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      •  Saturday Q&A

Saturday Q&A

We have been getting a lower-than-normal number of history questions lately. If you have 'em, consider sending 'em in. After all, those are the ones that ChatGPT... er, we mean (Z) does best on.

Current Events

O.Z.H. in Dubai, UAE, asks: Will there be any tangible negative effects of the Dominion suit on Fox? Aside from the potential civil damages, is it possible there will in fact be viewers who will be turned off from finding out that they were lied to, or are these people just too far gone at this point? Is there any evidence (one way or the other) as yet in ratings, etc?

(V) & (Z) answer: There is no evidence in the ratings, as yet. Or, at least, no good evidence. Fox continues to dominate the cable news (and cable "news") ratings because it gets most of the right-wing viewers, while CNN, MSNBC, PBS and News Nation tend to split the centrists and left-wingers. At the same time, Fox's ratings are down compared to this time last year. But that is not instructive, because all news outlets (and "news" outlets) do worse in non-election years.

So, we are left to speculate. And as we do so, we're going to draw a seemingly ridiculous analogy. Do you know what was the most caloric menu item at McDonald's from about 1990 to 2010? Not the Big Mac, or a large fries, or an extra large soda. No, it was the crispy chicken salad with buttermilk ranch dressing, which checked in at around 1,300 calories. What McDonald's was banking on was their (evidence-based) belief that many of their customers wanted to believe they were eating healthy, even if they were not. This little trick became impossible to pull off, though, once McDonald's was required to print calorie counts on its menus. And do you know what disappeared from the menu, once the law changed in that way? The crispy chicken salad with buttermilk ranch dressing.

What we are saying here is that there are surely people out there who want to believe they are hearing "the facts" or "the truth," even if they are not. And as long as Fox can maintain that illusion, those people will be satisfied. But, as with the calories on the McDonald's menu, the Dominion lawsuit has made the truth impossible to avoid. There are some Fox viewers, and probably many Fox viewers, who either won't care or who will decide that this one example was an anomaly. But our guess is that some Fox viewers will find themselves unable to continue swallowing the network's falsehoods.

W.R. in Tyson's Corner, VA, asks: In the event that Dominion Voting Systems wins its $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox, how much will it really hurt the network? Fox must bring in at least a billion dollars a year in revenue. It seems like the network could afford to pay out $1.6 billion and continue doing what it's always done.

(V) & (Z) answer: From a purely numerical standpoint, it's true that Fox can afford a $1.6 billion judgment (though it will be painful). The network brings in $12-$14 billion a year and turns a profit of $1.5-$2 billion a year. And, of course, Fox's lawyers would be able to drag the case out and/or to negotiate a reduced settlement in exchange for dropping their appeals.

That said, Fox is also facing a billion-dollar lawsuit from Smartmatic. And you have to assume that if one succeeds, the other likely will. Further, other people and entities Fox might have defamed will be encouraged to file suits. Even if their claims are far less meritorious than Dominion's is, those folks would be able to point out in court "Hey, it's already been proven that Fox knowingly tells lies."

What this means is that even if a hypothetical Dominion judgment is survivable, the related fallout might not be. Certainly, Fox would not be able to operate with the understanding that "we'll tell lots of lies as a matter of course, and we'll pay out the occasional big judgment, and that's our business model." Because that model is doomed to fail. Unless the Fox viewers are even dumber than we think they are.

D.M. in Alameda, CA, asks: How do you think that Fani Willis will bring indictments? Will she issue indictments for all cases in one go, from lowliest perjurers all the way up to The Donald? Or will she indict in slow dribs and drabs, trying to threaten and/or convict lower-level conspirators while building future cases?

(V) & (Z) answer: As we so often note, we are not lawyers, and we certainly have no prosecutorial experience. Fortunately, we have many lawyers among our readers, and some of them will write in and tell us if our reasoning is in error. So, check the mailbag tomorrow.

Anyhow, here is our guess, based solely on our intuition. If Willis was going to go after the small fish first, that would have already begun, because she surely has what she needs to do that. Since she has not commenced with indictments, we conclude that she's going after all the fish at roughly the same time.

