A Look at COVID from Conservative America (with Hugh Hewitt)
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Andy and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who is very much pro-vaccine and anti-federal vaccine mandate, merge echo chambers and discuss where conservatives are at this moment with the pandemic. They get into reasons why an estimated 40% of conservative adults aren’t vaccinated, what works and what doesn’t when it comes to persuading unvaccinated people, and have an in-depth exchange about mandates. This is an increasingly rare but badly needed conversation, one that is spirited and civil between people who disagree. Plus, Ryan Panchadsaram joins Andy at the beginning of the show to weigh in on the Glasgow Climate Pact.
Keep up with Andy on Twitter @ASlavitt and Instagram @andyslavitt.
Follow Hugh @hughhewitt on Twitter.
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Check out these resources from today’s episode:
- Here’s more on the Pew report on political typology that Hugh mentions: https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2021/11/09/beyond-red-vs-blue-the-political-typology-2/
- Watch Hugh’s most recent interview with Dr. Fauci: https://hughhewitt.com/video/dr-anthony-fauci-returns-to-the-interview-with-hugh-hewitt/
- Here’s Ross Douthat’s book chronicling his chronic Lyme disease that Hugh mentions: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/646761/the-deep-places-by-ross-douthat/
- Check out Peggy Noonan’s 2016 piece that Hugh references: https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-and-the-rise-of-the-unprotected-1456448550
- Learn more about John Doerr and Ryan Panchadsaram’s plan to solve the climate crisis: www.speedandscale.com
- Find a COVID-19 vaccine site near you: https://www.vaccines.gov/
- Order Andy’s book, Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250770165
Stay up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @LemonadaMedia.
For additional resources, information, and a transcript of the episode, visit lemonadamedia.com/show/inthebubble.
Andy Slavitt, Hugh Hewitt, Ryan Panchadsaram
Hugh Hewitt 00:00
I saw you got some pushback on Twitter for talking to me, I saw that. And I thought to myself, Oh, Andy’s going to when worlds collide, when the blue and the red worlds collide, and I live in the purple world. So that’s fine with me, but I didn’t know that you did. And there are some people who do not want to ever be persuaded by a conservative. It risks their belief system, just like there’s some people who never want to be persuaded by a liberal because it risks their belief system. Got to get away from that. Otherwise, you will never develop new knowledge and new knowledge is everything.
Welcome IN THE BUBBLE. This is your host, Andy Slavitt. When was the last time you had a really deep, serious conversation with someone that you totally disagreed with? Probably a long time, maybe not. But if it has been a long time, then you’re not alone. I think that happens less and less. And as you just heard on the opening those remarks from Hugh Hewitt, who is our guest on the show today, and huge you it and I it’s safe to say disagree about a lot of things, many things, most things, and I even got some messages when people found out he was coming on my show saying like, you know, I can’t believe you’re gonna have you, you win on the show. And I’ll tell you, it was a really, really great conversation. I hope that if you don’t like Hugh Hewitt, you listen, I’m not suggesting you like him at the end any more than you like him at the beginning. But I think we get into kind of what are conservatives thinking about COVID and about vaccines, compared to what, you know, liberals are thinking about COVID and vaccines. And, you know, I try to listen hard and learn something. And we get into a bunch of different arguments about Fauci, about vaccine mandates, about the Constitution about lots of different things. And it’s really lively. And at the end of it, I think, I was really glad to have had the conversation. You know, I think we’re used to having people on the show who are people that are generally in alignment with at least my views, or, or neutral, or we’re just learning. This was different. And I hope you get something out of it, I thought that you can learn a lot about what people are thinking in different communities, and we don’t get to interact that often. I will tell you that he is not an anti Vaxxer. So it wasn’t like, we had to have that conversation. But there was plenty we disagreed on. We’re gonna get to that interview in just a moment. But before then I want to give an update on the COP sessions that occurred in Glasgow, Scotland that just finished up, to do that I’m having back on the show. Your favorite and mine, Ryan Panchadsaram to tell us what went on.
Andy Slavitt 03:02
So tell us how was COP? I know there was a lot of build up a lot of expectations, a lot riding on this, on a scale of one to 10? How did we do?
Seeing what happened over the weekend. COP was a five, I’m going to give it a five Andy because there were things that went well about it. And there’s places and where it fell short. COP stands for the Conference of Parties. It’s where the world comes together to put forth what its targets are in reducing our emissions. And at COP, the leaders actually went through the weekend, they went into overtime, debating some of the harder sections, right? And so when folks look at the outcome, you’re going to see some really important things that came from it. It names fossil fuels, as a main cause that never been before in any of the texts. You had countries come together to say that we’re gonna phase down coal, not phase out, which is unfortunate, but to phase down. You had commitments by leaders to end deforestation by 2030, cut methane by 30% by 2030. But still, all of those actions, Andy, are not enough. So hence, the 5 out of 10. Right? There are things that mean progress is happening. But there were still not enough aggressive cuts and actions and commitments made to keep us from that one and a half degrees of warming, which are trying to prevent.
Andy Slavitt 04:24
How long ago was Paris, five years ago or so?
Paris was five years ago? That’s right.
And how much further did we advance from Paris in this agreement?
In this agreement, you know, Paris set that target an aspiration of that one and a half degrees. And so this gathering was everyone saying can we reach that? And the answer is still no, right? We need this group to come back together. And that’s actually a really good thing that came out of this gathering was that every country committed to come back together again next year, to continue this process, right? You know, the commitments that everyone’s making You know, COP only captures what’s politically practical. And so if you can hear my voice some disappointment in COP, you know, I’ve got other levers that we can pull on, right? We talked about this with you last week where you’ve got things like passing more aggressive policies here at home. So if the global aspiration wasn’t big enough, we can do more here in the United States. If we don’t like what our elected leaders put forth, well, we can try to change them, right? By going to the ballot box. And then of course, my two favorite other levers are leaning into technology and innovation, as well as investment. So with our political process falls short, Andy, on this climate fight, we’ve got other levers we can pull.
And of course, we’ve got Greta, now, tell us how people showed up to this. Did everyone show up with an equal sense that we have got to solve this problem? Did some countries show up? A little tenuous, I think that, you know, I read something that, you know, China, India, Brazil, which have a lot to say about what goes on, but are less developed countries, they’re less wealthy. And of course, Brazil has of course, the giant Amazon rainforest, that they were kind of putting on the brakes a little bit, is that the case?
Ryan Panchadsaram 06:12
Yes. Because right. I mean, for those countries, they are trying to have the kind of, you know, wealth and energy access that we do here in the United States. And so they’re setting a longer timeframe. They’re saying, Hey, we’re not going to, you know, end our coal use. In the case of China, we’re going to slow it down. And one, you can’t blame them when they look at the United States and kind of pointed us and say, Well, you’ve admitted more than we have combined. And so in this moment, if we want to change their hearts and minds, we in the United States need to lead on this transition, and we need to decarbonize first, we need to show it’s possible, but also selfishly. If we do those things, we’re gonna own those industries here in the US, right? Like that’s the exciting part about this transition, it can be an economic one for us.
