• Show Notes
  • Transcript

Related Content: Listen to the bonus content for this episode here

*Interview conducted on February 15th and published on March 18th. 

On this week’s episode of Stay Tuned, “The Authoritarian Impulse,” Preet answers listener questions about the Manhattan DA’s investigation into Donald Trump’s taxes, the long-standing OLC policy that a sitting president cannot be prosecuted, and the status of certain 1970’s fashion trends. 

Then, Preet is joined by Anne Applebaum, a Staff Writer at The Atlantic and the author of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism

In the Stay Tuned bonus, Preet and Applebaum discuss why so many friends from Applebaum’s past now believe in right-wing conspiracy theories and how the GOP has transformed over the last 25 years.  

To listen, try the CAFE Insider membership free for two weeks and get access to the full archive of exclusive content, including the CAFE Insider podcast co-hosted by Preet and Anne Milgram. 

Listen to the entirety of Doing Justice, Preet’s new free six-part podcast based on his bestselling book of the same name. You can hear Preet’s incredible stories from his time as U.S. Attorney on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Sign up to receive the CAFE Brief, a weekly newsletter featuring analysis by Elie Honig, a weekly roundup of politically charged legal news, and historical lookbacks that help inform our current political challenges.

As always, tweet your questions to @PreetBharara with hashtag #askpreet, email us at [email protected], or call 669-247-7338 to leave a voicemail.

Stay Tuned with Preet is produced by CAFE Studios. 

Executive Producer: Tamara Sepper; Senior Editorial Producer: Adam Waller; Technical Director: David Tatasciore; Audio Producer: Matthew Billy; Editorial Producers: David Kurlander, Noa Azulai, Sam Ozer-Staton.

REFERENCES AND SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS

Q&A:

  • Jane Mayer, “Can Cyrus Vance, Jr., Nail Trump?” The New Yorker, 3/12/2021
  • “Michael Cohen met with Manhattan DA 7 times in Trump probe,” CNN, 3/12/2021
  • Walter Dellinger, “Indicting a President Is Not Foreclosed: The Complex History,” Lawfare, 6/18/2021
  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s letter to AG Merrick Garland, Whitehouse.Senate.Gov, 3/11/2021
  • Erin Durkin, “Preet Bharara endorses Alvin Bragg for Manhattan DA,” Politico, 11/18/2020

THE INTERVIEW:

  • Anne Applebaum, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism, Doubleday, 7/21/2020 
  • Anne Applebaum, Gulag: A History, Anchor, 2003
  • Anne Applebaum, Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine, Anchor, 2017

AUTHORITARIAN STRATEGY

  • Anne Applebaum, “History Will Judge the Complicit,” The Atlantic, 7/2020
  • Anne Applebaum, “A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come,” The Atlantic, 10/2018
  • Karen Stenner, “Liberal democracy has now exceeded many people’s capacity to tolerate it,” HOPE Not Hate Magazine, 1/11/2020

BIDEN’S CHALLENGE

  • Anne Applebaum, “What Trump and His Mob Taught the World About America,” The Atlantic, 1/7/2021
  • Anne Applebaum, “Coexistence Is the Only Option,” The Atlantic, 1/20/2021
  • Celine Castronuovo, “Poll: 18 percent of Republicans support Capitol riots,” The Hill, 1/8/2021
  • Emily Badger, “Most Republicans Say They Doubt the Election. How Many Really Mean It?” New York Times, 11/30/2020
  • Charles Landow and Mohammed Aly Sergie, “The Northern Ireland Peace Process,” Council on Foreign Relations, 3/5/2020

COVID-19

  • Anne Applebaum, “The Coronavirus Called America’s Bluff,” The Atlantic, 3/15/2020
  • Anne Applebaum, “Frustration Is Spreading Faster Than the Vaccine Is,” The Atlantic, 2/5/2021
  • Catherine S. Manegold, “Clinton’s Favorite, AmeriCorps, Is Attacked by the Republicans,” New York Times, 3/31/1995
  • Nick Schifrin and Anne Applebaum, “How authoritarianism has spread since the coronavirus pandemic began,” PBS NewsHour, 8/4/2020

POLAND

  • Adam Easton, “Pawel Adamowicz: Murder on stage stuns a divided Poland,” BBC, 1/16/2019
  • Piotr Buras, “The Killing of Gdańsk’s Mayor is the Tragic Result of Hate Speech,” The Guardian, 1/17/2019
  • Aviezer Tucker, “Ex-Friends 2020,” Lawfare Blog, 8/27/2020
  • Aleks Szczerbiak, “Why is Poland’s Law and Justice party still so popular?” London School of Economics, 10/1/2019
  • Jane Perlez, “Poland, Hungary and the Czechs Join NATO,” New York Times, 3/13/1999

THE AMERICAN CENTER-RIGHT

  • Anne Applebaum, “Why I Can’t Vote for John McCain,” Slate, 10/27/2008
  • Anne Applebaum, “Laura Ingraham’s Descent Into Despair,” The Atlantic, 7/16/2020
  • Anne Applebaum, “For Some Trump Apologists, the Cognitive Dissonance Is Just Too Much,” The Atlantic, 9/25/2020
  • James Atlas, “The Counter Counterculture,” New York Times Magazine, 2/12/1995
  • Michael Gerson, “Trump supporters want us to believe the Framers were fools,” Washington Post, 2/8/2021
  • Francis Fukuyama, “The Thing That Determines a Country’s Resistance to the Coronavirus,” The Atlantic, 3/30/2020

NOSTALGIA

  • Alan Cowell, “Roger Scruton, a Provocative Public Intellectual, Dies at 75,” New York Times, 1/16/2020
  • Jason Daley, “Lessons in the Decline of Democracy From the Ruined Roman Republic,” Smithsonian Magazine, 11/16/2018

BUTTON

Interview recorded February 15th, 2021

Why are authoritarians on the rise around the world?

Anne Applebaum, the Atlantic staff writer and expert historian of Soviet Russia, explains the global trend toward autocracy. 

Anne Applebaum can’t talk to many of her erstwhile friends, both in the U.S. and in Poland, her adopted home. Why have so many of Applebaum’s once-allies turned toward conspiracy theories and political extremism? Applebaum joins Preet to discuss the cultural trends that have influenced this move toward polarization, and how right-wing intellectuals have used the moment to help bring anti-democratic regimes into power.

