Welcome to the “Tear Down This Robinson” edition of the Harvard Lunch Club podcast! It’s July 13, 2016, and we’re completely psyched to be joined by former Reagan speechwriter, co-founder of the conservative commentary site Ricochet, and Hoover Institution senior fellow Peter Robinson. We are nanophysicist Mike Stopa and radio talk host Todd Feinburg and we join you every week for a discussion of the coolest political and public policy issues we can muster. Find us on our website, harvardlunchclub.com, and follow us on Twitter: @HLCpodcast

This week, we focus exclusively on an interview with Peter Robinson:

Is there still a Stop Trump/Never Trump movement? Why would anyone vote for Trump? Can 11 million illegal aliens be deported, politically? We discuss these issues with renaissance man Peter Robinson, co-host of the Ricochet podcast and co-founder of the commentary site of the same name.

We’ll also share our Shower Thoughts, and for our Hidden Gem we listen to Randy Newman sing the song he wrote that went to number 1 for Three Dog Night in this week 1970.

It’s the Harvard Lunch Club Podcast with Peter Robinson!!!

Peter Mark Robinson is an American author, television host and former speechwriter for George H.W. Bush when he was VP and President Ronald Reagan and is best known for his role in writing the “Tear Down That Wall” speech. He is currently the host of Uncommon Knowledge, an interview show by Stanford‘s Hoover Institution. He is also a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and he is co-host of the Ricochet Podcast on Ricochet.com conservative commentary site that he co-founded.

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  1. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Enjoyable podcast.

    Concerns about Trump getting the nuclear football are generally overwrought. But there are multiple ways of looking at it. I agree that worries that Trump is mentally unstable are silly. But let’s judge the position by its best arguments, not its worst.

    Whatever Trump truly believes, whether whimsically or habitually, can we agree that he has been something of an iconoclast his whole public life? Though he rubbed shoulders with PC celebrities and politicos for decades and apparently endorses many PC ideas (such as normalization of gays and crossdressers), as New Yorkers tend to do, he has always been famous for boldly voicing opinions that horrify his PC associates. He doesn’t strike me as a deep thinker, but he does seem to be an independent thinker.

    If Clinton and Obama are indeed cut from the same cloth as 3rd-world dictators, though they lack the unlimited power, I expect they could be as ruthless if afforded that power. Trump is similarly a ruthless opportunist with no respect for boundaries moral or political. And, as I have argued, he is not restricted to the norms of the society he frequents. Furthermore, he has presented himself to voters as an avatar of unstoppable power, perhaps even revenge (“They’re going to have such problems”).

    Though I have regularly accused NeverTrump folks of exaggerations, I believe there is room for reasonable doubt of Trump’s deliberated (not whimsical) judgments regarding use of America’s military might.

    • #1
    • July 25, 2016, at 8:32 PM PDT
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  2. NYLibertarianGuy Thatcher
    NYLibertarianGuy Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Aaron Miller: I agree that worries that Trump is mentally unstable are silly.

    It is not silly to question the mental stability of a person (I won’t call him a man) who claims that President Bush willfully misled the United States into war with Iraq, floats conspiracy theories about his opponent’s father’s involvement in the JFK assassination, admires the “strength” of Putin and other dictators, threatens not to honor our NATO treaty alliances, and advocates the unlawful murder of non-combatants.

    It is not silly to question the mental stability of a person who, after winning the Republican nomination, doubles down on his chronically uninformed misstatements, and resorts to veiled threats, like his most recent threat against Cory Booker. Trump tweeted (invoking an earlier veiled threat against Heidi Cruz, you may recall): “If Cory Booker is the future of the Democratic Party, they have no future!I know more about Cory than he knows about himself.”

    For you to so easily dismiss his mental instability despite the best evidence (his own conduct) truly is silly. Now, you could say he is better than Hillary Clinton despite the instability. I think that it is a doubtful proposition when you are talking about electing someone to an office that will give him the ability fundamentally to alter geopolitical stability. But the fact that you prefer his “policy” to Clinton’s does not make him any more stable in fact.

    • #2
    • July 25, 2016, at 9:39 PM PDT
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  3. Ralphie Member

    Paul Kingsbery: But the fact that you prefer his “policy” to Clinton’s does not make him any more stable in fact.

    I think Trump is either mentally ill or in early dementia, and do not think it silly to be concerned. It is wishful thinking to just think he is different and it will be in a good way.

    We are not supposed to bring up modern dictators, but wanting to destroy your opponents careers, not just win votes, seems despotic and deranged in a free country. A purge is a popular tool of the ruthless. I am leaning on voting for Hillary based on the idea they both appear sociopathic, but she seems to be more rational, and what you can peg down, more conservative. For myself, when I see people like Pence, Ryan, and Gingrich support him, it does not make me more comfortable with Trump, but less respectful of them. No one is going to influence Trump to behave or do anything. He is a one man show, everyone around him are for using and abusing.