You know, the point you made on this interview with the you and I last week, and by the way, I suggest everybody go back and listen to it everything you need to know about climate and climate policy and what needs to happen. But you’re making the point that that the countries that get out first that lead here are going to have an economic boom. Does everyone seem to recognize that? And I guess the other part of this, it feels like the gap is part of the Wealth of Nations and in the Wealth of Nations category, it seems like the lower income countries are asking for lots of money from the higher income countries like $100 billion a year, which, to me still sounds like a lot. I mean, I don’t see it’s probably not very much, but to me, it sounds like a lot. So how does that chasm get crossed? I mean, are wealthy countries really going to tax their people and give poor countries money? Is that what the big delta is?
Well, on that point there, right, you asked a question a bit earlier to what has changed since Paris, right? What’s changed in the past five years, five years ago, solar and wind were more expensive than their fossil fuel equivalents. Right? Walking into COP in Glasgow, solar wind is cheaper than gas and coal. And because of that, it means the money that gets deployed in that direction is actually a positive thing. It isn’t taking a hit, it’s actually a great financial return. And so this money that we talked about, for poor countries, right, the developing world, you know, we have to pay that up as the developed world, if we all agree that, hey, globally, we’re trying to get to net zero, these countries can’t get there on their own. And so if we can fund and finance and help them with this transition, you know, it means that they’re not going to pick the next coal plant, right?
Andy Slavitt 08:36
Is there a chance of that happening? Is there any real chance that wealthy countries are going to cough up that kind of money?
If there’s a return in it, right, if you see this 100 billion going out, it’s not going out as grants, a lot of it is going out as loans. If this you know, quote, green premium, the cost of solar and wind is actually cheaper than a coal or gas plant, which it is finally now, these things are actually you could call them profitable activities, right, like the green transition, if it’s profitable to work, Andy, but if it’s not, you’re going to have these countries say, hey, we’re not going to give here because it’s not, you know, we don’t believe it’s charity yet.
So in other words, they can invest in a plant that produces solar power and participate in the profits in the developing country?
Totally. We should guide the, you know, wealthier countries should give it as grants. But the neat thing here is that when this money flows in allows a country to pick the cleaner option. Instead of installing the coal and gas plant like that. We want them to leapfrog, the money is meant to help them leapfrog.
So sounds like progress. Sounds like seriousness, sounds like some differences. But sounds like more is required. Final question for you. Next time, would it be better if half the people in the room are under 30? And that has a requirement that people who are going to inherit the planet had some more say in this manner?
Absolutely. I mean, if next time you had the Greta’s in the room, folks that are 10 years older than Greta I have folks even 10 years older than that, the ones that are actually going to inherit the world, but also are sitting in the seats that are going to make this change happen, Andy, absolutely. You have this generational disconnect at COP, and that needs to change.
Andy Slavitt 10:13
Got it. Well, thank you so much for coming on and informing us of this progress, Ryan. We love you, buddy. Thank you.
I love you too. Andy, thank you for having me.
That was Ryan, Chad’s rum, who along with John Doerr, put out this amazing book Speed and Scale, I strongly suggest you get it and read it. If you haven’t, it’s really the solution to climate. Now we’re gonna go back to Hugh Hewitt. And we’re gonna dive in to where we are today and how conservatives are looking at the problem with the pandemic, how different it is from how liberals are, and we’re going to get into it, it’s going to be fun. Here’s Hugh Hewitt.
Hugh and I are going to attempt to do something very dangerous today. It’s a maneuver that I recommend. But it doesn’t happen very often. And it’s called merging echo chambers. Let it be an example for the country. And let me just say at the outset, to let the audience know that when I entered the White House, one of the things I really wanted to do was just simply seek to understand how conservatives were thinking and approaching the topic of vaccinations. And Hugh very kindly agreed to not only talk to me, but introduce me to people, give me a sense of his thinking, and discuss it live. And so in this merging of echo chambers concepts, it’s notion of finding a common point of view with people that you may have otherwise disagreed with on other things. But when you want to come and go, is it really important thing to do? And I will tell you, I get in the room with anybody who wants to help, and you are terrific help, very generous.
Well, thank you, Andy, that was you in line here. And I’m glad that we did that. I’m glad to help. And before you came back in the government, I was out there banging the vaccine drum and I’m happy to bang out with you again. But to explain to your audience, which might be bubble like that, on the conservative side, there are many points of view about vaccines, but they’re very healthy, a large percentage of people on the conservative side of the spectrum who believe very much in getting the vaccine. And I think I recommend that every single day at least twice on my radio show and boosters when appropriate. And for young adults, when appropriate. And children are a little bit more complicated. We can talk about it. Bu this is a pro-vax radio studio that you’re having right here.
Andy Slavitt 12:30
It certainly is. And maybe you can help us. I mean, if at times I asked you to make it sound like I’m asking you to speak for, you know, 40% to 50% of the population, I apologize. But I know you do have a very good connection point to understanding how people are thinking in this other echo chambers. Can you explain how you would describe conservative attitudes towards vaccine and vaccination in and maybe as you know, in the myriad of different populations is fine, but to just get some understanding of what the general attitude is.
Sure. And thank you for that. Andy, the conservative movement is very diverse. Pew just came out with a new study of the four sectors of conservatism, there are four sectors of the left side of the spectrum as well. And then one sector in between. Among those four sectors of conservatism I identify with parts of each of them. So I’m kind of a ubiquitous conservative, I think the coalition has always mattered to us. There is a strong belief in science among conservatives, contrary to what some people assert, very much oriented towards the future, but also a great and important, enduring respect for constitutional limits. And if you look at a conservative and scratch very far, you’re gonna find a constitutionalist, at least a real conservative. And so whereas there’s a great deal of science, backing vaccines, there’s a constitutional order that has to be respected as they roll out. So while I think we had 70% of conservatives already in favor of getting vaccinated as soon as possible, because of their exposure to Trump administration, spokespeople, their admiration for Dr. Burks and Dr. Fauci, their leadership by Vice President Pence, as the vaccine moved out of a choice to be made into a mandate to be applied.
Hugh Hewitt 14:22
There was some splintering, because the question is who’s got the authority there? And I always like to begin when I talk about conservatives with, you and I will agree that President Biden or President Trump can shut down newspaper if they don’t like, why, because the First Amendment prohibits them from doing so. You and I would agree that President Biden President Trump can’t appropriate money without the Congress authorizing them to do so. And that’s pretty uncontroversial I would think in both of our bubbles, where we tend to diverge in bubble and is that my team says, okay, where’s the constitutional authority for President Biden to order a workplace mandate vaccine and we don’t see it, I don’t look at it in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. I don’t see it. But I still tell everyone out there, go get a vaccination, you’re gonna die. I mean, it’s really not. It’s not rocket science, you don’t want to get this virus, it’s a deadly virus. You don’t want to gamble with it, but I want to persuade people, not obliged.