Preet and Applebaum try to make sense of the motivations that these voices, from television personalities like Tucker Carlson to campaign insiders like Steve Bannon. They also talk through how Poland, which has also seen the rise of a reactionary populism in recent years, can help explain the cultural fault lines in the United States. And perhaps most importantly, Applebaum offers some theoretical solutions that might help societies to re-unify.

Preet Bharara:

From CAFE, welcome to Stay Tuned. I’m Preet Bharara.

Anne Applebaum:

Trump and his administration decided that they could use COVID-19 as a way of triggering and angering people. And we are going to be recovering from that decision, that terrible, self-serving, bad decision, for a long time.

Preet Bharara:

That’s Anne Applebaum. She’s a staff writer at The Atlantic, and the author of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. Applebaum is an expert on autocracies. She’s written several award winning books on Stalinist Russia. Her most recent, Twilight of Democracy, is a polemic against the anti-democratic parties that have grown in her adopted home, Poland, and the United Kingdom, and right here in the United States. During the COVID-19 pandemic and the contentious 2020 presidential election, Applebaum has written about the failures of American institutions and what these breakdowns reveal about the state of the nation. Applebaum and I talk about the nature of authoritarianism, why one third of the population is susceptible to autocratic rhetoric, and how we can restore national unity after the trying events of the last year. That’s coming up, stay tuned.

Preet Bharara:

Let’s get to your questions. This question comes from Twitter user, Jamieki19915371. I hope that’s not your Social Security number. The question asks, please talk about the investigation in the Manhattan DA’s office. What is a reasonable timeline? What does it mean Michael Cohen interviewed seven times? Also, what impact will Vance not running for reelection have on the investigation and/or prosecution? So obviously you’re asking about the ongoing investigation that’s gotten a lot of attention of Cy Vance’s office, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office into Donald Trump’s finances. They just received his tax information from his accounting firm, Mazars. They hired a forensic accounting firm, FTI. They also hired an outside lawyer as a special assistant, district attorney, Mark Pomerantz, who is a two time alum of SDNY. So what’s a reasonable time line?

They’ve been working on this for a while. They’ve only gotten new tax related information recently. But my sense is, given the moves that Cy Vance has made and the people that he has brought on board, and given the election coming up that you alluded to, that a decision will be made to prosecute or not prosecute by the end of the year. Either before the election or certainly before Cy Vance turns over the reigns to whoever gets elected in November. Do I know that for sure? No. Do I know that based on any inside information? No. But every single is that they’re prepared to do this thing. And I think the overall odds are fairly high that they believe they have a criminal case to make. It is just not feasible to me, incredible to me, that you make such public moves, such substantial hiring moves if you don’t believe there’s a high chance of proceeding.

What does it mean that Michael Cohen interviewed seven times? It means he’s got a lot of information to give. It also might mean, I just don’t know, that Michael Cohen is a difficult person to interview and a difficult person to corroborate. Seven is a long time. But I don’t know how long those meetings were. Maybe they were seven short meetings. Maybe they were seven long meetings, but it does at a minimum meaning that he has a lot of information to impart. And there’s a lot to untangle there.

As your final question, what impact will Vance not running for reelection have on the investigation and/or prosecution? I don’t think it has much of an effect. I think it does indicate that given that he started the investigation, he wants to conclude the investigation. He won’t be able to conclude the prosecution if there’s a charge that’s brought because trials take a while to come about and to finish. And appeals take a while as well. But I think it’d be very difficult for a new district attorney to come in with charges having been filed against the president of the United States or the former president of the United States and do anything other than proceed with it, especially if it’s been done at the recommendation, and under the supervision of the outside lawyer Mark Pomerantz, so I think it will proceed a pace. I think that all the candidates who are running are the type of people who would want to continue the investigation prosecution.

So, speaking of Cy Vance and the DA’s office, relatedly, I’ve gotten a few questions from people including this one from Twitter user WG Levy who asks, “Will you replace Cy Vance?” The answer to that question is no, I am not running. There’s a large field of people who are running. I have made an endorsement in the election of Alvin Bragg, friend and former colleague from the US Attorney’s Office who’s terrific, who I think would be a great leader of the Manhattan DA’s office. Also, served time in private practice and at the New York Attorney General’s office, so it’s not going to be me, and I hope it is Alvin Bragg.

This question comes in a tweet from listener @JimCerataus, who asks, “Will the DOJ reverse the policy of not indicting a sitting president? #AskPreet. So, this question has come up before, and I’ve thought a little bit further about it and I think while it’s premature to predict that DOJ will reverse the policy as outlined in two Office of Legal Counsel memoranda that we have talked about over the last couple of years. It’s premature to determine whether or not they will reverse the policy, but I think it’s likely that they will revisit the policy. As you may recall, those two ELSI opinions came about the last couple of times that impeachment was in the air. The first time after Watergate and Nixon back in the early to mid ’70s. And in the last time, after the Clinton impeachment back in the late ’90s. And here we are, having concluded two impeachment trials of former President Donald Trump and all sorts of other issues relating to potential federal charges against him, ranging from the 1/6 insurrection to election interference and what have you.

I think there is some reason, since it’s been a couple of decades for a new set of eyes and lawyers at the Office of Legal Counsel to reconsider or at least reexamine the principles behind the policy of not inditing a sitting president. I will say also that there’s some pressure, or at least interest in the part of elected officials in OLC doing that. Prime among them, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island, who’s a former AG of the state, former US Attorney of the state, he’s brought the issue up of OLC opinions generally at both confirmation hearings for Vanita Gupta, Lisa Monaco, and also for Merrick Garland. He also in the last week, wrote a letter to the Attorney General Merrick Garland about OLC memos that get withdrawn, that don’t seem to be well reasoned, that are kept secret.

And so, implicit in that is the idea that maybe they should revisit the policy of not inditing a sitting president as well. He’s pretty harsh in talking about prevailing OLC opinions. In his letter, he referred specifically to the OLC memo that has not been withdrawn, “That creates a procedural box canyon for the theory that no president can be investigated or prosecuted for a criminal offense.” He says, also, “This OLC theory evades judicial scrutiny and review, even though in our government of laws it is the responsibility of courts to state what the law is.” So, he and others, I think, for good reason, and in good faith, will be calling for a review of that particular OLC policy that you ask about.

This is a very important question from Twitter user @John57Healy. Do you think bell bottoms will ever come back? No, John. No. Bell bottoms will never ever come back. Stay tuned, there’s more coming up after this.

