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Grant Ginder on His New Novel, ‘Let’s Not Do That Again’
Podcast

Grant Ginder on His New Novel, ‘Let’s Not Do That Again’

This week on "The Tent," Daniella sits down with Grant Grinder to discuss his latest book, "Let's Not Do That Again."

Part of a Series

This week, Daniella welcomes novelist and former Center for American Progress staffer Grant Ginder on the podcast to discuss his latest book, Let’s Not Do That Again. They break down the psychology of right-wing radicalization, Grant’s inspirations from Washington to Paris, and their wildest celebrity run-ins. Daniella also discusses the recent white supremacist terrorist attack in Buffalo, New York, and the urgency of gun violence prevention.

Learn more about the podcast here.

Transcript:

Daniella Gibbs Léger: Hey everyone, welcome back to “The Tent,” your place for politics, policy, and progress. I’m Daniella Gibbs Léger. I am thrilled to have a personal friend and former Center for American Progress team member, Grant Ginder, on today to discuss his new novel, Let’s Not Do That Again. It is a brilliant, funny, and gripping story that mixes politics and messy family dynamics in a way that really sheds some light on both. We’ll be discussing themes from the book, so, you know, slight spoiler alert. I’m not gonna give away any major plot twists, but if you’re the type of person who likes to go in without any foreknowledge, maybe read the first few chapters and then come back to this interview. But before we turn to that, we have to get to some news.

And I really want to spend some time talking about the horrific mass shootings that rocked this country over the weekend. And I’m extremely tired of saying this, but, you know, gotta start at the outset by saying that my thoughts and prayers are with the community’s survivors and families of victims in Buffalo, Milwaukee, Orange County, and other cities that experienced really terrible acts of gun violence last weekend.

But in particular, I want to spend some time talking about what happened in Buffalo. On Saturday, May 14, the gunman, whose name we will not say on the show, drove more than three hours to a Tops grocery store located in a largely Black community in Buffalo, New York, to carry out a horrific white supremacist terrorist attack. Ten people were murdered, and three more were injured, the vast majority of whom were Black.

They were people like Ruth Whitfield, who was 86 years old and on her way to visit her husband in a nursing home; or Andre McNeil, who was 53, and at the Tops to pick up a birthday cake for his three-year-old son; Or Aaron Salter, Jr., the retired Buffalo police officer and Tops security guard—who no doubt saved lives when he tried to take on the alleged gunman, and he didn’t make it out alive. And I could go on, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that these were 10 beautiful, innocent souls who needlessly lost their lives this weekend.

In a 180-page manifesto posted online, the shooter revealed that he was inspired by past shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Christchurch Mosque in New Zealand, and that he was motivated by white supremacist conspiracies like the “great replacement theory.” If the “great replacement theory” sounds familiar, it may be because you’ve heard it being spewed by MAGA Republicans like Tucker Carlson, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), and more. It’s this crackpot idea that there is a conspiracy to, quote, “replace” white people in the United States with people of color, Jewish people, Muslims, and immigrants, to name a few. It’s a despicable, racist, vile, and dangerous delusion. And in my opinion, no one who subscribes to it should be allowed anywhere near a public office, a video camera, and especially not a gun.

Why? Because when MAGA Republicans start shilling this stuff, it sticks in the minds of violent people like the shooter in Buffalo, and the countless others who came before him. And because those MAGA lawmakers are also pro-gun NRA extremists, they’ve worked overtime to make it easy for these radicalized white supremacists to buy guns—even the shooter in Buffalo, who had a history of making terroristic threats, and had been investigated for threatening something similar at his school just a year ago, passed the so-called “background check” he was put through, and was able to purchase an AR-15, an assault weapon.

Tens of millions of guns are sold each year in this country. In 2020, gun homicides rose 34 percent and gun deaths became the leading cause of death among children under 17. A majority of Americans, including Republicans, support stricter laws around the purchase of guns. But fringe MAGA extremists dominate the party now, and they don’t want to see restrictions on guns, especially when they’re used as tools for their thinly veiled white supremacist agenda.

Despite the pushback from MAGA Republicans, we need to act now to end white supremacy and gun violence in this country. For starters, we need to prioritize the threat of white supremacist violence across federal government departments. We need to invest in groups and initiatives that are working to counteract white supremacy at the state and local level. And Congress needs to pursue legislation to more effectively prosecute hate crimes and prohibit racial and religious profiling.

And let me say it louder for the people in the back: We need some effective gun control legislation. We need to prohibit individuals who have been convicted of crimes from purchasing or transferring guns. While we’re at it, let’s ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines like those used by the shooter in Buffalo, and require background checks for unlicensed individuals buying, selling, or transferring guns. We also need to crack down on ghost guns, which are unregistered and untraceable homemade weapons. And of course, the midterms are coming up. So not only do we need to keep an eye out for politicians using hate-filled conspiracy theories to win favor, we need to get out and vote like our safety depends on it, because it really does.

It’s hard to not feel despondent. I often find myself going back to how I felt after Sandy Hook, and how I felt that if this country wasn’t going to do something about guns after—was it—25 four-year-olds were killed, then we were never going to do something about guns. It’s easy to fall into that. But we can’t. And we have to keep fighting, if not for us then for the next generation. We have to think about why is it that this country has more handguns than it does people? I heard this stat the other day. Why is it that this country seems to turn to gun violence so much more than any other country in the world? Why is it that people on the right are quick to try and blame anything else for this shooting, including throwing around mental health, which is a topic for an entirely other, different episode? And it’s bull[censored], by the way. But they’ll throw around any other excuse than to say, no, he was racist. He was a white supremacist. He said he specifically chose this supermarket because he knew Black people shop there. Why is that?