A.M. in Seattle, WA, asks: In light of the item "Willis' Judgment Cometh and That Right Soon," I was hoping you would revisit some comments you made last year, now that we have a year's perspective on it. In that post, you reiterated your conviction that Rudy Giuliani would be going to prison, and which I believed was just fueling an outrage mindset in the public. It is now 1 year later, and it does not seem that Giuliani is any closer to prison. Do you still believe telling the public political opponents will be going to jail is helpful? To be clear, I'm with you that these guys broke the law to an extent that could warrant jail time... I just don't see that actually happening.

(V) & (Z) answer: It is not healthy for a democracy to call for someone to be imprisoned just because you disagree with them. It is similarly not healthy for a democracy to threaten to imprison someone you dislike as soon as you (supposedly) have the power to do so. Both of these dynamics were on display with all the "Lock her up!" talk about Hillary Clinton.

However, we were not advocating for Giuliani to be imprisoned, and we do not believe we were fueling people's outrage. We were offering our interpretation of the available information, which is exactly what we do, day in and day out. In particular, Giuliani has been told he is a "target" of Fani Willis' investigation. In prosecutorial lingo, this has a very specific meaning, namely "Unless something changes, we are planning to indict you."

M.M. in Atlanta, GA, asks: Why didn't the Democrats filibuster the ESG vote, instead of letting it get to the floor and be passed for Biden to veto?

(V) & (Z) answer: This is one of the situations in which the filibuster was not available.

Under the terms of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), passed at the instigation of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, Congress is allowed to cancel rules changes adopted by federal agencies, and to do so with a simple majority vote in both chambers. Congress only has 60 legislative days to do so, and even if such a resolution passes Congress, it can be vetoed by the president. That is what is going to happen here.

As you might imagine, CRA resolutions don't succeed very often. None were even passed during the Bill Clinton presidency, and only one was passed (and it was signed into law) during the second Bush presidency. Barack Obama received, and vetoed, five of them. That means that the only really substantive use of the law came early in first year of the Trump presidency, when 16 such resolutions overturning Obama-era rules were passed and signed into law. There were also three such resolutions overturning Trump-era rules passed and signed into law in the first year of the Biden presidency.

There are two reasons for Congress to make use of the CRA. The first is that, if successful, it's a much quicker and more legally airtight way of getting rid of unwanted federal regulations. The second is that, even if unsuccessful, it allows for some political theater. The current bill is in category two, obviously.

J.Z. in St. Paul, MN, asks: If the Senate is currently tied at 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans (due to Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, and John Fetterman's, D-PA, hospitalizations), why was VP Kamala Harris' vote for District Judge Margaret Guzman (the one that tied the record for second-most tie-breaking votes by a VP) 49 to 48?

(V) & (Z) answer: Because, in addition to the hospitalized senators, Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) were not present for that vote. We cannot find why Crapo was absent, but Merkley was back in Oregon with his family following the death of his mother.

S.D.R. in Raleigh, NC, asks: All the talk about CPAC this week has me wondering: Is there a left-wing equivalent to CPAC? I don't recall hearing about such a thing. If not, is there anything you can think of that might explain why such a convention exists among the right but not among the left? And if so, is there anything you can think of that might explain why it gets so much less media attention than its right-wing counterpart?

(V) & (Z) answer: The left-wing equivalent to CPAC is Netroots Nation, which was started by the staff of the Daily Kos. This year's meeting will be in Chicago from July 13-15, and will feature appearances from... well, that's not actually known yet. Netroots Nation tends to get some pretty big guests, albeit not as many as CPAC does, but the list won't be announced until May.

Netroots Nation does not get as much coverage as CPAC because its speakers do not generally say extreme, clickbait-y things. Further, they tend to be from the lefty wing of the party, and so are not likely to offer much insight into what exactly the Democrats will be running on in the next election. By contrast, the CPAC attendees tend to say extreme things, and they tend to reflect the views of a much larger segment of the Republican Party (since there are more extremists in the GOP).

L.S. in Greensboro, NC, asks: I've noticed a lot of commentators, including you, assuming that blue-collar workers who didn't go to college would generally oppose student loan forgiveness. However, aren't many of these workers the same people whose children are using student loans to enable them to become the first in their families to attend college? I'm sure that my grade-school-educated father and high-school-educated mother would not have objected at all if my sister and I had been able to get our student loans waived. They were very proud that we were the first in either of our families to obtain college degrees. So isn't it likely that this question is more complex than many have posited?