My guest this week is Anne Applebaum, staff writer at the Atlantic and an expert on authoritarianism. We talk about the state of democracy in the United States and Europe, and who is most responsible for the polarization that dominates so much in global politics? Anne Applebaum, welcome to the show. So good to have you.

Anne Applebaum:

Thank you.

Preet Bharara:

I want to talk about this book of yours that’s not quite new. It came out some months ago. And I read it cover to cover and I think everyone should. It’s called Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. So, it’s a romance novel, right?

Anne Applebaum:

Yes, it’s a love story.

Preet Bharara:

It’s a love story. You always want a book that has the word seductive lure, the word seductive lure in there. So, I want to talk a little bit about the book because I think this issue of authoritarianism and autocracy, and whether we’ve escaped it, or whether we can ever ultimately be sure that we’re escaping it, I think it’s just as important now as it was before the election given some of the things that have happened. I want to start with some research that you cite from Karen Stenner, which is kind of eye popping. And that is that she a behavioral economist who began researching personality traits two decades ago, you say, “Has argued that about a third of the population in any country has what she calls an authoritarian predisposition.” So, on the one hand, a third, should we be horrified if that’s accurate, that that’s the number or should we be pleased that it’s well below a majority in any country?

Anne Applebaum:

I think we should be unsurprised. The attraction of authoritarianism to some people, the dislike of democracy, the horror that a lot of people feel when they hear angry argumentation and bitter debate is something that has existed across time, and that it was a part of society, and that it was an undercurrent in our democracies, or maybe more dominant in other countries shouldn’t have surprised us, but of course it did. Many of us had been so convinced by the American success story, particularly since the World War II, that we forgot something that the founding fathers actually knew which is that there are always people who are attracted to authoritarians or to authoritarianism, and finding a way to accommodate them into liberal democracy has always been a problem and will always be.

Preet Bharara:

Does that one third number ring true to you?

Anne Applebaum:

So, funny enough, it does. When I was reading her work, I said to a friend of mine, “I wonder if it’s a coincidence that the current ruling party in Poland is a kind of authoritarian, populist Nationalist Party. And they’ve consistently got around a third of the vote.” If you look at the number of people who believe that the election was stolen in the United States, and are inclined to believe the views of alternative far right media that also gets you to a number, something like a third, maybe a little more, maybe a little bit less. It does seem right to me. I mean, I don’t know that it’s a scientific number.

One of the things I really like about Karen Stenner is that she doesn’t talk about an authoritarian personality like it’s something you can never get rid of like having blue eyes or something. She talks about it as a predisposition. In other words, that there are conditions that make certain kinds of characters more afraid and more inclined to authoritarianism. And then there are certain kinds of conditions where they’re less inclined. So, it’s something that exists as a possibility, but it’s not preordained. And that feels right to me because, I mean, almost anybody who’s ever tried to do determinism in politics and say this X or Y will definitely happen is almost always wrong because situations change, and the mood of people changes along with them. And I think it’s as true in this case, as it is in everything, in many others.

Preet Bharara:

Further to what you said a second ago, you write that this predisposition, it is a frame of mind not a set of ideas. Why is that an important distinction?

Anne Applebaum:

For one, it means that you can find authoritarians all across the political spectrum. So, I wrote three books about Soviet communism. I mean, that was pretty much what I was doing over the last 20 or 30 years more than anything else. And so, I’m well aware that there’s a history of left wing totalitarianism. And there’s a left wing way of thinking that is anti-democratic. But we are faced in America and in many parts of Europe at the moment with a different… I mean, it’s an ideologically different threat to democracy, and it looks and sounds different. But it also appeals to people who have this authoritarian predisposition. Once you understand that it’s something that can come in different flavors and different colors and different ideologies, and that it appeals to people in certain kind of conditions, then I think you can better understand the rise and fall and flow of the appeal of authoritarianism.

Preet Bharara:

So, if you are a budding authoritarian in some country that is otherwise at least nominally democratic, like the United States, and you’re familiar with this research, and you then believe that there’s a third of the population who has this trait or this predisposition, what is your strategy for coming to power?

Anne Applebaum:

The strategy for coming to power is the one that we have seen used over the last several years in a number of countries by people who I think understand this very well. And the strategy is, create a sense of sociological or cultural threat. You or your lifestyle or your identity are under threat. You are in danger of being wiped out. And this leads to a an increase in fear in some people and leads them to doubt democracy. Another thing you can do and this has also been done is you can increase the cacophony, the loudness of debate and amplify extremism. If you’re someone as many people with a kind of authoritarian predisposition are, if you’re someone who fears and dislikes bitter and angry debate, and is somehow made angry, personally angrier by that then you’re also somewhat more likely to choose authoritarianism.

So, an increase in cacophony, more extremism, an implication of threat. You’re at risk of being wiped out or disappeared from society. These seem to be things that certain kinds of people respond to very well. It’s not an accident that many authoritarians on their way to power or when in power talk about… We in America, it’s a kind of cliche, but there are different versions. We’ll talk about law and order. Use of the police, use of force, cracking down, shutting up, making everyone be quiet, making everybody unified. These are things that make some people feel better. People who don’t like disagreement, division, who don’t like cacophony, who don’t like also heterogenous societies, who don’t like diversity. These are people who will then find that kind of politics appealing. And there are a lot of people who either know this because they’ve been studying it for years or who understand it intuitively. This is why that language has been used over the years by so many different kinds of authoritarians on both the left and the right.

Preet Bharara:

Although it’s a little confusing to me, I guess because some of the people who would be in favor of a transition to autocracy who support some of these folks, who strike fear in their hearts and say that their way of life is under threat. They themselves sometimes engage in bitter debate, too in favor of their favorite candidate. Do they not?

Anne Applebaum:

Sure. Although, I mean, I’m not saying that everybody is consistent, or that there’s a plan. I’m saying that using extremist language is something that they know will appeal to a certain kind of person, and that it will cause them to demand silence. And not everybody’s doing it consciously, but I do believe some are.

Preet Bharara:

So, if you’re not the budding authoritarian, but you’re the budding democratic future leader, and you believe in the values of democratic pluralism, and you know about this one third of the population, what’s your strategy, not for coming to power so much in that example, but how to address that third, or how not to address that third?

Anne Applebaum:

So, this is really the question of the moment.

Preet Bharara:

Yeah. And that’s why we have you on.

