Happy Saturday! Today we’re going to talk about The Hangover. No, I didn’t go on a roaring bender last night (8 a.m. Saturday baseball games tend to prevent such shenanigans). It’s the name of Chris Stirewalt’s forthcoming eight-episode podcast series that will do the dirty work that the GOP has avoided in the wake of the 2020 election: a postmortem.
Stirewalt joined us in February, and in addition to his weekly columns, he’s contributed to The Sweep, joined a Dispatch Live or two, and made the rounds on our podcasts. But I hadn’t had a chance to really sit down and have a personal conversation with him yet. Thank goodness I finally had an excuse! We traded stories about growing up in Ohio (me) and West Virginia (him) and realized we both started our careers as sportswriters at small-town papers. But, more interestingly for you, dear readers, he filled me in on why he wanted to do this podcast series.
“I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat,” he said. “But every American has a vested interest in having two healthy parties. And what we have right now is like a half of a healthy party. We have a Democratic party that is sort of limping along. They barely have a majority in Congress and they have a president who is very careful, very careful to not flex his political muscle too much, because he knows that his party isn’t really united. And the Republicans are way below the slump line. So we are operating at about 25 percent of where I would like us today. So in taking a look at what’s wrong with Republicans, you know, I hope it helps the Republicans in the sense that I hope we have a healthy party, but everybody has an interest in that.”
In each episode, Stirewalt and a guest will look at a different aspect of the Republican coalition: the traditional pro-business establishment, populists, evangelical Christians, the right-of-center media, and the consultant class. His guests will include historian and journalist Richard Brookheiser, former National Republican Congressional Committee Executive Director Parker Poling, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Commentary editor and author John Podhoretz, among others.