Let’s go back to the constitutional question. And let’s go back to the question of mandates, which I understand has its own controversy, and not just the constitutional part of that question, but the emotional and rational part of that computation where people don’t like being told what to do get that. But let’s go back even a step further. You’ve got these four groups, I did see the people, one of them is, you know, I’ll oversimplify, one are my populace. There’s also sort of traditional fiscal conservatives there are people with more constitutional, […] etc. Before you get to even thinking about the mandate to just think about vaccines as a whole, what is kind of the general kind of conversation and point of view that exists in those communities?
Hugh Hewitt 16:31
You know, Andy, I have been very surprised by the people who have chosen not to get vaccinated, they don’t fit into a box. The one thing that I think unites them may be a very, very rigorous faith system that’s not Catholic, I’m Catholic, and we’re all for vaccines. We, you know, the church came down and said very early on, go get vaccinated. There’s no moral prohibition on using the vaccine, it doesn’t have any stem cell controversy associated with go get vaccinated. So the Catholics are all lined up to get vaccinated. And certainly in the mainline churches are all lined up, there was some mega church resistance. And by that, I mean, among the communities of faith that are larger than 5000. In the United States, there were some pockets of resistance that I think goes hand in hand with the suspicion of government power, not a suspicion of the vaccine. And I found myself confronting a few, a very few religious conservatives who thought that there was something wrong with getting the vaccine. Now this is despite the fact that many high profile, religious conservative, for example, Robert Jeffress, were in the leadership urging people to get vaccinated. I believe Rick Warren was in the leadership, urging people to get vaccinated. Al Mohler, who was on my show today, who is suing the federal government over the vaccine, he’s very pro vaccine. He’s been vaccinated and the boosters like me three times and we’re in and we want everyone to get vaccinated, but mandates separate out and those who didn’t get vaccinated before the mandate, I really can’t articulate it. I don’t think it’s larger than 15% of the country. And it’s different for parents or small children, for reasons we’ll talk about. But I do think the whole country got off, unfortunately, of the public health train after a series of missteps by the public health authorities that lowered confidence.
Andy Slavitt 18:22
Yeah. And so you’re saying people get dug in, because, you know, something alienated them. And then it’s that they get into this camp, and it’s hard to recover. We all can relate to that. We all like to think we’re open minded, but it’s tough. Once you’re dug in, is that part of what you’re saying?
And once you’ve invested at point of view with your friends and family, I think it gets very difficult to dig out, epistemic closure happens and then you have to find some reason to reopen your thinking, having to do usually with an influencer, or somebody who’s got a very persuasive argument or a scientific breakthrough that will persuade people that there is no danger or that there is no sinister side of this. And you know, one of the things you said to me you want to talk about Dr. Fauci whom I respect a lot. I think he’s now an impediment to people making that move back into persuade ability. And that’s why we need to rethink who’s messaging on this very quickly, because we do got to go from what is it 70% of adults now, that we roughly have?
Yup, a little better, but yup..
Okay, so we got to get up into the 90%. And I understand that we’re not counting natural antibodies in there. And some people say we’ve already reached herd immunity. I don’t think so. I think the science I’ve seen I have the advantage. I think I’ve told you. I have a brother as a PhD research toxicologist who just retired from one of the big pharma companies after 40 years of bringing drugs to market who read all the science for me because he got all this science change. And he assures me this is the safest, most tested vaccine. That is a wonderful breakthrough technology. So I have an advantage over other conservatives. I actually have a scientist in the family. But for those who don’t believe we need new influencers who are not tainted by politics.
Andy Slavitt 20:01
Well, it’s been 7 billion arms. So you know, I think for people who want to do their own homework here or who, you know, I look, I read your piece on Fauci. I saw your interview with Fauci and we’ll put a link to your interview with Fauci. Maybe we’ll come back to that. To some extent, I obviously, you seem to know each other well, I know him well, I think we could have a conversation about that perspective. I think his point was, I ain’t the reason, Rochelle Walensky ain’t the reason a lot of us ain’t the reason that people aren’t getting vaccinated, and if they are, you know, people who want to who aren’t, you know, you say they’re smart people, they respect science. We have, you know, 7 billion shots. And cases of safety incidents are measured in the several per million, over 7 billion shots, just pretty amazing. And yet, you know, these vaccines aren’t bulletproof. And maybe people feel like they were overrepresented because their immunity wanes and people who feel like they get natural immunity, maybe feel like they don’t need to get a shot. And so there’s nuance here, right, it says, you know, we should acknowledge, and maybe we need to be better at acknowledging that there’s somewhere in between, I’m anti Vax and, you know, I feel safe, I don’t think it’s that great. You know, there’s other ways to get there, and that those require honest conversation and dialogue. And it’s a point I tried to make at the beginning here with the echo chambers is we’re not great at the open conversation and dialogue. And it’s hard for scientists to do that. Because what people look at scientists for is clarity. And they sometimes get lost when they have to get into nuance.
And I want to pick up on that Andy and I do not fall anyone who has been at the helm of a public health agency for the last two years for losing credibility, it’s almost impossible not to have done so because of the shifting amount of data and the shifting imperatives and the rapidity with which the vaccine developed. But I have a question for you at the start. If we had a new healthcare crisis today, a new pathogen, or even variant, I call it variant omega-B, if the variant that breaks through and kills people in record numbers. Do you think the current public health authorities as they are arrayed would be able to persuade the country at the rate and with the efficacy that we would need them to do so? Or are they worn out politically by virtue of the war’s over the vaccine?
Andy Slavitt 22:22
You know, I think you could put any face or head inside there, you could bring in Francis Collins, you can bring in Vivek Murthy, you can bring in Robert Califf, if he gets confirmed at the FDA, and I don’t think it moves the needle a whole lot. I think this is much more entrenched, and how deeply entrenched it is and why it’s so deeply entrenched is a great topic for us to explore. But I don’t think it’s a temporal thing. I think that the attitudes towards the distrust in whether it’s government expertise, science, the elite, however, people are perceived, is more deeply entrenched than any one person can come in and fix it. Even Trump. Even Trump got booed by standing up in front of his audience and say, get vaccinated. So I don’t think it’s a figurehead.
I think there is a level of comfort that we can get to where we minimize that number down into the single digits. And there will always be single digits opposition to any public health measure. But we’ve got to move from 70% to 95%. And I don’t think especially if there’s a new crisis, I just don’t think our current array of influencers is sufficient to the task. And that’s what mostly worries me is that this comes back as the Omega variant. And we have a divided population and don’t trust in the scientific authority.
