Background Briefing: October 25, 2023

Trump Gets His Speaker With a Friendlier Face But a Hard Right Record

 We begin with the House Republicans coming together today to elect a new speaker, Mike Johnson, after Trump had torpedoed the Republican whip Tom Emmer. Now with Trump’s blessing since Johnson led the effort to hand Trump an unelected second term, a more presentable and youthful MAGA faithful with an agreeable low-key persona has the gavel. Joining us to assess the victory of this hard right-wing unity candidate, now the highest-ranking elected Republican in the land, is Allan Lichtman, a political historian who teaches at American University and has studied both the American right and the presidency. The author of The Case For Impeachment and The Keys to the White House: A Surefire Way to Predicting the Next President, his prediction system has correctly predicted the outcomes of all US presidential elections since 1984 including the 2016 election when against all odds, he predicted a Trump victory. His most recent book is Thirteen Cracks: Repairing American Democracy After Trump and he has an new weekly show at 7pm on Thursdays at @allanlichtmanyoutube


A Strategic Overview of the Middle East on the Brink of a Wider War

Then we get a strategic overview of the Middle East on the brink of a wider war with Iran and Hezbollah threatening retaliation if Israel invades Gaza and Israel determined to eliminate Iran’s proxy Hamas even if it means going after the source in Tehran. Joining us is Nicholas Heras, a Senior Director for Strategy & Innovation at the New Lines Institute who, from 2016-2017, served as the tenth 1st LT Andrew J. Bacevich, Jr., USA Fellow at the Center for New American Security. He is the author of From the Bottom, Up: A Strategy for U.S. Military Support for Syria’s Armed Opposition and recently conducted an extensive study on Iran’s proxies in the Middle East for the National Defense University.


The Reemergence of the Palestinian Statehood Issue

Then finally we speak with Juan Cole, a professor of Modern Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan. He is also the author of the blog Informed Comment at and the author of The Ayatollahs and Democracy in Iraq, Engaging the Muslim World, and most recently, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires. We discuss the reemergence of the Palestinian statehood issue and the likelihood that Israel will annex the northern half of Gaza, further diminishing the prospects of a two-state solution.