Background Briefing: December 15, 2021


Time is Running Out For Senate Democrats on Election Reform and Build Back Better

We begin with the Senate’s December 23 deadline before their Christmas recess as time runs out for Senate Democrats to get voting rights and the Build Back Better bill passed and assess whether there will be a rules change to allow voting rights to get around the filibuster and whether Build Back Better will continue to languish. Joining us is Samuel Moyn, the Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School and Professor of History at Yale University. He is the author of The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History, Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World, and most recently, Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War. We discuss his recent article at The Guardian, “If Democrats return to centrism, they are doomed to lose against Trump: Biden was once touted as the ‘New FDR’. That ambition is fast dying – as are Democrats’ hopes of remaining in power” and whether presidents who get elected as reformers become targets of the establishment and are made victims of the perception of failure if they don’t deliver on promises even if it’s not their fault.


The Race Between the Law Catching Up On Trump and Rigging the Vote to Ensure His Comeback

Then we speak with Lloyd Green, an attorney based in New York who was opposition research counsel to George HW Bush’s 1988 campaign and served in the Department of Justice. A contributing writer at The Guardian where his latest article is “Trump’s lackeys would rather defy US Congress than anger their old boss. Sad!” He joins us to discuss the race between the law catching up with Donald Trump to reduce him down to the criminal level where he belongs, and Biden’s sinking poll numbers combined with Republican rigging of the next elections that could make a Trump comeback possible.


The Virtual Summit Between China’s Xi and Russia’s Putin

Then finally we examine today’s virtual summit between China’s Xi Jinping and President Putin of Russia in what is the 37th time the two leaders of the nuclear-armed countries increasingly at odds with the U.S. have met since 2013. Joining us is Michael Swaine, director of the Quincy Institute’s East Asia program and one of the most prominent American scholars of Chinese security studies. Previously, he worked for nearly twenty years as a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace specializing in Chinese defense and foreign policy, U.S.-China relations, and East Asian international relations. He also advises the U.S. government on Asian security issues and his books include Conflict and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region: A Strategic Net Assessment. We assess the depth of China and Russia’s closer relationship and since China has not recognized Putin’s seizure of Crimea, speculate how Xi would react to a Russian military offensive in Ukraine or would that provide Xi with cover to go after Taiwan?