So let’s get into that. 75% to 90%. My data says that roughly 60% of adult Republicans, this isn’t conservatives, it’s actually by political party. 60% of adult Republicans are vaccinated and 90% of adult Democrats are vaccinated. Now, I don’t know if those numbers are precise. But order of magnitude, I think they’re probably pretty close. You’ve been on the radio every day saying get vaccinated, get vaccinated, get vaccinated people trust you. You lay out a fact base you listen to questions, but I think if those numbers are right, then I don’t know how that needle moves. I don’t know that a Republican administration or a different type of person, you know, crosses that chasm because there’s a lot of evidence but it’s 7 billion arms. really significant reduction in deaths measurable. And people aren’t stupid, right? People don’t want to die. Yet it hasn’t moved.
Hugh Hewitt 24:54
Yeah, we need someone with cue. And the old television world of which I came that cue rating now mattered more than anything. If people looked at you on the TV, did they believe you? And cue is something that we need in the public health arena.
Not to be confused with Qanon?
No. Oh, God, no. Oh my God.
When you said Q I was like, okay, this is about to get interesting.
No, I am one of those conservatives that’s lunacy? No, I’m not talking about just the general ability to persuade. And the polarization of our society has removed the ability to do that. And you used to be able to go..
But who is that? I mean, name up to five people who have that? I mean, I don’t think we can.
I would start with Oprah. I always said Oprah had the longest sustained largest audience in America over 25 years. And then I would add […] because he appealed the conservative. And after those two, you haven’t had a large, sustained audience in America, that’s not political for more than 50 years. And it’s the disintermediation of authority. And it’s very hard to overcome when everyone’s getting their information out of the silo that they like, right? It’s almost impossible.
Andy Slavitt 26:05
Well, look, all of the data that I have seen, which is not comprehensive, suggests that the people who would be persuaded by who gets on TV are already vaccinated. The people that are left, generally speaking, only trust local people, they may trust their doctor, they may trust a pharmacist, they may trust a member of their family who they think is smart, like a scientist, they may trust a clergy member. And they may not trust anybody. But this idea that there is a national person who can persuade people is attractive. And oh, if it were only true, but it’s not because they’re hearing from people who don’t know what their lives are like. And they’re hearing from people who aren’t addressing their specific issues, concerns and questions. And generally speaking, this last segment of people don’t trust government, pharma companies, etc, according to all the data that I’ve seen.
I think you’re right. But I do believe in the marginal improvement of that audience shrinking so that we can’t stop working at that marginal improvement.
Sure. As you said, you know, Delta is the fastest spreading respiratory virus in the history of respiratory viruses. And unfortunately, unlike last year’s COVID, or alpha even, you know, 70% to 75%, ain’t enough. The gulf is really big. I mean, if it’s true that 60% of Republicans are actually, adult Republicans are vaccinated, it means 40% or not. And they tend to live in pockets and in communities, I think, where most of the people they know a lot of people that know aren’t vaccinated, and there’s a talk track, and I’m not sure I know what that talk track is, you probably do better than I do, which is why people don’t trust the vaccine, or don’t trust this particular vaccine. And, you know, I want to get a better understanding to this audience of what these folks are saying or thinking, because I don’t, and I really don’t think it’s as superficial as kind of someone sitting on TV, who’s talking the talk, people on my side, we point to a couple of a number of things, which may be right or wrong, because one of them would be, oh, well, if you turn on Fox, to do nothing but plant doubts all day long, then people point to other things. I don’t know if those are the right answers. I’m really kind of curious what they are.
Hugh Hewitt 28:24
Well, I would start with the utility of an admission against interest, to the extent that we had admissions of air from the government dating back to Operation Warp Speed to the present, that they had made mistakes in the initial testing rollout. In the don’t worry about masks, they aren’t efficacious, because we’re actually protecting the supply chain. If we could go back and undo every untruth or over promise under deliver promise that was made, we’d be in a better position. But when you take a government suspicious individual, a freedom person, and I’ll say there, and you give them a record of either incoherence over promise or outright lie. It’s very difficult to move them off absent a new body of persuaders, that new body of Persuaders you and I could go round and round forever and who they are. I just know that if we growing to get the 90%, we need new voices, because we’re not going to persuade out of the current polarization that we’re in. The closest I’ve actually, you know, the idea that is now getting in the way is that those who aren’t vaccinated are being mocked. That is the surest fire way to make sure they never get vaccinated. And if you read your comments, or on one of my columns at the post, and you’ll see what happens, the flood of trolls that comes in that would rather fight the Trump wars and get people vaccinated have exactly the opposite effect of increasing vaccination because it has been viewed as a political subject. I mean, do you understand what I’m getting at? We got to get this out of politics. It’s got to be professionals talking through doctors and pastors and counselors at a local level with some influencers on a national level and there are other groups, one thing I would like to hear from your data, what is the second most resistant group other than conservative evangelicals? Is it not African-Americans?
Andy Slavitt 30:18
It’s actually young people. It used to be African Americans. It’s actually and there’s overlap. It’s actually 18-to-30-year old’s are now more so, actually the gap between African-Americans and White Americans closed, probably due to a lot of effort inside that community. And they’ll be probably some better understanding and over overcoming some hurdles, likewise, that Latinx Americans but it is true that if you’re 80 to 30, no matter what your politics, probably more so if you’re conservative, but also true. If you’re not conservative, that you are, you know, they’re barely above half.
Wow. Yeah. The I look at the Aaron Rodgers controversy. I look at the Kyrie Irving controversy. It’s something I talked to Dr. Fauci about last time he’s on something I talked to Dr. Collins about. I don’t know, with young people watching an increasing amount of sports and turning off the politics, which is another pew finding that they have turned their attention to subjects unrelated to politics. They turn into sports, you have an entire ecosystem of sports broadcasting, and you have a lot of vaccine deniers in that world. I don’t know what we do about that.
Well, look, I’ll tell you something interesting. And this is, before there was even the topic of mandates broached. NCAA athletes got to, are now between 85 and each League, it many of them are 99% to 100%. The majority are 90%. Everybody is above like 87%-88% on these teams. So there’s a lot of publicity given to Kyrie Irving understandably, there’s a lot of publicity given to Aaron Rodgers. And probably people, you know, mocking him give him a lot of publicity, too. But the truth is that like the actual numbers, inside the sports teams are quite high, in some part, because, you know, athletes are really prone to getting it bad in an odd way. If you’re young and you got a great immune system, your body betrays you, and it’s happened and there’s a lot of as you know, a lot of cases like this, my son, unfortunately, who’s an athlete is one of them. Super good shape, super well-conditioned, and unfortunately, has had lingering effects from COVID.
Hugh Hewitt 32:26
Does he have long COVID?
Yeah, I think he’d probably be classified that way. I mean, it comes and goes. But you know, it’s definitely something has changed in his body, his limbs are cold, his heart rate accelerates, often. He complains of brain fog, but I think that’s due to just him being him. So stuff like that, and you know, he knows other athletic kids.
