Freshman Orientation
Political Theater, Episode 45

Members-elect from left, Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., take a selfie after the freshman class photo on the East Front of the Capitol on November 14, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

 

What’s my Representational Allowance? Why can’t I take pictures on the House floor? Where are the bathrooms? Newly elected lawmakers are participating in freshman orientation this week, and while it has a first day of school vibe, they should pay attention. It could save them some embarrassment, and maybe even avoid getting into hot water with the Ethics Committee or even federal authorities. Roll Call Staff Writer Katherine Tully-McManus runs down what the members-to-be are doing during freshman orientation, and why it matters.

The Midterms' Most Memorable Moments
Political Theater, Episode 44

Constituents show their disagreement as Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., answers a question during his town hall meeting at the Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, N.J., on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Every campaign season is defined by moments when the big picture starts to come into focus. A parade outside Kansas City where Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder is confronted about gun violence. A pizza parlor in New Jersey becomes an overflow town hall. Roll Call politics reporters Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman and elections analyst Nathan Gonzales discuss such moments during the 2018 midterms, as well as how to address the dreaded election hangover we’re all suffering.

 

Welcome to the Marvel Political Universe
Presidential and midterm elections are now surrounded by lead-in elections

Girls dressed as characters from “Thor,” pose during an event near the Capitol reflecting pool hosted by Awesome Con in 2014. The U.S. election system is starting to take on aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a constant churn of smaller narratives setting up bigger chapters. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The American election system has become its own version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Presidential elections every four years used to be the tentpole movie that everyone went to see. Midterms, off-year special elections, primaries — those were for the real political geeks out there. Not anymore. 

‘A Private War’ Illustrates Power, and Risk, of Reporting the Truth
Political Theater, Episode 43

Matthew Heineman, Rosamund Pike and Jamie Dornan attend Aviron Pictures' Los Angeles Premiere Of "A Private War" at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on October 24, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Presley Ann/Getty Images)

“I think fear comes later, when it’s all over.” Those are the words that frame “A Private War,” Matthew Heineman’s new film about the late war journalist Marie Colvin. They’re spoken first by Rosamund Pike, the actress portraying Colvin, then over the end credits by Colvin herself, a poignant bookend to a film about the courage required to seek the truth in the world’s most dangerous places. At a time when journalists around the world face threats in and out of combat zones, and are characterized as the enemy of the people, Heineman’s movie arrives at a delicate inflection point. The director, nominated for an Academy Award for his documentary “Cartel Land,” and Pike discuss their picture on the latest Political Theater Podcast. 

Explosive Rhetoric Ramping Up, But Do Voters Care?
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 42

The recent bomb threats against prominent public figures are just one example of the escalating rhetoric in the political arena. But what effect does it have on voters? (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Praising violence against reporters. Sending pipe bombs to public figures. Threatening political opponents. The fiery rhetoric is in full swing as the nation enters the homestretch of the 2018 midterm election. Is any of it changing voters’ attitudes or behavior? Roll Call Senior Political Writer Simone Pathé and Inside Elections Editor Nathan Gonzales discuss the effect of all the bad vibes on the electorate. 

Messing With Texas, Midterm Edition
In the Lone Star State, it’s not just about Beto and Cruz

A woman flies a Texas flag at a 2005 rally in the Upper Senate Park. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Yes, the Texas Senate race between Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke gets a 72-ounce steak’s worth of attention in politics, what with Willie Nelson and President Donald Trump weighing in with their preferences and all. 

But regardless of who emerges from that Texas two-step, several other races will go a long way toward determining the House majority, and whether the Lone Star State might be moving toward swing/purple status. 

Will the Lone Stars Align for Beto O’Rourke in Texas Senate Race?
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 41

Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke joins Willie Nelson on stage during his Turn out For Texas Rally last month. Other Texas legends are coming out for O'Rourke. How much difference will it make, though? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Will appealing to Whataburger partisans get out the vote? What about a new Willie Nelson song? These are but some of the questions that will be answered by the Texas Senate race between Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke

That’s because some of the Lone Star State’s favorite sons, like country-music legend Nelson and filmmaker Richard Linklater, have come out strong for O’Rourke and are putting their artistic talent where their mouths are. Will it make a difference, though? Leah Askarinam from Inside Elections and McClatchy’s Alex Roarty, who grew up in Houston, discuss the race, whether famous Texans will help O’Rourke and what sort of downstream effect the race has on competitive House races we might see on the latest Political Theater Podcast. 

Swift Winds From the West
Tay and Ye meet again, on the political stage

Taylor Swift endorsed former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen’s campaign for Senate in an Instagram post this week. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for TAS file photo)

It’s been almost 10 years since Kanye West and Taylor Swift began to bicker. Remember? Beyoncé had just made one of the best music videos. OF. ALL. TIME. Here’s the timeline from then until now — the moment the Swift-Kanye conflict broke the fourth wall and entered DUH, DUH, DUH!

The Political Theater.

What ‘The Front Runner’ Says About Today’s Politics
Political Theater, Episode 40

Matt Bai, left, Jay Carson, center, and Jason Dick discuss “The Front Runner,” the film about Gary Hart that Bai and Carson co-wrote with director Jason Reitman. (Margaret Spencer/CQ Roll Call)

“The Front Runner” is not going to tell you how to feel about politics. The new film, starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Jason Reitman and co-written by him and Matt Bai and Jay Carson, tells the story of the short-lived 1988 presidential campaign of Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colo., who went from being the presumptive favorite to win the presidency to political oblivion within the span of a few days, felled by a scandal fueled by the senator’s extra-marital affair. “You could see the seeds of politics we’re dealing with now,” says Carson, a former Capitol Hill staffer.

The central tenet of the film is that few people — the candidate, his staff and family, journalists, etc., — were prepared for what happened to Hart, and they made the best decisions they could at the time in what would help define the electoral and political process for years to come. “We’ve created a process that rewards a bit of shamelessness, that both attracts and rewards candidates that who will do anything to get or hold office,” Bai adds. Listen to our full conversation, including a partial interview with Reitman, on this Political Theater podcast: 

The Ghosts of Impeachment Haunt the Kavanaugh Fight
Ken Starr, David Schippers, even Kavanaugh himself were key players in impeachment of Bill Clinton

Senate staffers watch from their offices as police begin to arrest protesters opposed to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the atrium of the Hart Building on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

Washington is doing its best to prove the William Faulkner maxim that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”