(V) & (Z) answer: Certainly it is complex. But when we try to assess the chess game that is politics, we speak about things that will be generally true for key constituencies. We do not speak of things that will be universally true (since "universally true" doesn't often exist in politics). And it is generally true that the debt relief will help the Democrats with younger voters but will hurt the Party with blue-collar workers.

S.B. in Granby, MA, asks: Could you give us your assessment of the student loan case before the Supreme Court? I have been a little surprised that there has been no mention of it in your posts this week. Surely the outcome matters to a great many people—something like 27 million them, I believe. Surely the Supreme Court decision will be entirely political. What say you?

(V) & (Z) answer: We try to provide the best and most useful content we can, and we try to avoid wasting readers' time. It's certainly possible to try to read between the lines of the Justices' questions, and to try to guess what they are going to do. And if you want that, there are many people happy to deliver that content. But it's just guesswork, and often the tea-leaf readers prove to be incorrect.

So, our view is that we will wait until the actual decision comes down. Then we don't have to guess what the justices are thinking, because we will know. And, at that point, we can turn to guessing what the political impact will be, which is much more our forté.

D.R. in Massapequa Park, NY, asks: This hasn't been in the news much, but now Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has signed the legislation to go after Disneyworld's special status. Do you see Disney announcing a gradual shutdown or massive layoff in the area in order to counteract his nonsense? The way I view it, Disney has much more power than people realize. Disneyworld has 32 hotels, 4 parks and employs more than 77,000 people, and that doesn't even get into the other industries they support with their presence—airlines, car rentals, non-Disney hotels, restaurants etc. Add it all up and Disney is responsible for bringing in over $75 billion in economic activity to Florida. Can DeSantis really run for president on having lost all those jobs and all that economic activity for the sake of "owning the libs"?

(V) & (Z) answer: Since many of the voters that DeSantis is going after are populists, taking down Disney a few pegs may well be something he can run on as he mounts his presidential bid. After all, he might hurt people in Florida with his actions, but he's not going to hurt Republicans in the other 49 states. So, they presumably won't be bothered by the loss in income to the Sunshine State.

As to Disney, they've already made some slight adjustments that mean fewer jobs (and less money) going to Florida. To fully abandon the state, however, would be very tough. The existing parks and buildings are worth billions, and would not be easily replicated elsewhere. And even if, say, North Carolina reached a deal to be Disney's new East Coast hub, the weather won't be as amenable as Florida's, nor will it be as easy for visitors to access. Further, there's no guarantee that the Tar Heel State won't get a nutter governor in 5-10 years, which would put the company right back to square one.

If we were newly restored Disney CEO Bob Iger, we'd be playing the long game. First, see how serious DeSantis is about mucking around. Then, use generous donations to his PAC and to those of other Republicans to get favorable treatment. Then, if that fails, take the matter to court.

In short, we do not foresee the construction of New Disneyworld in Charlotte, or Richmond, or Charleston anytime soon. That said, it's not impossible that, sometime in the next few years, Disney and the state of North Carolina announce a partnership that will result in the construction of Disney-Pixar Studios East somewhere in the Research Triangle. "We've decided that it's best to diversify our business," Iger might tell reporters, "and so while our theme parks will remain in Florida, our East Coast film and TV production will be done in North Carolina."

J.K. in Charleston, SC, asks: This question is for (Z): In reference to the item "Florida Bill Would Give the Governor Near Total Control of the State Universities," if a law was passed that banned teaching American history in any way contrary to the "universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence," along with other vague and subjective qualifications, how would that change the way you teach your classes?

(V) & (Z) answer: (Z) would probably add more material about sexism, lynching, segregation, the genocide of California's Native Americans, Japanese internment, class conflict, labor strife, the Vietnam War and American mucking around in the Middle East. He might also add a lecture about demagoguery in American history. Oh, and he'd be sure to send multiple copies of his syllabi to the governor's office for perusal. What you can take to the bank, meanwhile, is that there would not be a single iota of information excised from the lectures because that information might hurt the Governor's feefees.

We are skeptical that there will be meaningful follow-through on this initiative from DeSantis. He seems to like to secure his "owned the libs" headlines and then to move on to the next stunt. And even if DeSantis is inclined to follow through, we doubt he would foolish enough to actually try it. If he does try to re-create state university curricula according to his own whims, two things are going to happen. The first is that there will be a brain drain, as existing and future scholars choose to take their talents elsewhere. The second is that the faculty who remain in place will fight him tooth and nail, deliberately flouting his wishes and daring him to do something about it. The type of folks who go into academia do not like to be told what they must teach, or how they must teach it. And they have contracts, union backing and the law on their side. If DeSantis tries to insinuate himself in the manner he's threatened to do, whole departments and divisions will rise up to defy him. He will lose—early, often, and bigly.