If you had a chance yet to read Ross Douthat, The Deep Places, it’s a magnificent book that dives deep into the world of Lyme disease sufferers. And why Lyme disease sufferers it become very, very disenchanted with the public health agencies of America. And with the diagnose, it’s broken into two worlds. And what Ross at the end of it says there’s a world of skepticism out there about Lyme disease officialdom that informed skepticism about COVID officialdom, and it’s only broken through by personal experience. And that brings me to your son. I’m a Cleveland Browns fan. Anyone who’s a Cleveland Browns fan knows that COVID can take out the greatest athlete in the NFL, Miles Garrett, Miles Garrett went down and he never got it back last year, even when he was allowed to come back to play. He was breathing hard. Every Browns fan watch this again and again. And they realize the greatest athlete in their fandom has been crippled by COVID. And he had sort of long COVID. He’s better this year. But I would bet if you examine fan bases for participation, something like that, a story like that has a significant probative effect on how people respond to the other.
Andy Slavitt 34:00
I bet it does. So I’ll feel safer in Cleveland, you guys have played in those cases not to win the game. So I’m not sure what I’m gonna give you on that.
Let me tiptoe towards this conversation around mandates. But as I do, I just want to like it because at the other day, which I’m sure I’m guessing you saw, as well, is this breakdown of Trump plus 20 counties versus Biden plus 20 counties, and that the death rate is three times higher those Trump counties that in the Biden counties it’s what was I’ve heard people describe this though as like the anti-Goldilocks virus where, you know, not enough people are affected for people to really take action. But you know, the steps people have to take to avoid it feel annoying enough or invasive enough that they don’t. And, you know, I think that’s probably true in all communities, not just conservative ones. But you know, the 60% vaccination rate looks like it’s translating into a three times as high death rate, it is something that we all have to figure out how to get better at by own chosen approach, which is only midstream is to just try to at least understand people and where they’re coming from, with without judgment, with some understanding that the people want to live, nobody wants to die. And people have concerns. And we may not think those concerns are rational or irrational. But I do encourage us to do two things. One is to try to understand each other. And the second is, try not to break up our relationships over this. There are people almost every liberal I know has a conservative in their family and every conservative I know has at least one liberal in their family. And those relationships seem pretty strained.
Hugh Hewitt 36:09
Do you think they’re strained because of COVID or strained because of President Trump? I think it’s the latter not the COVID. And that a lot of relationship have been broken about that. Andy, I don’t know if you read Peggy Noonan’s 2016 piece on the unprotected versus the protected. It’s the single most, I think, objective assessment of what happened in America in the last 10 years where we broke into the protected class of which I’m a member and you are a member, we’re both Harvard grads, we both have advanced degrees, we both have resiliency built into our families into our economic reality, and the unprotected America, which is one disaster away from death or ruin. And they’re collected in Skid Row of LA. And those are not Republicans or Democrats who fall through its people who fall through. I believe the unprotected America has developed a great suspicion of elite America, and that the ability of elite America to persuade the unprotected of anything is almost […], whether it’s Elite Center Right, Elite conservative, Elite liberal or Elite Left, they don’t connect with the people who are in rural America. We’re just describing rural America, weren’t you in those counties?
Yeah, but they’re Trump counties likely to be rural counties, for sure.
And there’s rural counties are going to have less of everything, including jobs, food security, medical security access, and they’re going to distrust the government more than elites in New York City or Southern California. I’m in new the new Rome of Washington, DC. As I said, before, we’re all going to be kind of elite oriented, but the anti-elitism of the unprotected is growing. I think that’s the root of the problem.
Yes, yes. And I think and I’ve said on the show before, probably ad nauseum, that if your life is one where you get paid by the hour versus your life is one where you make a salary if your life is one where you’re working in office, versus you’re working with your back or your hands, if your life is when we work in a small town, or a big city, quite frankly, you lack a real safety net underneath you versus if you have money in the bank, your reality in America is very, very different. And our understanding of each other’s realities, is less than it has been before. And so I think our even ability to explain where we’re coming from falls on deaf ears, because it all sounds quite suspicious to the other group. And I believe those things, well preceded the 2016 election, I think Donald Trump rode that wave, I don’t think he created that wave. My view, you’ve studied in a different way. And in a lot of depth to see you may feel differently. But that we have been in this place as […] describes for a while. And when you have a virus where you got to get 90% to 95% of people, where it’s unforgiving, and look getting 70% of anything, usually you win, you win by a landslide, 70%, here we end up losing was 70%. And so the fractures in our society become something we really, really have to understand.
And we’re actually going to write a book 100 years from now, like the great influenza, that’s going to look back and find those parts of the country that were most deeply ravaged, or those which had the least amount of trust in any institution. And that’s going to go back. By the way, I think it’s going to overlay a lot with those who experienced significant economic harm in the 2008 collapse.
I wondered about that.
There’s going to be an overlay of where did people lose their trust. Because there isn’t anyone who’s very publicly anti-vaxxer. There’s some anti mandate people like Dr. Mohler for religious liberty reasons and people like me for constitutional reasons, but there aren’t, to my knowledge. There aren’t a lot of very influential people. And by that I mean with audience who are anti vaccine per se. Do you know of any Andy?
Andy Slavitt 40:06
Yeah, Tucker Carlson.
Is he anti vaccine? I don’t watch the show.
Here’s the thing. Anti-vaccine people there tell is they start by saying I’m not one of those anti vaxxers. No one, no one comes out and says they’re anti-vax. But they’ve learned that the way you actually persuade people that to get vaccinated is by planting the subtle doubts. I’m not anti-vaccine, but I do know someone who was childbearing age, and she, you know, she had a miscarriage. And then using social media algorithms, you’re able to target the message to the exact fear. And sophisticated anti vaccine messaging is all about planting these subtle doubts, hey, did you see the data which says that, you know, so and so and so and so, and with someone who is on the fence, that’s all it takes? Actually, people are more suspicious of people who they believe are anti vaccine. They’re very susceptible, though, to these very clever anti vaccine messages. So I call that, I would call that more anti vaccine. And that’s exactly what Tucker does.
And I actually don’t have an opinion on that. When you do a radio show that you get up at four o’clock in the morning, you do you don’t watch 9PM TV. So I actually have never seen Tucker show and I understand that. He is in the crowd of doubters. And I’ve actually had a couple of doubters on and they’re not very persuasive. And so I don’t know how Tucker persuades I’ve had a couple of the doctors who I think have used the opportunity, the intersection of fear and money to raise their status and make some money, right? I think that’s part of the deal. But the worst mistake for your audience to understand is when they mock the ivermectin people, because Dr. Collins and I have talked about this a few times. Ivermectin is in the course of being studied right now, before there was a vaccine. It was the only thing that people who’d been exposed to get off label, they weren’t going to find they weren’t taking horse drugs, they were taking ivermectin. Now, they’re getting a backlash that you were morons. For doing that, well, you might be less than smart to do it now when you have a vaccine option to you. But boy, the contempt for people who were late to the game is itself a wall, to getting to them.