Anne Applebaum:

This is not an abstract question. This is the question of, what does Joe Biden do? What did Democrats in Congress do? What does some Republicans in Congress do, actually? With the phenomenon that we’ve now seen that exists in America, namely, the existence of large number of Americans who are now anti-systemic? By that, I mean, when you look at what happened in the Capitol On January, the sixth, those people were not Republicans fighting Democrats. That’s not why they were there. They were there because they were opposed to Congress itself. They were trying to undo the results of a Democratic election.

Preet Bharara:

Some of them wanted to hang Mike Pence.

Anne Applebaum:

Some of them wanted to hang Mike Pence.

Preet Bharara:

I believe he’s a Republican still.

Anne Applebaum:

As far as we know, he’s still Republican. We might soon learn otherwise, but right now that’s all we know. But they were trying to prevent Congress from executing its constitutional obligation of recognizing the next president and moving on. They were trying to stop that. What’s scary isn’t that there were several thousand people there, what’s scary is the number of people in the country who support them. And we don’t really know exactly what that real number is. I saw a number not that long after January the sixth that showed something like 20% of Americans. Not of the Republican Party, but of Americans supporting the assault on the Capitol.

I don’t know whether the number is still that high. Maybe it’s gotten a little lower. Something like 30% say they don’t believe Joe Biden is a legitimate president and there’s your 30%. What’s the real number of they who are actually dangerous? I don’t know. Even if we said it’s half that, it’s 10 to 15%. It’s a lot of people. And for Biden, for constitutional Republicans and Democrats, they are an enormous problem for our country. And so, the question is what do you do to make those people feel somehow comfortable in liberal democracy? How do you integrate them? And there are a number of different places and examples that you can look for, for some guidance.

It’s worth probably noting that Karen Stenner herself has written about this. And her argument is that anything that projects unity… I mean, she says literally everybody wearing the same uniform, marching in formation, any images like that help that group of people feel close to or connected to society. So she has a very specific idea that stressing unity, stressing togetherness, showing pictures of everyone all lined up together. Communication using that as its base will and could work. And of course, there is some evidence that Biden’s White House is thinking along those lines.

Another interesting place to go and look for examples of how this is done is to look at other countries that have had anti-systemic or violent insurgencies and have found ways around them. And the one I always find the most interesting, which, although it’s not like the United States in any way, it’s an interesting parallel. That one is Northern Ireland, and Northern Ireland, again, had nothing to do with the United States. I’m not saying we’re the same. I’m not saying that we have a terrorist movement, nothing like that. But the division in Northern Ireland was irreconcilable. In other words, there were some people in the country who believed that country was part of Ireland and some who believed it was part of Great Britain. And this was a division that there was no halfway house solution to. You couldn’t get everybody else in a room and have them argue it out and everyone would agree on some in between. There just wasn’t one.

Preet Bharara:

It looked hopeless for a long time, right?

Anne Applebaum:

It looked hopeless for a long time and the violence increased. And both sides were… As the violence increased, the more moderate people became drawn into it and people took sides and split apart and physically lived apart more and more because violence has a way of radicalizing people. And it seemed like there was no solution. The solution in Northern Ireland. Again, it’s a long history. And again, I’m not saying there’s a blueprint for the United States here or a kind of we just follow the dots, and we do what they did, and it’ll be the same, but they do offer some food for thought. And so, one of the things that happened in Northern Ireland, the peace process in Northern Ireland did not involve everybody getting together in a room and arguing about stuff. It involved changing the subject.

So, we’re not going to talk about that. We’re going to talk about this was at the community level. We’re going to talk… We’re going to all build a community center, and we’re going to talk as Catholics and Protestants in one community. We’re going to talk about what kind of Christmas tree lighting we should have this year. I mean, that’s a trivial example. There were some more serious ones. Or we’re going to talk about, we need a new road, or we need to fill the potholes or we need to build a bridge in our community, or we need a new work training program for young people, both Catholic and Protestant. And we’re going to talk about that.

That didn’t get rid of the problem of the deep problem of identity and division and polarization. But at least the people who were trying to solve these other problems, were trying to kill each other. So, if you can get people to focus on other things, then you can lower the tone and get everybody be less angry. By the way, that’s the kind of known tactic that’s used in post Civil War societies and so called post conflict societies. Getting people to focus on some project that everyone can do together, regardless of their political views, or identities, or religions, any way to stop shooting each other.

Preet Bharara:

So I’m going to jump ahead of my outline because you’ve called something to mind. You would have thought that that thing could be not just in this country, but in the world, the reaction to COVID-19. What other thing could there be that is nondenominational, that is nonpartisan, non-ideological? It’s just a faceless disease. And yet that hasn’t happened. There hasn’t been, at least so far, and you strike an optimistic note at the end of your book, but this was some months ago. I wonder how you think about how we particularly in America have reacted to COVID-19. And have we just squandered an opportunity to come together around something that changes the subject from all the differences we have?

Anne Applebaum:

So, we squandered a huge opportunity. But that was deliberate. I mean, Trump and his administration decided that they could use COVID-19 as a way of triggering and angering people by implying that it was a left wing plot, by implying that it was a trick to get people locked up in their houses, by implying, again, that it was part of this threat system that makes people so angry and upset. We’re going to be recovering from that decision, that terrible self serving bad decision for a long time. I mean, and there is a reason why the US has had so many deaths and why the US has dealt so chaotically with this at least up until the moment, and is because rather than using this as a unifying challenge, which has happened in other countries, I should say. The Trump administration decided to make it part of the identity war, part of the cultural war.

Maybe there is some hope now. I mean, it’s still early days, and the vaccine rollout is super chaotic, particularly in the part of the country I know best, which is Washington in Maryland. But it may be that as it progresses, and as it begins to work, that it’s more possible to build some sense of national achievement around that. In an article I recently wrote in The Atlantic I even suggested, I mean, why not create a volunteer corps around the vaccine project? One that could get kids from different parts of the country working in other parts of the country. We have this. We have in US this… We have America Corps, which was set up in the Clinton administration as a national volunteer project, but it’s always been underfunded. It’s never worked the way it should have done. It was meant to be kind of domestic peace corps.

How about reviving something like that? And getting people I don’t know red, blue, black, white, north, south, east west, getting people working on projects together through that, and one of them could be ending the pandemic. And then the other obvious one is the economic crisis that has beset so many communities in the wake of the pandemic. I mean, finding some… Focusing everyone on that, how we’re going to fix that, and even getting people to argue about it. I mean, frankly, the argument over what size the COVID checks should be or whether this kind of business or that one should be bailed out is a better argument to be having than one over who won the election and who’s a real American?