DeSantis might be able to appoint some conservatives to administrative-type positions (e.g., regents). And those folks might even be able to crank out some position papers or learning outcomes or rubrics or other documents that outline the things they want taught. But we cannot emphasize how little faculty members care about bureaucrats' opinions on teaching, no matter how much paperwork those bureaucrats generate.

A.I. in Honolulu, HI, asks: If she tried, would Liz Cheney have a chance to get elected to the House from Virginia? Could she threaten either Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) in 2024 or Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) in 2026?

(V) & (Z) answer: It only takes 183 days to establish residency in Virginia, so it's technically possible, but we just don't see it. Even assuming that she can put aside the carpetbagger thing (and remember, Mehmet Oz's ties to Pennsylvania were more recent than Cheney's to Virginia, and he couldn't do it), she doesn't have a constituency. Democrats may admire what Cheney did, but she's still a conservative Republican on the issues. Conservative Republicans will agree with Cheney on the issues, but she's still the person who betrayed Donald Trump. There just aren't enough voters out there who could be expected to vote for her.

M.B. in Boulder, CO, asks: As soon as I saw the news about the Department of Energy's report on the origins of COVID-19, one of my first thoughts was: Why is the DoE investigating and issuing a report on the origins of COVID-19? To the best of my knowledge, DoE has nothing whatsoever to do with infectious diseases. Then again, the DoE can be a mysterious entity as regards its priority roles and responsibilities, as Rick Perry learned after being appointed Secretary of Energy by TFG. Cursory searches have revealed nothing addressing this question.

Furthermore, why release a report that seems to conflict with the current assessments of most other federal entities that have looked into the matter, including the intelligence community, when the conclusion reached is one of "low confidence"? Surely they knew the morass they were wading into. This report doesn't seem helpful to the consideration at hand, or to relations with China, and instead mostly just feeds conspiracy theories. I'm skeptical that this is the work of a rogue office or individual, but various things about the report leave me a tad perplexed.

(V) & (Z) answer: To start, and as we point out every time we mention Rick Perry as DoE secretary, the primary job of that department is to oversee and maintain the United States' nuclear stockpile. As you can imagine, the bad guys have a great interest in the United States' nuclear stockpile. So, it is necessary for the DoE to have an Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (DoE OIC). That office is one of 18 intelligence agencies under the umbrella of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. And Joe Biden ordered all 18 to produce reports on COVID, so the folks at DoE OIC were just doing what they were told.

As to their findings, you might be misunderstanding what a finding of "low confidence" means. It means that the folks at DoE OIC decided that the lab leak was the likeliest explanation, but that their evidence for that was not strong enough for them to be certain. Unless you want them to start cooking the books or making things up, DoE OIC had to report what they really believed to be true, in as nuanced a manner as they were able. And that is what happened.

M.D. in San Tan Valley, AZ, asks: Since it is inevitable that the 39th President is on his way to the big White House in the sky, have you any knowledge on his presidential funeral arrangements and if he will actually have them in our nation's capital?

(V) & (Z) answer: He spoke about that in some detail during a 2007 C-SPAN interview (you can see it here; you'll have to manually forward to 01:33:00). That was 15+ years ago, so it's possible things have changed, but it is not likely.

What Carter said is that the planning has been done primarily by his wife, working in conjunction with the White House office responsible for presidential funerals. There is a roughly 400-page document that lays out everything including, well, where Carter will be laid out. He's going to have a state funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, and then a viewing in Atlanta. He'll be buried in front of his home in Plains, GA. That is unusual; presidents these days are usually buried at their libraries. Carter is also eligible for burial at Annapolis or at Arlington National Cemetery, but he will decline those opportunities.


F.L. in Denton, TX, asks: Let's say the GOP retakes the Senate in 2024, yet Joe Biden (or another Democrat) retains the White House. Not that I wish death or illness on anyone, but let's also say a conservative member of the Supreme Court either retires or shuffles off their mortal coil. Could a Democratic president simply pull a turtle and not nominate anyone, in the hope that the Democrats might retake the Senate in 2026?