Andy Slavitt 42:15
Generally speaking, I can’t think of a time I have persuaded someone by making fun of them. This is the same thing, it’s another version of the same thing, you’re in my camp, or you’re out of my camp. But if you’re out of my camp, you’re wearing a different jersey. And everything you do is suspect whether it’s suspect, because I don’t trust you and your leader or whether it’s suspect, because what I think you’re doing isn’t quote, unquote, rational. And look, we all fall into it. And every time that I’m guilty of it, I ended up being sorry that I am. But it’s very tempting, because our society does sort of pull us this way. Let me go. Let me gently broach this topic of mandates with you. And you’re a constitutional scholar. So look, I may be like about to like jump into the deep end with sharks here. But let me start with an unconstitutional point. Just a very simple data point. And actually, this actually probably brought to life for my wife a week ago, she was in a Walgreens, where people were getting vaccinated. And there were two Los Angeles county city workers who were getting vaccinated.
And the person did you know, everybody could hear what everybody was saying. Both people said that they weren’t vaccinated, because one of them said, they don’t like shots. And the other one said, they don’t like some other version. They just they don’t like needles, I think was what the other one said. And he said, well, why are you getting vaccinated now, and the person said, this is pretty close to perfect quote, I don’t know anybody would get a shot unless they had to. So I was waiting for my employer to tell me. And if you look at the data, there are actually some people that are stubbornly anti vaccine. We’ve been talking about that. But there’s actually a larger number of people, 25 million or so by the polls, who actually say, you know, I’m not going to do it, because I am on the fence that I don’t like shots, or I don’t necessarily feel that at risk, but I’ll do it as soon as either my employer tells me to, or in order to enter into a concert or a bar or whatever, it makes life easier.
Andy Slavitt 44:19
And so you’ve got a bunch of people that are, and I think college students fall into this category, people who are 18 to 30, they don’t feel very at risk. They don’t care that much, but they’re glad to do it without complaint. It’s true of a majority of people at employer sites or colleges, or other settings. You know, they just don’t care that much. They don’t feel very strongly about it. It’s like they’re the disaffected people in politics. So that nudge actually is quite helpful. The second point that I would just sort of say is there actually is never been except for one time in history, this country an actual mandate, and actual requirement that people get vaccinated. What you have are people who said, hey, you can’t be around other people, breathe around them, laugh around them sneeze around them, if you’re not going to keep them safe, if you’re not going to show that you’re not infectious, and if you want to not get vaccinated that certainly you’re right, but just can’t do it here. So lay those things out for you. I’m guessing those are you might think of those as easy tennis balls to swat. But tell me why either of those things might not be right.
Well they’re not, they’re both right. Ah, I don’t disagree with that. If a worker, if an employer wants to mandate their workers to get a vaccine, absent a collective bargaining agreement that has taken that away, they can do so. I can mandate the people that work for my production company get the vaccine, and no one can tell me not to because there’s no collective bargaining agreement. And I did not want to work around people who are not vaccinated even though I’m in a studio driven environment, because I’m 65 with asthma and so I just didn’t want to be around people. So I mandated that’s the way it was going to be, no problem with that. If you are a governor or a state or local authority, and you want to within your authority mandate, like Gavin Newsom has done in California, or various school districts have done, I again have no problem with that at all. That’s where the police power resides. And I teach […] law for 25 years now. Tell him about the San Francisco earthquake after the San Francisco earthquake, the San Francisco Fire Department went around destroying buildings to create fire breaks, and there was no condemnation of private property because the police power says you get to protect the people. So if a governor or a school board wants to mandate, that’s fine. The biggest problem is the federal government, they do not have the right to do this. And to a constitutionalist, the moment you start putting the authority in the wrong hands is the moment you’ve gone wrong. And I deeply regret that President Biden issued a mandate as opposed to trying to persuade governors to issue mandate school boards to issue mandates, local governments to issue mandates and workers to issue mandates because when he loses, and he will lose in the Fifth Circuit, at least with regards to religious institutions, people are going to trust him even less. Does that make sense?
So let’s get to the components of this. One of them is that if you accept money for Medicare and Medicaid, as a condition of participation, in other words, in order to get money for Medicare and Medicaid, you have to follow certain protocols that show that you’re a safe medical institution, whether you’re a nursing home, whether you’re a hospital, whether you’re a clinician office, so that’s one major element of this, would you say that it’s constitutional or unconstitutional in your mind?
It depends on how it was written; the spending power gives a vast amount of authority as you know, from a President Obama Care lawsuit, Affordable Care Act versus rebellious. The expansion of Medicaid with ruled unconstitutional is an overreach of the spending power. Chief Justice Roberts showing that the four conservatives said you can’t make people expand Medicaid that’s an overreach of the spending power, where the spending power is validly employed as it would be with hospitals and pharmacies and places that accept money. They can mandate that. I do not believe it would work in a title nine situation I do not believe you can impose upon colleges and universities a mandate structure unless you have a very specific congressional act that says we are employing either the interstate commerce clause, the spending clause or the tax and spend clause to mandate use. And as a constitutional optimist, I always begin with, okay, what are you relying on, in this case, Team Biden is relying on the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which I’m somewhat familiar with, it’s signed by Richard Nixon, it was a compromise after the 1968 Johnson act failed, and it regulates workplace generated hazard so that […] can be regulated. The virus is not a workplace generated hazard. And if you can order a mandate for this, there’s nothing you can’t mandate. So the conservative always worries, what is still left to personal freedom and we are a freedom people. And I think some people are making God awful choices, Andy, they’re going to be dead, and they’re going to leave their children orphaned and widow, their spouses, widowed. It’s their right as a free people to do that. And only the governor of their state or a local official can interfere or not the President of the United States because he has limited and enumerated powers.
Got it. So if I hear your right, what you’re saying is that healthcare, one because of the spending power and uses that authority, that’s not as problematic. The one that you’re pointing to, is the one that says that employers with over 100 people have to implement something which is either vaccine or test your employees and they’re relying on OSHA to do this, the people who are focused on occupational safety and health. And that’s the one that you’re suggesting is either closer to the edge or over the line. And so let’s look at that one for a second. So first of all, again, I’ll make the non-legal point first, which is having spoken to lots of employers, in red states and blue states about this for a long period of time, the thing that they asked for, is, have my back and force me to take collective action, make the ground rules level for everybody. Because if I do it, I United Airlines do it. And they’re perhaps not the best example, because they’re unionized. But assume that they’re not, if I do it, and American Airlines doesn’t, it’s an unlevel playing field. So let us all leap together. And we’re all happier leaping together. And we might gripe about you, the big bad government. But at the end of the day, it’s what we want. And it’s what we think makes sense.