Preet Bharara:

I wonder, as you’re speaking, if you think that the global pandemic COVID-19 will end up being the greatest controlled experiment for social scientists and political scientists and others in a century or two. Obviously, every country is different, and the political systems of various countries are different, and the geography is different. But the pandemic was the pandemic. And aside from the varying strains, it had the opportunity to do the same amount of damage in every country on Earth. And yet, there are huge differences. Do you think this is or should be the thing that centrally occupies people’s attention to figure out how to improve researchers own countries?

Anne Applebaum:

So, it’s a little… I’ve been asked about this almost since the very beginning of the pandemic is what does it mean for politics? One of the problems is that almost everything you said about it in March or April turned out to be wrong by July or August and then everything you said in July or August was wrong by January and February. I mean, as it changes, and as it has different impacts over time, I think people are going to draw different political conclusions from it. So, the answer to your question might be yes, but maybe not for several years. The totality of how a particular society dealt with it, how it dealt with the economic fallout, how it dealt with tests, contact tracing, testing, production of antibodies, how it dealt with the vaccine project, all that is going to look different in a few years.

Although, as you say there are these local contingencies. I mean, some of the local contingencies, the differences are huge. It seems genetically some people may be more susceptible to it than others. It seems some countries got it first. Some countries have a history of internal travel like the United States does that others don’t.

Preet Bharara:

Or even having a tradition of extended families and having the elderly live with the young as I think was true in Italy.

Anne Applebaum:

Exactly. And that seems to have a… That had a big impact at particular moments in the pandemic in some communities, and not in others. Whereas, in Scandinavia, where everybody practically lives by themselves it took long to spread. If you’re willing to take into consideration all those different cultural things, but still, yeah, I do think it is going to be… What it turns out to be a test stuff is really, it’s a test of not just of a given country’s bureaucracy. I mean, that’s kind of… And some countries do have better and worse bureaucracies, their public health bureaucracy, but it’s also a test of public trust in that bureaucracy. Are people willing to listen to the public health bureaucrats? It turns out, for example, in South Korea, they were. In Taiwan, they were. In Germany, they were. In the United States, they weren’t. And in Brazil, they weren’t.

Preet Bharara:

But the United States, they might have been. I mean, I think one of the point you’re making is had Joe Biden been president at the start of the pandemic how different would the situation be you think?

Anne Applebaum:

I think it would have been very different. I mean, I think there could have been politicized resistance. I mean, there’s a little bit even in Germany. There’s a lot actually in Britain from the same kinds of, I don’t know, so called antigovernment or anti-lockdown or sometimes just COVID denial groups. But no, I think if we’d had a unified approach from the federal government. If the federal government had worked with states from the beginning and not against them. I mean, remember the Trump administration at one point threw itself into working to end the pandemic, then at one point, this is early on, thought it was just going to affect only Blue states. And then they said, “Oh, well, to hell with it. We don’t care about Blue states.

Preet Bharara:

Oh, yeah. I remember.

Anne Applebaum:

Let New York burn. I mean, so if we had a federal government that was actually interested in the welfare of all Americans, and not just in people who voted for Trump. Yeah, I think we would have had a very different outcome from the beginning. If Fauci’s role hadn’t been politicized, if the president hadn’t sent mixed messages. I mean, imagine even if Donald Trump had worn a mask from day one, how that would have affected mask wearing which turns out to be very important in preventing the spread of the pandemic, and how that would have, again, encouraged this sense of trust that you need in order to get people to go along with, which are with, well, let’s face it are very inhumane requests.

I mean, who wants to stay home alone? Who wants to cancel their wedding? Who wants to only sit outdoors in restaurants, practically in the middle of the winter? Nobody likes this, and persuading people that it’s useful or worth doing, at least for a limited period of time you require someone who’s trustworthy, and we just didn’t have that in the United States, at least not at the national level. And yeah, I do think if there had been… I mean, not even Joe Biden. I mean, Mitt Romney, if he were president. I mean, I don’t think it’s a partisan issue. It’s if we’d had a person in charge who was committed to public health, who was in the White House because he wanted to work on behalf of the country and not on behalf of himself. I think we might have got a different outcome.

Preet Bharara:

Yeah, someone who wasn’t suggesting from time to time that the Americans inject bleach might have been helpful.

Anne Applebaum:

Right. I mean, just someone who was interested in and understood science, even at a high school chemistry level that would have been useful.

Preet Bharara:

We’ll be right back to my interview with Anne Applebaum after this. Can we go back to the third of the population that arguably has authoritarian predispositions? Because it’s consuming me this idea and how to think about it. I’m not sure this is the right way to ask the question. But is there a moral judgment to be made about that third, and just off the top of my head, my worry is that people will immediately think that that’s true. So you’re talking about these people who are predisposed toward authoritarianism. And it may be latent, or it may not be latent. But boy, that’s a problem, and it’s their problem. And we should like them less, and we should respect them less, and maybe we should think about ways to oust them. But it seems to me that’s not the right way of thinking about it, is it?

Anne Applebaum:

So that is the instinctive way to think about it. I mean, and even I’ve written endlessly about this. Even I feel that. I mean, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine what would you do if Ivanka Trump walked in the room? Would you be polite to her? No. I mean, so there’s an instinctive desire to shout at people and call them names or exclude them. That’s entirely human. Or find ways of excluding them or reducing their influence. I mean, reducing their influence in the long term is a legitimate strategy, and we can talk about that in a minute as well.

But all I wanted to say is that thinking long term, we also have to think about what will work. I mean, if they’re never going away, and we’re not going to deport them, and we’re not going to deprive them of the vote. I mean, we’re just not going to… Obviously, none of that is going to happen. How do we adjust our politics or adjust the way that we talk about America? Or how do we somehow incorporate them into the national story so that they feel they have a future in a very diverse, very heterogeneous, very noisy America? How do we… And it’s not that… I mean, again, people instinctively want to say, “Oh, well, that’s their problem. How come their radio stations don’t go and interview yoga teachers in Brooklyn and ask them why did they vote for Joe Biden?

Preet Bharara:

Which is more American.

Anne Applebaum:

Right. Why do we have to go to Ohio, and ask them what they think? How come they don’t ask us what we think? Why don’t they go to Georgia and talk to all the Black women who helped elect two senators? The answer is that they don’t. But nevertheless, for our sake, if we want to preserve our system, and we want our democracy to be stable, we have to think… Even though we don’t want to, we have to find a way to communicate with them.