    • #3
    • July 26, 2016, at 4:02 AM PDT
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  4. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I can believe that he is sociopathic. I can believe that he is impulsive and prone to strange behaviors. But the man would not be where he is today if he was not in control of his actions.

    He makes wild comments because it works. It attracts media attention and puts his opponents off balance.

    He is a threat, he is evil, but he is not crazy.

    • #4
    • July 26, 2016, at 5:13 AM PDT
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  5. Ralphie Member

    Aaron Miller:I can believe that he is sociopathic. I can believe that he is impulsive and prone to strange behaviors. But the man would not be where he is today if he was not in control of his actions.

    He makes wild comments because it works. It attracts media attention and puts his opponents off balance.

    He is a threat, he is evil, but he is not crazy.

    I believe Richard Epstein put it well that Trump’s temperment would make him ungovernable.

    He is crazy to me. I’d be crazy to defend, support or vote for him.

    Dorothy Thompson did not believe Hitler would be a threat, and wrote an article saying so. She changed her mind, saw him as a huge threat before the war and later wrote forcefully against him. Hitler did not change, she just didn’t believe he would do what he said. (She wrote a great article titled “Who goes Nazi”, that I think could be used about why people join movements.)

    • #5
    • July 26, 2016, at 5:43 AM PDT
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  6. Quake Voter Inactive

    I think we can rule out dementia. Trump’s erratic, impulsive, bellicose style has been metronomically consistent over his forty years in the spotlight. The guy won his first notoriety, laughs and applause on the The Stanley Siegel Show in 1977 and has treated the world like the Siegel Show for 40 years. A billion dollars, three trophy wives and a GOP nomination later, he has chosen not to change. Crazy?

    • #6
    • July 26, 2016, at 6:23 AM PDT
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  7. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Ralphie: I believe Richard Epstein put it well that Trump’s temperment would make him ungovernable.

    On military and diplomatic decisions, perhaps so. But as I argued long before he became the frontrunner (when I expected him to end the nomination process in 2nd place), his ego might provide opportunities for Republicans to steer him on legislative matters. Total rejection by Congressional Republicans would be dangerous, since it would encourage him to make Democrats his regular legislative allies. But Republicans might be able to promise him fame for accomplishments in areas like corporate tax reform.

    I voted Cruz in the Texas primary. In hindsight, I should have spent more time advertising Cruz and less time trying to moderate conversations about Trump. At this point, I don’t intend to vote for Trump in November. But that doesn’t mean I am certain that he is a greater threat to this nation than Clinton is. She is more methodical and prepared, but perhaps less ambitious. Both are tyrants.

    • #7
    • July 26, 2016, at 6:59 AM PDT
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  8. Michael Stopa Contributor

    I just want to say thank you to Scott Immergut and Peter and Rob and the whole Ricochet team for bringing our podcast into the fold!

    We do, it is true, lean more Trump than much of the Ricochet community – but not all of it and not without reservations (cf. this podcast with Peter). Hoping you will keep us honest and keep our feet on the ground!

    • #8
    • July 26, 2016, at 8:18 AM PDT
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  9. Eugene Kriegsmann Member

    Definitely an interesting podcast. However, as with all of this series, Todd and Michael share a commonality with Larry Kudlow who is a master at filling in the major gaps left behind by Donald Trump with their own hopes and dreams. The unflagging belief that somehow out of the rambling, disorganized, not ill-conceived, but unconceived ideas that Trump will somehow come up with coherent plans and appoint great thinkers to help him achieve goals which he seems no more serious about than he does about his former political positions or his former marriages. Trump has repeatedly demonstrated an unwillingness to take advice from anyone. He has never given a coherent plan for any of the “goals” he claims to be his platform.

    Another fallacy is the repeated claim about “millions of voters” who voted for Trump. It should be noted that millions more didn’t vote for him which is why he ended up with approximately 40% of the primary votes, a good distance from the majority of those who voted in the Republican primaries and a very tiny portion of all of the Americans who voted in the primaries of both parties. Trump hardly represents the “will” of the American people. To my mind the only polls that count are the actual votes which take place during primaries and general elections. In those polls, so far, Trump is very sadly lacking a mandate.

    • #9
    • July 27, 2016, at 8:05 AM PDT
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  10. Pete EE Member

    FYI: Stitcher can’t find “Harvard Lunch Club.

    • #10
    • July 27, 2016, at 5:41 PM PDT
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  11. Eugene Kriegsmann Member

    Pete EE:FYI: Stitcher can’t find “Harvard Lunch Club.

    I had the same problem with iTunes. I simply went to the HLC website and got to the appropriate links from there.

    • #11
    • July 27, 2016, at 7:00 PM PDT
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  12. connorfamilyr1 Coolidge

    So glad I join ricochet and found this podcast! Catching up on old episodes now, addicted to the HLC

    • #12
    • December 28, 2016, at 9:01 AM PST
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