Background Briefing: February 22, 2024


RFK Junior’s Role as a Spoiler Since His Campaign’s Biggest Donor is Also Trump’s Biggest Donor

We begin with Biden calling Putin “a crazy SOB” and assess whether that is the wrong target for such blunt language which Biden should be using against Trump. Joining us to discuss campaign strategy and the role of RFK Jr. as a spoiler in the 2024 election since the biggest donor to his campaign is also Trump’s biggest donor is Lincoln Mitchell, who teaches in the School of International and Public Affairs and the Department of Political Science at Columbia University. He is the author of numerous books on the former Soviet states, baseball, and democracy, the latest of which is The Giants and Their City: Major League Baseball in San Francisco, 1976-1992. He is the author of the popular Substack Kibitzing with Lincoln where his latest article is “Threats to Democracy Won’t Go Away if Trump is Defeated Again.”


An Update on Diplomatic Efforts Underway For a Ceasefire in the Gaza War

Then we get an update on diplomatic efforts underway to bring about a ceasefire in the Gaza war and speak with Mitchell Plitnick, the president of ReThinking Foreign Policy and former vice president at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. A political analyst and frequent writer on the Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy, he served as director of the U.S. Office of B’Tselem and co-director of Jewish Voice for Peace. He is the co-author with Marc Lamont Hill of Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics.


What is Behind the Rise of Illiberal and Right Wing Politics in Europe?

Then finally we look into what is behind the rise of illiberal politics in Eastern Europe and a right wing resurgence in Western Europe and speak with Dr. Maria Snegovaya, a Senior Fellow with the Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and a Postdoctoral Fellow in Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. She studies democratic backsliding and re-autocratization in post-communist and post-Soviet Europe, Russia’s domestic and foreign policy, and the tactics used by Russian actors and proxies who circulate disinformation to exploit these dynamics in the region. She is the author of the new book, just out, When Left Moves Right: The Decline of the Left and the Rise of the Populist Right in Postcommunist Europe.