Preet Bharara:

I guess, I’m asking something slightly different. And it’s not how you treat the third when they become activated, and show their predisposition, and decide to do and support anti-democratic things. I’m talking about in society where you have that third, and they have the predisposition, but it’s not been animated. And you come to think about that third as you think about policies, and you think about political rhetoric and everything else because it’s not clear to me, at least in the way I’ve understood it, that that predisposition is born necessarily of something that you can pass judgment on. Only in its manifestation, right? I mean, aren’t there some people in that third who just for whatever reason dislike complexity? You don’t necessarily pass judgment in the same way on people who have an antithetical feeling towards complexity as you do against people that you might describe as being racist or bigoted or anti-freedom. I don’t know that the people with the authoritarian predisposition, do we think of them as being people who innately are into the idea of not having freedom?

Anne Applebaum:

No, I mean, Stenner’s argument is that they, sometimes this dislike of complexity manifests itself as racism. That’s what a lot of her research shows, or manifests itself as a dislike of difference or divergence or change even. I mean, so in a moment when there’s lots and lots of economic and informational and other kinds of change happenings may also be a problem. And she would argue that no, we shouldn’t pass moral judgment on the instinct, but we should find ways of channeling it into more useful… More useful is the wrong word, less harmful forms, if we can. So yeah, I think you can make a division between someone’s innate instincts and then the way they’re manifest.

Preet Bharara:

Yeah, I mean, distraction, that’s sort of important with how you think about how they should be dealt with, and the instinct to yell and to alienate and to ostracize. Maybe you should be tempered by that. Not everyone’s going to like that assessment.

Anne Applebaum:

No. I mean, no one’s going to like that assessment, and it’s very… And as I said, it’s not even that easy if you think about how do you feel about encountering in your life or among your friends somebody whose views you find repugnant-

Preet Bharara:

It’s very hard.

Anne Applebaum:

… is not to be nice to them, right? I am not claiming that I was ever any better at this than anybody else. Just to be clear, I’m not claiming some special talent. All I’m saying is that maybe not so much at the personal level, but at the societal level acting like this is a problem that can go away just by shouting about it is going to turn out to be wrong. Just as it was wrong in Northern Ireland, and it’s been wrong in other places. It just increases the polarization and the and the anger.

Preet Bharara:

You write about Poland quite a bit because you have lived there for many years. The party that you were referring to, I think earlier, in Poland is called the Law and Justice Party. Is that what they stand for Law and Justice?

Anne Applebaum:

I mean, there are lots of jokes about that. I mean, they stand for–

Preet Bharara:

You have to use that language.

Anne Applebaum:

… illegality and injustice. There are many memes along those lines. But they… If you think about what we were talking about a minute ago, not an accident that they described themselves as Law and Justice because they’re appealing to people who like the idea of a unitary state, of a one party state, of a strong and intolerance state, and calling themselves Law and Justice is exactly what those kinds of people want to hear.

Preet Bharara:

And you talk about how people in Poland have become radicalized. I want to ask you a question about that, and then bridge it with a question about America. Were political figures in Poland who had said lots of things about a mayor of a major city in Poland, such that at some point someone assassinated that mayor. Punched a knife into the heart of the mayor. And you write, “The taboo against political violence has been broken in Poland, and no one is certain who might be the next victim.” Did you feel that in any way after the insurrection of January 6th in the United States?

Anne Applebaum:

Yes, actually. I felt that way after the threatened kidnapping of the governor of Michigan, that it’s pretty clear that there’s some part of the Trumpist camp, including Trump himself, who had already begun to contemplate the idea that violence is now a legitimate force in US politics. That you can use it to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president, to eliminate people that you don’t like. It may be that the fallout from the invasion of the capital tones this down for a period, just the way that the murder of the mayor of Gdansk did in Poland. I mean, it sort of made everyone step back for a second. But it’d been, look, we’ve had political violence in America for our whole history. It’s just taken different forms at different times.

But absolutely, I mean, one of the reasons I’m interested in this question of what are we going to do about the people who don’t accept the rules of our democracy is that I’m worried about violence, and the more polarization you have, and the more of these events where people’s lives are threatened. I mean, there’s a whole bunch of over the last few months. There’s examples of public health officials at the state and sometimes like the county or regional level had death threats sent against them. There have been people who’ve resigned from their jobs as leaders of public health in particular in areas because they become afraid. The use of that, of violent threats now becoming kind of de rigueur in parts of American politics that never knew them before. I mean, these are very bad signs, and it means that the threat of violence did not end on January the 6th.

Preet Bharara:

There’s an issue related to this, that I’ve been thinking about a lot because I’ve had some personal experience with it and you raise it in the book and you’ve raised it in your other writings and this is obviously implicated in these questions that you’re asking and addressing. That is with respect to some group of these folks, Trump supporters here, or some of the folks you’ve written about in Poland or in other places. There’s some subset of those folks who arguably don’t believe what they’re saying, and they’re in some ways, putting on an act. I want to know, A, if you think that is true of some of these folks, and B, if it is true, is that better or worse for the future?

Anne Applebaum:

So, in the book, as you know I go through a few examples. I give several explanations for these kinds of people. The book is mostly about people like that. It’s about educated people who have chosen… Who have very radical politics. I think there’s a range of personality types out there. And some of them are sincere, true believers. But yes, absolutely, some of them are unbelievably cynical. I mean, some of them understand absolutely, what they’re doing.

Preet Bharara:

So, who are they? Name some names in that category.

Anne Applebaum:

Tucker Carlson.

Preet Bharara:

Tucker Carlson?

Anne Applebaum:

I mean some of them are-

Preet Bharara:

You don’t necessarily put Laura Ingraham in that category?

Anne Applebaum:

I think Laura is more complicated. She believes some of what she says. The human personality is actually very complex, and people have different motives in different ways. But, I mean, she’s also somewhat, she’s someone who’s very deeply… And this is a theme that goes read the book, she’s someone who’s also very deeply resentful of what she sees as a world of mainstream media. I don’t know exactly who it is that has never really respected her and hasn’t given her the due and credit that she desires. I don’t know, the Dartmouth Alumni Association never asked her to speak.

So, she’s someone who’s, I think, quite deeply motivated by that. She deserves more. She should be… She’s also, I think, disappointed by… This is another theme that you can see among others in the book, some kind of deep disappointment that America is not what it was meant to be, that some promise has been broken. She doesn’t like the society as much as she thought she would like it. So, I think she has those motivations in addition to personal concerns and money. She’s made a huge amount of money out of Trumpism. She wasn’t a central Fox figure, actually, before he became president. But her closeness to him propelled her forward. So, I think she’s obviously motivated by that, too. But I don’t think in her case, it’s the only motivation.

