Above photo: Richard Nixon and Bob.
Robert “Bob” Scheer, famed journalist, interviewer, activist, and editor-in-chief of TruthDig.com, stops by the podcast to discuss his career, his interviews with presidents from Nixon to Clinton, and his radio show / podcast Scheer Intelligence. In this half, we discuss the end of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, staving off fascism here in America, how COVID-19 is affecting people of differing economic classes in exceptionally different ways, and the anti-war heroes Ron Kovic and Pat Tillman.
Here is part 2 of 2. Enjoy!!!
Danny Sjursen: So, well, I’m gonna hand it over to Henry, because we both know that you and I could go back and forth indefinitely. So Henry, why don’t you take us forward a little bit?
Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson: So we’ve recently seen the suspension of Bernie Sanders came in for President, as well as yesterday, when it was announced that Bernie had in fact endorsed Joe Biden for President. Bob, what is stuck out about you, excuse me stuck out to you about Sanders campaign. What do you think should be the next move of people who support him? And lastly, deep what path do you see to a viable third party in the US political system?
Robert “Bob” Scheer: You know, I’m very disappointed in what Sanders did because he didn’t even wait to see what the platform would be. He didn’t even wait to see who the vice presidential pick would be. And he knows of Biden’s role in creating the tragic domestic forget about foreign policy because he’s got a lot of problems there. But but the whole banking meltdown, the whole foreclosure crisis, the Great Recession, Biden’s fingerprints are all over. And, and he’s not alone. Obviously, Bill Clinton, and then brock obama’s bailout made the banks whole and didn’t even do what Trump is doing now, which is increase unemployment insurance. So some of the governors are doing you can foreclose and throw people at it houses or you got to help them pay their rent.
There was not a word of that from from and practice I mean, from Biden. At that time when he was vice president or from a Barack Obama, they took Lawrence Summers, who had been the Secretary of Treasury under clinton was one of the main if not the main architect of the deregulation of Wall Street that created that whole scandal. So Bernie Sanders main issue has been the economic wealth gap, the misery of ordinary Americans, the fact that real wages have not really increased in 40 years, the growing class divide in America and to embrace Biden without getting any concessions at all to the campaign. He’s run. Why because we have a virus. And and with Biden, as I recall, the debate with Bernie Biden denied that we he, what did he say he would call out the military to deal with the virus. That was his great contribution. I assume he meant the more aggressive military than Trump has has done. So I think Bernie failed us. First time I’m saying that I have great respect for him. I understand the burden of what he’s done, but he’s caved in to this lesser evil. What is it as a drug, the drug of lesser evil ism, and I’m backing into this third party. part of your question. I think less realism is a great trap, a great trap. And just, you know, unless it means that people have power in this country, control, one monster which you have to run All Donald Trump was the creation of mass media. Right? And the Clintons even went to his wedding. And they thought he was fun and interesting and adorable. And the issues that he’s played on, like immigration and so forth are issues that were left to fester, where the democrats were in charge a Republican, we never had a sane immigration policy ever. And because nobody wanted it to farmers didn’t want it. The exploiters didn’t want it to people who want to have cheap maize didn’t want it. Politicians didn’t want it. But you know, the fact the matter is you get this you get a Barry Goldwater. That was the one that got LBJ off the hook. You have a Richard Nixon, he got the democrats off the hook, you got Trump, and they’re built up into these uncivilized monsters, and then you go with the lesser evil. Well, you know, the so called lesser evil created a lot of the problems that we’re dealing with now. The surface To the prison industrial economy, you know, the all these people in jail, the millions have a lot to do with Biden and prison reform under under clinton, welfare reform, the destruction of the federal poverty program that a lot of things Democrats have to be held responsible for and Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, to a considerable degree on the economic stuff was holding them accountable, I think for Bernie Sanders to get people all excited about his campaign once again, and not go that extra mile to at least take this fight to a Democratic Convention, however it’s held and to demand concessions on the platform on the and the choice of a vice president and so forth. I just don’t get it. I, you know, hesitant to put Bernie down I think he’s fought the good fight, but it Is is deeply disappointing. But like should I ask you a question about the third party?
Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson: Sure, yeah, go for. Yeah,
Robert “Bob” Scheer: I am worried about third party. Not that the two parties are going to do any better, but short of a major depression. Okay, let me answer a question that was raised before we got into this and some of the thoughts that Danny, connected with me, how do you get social change? And what is the role of electoral politics and so forth. And here I will draw upon my 84 years on this earth because I am old, I can remember from my childhood when I was 234 years old, that Roosevelt was not doing enough to get us out of the depression and This was already his second term. And the stuff that he was doing only became because you had the veterans marches. You had trade unions submerging the industrial unions. You had people protesting major Danny said I was a red diaper, baby. Yes. My parents were union activists. My father had been a wobbly. He was something I then he was a social democrat. And then he flirted with a few months with communists or something. My mother was never that because she had come from the old Soviet Union, and she was in a group that oppose the Bolsheviks at the end, but should nonetheless, they were working class union people, and they would drag me as a little kid down to pick at the White House or something. And I can still remember a slogan open the second front, which meant us you get involved and the war against Hitler before you know the fall way after was already after the fall of France, but before England would fall and and on the economic issues, the Roosevelt did not solve the problems of the Great Depression. World War Two Did you know? And so we were really worried about food. Uh, you know, before the war came when the war in Europe came okay then they add to my parents went to work, you know making uniforms and everything and my half brother got, you know, into the Army Air Force and all that, you know, when people were signing up even early there, you know, there was dignity and jobs for working class people and patriotism or what have you. But we never really came to grips with the economic problems of depression, but we did set in motion certain ideas like Glass Steagall, which was break up the banks, which costs Bill Clinton then destroy the major economic achievement structurally of the Roosevelt years. But you know, we, you know, the good things that happened in terms of giving us some security. And some basis, as ronald reagan pointed out came from the New Deal and response to public pressure. Okay, not really third parties. Third parties have always had a hard time in America, because of the size of the country, the role of mass media, the ability of rich and powerful people to shape the narrative. So even Eugene Victor Debs, the candidate or the Socialist Party, who got a million votes, that’s about as good as anyone has ever done. And that’s a century ago. I’m more so. So I start to think about a third party. I think it’s more important to think about people speaking up. challenging the narrative, demonstrations, grassroots movements, putting pressure on local policy. Titians. I think Governor Cuomo and Gavin Newsome are doing a much better job than some others because they come from states where there is an active progressive movement and actually controls a large part of the Democratic Party on the clubhouse level. And they are doing more of the right thing. And I think what you guys are doing is the right way rather than getting caught up in, you know, should we form a third party night you should just speak out there I say about the internet. It’s the best and worst of all worlds, okay. Yes, people can be manipulated, they can be amused to death, they can be distracted. But the fact is, we’re able to do this now with a very small capital investment. You know, I say, freedom of the press is guys, AJ Liebling, I quote him the famous Your critic for The New Yorker, freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one well on the internet with a very small amount of capital, that the four of us can have an interesting discussion. I know I’m going on too long and too much. But you know, I thank you for letting me sound off. And and so the fact is, we have, as long as net neutrality is there as long as well, you know, Leonard Cohen said there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets through the singer letter cone. You know, well, that’s true, there are contradictions. The Internet right now has room for alternative voices. And that’s why we’re getting things you know, I had a pretty good run with TruthDig and other people, including major Danny and Chris Hedges who wrote for it and the wonderful people who edited it for 15
years and we were able to get a voice. Well, turns out I didn’t really They own half of it, I guess. And so it’s no longer going to be the same thing. But there are others, you know, other publications and I noticed a popular resistance. And, Danny, I think you’ve written for the nation. So there are cracks in the system where you can get the word out and organize. And you know, I’m speaking about, Danny, I think you’ve had a tremendous, I mean, one person, you’ve had other allies and other people speaking out. But when you consider your productivity, and your ability to change the narrative and challenge thinking, I know it’s had a big effect on my students. And on people I know, I think you’ve been kind of the major voice and daring, daring to challenge the war narratives, not the only one. But you certainly seize the reins and a bit out there. I don’t know how often You’re right, you’re on the scene to write every other day, you know, always meaningful. It really is, you know, I know you’re down on yourself every once in a while. I know it’s not easy. pay your bills and everything. But you know, the fact that matter is, ah, you know, you guys, you’re doing the right thing. I could be a trap to get too much caught up in electoral politics. We have money really talks. It’s hard to get the word out there. Look what they did to Jill Stein, for instance, a wonderful person, medical doctor, sincere as they come. And the clinton people were able to make her seem like a potent agent, you know, potent agent, right? We got what back with the red baiting, neglecting the fact that Putin was the anti communist candidate selected by the US, CIA, his state department and everything else, to you know, to take over from yeltsin because he also was a hopeful hopeless drunk. And that’s how you put in came to power in he embraced the Russian Orthodox Church and he’s a great Russian nationalist. I don’t mean a great nationalist, but he’s great Russia, nationalists in sense nof all their time zones. And, you know, that’s what he is. He’s like Castro is another nationalists and we can’t abide anybody having their own view and challenging American hegemony. So he’s demonized now, and anybody who goes who attends a function like Jill Stein did, where he’s at all man, they must be a commie Asian only. He’s not a commie. He’s an anti commie. He
defeated the communists and his elections and does every time there is a Communist Party is still there and he defeats them. And he was the one the flavor of the month that the US liked. Only he didn’t march to our drummer, and now they demonize him. That’s the been the whole
history of the Cold War, with or without communists in power. Are you guys Oh, yeah. Are you okay?