(V) & (Z) answer: Certainly. If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) taught us anything, it's that there's no set timeline for choosing new Supreme Court justices.

What Biden would actually do, however, is go to McConnell and say: "Senator, I am willing to send you a moderately liberal nominee. And if you refuse to give them a hearing and a vote, then Senate Democrats will run on 'rein in the out-of-control Supreme Court' in 2026, and if we retake the chamber, I'll seat a justice who is so left-wing she makes Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) look like Jefferson Davis."

S.W. in Orland Park, IL, asks: Your discussion of state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh's (D-NE) intent to filibuster the Nebraska legislature brought to mind something that has puzzled me for a while: Why did states even think they needed bicameral legislatures?

I understand why the U.S. Congress is divided accordingly, so that one legislative body gives equal representation to the states while the other is weighted according to population. And even the root of our system, the British Parliament, is clear about its intentions right there in the names: House of Lords and House of Commons. But what is the supposed benefit of having two separate bodies at the state level, to the point that only one in 50 has decided that one is enough? Here in Illinois, each state Senate district is literally two state House districts slammed together. What value to this system is eluding me?

(V) & (Z) answer: First, do not discount the impact of, for lack of a better term, inertia. If you're creating a government for your state, it's way easier to copy an existing one rather than to try something new and different.

That said, the basic theory of Parliament, and of the U.S. Congress, and of the state legislatures is that bills end up having to secure approval of two very different groups of people with (in theory) different motivations. In the case of state legislatures (and the U.S. Congress), it is expected that the folks in the upper chamber will be less subject to the passions of the moment, since they (theoretically) represent a larger and more ideologically diverse constituency, and because many of them are not facing imminent reelection bids, and so don't have to worry as much about pandering to voters.

Things don't always work out this way in practice (i.e., more cautious, sober, level-headed state senators), but this is the theory.

B.W. in Suwanee, GA, asks: My wife and I visited Cuba recently. At one point, we were treated to a performance by a group of school kids. I have a violin that I'm trying to donate to that school, but I'm having a hard time shipping it to a Cuban address, I assume because of the embargoes we've imposed on them. I've tried UPS, USPS and DHL, and they can't ship to Cuba. I haven't tried FedEx yet, so I'm still working on it, but I'm wondering if you guys can give some insight as to why I'm having so much trouble with this seemingly simple gesture.

(V) & (Z) answer: When Barack Obama took steps to normalize relations with Cuba, the USPS began making deliveries to Cuban addresses, while FedEx announced it was seeking approval to begin making deliveries to Cuba (something that both the U.S. and Cuban governments would have to sign off on).

However, when Donald Trump took office, he put an end to the normalization process. The USPS stopped most of its deliveries to Cuba; now, you can only send packages worth $200 or less. And FedEx abandoned its efforts to secure approval to commence service to the island. Now, if you want them to take your package to Cuba, your only option is Cuba, MO.

What you are likely going to have to do is find a shipper who does business in the U.S., but is not based in the U.S., like Eurosender.


R.C. in Des Moines, IA, asks: A reader recently sent a letter to you in which they stated, "I read the article before my usual 'go straight to the comments before reading the article' policy." Why in the world would someone have this sort of "policy"? Do they see the news in general and politics specifically as just another form of entertainment? I am deeply disturbed that someone would rather read comments than the article or would allow reader comments, which are often full of bile and bad-faith actors stirring the sh**, to color their reading of a news article. I wonder how widespread this "policy" is. For what it's worth, I never read the comments sections, because it usually devolves into nonsense almost immediately.

(V) & (Z) answer: For some articles, and some writers, you can pretty much predict what they are going to say without reading it. And checking the comments section can be a pretty quick way to confirm that assumption. We would not propose relying on the comments in all cases, but in some cases they can serve as a form of SparkNotes.

C.D. in Lexington, KY, asks: Approximately how often has the subject of "This Week in Schadenfreude" been about anyone even slightly left-leaning?

I enjoy reading your site (and have for close to 20 years!), and can certainly understand if you think that the left is more correct most of the time, but you seem unwilling to be critical even if someone on the left says completely irrational and crazy things and couldn't pass a third grade math class.