Preet Bharara:

But how do we think about these folks? On the one hand, do we look at the people who are true believers and think, “Well, they’re lost? And that’s unfortunate.” But at least have some respect for it because it’s true belief. And/or do we look at the other folks who are cynics and don’t really believe it and say to ourselves, “Well, they’re cynics. They’re really the worst people.” Or do we say about them, “Yeah, look, easy come easy go. When the world changes a little bit, and if it suits their personal motivations or incentives, then they’ll switch back into reality and snap out of the radicalism.” I’m not sure how to think about those folks.

Anne Applebaum:

I’m not sure I can make a generalization about it. I mean, even as you’re talking, I’m thinking about various people I’ve known and some of whom I wrote about. There is a brand of conservative philosopher who stayed out of politics. I’m thinking of Roger Scruton, who’s an English philosopher who I read a little bit about who stayed out of politics, and who spent his whole life trying to carve a vision of basically, it was English nationalism. And he was interested in many other things, too, but that he was very dedicated to, and he… I mean, I would say, he’s absolutely a true believer in that he was not cynical at all nor is he ever perfectly good at making money or anything like that.

I think we can maintain a respect for people who are intellectuals, and who continue to… Who try and think through ideas, and are willing to have those ideas challenged in the intellectual world. I mean, I think once people like that enter politics, and he didn’t, but others do, then some element of cynicism or some element of criticism or some other element of personal desire for power has come into it. And then I think we don’t have to give them any special credit for being true believers. I mean, if that makes sense. I mean, I don’t have any… I mean, the fact that Laura Ingraham sincerely believes that America is declining because it’s more racially integrated, and there’s a lot of immigration. I don’t see why we have to give her some credit for truly and deeply believing that. I mean, we can just still think she’s wrong.

Preet Bharara:

Yeah, people like Steve Bannon, for example. I’m not sure how to think. I think Steve Bannon believes in certain things, but not that deeply, and he’s a total play actor in the service of Donald Trump, and he probably was play acting again as he was besieging the former president to pardon him. And I sometimes think that makes him the worst. And I sometimes think, well, maybe that’s not the worst because it’s an act. I struggle with sort of the moral judgment that nobody’s asking me for but then I’m pronouncing in my own head.

Anne Applebaum:

Yeah, I know. I mean, I guess I don’t think in those categories. I’m not a lawyer, maybe I don’t know. Because I look at each case like that, and I see these complex motives and these different things that drive people. I think the worst ones are the ones who do the most damage. I mean, Laura has done an incredible amount of damage. I mean, even just by promoting hydroxychloroquine as a fake cure for COVID. I mean, so I in that sense, I find her to be deeply evil, maybe even more so than Steve Bannon. Even though I do think she’s at some level believes in what she’s saying, it doesn’t make it any better. So my feeling is that you judge them by their actions and the results they achieve or don’t achieve.

Preet Bharara:

You write about America from the perspective of being an American, obviously, but having spent a lot of time abroad, and understanding the politics and history of these other countries. And you say something very interesting about America, but a lot of different interesting things about how Americans think about themselves and exceptionalism. And that’s been written about very frequently. But you talk about how civilizations and forms of government rise and fall in other parts of the world because there’s been a lot of time and you say that often history feels circular to those people in other parts of the world. And you say in America, on the contrary, it does not feel circular. “It is often told is a tale of progress forward and upward with the Civil War as a blip in the middle.” Is that because America is a little bit different? Or because we’re telling ourselves fibs? Or because we’re just such a young country that we haven’t seen both the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and Mussolini on the same landmass?

Anne Applebaum:

I think it’s a little bit of fibbing. I think it’s a little bit of not knowing much history, but I think most of it is luck. We were unbelievably lucky from about 1945 almost up to the present in that our civilization expanded, our democracy expanded from being a ropey, and rather restricted one, it included more and more people. We attracted admirers all over the world. We became more and more prosperous. And so it felt like what we were living was this trajectory in one direction.

It’s funny, I just gave a lecture to a group of 20 year olds at Johns Hopkins where I teach part time, and I was trying to explain to them why it was in 1989 Francis Fukuyama could write a book that said history is over. I mean, I’m messing up his thesis, but essentially the way it was popularized and misinterpreted was history is over because liberal democracy is the best of all possible forms of government, and eventually everyone’s going to want that. That idea, or that bulldozerization of his idea, the reason why it caught on was because it felt real. That was the experience of a lot of Americans. We had seen this expansion of our democracy inside America, then we saw the expansion of democracy abroad. And we saw the fall of communism and the incorporation of many post communist states into NATO. That’s what it felt like. And so, we were very lucky.

What we had forgot was that polarization is what’s normal, and conflict is what’s normal. And the idea that civilizations rise and fall is normal, and that what we’ve just lived through was abnormal. Funny enough, of course, and this I also write about the founding fathers of the United States absolutely thought that history was circular, and they absolutely were worried about democracy rising and falling. They were all of them, as they were writing the constitution were reading books about Greece and Rome. And in particular, they were reading about the fall of the Roman Republic, which obsessed them [crosstalk 00:48:57]-

Preet Bharara:

And how to prevent that going forward.

Anne Applebaum:

And how to prevent that. And our Constitution is written by people who are thinking about the Roman Republic, and how to prevent that experience from being repeated. And so, they were aware of it. I mean, in a way, even though they were creating really what was the first modern democracy, they were absolutely looking backwards and thinking about the past. In our generation, because we’ve been so lucky. Whatever it was, however you want to calculate it. 70 years, seven decades of good luck, we stopped looking backwards. We stopped thinking about… I mean, I don’t know about you. I was brought up in the United States almost to think about… I mean, the Civil War. I mean, we studied it in school, and so on. But there was no subject more dead than that one.

I mean, the idea that you could revive emotions around the Civil War was like saying that, I don’t know, some figures from the Middle Ages would return. I mean, it was just not a living subject. Did I imagine that 20 years later, somebody would bring a confederate flag into the Capitol building or that everybody would be digging through the history of reconstruction to try to understand what’s going on in America today. No.

Preet Bharara:

Although you do say in the book that there’s this politics of nostalgia on the part of some people who don’t want a literal return to the past, but want things to be hierarchical in the way they were before. I think you mentioned in the UK, nobody wants India back. But people want the sense that Great Britain has an empire or has the standing of a country with an empire such that the sun never sets on it. And the same kind of attitude exists on the part of some people in America, too, about this country.