Andy Slavitt 50:58
So that’s not the legal constitutional point. But it is, it is a lot of the feedback from employers. Now, let’s say they love every element of this, they don’t care if there’s some of these mandates unfunded and so forth. So there are secondary questions, for sure. And then I think that then the legal point comes down to I think what you said is this law from 1970, which, you know, is the interpretation of, you know, if I show up to work in your studio, and, you know, I am forced to work next to you, and hand you ads to read on your radio show. And I have no choice but to do this is an occupational hazard, assuming you got 100 people or more, because that’s what this applies to. It’s an occupational hazard. Or if I’m at a meatpacking plant, probably a better example. And everybody around me in this closed, cold place where everybody spreads, is that required to be vaccinated or tested, then that’s an occupational hazard that I face. That’s the question?
Hugh Hewitt 52:03
Yeah, that is the question. And the response is no, it’s not, it’s not enough to overrule the police powers specific reservation to the state governments. And we’ll find out, we will get an answer probably from the six three court that they have exceeded their authority. Dr. Mohler was on with me this morning, is the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he employs 350 people, the idea of an institution devoted to theology, especially a Baptist, one, traditionally, the most anti-government denomination being ordered to participate as agents of the state and the distribution of a vaccine strikes them as the most irregular mandate he’s ever had to deal with. It is similar to the Little Sisters of the Poor having to provide a board of patients. And you know, that ended, the Supreme Court always sides with religious free exercise claims, at least this court does. I just think it’s unfortunate that the President went there. Because it feeds the most persuasive argument, which is the government is trying to control your life in every detail, and you have no agency for your future, you have no individual responsibility, and hard argue to with that.
But look, it’s not hard to argue with I mean, you may not agree with the argument. But look, if there’s 3 million people who walk around every day with a compromised immune system, who really have trouble being protected, in any way, we are forcing them to be exposed to people who have a choice. And these are folks that don’t have a choice. And so, you know, the question is, what’s the job of the President, and I take your point that the federal government, the state government, have different powers, different authorities, but if you’re sitting in that chair, trying to protect people who can’t protect themselves, I could say, look, all you other folks have a choice. Exercise that choice by getting a test taking, exercise that choice, by not working there, but by all means don’t expose these 3 million people who have a very high propensity to get very sick and die if they get COVID. So I think that would be the argument.
Hugh Hewitt 54:08
Do you understand that argument means in essence, there is an unlimited authority for the government to act on behalf of the most helpless person in society. And that’s not what our constitution says. And so you have to change the constitution in order to protect those 3 million people. And that’s a fundamental disagreement between right and left between progressive and conservative. And I don’t want to change that because I think freedom comes first, including the freedom to be quite reckless with regards to your health and other people’s health. And thus, it has always been in America. And that’s our defining character. We are a freedom people.
Yeah, I think where people would take issue is this question of other people’s health. I mean, if you want to be reckless, it’s one thing but if you want to drive drunk and endanger other people, you know, it’s an entirely different matter. So I think this notion of infectious disease complicates the argument that you’re making on freedom because you are restricting other people’s freedom. By exercising, if you’re restricting other people’s freedom by exercising what you consider to be your own freedom, then I think that’s when you get into this argument gets into trouble.
There are limits. And that’s actually your Harvard Business School guy, and I’m a Michigan law guy. That’s the police power. And where does it reside, Andy, and this is not, it’s not a question of right or wrong. It’s a question of where does that power quarantines have been around forever. My brother was quarantine for scarlet fever in the 1950s, they put a sign on our door and no one could come in. Quarantines are something that are conducted by the local government or the state government, not by the federal government, which is a government of limited and enumerated powers. And until and unless you get around your arms around that, you’re not going to understand where my team is coming from on mandates, we just don’t, we don’t accept the shortcut, you’ve got to make the government work.
I think you explained it very well. And I actually would say that, you know, one thing I just want to just take a step back and note is disagreement is okay. We have made disagreement, a fight to the death, and a battle of where you must disrespect the other point of view and the other side. And where, you know, there’s all kinds of identity and emotion involved in it. So it feels unsafe to disagree. What I think this conversation is, at least a small example of is the fact that disagreeing and having these arguments, and you listening to my merit, and my listening to your merits, is actually a wonderful thing. If we can add in why we can’t do it safely anymore feels like a loss.
Hugh Hewitt 56:53
It is a loss. It’s a learned behavior. My closest friends are Democrats who served with you in the Obama administration and in the Clinton administration. They are my parent, the godparents of my children. And they’ve been wrong for as long as I’ve known them, right? 50 years, we aren’t going to stop talking to each other. And they think I’ve been crazy for about 50 years. And I want to read you a question that talks about this gap coming from a young mother who knew I was going to be on with you who is very smart, and very health concern. Every single parent I’ve talked to about vaccinating their kids, all college educated pro vaccine, women are only vaccinating their kids because they hope it will mean off ramps for crazy school policies like masking social distancing at school quarantine policy, they don’t really want to vaccinate their kids against an illness that kids are already extremely low risk for. They need incentives to vaccinate the kids and this ain’t it. Not to mention this is so off base compared to what the European countries are doing to our detriment. And so you’ve got a very smart group of the folks out there who are not hearing a message as to why their children need to get vaccinated because they don’t see any upside. What’s your response to that?
Andy Slavitt 58:02
First of all, very reasonable place to come from. And I’ve said this on the show that we ought to talk differently about vaccinating kids than we do about vaccinating ourselves. And I had Paul Offit, who’ a terrific pediatrician. And one of the things he said is, you might tell an adult, or have a regulation for adult to get vaccinated because of not just their own interest, but because it impacts others. But a pediatrician would never tell a parent to vaccinate a kid to stop the spread of something that could affect other people. In other words, vaccinate the kid to protect yourself. That’s just not how pediatricians are. And that’s just that our society, it’s I think we think differently about our kids and our kids safety than we do ourselves. And I think that is very understandable. And we have to be understanding of each other. And the fact is, I think that the data from the FDA did a very nice job of parsing this out. But it is called nuance. And what it basically does is it outlines the occasions where it is a far greater benefit to vaccinate kids. And the several cases where it’s less the case. And that’s when you have a very, very low case count. It doesn’t do that for adults. But for kids, it makes that point and I think you have you know a couple things at work that make the evidence lead that way, which is you know, it’s a third of the dose, myocarditis happens typically post puberty, but still, we have to respect people’s rights around and their feelings even more even above their rights around their kids. So that’s one thing. The other thing I’d say though, is any I get lots of this kind of mail or letters or you throw away anything that begins with everybody I know. I also am immediately suspicious of, because it just breaks to the point down that we always know people like us that we live in these echo chambers. And that I think you have a situation where you know about 40% of people will immediately vaccinate their five to 11, about 20% to 30% really aren’t sure. And you know, the remainder are very unlikely to. And by the way, that’s not that different from the sliding scale, when you go down from, you know, 95% of people who are over 90% are vaccinated down to just about 50% of people, you know, over 18 to 20 to 30. And then teens are about in their 40s percent. So it’s not surprising because the risk reward does change as the age changes.