(V) & (Z) answer: Only a small subset of news stories actually fit the parameters of that item. First of all, there generally has to be some sort of less-than-upstanding behavior. Second, there has to be some clear consequence to that behavior that we can talk about (since the consequences are where the schadenfreude comes from). Third, if the incident is significant, it gets an actual news item (e.g., Scott Adams this week). Fourth, we won't use things where the consequences the person suffered involve death, debilitating injury, severe illness, and the like. We don't want to make light of such things.

We are always on the lookout for items, and we also get suggestions from readers. And the vast, vast majority of items that come even close to fitting the parameters involve Republicans. We don't think that's just a product of bias; today's Republicans (a certain subset of them) are vastly more likely than the Democrats to act in bad faith, to say hurtful things, to do hurtful things, to engage in chest puffery and grandstanding, etc. Those are exactly the behaviors that "This Week in Schadenfreude" tends to target.

We did have the pope (and his middle finger) not too long ago, and we are always open to writing up non-Republicans (Democrats, people in other countries, etc.) when we have the opportunity. But we aren't going to force it in the name of some vague notion of "balance." If one party's adherents engage in more bad behavior than the other party's adherents, then the former group is going to get called out on their behavior more often.

J.P. in Glenside, PA, asks: Since Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is clearly divorced in her thinking from normal reality, why are you giving her so much time? She just seeks notoriety as a way to raise funds. Every time one of her moronic statements reaches the echo chamber of Main Street media outrage, she wins! That means $$$ and more $$$ for her... kerchink!

Please try better to ignore her comments—she would hate that—and discuss more substantive policy/political questions that create meaningful political dialogue.

(V) & (Z) answer: We generally do ignore Greene and her ilk. We don't enjoy writing about it, and we don't like inflicting it on readers. But sometimes, as with the Greene/national divorce item, a story becomes so big that we feel we have to mention it. Also, there's something to be said for the notion that odious ideas are best disinfected with lots of sunlight.

We must admit that also, on occasion, something is just too funny and bizarre to let pass. Like Tucker Carlson and his M&M obsession.

S.H. in Hanoi, Vietnam, asks: I'm wondering if you have ever toyed with moving the Q&A to a different day. I generally don't write in with comments unless there's something I see of interest in the Q&A, but especially since I don't read it until the equivalent of Saturday night in the U.S., that leaves a very narrow window for turnaround. Today I had some thoughts about MTG's "divorce" proposition and your response to Z.C. in Beverly Hills, but by the time I could come up with a comment I'd be happy with, it would likely be as the Sunday entry is being published. So just curious if you've ever toyed with a different schedule.

(V) & (Z) answer: When we originally launched the Q&A, it appeared during the regular week, with us answering 3-10 questions at the end of the day's posting. However, that created a posting that was too long, and that usually went live way too late, as the Q&A answers take a pretty long time to write. So, Saturdays it had to be.

Reader Question of the Week

Here is the question we put before readers last week:

J.G. in Dallas, PA, asks: I've noticed that you guys like to use the phrase "tossing red meat to the base" quite a bit these days when referring to conservative talking points. It has always seemed like a slightly pejorative insinuation that partisans on the right are nothing but a mindless pack of ravenous predators.

I am curious if you have a symmetrical term for progressive talking points? When Bernie or AOC pitch a $20 minimum wage, or propose a 90% tax on billionaires to fund the Green New Deal, what exactly are they throwing at their base? Blue water? Personally, I prefer "Moon Pies." (Get it? Pies from the sky?)

And here some of the most interesting answers we got in response:

S.K. in Sunnyvale, CA: I'm not sure about a general-case term, but when Tony Evers (D-WI) does it, it's gotta be "blue cheese."

Right wingers may say that coming from Bernie Sanders, it's still "red" meat, just not their shade of red. And coming from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), "Soylent Green" would be conveniently insulting, though perhaps too cerebral for their own base.

J.H. in Boston, MA: I am kind of annoyed by the assumption implicit in the question from J.G. in Dallas, that we want to rhetorically insult right-wing politicians, and praise left-wingers. The less critically thinking parts of the base exist on the left. The metaphor of unthinking rabid animals works just fine for any faction. "Throw red meat to the base" works just as well for Bernie's base as it does for Donald Trump's.

D.C. in Portland, OR: It doesn't matter what "meat" you feed the blue base, as long as it's free and economically nutritious.

Obama phones, health insurance subsidies, canceled student debt, minimum wage, tax the rich and 4-year college degrees, are all perfectly tasty options for the hungry blue masses.