Anne Applebaum:

I spent a lot of time trying to pick apart this nostalgia dismissed Elijah and think about what it means. I mean, some of it does come from the fact that we live in a world that is changing so fast and we don’t acknowledge it. I mean, for people to say things aren’t now like the way they used to be is not wrong. I mean, I grew up in Washington DC-

Preet Bharara:

As a definitional matter…

Anne Applebaum:

I grew up in Washington DC, and the city that I remember from my childhood, which was very small and sleepy is now totally transformed. It looks completely different, different kinds of people live in it. I find that change actually very exciting, and it’s a much more interesting city to me, seems like now than it was 40 years ago. On the other hand, for a lot of people something was lost. That sleepiness, that feeling that you could go and talk to your neighbors. I don’t know, there were things that were lost in the rapid modernization and urbanization of the last several decades. And, of course, there are things lost in the movement of life from offline to online, which has been accelerated and made crazy by the pandemic.

Maybe it was a political mistake, particularly of people who like and enjoy and are happy about these changes. Maybe it was a political mistake to forget that some people would be bothered by them, or that they would feel some sense of loss. The sense of community, or sense of belonging, or whatever it was some sense of stability that they had in the past. Maybe there could have been a better way to talk about it or deal with it. Instead, what we’ve got are these nationalist and retrograde movements, and by the way, we have them everywhere in almost every country, which actually do want to reconstruct the past.

So, it’s not that we feel we’d like looking at old pictures of Germany as it was in the 1920s, or 1890s. We actually want that Germany back or we want America of the 1950s back, or we want… And everything that goes with it, meaning bring back racial segregation, bring back traditional marriages, whatever piece of it you find most appealing or least appealing. But there is something, there is enough of it that some of that is just politics, some of it has been ginned up by people like Laura Ingraham, but there is enough of it that is real, and isn’t just fiction. And I hope that going forward returning back to your subject of what are we going to do about the one third. I hope that going forward, Democratic politicians, and actually Republican politicians, think about this things that were lost and think about how to restore them.

Preet Bharara:

Anne Applebaum, thank you so much for making the time. This book, I think everyone needs to read, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. Not a romance novel, as we discussed. Congratulations on the book, and thanks for all that you do.

Anne Applebaum:

Oh, thanks for talking.

Preet Bharara:

My conversation with Anne Applebaum continues for members of the CAFE Insider community. To try out the membership free for two weeks head to cafe.com/insider. Again, that’s cafe.com/insider.

So, I want to end the show this week to tell you about a story that grabbed my attention, and that you probably have not heard about. As many of you may know, I’m a little bit of a language and grammar geek. So when I heard about the story, I wanted to share it with you. So here’s the story as reported in the Washington Post not too long ago. There’s a woman, Hilary Krieger who was at her parents house in Boston when a friend of hers was, I guess, trying to eat a slice of orange and squirted himself in the eye with I guess some citrus juice. And Hillary exclaims, “Oh, the orange orbisculated, and her friend said, “It did what?” And there ensued a debate about whether orbisculate was a word. They even made a bet about it.

The two of them then went to the dictionary to find out if that word orbisculated was real because it was used all the time in Hilary’s home growing up to describe just this thing, getting spritzed in the eye when digging into a fruit or a vegetable. And lo and behold, orbisculate was not found in the dictionary. When Hillary told her dad the word wasn’t there he revealed somewhat sheepishly that it was actually a word he had made up in college, and it just stuck. So he used it all the time. Tragically, Hilary’s dad, Neil Krieger, passed away from COVID related complications last April at the age of 78. Since restrictions were pretty severe, the Kriegers couldn’t have a proper funeral or memorial.

Hilary told The Post that she spent a lot of time on the phone with friends and family talking about her father, and the story of the word orbisculate kept coming up. So, she and her brother devised a plan to honor their father to do what? To get the word orbisculate adopted into the dictionary. Hopefully, Merriam Webster. Now, as you may guess, nominating word for dictionary status is no small thing. It can take years, even decades. That’s to make sure that certain trendy words that fall out of favor relatively quickly don’t make their way into the dictionary forever. But the Krieger family is very committed, and they’ve actually outlined and posted a 50 point plan to get the word orbisculate approved.

They describe the plan on their website, and we’ll include that in the show notes of this episode. But it includes things like promoting its use in articles and in speech. The more people, generally, who use the word orbisculate improves the possibility in the likelihood that a dictionary will adopt it. So, for example, if you’re writing about your experience digging into a durian fruit you might write, be careful not to get orbisculate. It might be an unpleasant experience. By the way, there is no other word in English that describes what orbisculate means. So, that’s part of what makes it special.

To my mind, there’s been, I think, a fairly loose adoption of new words, not necessarily by Merriam Webster, but by Dictionary.com. And if Dictionary.com can approve as it recently did words like supposedly, and irregardless, which is blasphemy to me, then I think orbisculate is not a bridge too far. So, at a time of such a measurable loss, stories like this one are especially powerful. The Krieger family lost someone they loved very dearly who as Hilary describes had a mischievous and inventive spirit. Here’s what she said to The Post, “It speaks to his creativity and the idea that even when something’s painful and annoying like getting grapefruit juice in your eye, you can laugh, and have fun with it.”

And while the family could not gather in person to mourn or hug or celebrate the life of this person they loved, they can honor and memorialize him with this perfect new word, orbisculate, and now we can help, too. So I encourage everyone to check out their website, and the next time you get sprayed in the face while peeling an orange say to the person next to you, “It orbisculated.”

Well, that’s it for this episode of Stay tuned. Thanks again to my guest, Anne Applebaum. If you like what we do, rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. Every positive review helps new listeners find the show. Send me your questions about news, politics and justice. Tweet them to me at Preet Bharara with the hashtag #AskPreet or you can call and leave me a message at (669) 247-7338. That’s (669) 24-PREET, or you can send an email to [email protected]

Stay Tuned is presented by CAFE studios. Your host is Preet Bharara. The executive producer is Tamara Sepper. The senior producer is Adam Waller. The technical director is David Tatasciore. And the CAFE team is Matthew Billy, David Kurlander, Sam Ozer-Staton, Noa Azulai, Nat Weiner, Jake Kaplan, Jennifer Corn, Geoff Isenman, Chris Boylan, Sean Walsh, and Margot Maley. Our music is by Andrew Dost. I’m Preet Bharara, stay tuned.

 

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