Hugh Hewitt 1:00:28
And the outlier for your, by the way, anecdotal evidence is evidence of anecdotes for saying I learned that evidence and you can tell me, you know, 300 people doesn’t matter to me, because anecdotal evidence is evidence of anecdotes, different people story to tell. So it doesn’t matter me. What matters to me is where does the voice come from, a highly educated, independent woman who writes me about her own children who has him or herself vaccinated, and therefore doesn’t have that suspicion? There is a question about the cost benefit analysis, especially in the case where masking among K through 3k, through third grade is not something they’re doing in Europe right now. Because it’s got counterintuitive benefits. So that makes a disconnect with the public health. Right? So if you’ve introduced doubt as to their openness to be wrong, or their openness to understand a different point of view, then you’ve got a freight. You’re running free, it’s broken field running once you broken through the public health orthodoxy. That’s what I worry about.
We’ll come back to mask in a second, but it will say this with regard to vaccines. And it’s really important to people who are listening, and to this woman, the advantage and the benefit of the conversation on vaccinating your kids is going to happen in a very different place than it did among adults, we’re generally speaking, you went to a CVS or a pharmacy, 28,000 pediatricians, which is almost all of them, will have the ability to vaccinate kids. And pediatricians are very comfortable with and very used to the topic of childhood vaccinations, and to talking to parents like this one who raises very reasonable questions, answering those questions, and not trying to intimidate them into saying, you must do this, and you must not do that. So I think there are opportunities for nuanced conversations within the pediatricians office. Now, for people who don’t have pediatricians, this is another matter. It’s something that I think is a bigger problem and trying to fix. But in this particular case, like she’s got an individual decision to make, she’s got an expert to consult in a pediatrician. And, you know, she’ll make the decision that she thinks is right. If it were me, I, you know, when my kids were younger, they’re not, but if they were younger, I’d vaccinate them in a heartbeat. But you know, some people have questions and those questions should be reasonably asked to pediatricians. And to your earlier point in mind, we shouldn’t shame people who conclude differently because it is a bunch of narrower analysis when it comes to kids.
Hugh Hewitt 1:02:55
And one thing that really frustrates me, Andy, that maybe your bubble needs to hear is that my bubble believes masks on children K through third are really bad things based on the British study based upon how they learn based upon the cognitive deficits that develop that can’t be overcome. And school shutdowns were a disaster. If we ever had anyone come forward from your team to admit some of that, I think we would go a long way towards establishing credibility for that speaker. I’m on my team.
Yeah, yeah. Well, look, thank you for explaining that and other things on here. Well, it’s reasonable to understand why people come to that point of view, it’s also very reasonable to understand why people who have kids in school would want kids to be masked, it does significantly reduce transmission. And if people at home are worried about getting it and getting it from their kids, which they have reason to be, that’s reason to worry. And you know, we had a period of time when Florida was peeking when we had 3000 kids being hospitalized every week. So I’m quite sure that I can amass a set of arguments about why it’s a smart, prudent thing to do. But I’m also aware that all that stuff sometimes comes off as justifying past decisions, as opposed to really looking hard at the facts and the evidence, starting with what you’ve said, which is, we don’t have settled science here. So we’re going to make our best educated decision that protects the most people. And here’s what it is. And I do think you’re right, you’ll get more people to go along with it if you talk to the nuance, as you know, I had responsibility for talking to the public in the Biden administration, and laying out the facts as I saw them. And the one thing I found was if I answered the question, honestly, as if I were talking to my sister, and didn’t overthink it, but just told her what I thought and what the facts were and what we know what we don’t know, I was always on safer ground than if I tried to take another approach, which is to defend or sound infallible or otherwise, and I think, you know, that is a place where we could all do better, or it’s gonna be very hard for people who are dug in. The other thing, I think he was just saying to people, what I will say to you right now as we close this episode, which is I learned something from you, you influenced me, you said things to me, that helped me understand things in a way that was different than before. And if I can’t acknowledge that, then you feel like, well, I’m just talking to myself. I mean, what’s the point of all this, and we’re never going to break ground. So those are small steps. But in my mind, seeking to understand before you seek to be understood, is a first principle.
Hugh Hewitt 1:05:37
I agree with you. And by the way, I appreciate I saw you got some pushback on Twitter for talking to me, I saw, and I thought to myself, oh, Andy’s going to when worlds collide, when the blue and the red worlds collide, I live in the purple world. So that’s fine with me, but I didn’t know that you did. And there are some people who do not want to ever be persuaded by a conservative. It risks their belief system, just like there’s some people who never want to be persuaded by a liberal because it risks their belief system. Got to get away from that, otherwise, you will never develop new knowledge and new knowledge is everything.
Yeah, well, thank you and look, for people who didn’t want me to have you on I’m sure they didn’t listen. But I hope that they did. Because, first of all, again, I would just say, being able to get in a room with somebody and jointly solve a problem when you come from two different worldviews greatly enhances your opportunity to solve that problem. I can fall into patterns of thinking I know all the answers. And so we’ve got a challenge set. But I also would just want to make sure to say it again. You were incredibly helpful and patriotic when I was sitting in the Biden administration. You know, there’s no other way to talk to conservatives than to talk to conservatives and my job was in part to talk to conservatives.
That’s very well put, by the way. That’s true. There is no other way
No other way. Well, thank you, Hugh. I hope people enjoyed this. If they did. Really happy we could do it again. If they didn’t, then I’m not as happy but we should still do it again.
I’m with you on that, Andy, and I look forward to having you back on the radio again soon. I don’t know what you’re doing now. I’m sorry, you left, but continued good success in trying to persuade people the old-fashioned way with argument and reason.
Okay, thank you to Hugh. Thank you to Ryan for the report out on the climate conference. We’ve got two great shows coming up how to stay safe over the holidays with Jennifer Nuzzo and Farzad Mostashari is a great toolkit episode coming up. Then we have Len Schleifer, who is the CEO of Regeneron. Regeneron is a company that makes the monoclonal antibodies. We’re going to have a good conversation about the power of those therapies and other therapies with Len coming up. Hope you all enjoy the rest of your week. We’ll talk to you later bye.
Thanks for listening to IN THE BUBBLE. Hope you rate us highly. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kryssy Pease and Alex McOwen produced the show. Our mix is by Ivan Kuraev and Veronica Rodriguez. Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs are the executive producers of the show, we love them dearly. Our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, and additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadaMedia. And you can find me at @ASlavitt on Twitter or at @AndySlavitt on Instagram. If you like what you heard today, please tell your friends and please stay safe, share some joy and we will definitely get through this together.