J.C. in Washington, DC: Equality Elixir.

C.B. in Atlanta, CA: Bernie and AOC would throw "tofurkey" at the base!

M.M. in San Diego, CA: Vegan breakfast burritos made with "Positive Intentions." And, yes indeed, I have ordered one of those.

B.B. in Westminster, MD: As ironic as it sounds, given their association with elephants, the food for Democrats is "peanuts." For conservatives it evokes circuses and suggests a lack of seriousness, but it also accurately expresses the progressives' sense of the largess of these proposals.

I've never heard progressive proposals compared to food, but I would go with "ambrosia," because they usually come off as mythical.

L.O.S. in Muskegon, MI: I always refer to this as "magic talk." They know there is no practical way to implement the proposal, let alone pay for it, yet they know it makes the base happy. The downside is lefties expect action and have no tolerance for delay.

M.S. in Sterling, NY: Unicorn kibbles and bits.

D.S.R. in Tempe, AZ: Pitching woo. As much as I love Bernie (hey, I voted for him twice) that's a pretty good description of what he's got.

A.D. in Dorchester, MA: Impossible meat, obviously.

R.M. in Portland, OR: Let's just call them what they are: "reasons to have optimism for our children's future."

Here is the question for next week:

E.W. in Skaneateles, NY, asks: Suppose you are an adviser for Vice President Kamala Harris. What advice would you give her to be seen as a more effective VP and improve her standing with the electorate? Do you think it is even possible?

Submit your answers here!

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Mar03 Schumer, Jeffries to Fox: Knock off the Propaganda
Mar03 CPAC Is Underway
Mar03 RNC To Require Loyalty Pledge
Mar03 Florida Gone Wild
Mar03 Feinstein Has Shingles
Mar03 This Week in Schadenfreude: You Could Make an Omelet with all the Egg on Gaetz' Face
Mar03 This Week in Freudenfreude: A Smalls Change Is a Big Deal
Mar02 DeSantis' New Book Gives Away His Platform
Mar02 Primary Polling Is All over the Map
Mar02 Reagan Is Dead, but What about Reaganism?
Mar02 Republicans Take on Wall Street
Mar02 Whither Social Security?
Mar02 Abortions in Space Are a Thing
Mar02 Slotkin's Move Has a Downside for the Democrats
Mar02 Texan Bans Pork
Mar02 Liz Cheney Has a Job
Mar01 A Hotfoot for Lightfoot
Mar01 So Su Me?
Mar01 What Is the Plan, Republicans?
Mar01 What Is the Plan, Ron?
Mar01 Follow the Money
Mar01 Dirty Tricks in Nevada
Mar01 Nigeria Elects Tinubu
Feb28 Slotkin Announces Senate Bid
Feb28 Chicagoans Head to the Polls Today
Feb28 Another Bombshell-filled Dominion Filing
Feb28 A Lesson in Reading Polls
Feb28 Nevada Democratic Party Is in Disarray...
Feb28 ...While the Florida Democratic Party Is Trying to Pull Itself Together
Feb28 Who Needs Gerrymandering When You've Got "George Santos"?
Feb27 Democratic-controlled States Are Protecting Voters
Feb27 Congressional Republicans Oppose Student Loan Relief
Feb27 DeSantis Leads Trump in California Poll
Feb27 Florida Bill Would Give the Governor Near Total Control of the State Universities
Feb27 Trump Is Starting to Run a Conventional Campaign
Feb27 Haley Supported the Right of States to Secede When She Ran for Governor
Feb27 Yellen Won't Negotiate about the Debt Limit
Feb27 Nebraska State Senator Will Use Filibuster to Protect Abortion
Feb27 Christian Nationalists Are Moving to North Idaho
Feb27 Carter's Legacy: Why Not Me?
Feb26 Sunday Mailbag
Feb25 Saturday Q&A
Feb24 Everybody's Passing the Buck in Ohio
Feb24 Kohrs Is Enjoying Her 15 Minutes of Fame; Others Are Less Enthused
Feb24 Polls Have Interesting News for (Some) Republicans
Feb24 Williamson Is In
Feb24 This Week in Schadenfreude: McCarthy Under Fire
Feb24 This Week in Freudenfreude: They Call Me Mister Mayor
Feb23 To Run Or Not to Run, That Is the Question...
Feb23 ...But Not for Tester