And what are we going to do about it? So that my son—my Black boy—growing up in this country doesn’t have to worry when he goes to a grocery store that some white supremacist is going to go and target him. This is the stuff that keeps me up at night. This is the stuff that if you’re not Black, you don’t have to think about it. But if you’re human, if you have empathy, if you give a [censored] about your fellow Americans, you should feel that same pit in your stomach that I feel. What are we going to do about it so my son, and your kids, don’t have to deal with this bull[censored]?

If there’s anything else you’d like us to cover on the pod, please hit us up on Twitter @TheTentPod. That’s @TheTentPod. And please let us know what you think of the show. You can rate and review us wherever you’re streaming from. And we really do appreciate your feedback. Now stick around—we’re going to switch gears, and we’ve got a great interview with Grant Ginder in just a beat.

[Musical transition]

Gibbs Léger: Grant Ginder is the author of the novels Honestly, We Meant Well, Driver’s Education, This Is How It Starts, and The People We Hate at the Wedding, a soon-to-be major motion picture. His latest novel, Let’s Not Do That, Again, tells the story of Senate candidate Nancy Harrison and her two adrift children, Nick and Greta. Grant received his master of fine arts from New York University, where he now teaches writing, and he’s my former colleague at the Center for American Progress. Grant, thanks so much for joining us on “The Tent.”

Grant Ginder: Daniella, thank you so much for having me. It’s so good to hear your voice again.

Gibbs Léger: I know, you too. For those who don’t know, Gant and I worked together a million-and-a-half years ago at CAP. It seems like a long time ago.

Ginder: No, I think it actually was a million-and-a-half years ago.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, exactly, give or take a few dozen. So, let’s jump right in. Like I said, we worked together in the press office and were very involved in the world of politics and the news cycle. But nowadays you are writing novels and teaching writing at NYU—very fancy.

Ginder: Naturally, naturally.

Gibbs Léger: Naturally. So, a big theme in Let’s Not Do That Again is the burnout and cynicism that can come with working in politics and constantly being, you know, tapped into this stuff—something I know many of our listeners can relate to. So, could you talk about, you know, what you learned from your own transition from the always-on mentality many of us in D.C. and in politics have to a more creative field, and how you included some of those lessons in the novel?

Ginder: Sure. So, that’s a great question. First of all, you know, you probably remember this, but I was really bad at politics, like super bad. I remember, like, sitting in the comm[unications] pod at CAP—like everyone else there, like, knew about breaking news before I did. And I mean, like, I knew it, like, an hour after everyone else. So, I think for starters, I was perhaps in not as, like, energetically on top of things as everyone else, which is perhaps one of the reasons why I eventually pivoted to fiction.

But yeah, I think that one thing that really did interest me when I was working in politics was watching narratives develop over the course of a press cycle, watching narratives developed in campaigns. I, later at CAP, as you know, Daniella, I went on to write speeches for John Podesta, and learning how to craft narratives within speeches—realizing that kind of the best speeches told stories, really focusing on those stories and the narrative aspects of politics—I actually think kind of saved me from the cynicism if that makes sense. Because a lot of those narratives, even the tiny ones, are heroic, right? There are solutions out there, and so when writing a speech, for example, on, you know, climate policy—I remember when I was writing speeches for John on climate policy, there was like one joke that I always inserted about, like, melting icebergs, and he always cut it, which I’m still kind of, like, butthurt by, because I thought it was a really good joke, anyway, though—but you’re writing a speech about, like, melting icebergs, but the end of that story is a policy to stop the iceberg from melting, right? And so, I think focusing on those narratives in fact kind of kept me in the game longer than I would have otherwise.

Gibbs Léger: So, many of the political events in the book have, like, obvious real-life parallels, and one of the big ones that stands out to me is, like, a kind of a version of the Yellow Vest protests that were happening in France. And for those who maybe don’t remember, that was a wave of populist protests in 2018 that were primarily about fuel taxes, and the perception that climate awareness and climate action was making fuel more expensive. There was this huge political problem for the French government at the time, and those undercurrents of populist ideology are still very much present in France. And you even mentioned in the book, Marine Le Pen, who is the mainstream—if we can call her that—political face of this populist right-wing sentiment. So, how did you become interested in those populist dynamics and protests in France? And, like, what inspired you to write about them in the novel?

Ginder: So, I spent quite a bit of time in France. I studied there in college, I had a Parisian boyfriend who I went back to visit time and time again.

Gibbs Léger: Naturally.

Ginder: Naturally, right? I mean, that’s, like, part of studying abroad, right? They give you, like, the apartment you’re staying in, and then the Parisian boyfriend, and like a six-month flirtation with cigarettes. But in any event … it’s a place that I’m familiar with and I think whose politics really interest me as a sort of like funhouse mirror of American politics. I think that a lot of problems that we’re facing in the United States from, you know, populist, xenophobic sentiment manifest themselves in slightly different ways in France, but in ways that are still recognizable.

When I started writing this book, actually, the Yellow Vest protests were going on. And in fact, that first scene in the book, which, as you pointed out, takes place during a populist protest in Paris was actually a Yellow Vest protest. You know, in editing that scene, I decided that to pin it to a specific historical event was unwise, you know. The process of writing a book takes years, and then you have to wait two more years for it to come out. And so, I had no idea what that particular movement was going to look like. But as you pointed out, I think that I was unfortunately confident that these populist and xenophobic sentiments were still going to be there in some way, shape, or form.

Gibbs Léger: So, another, you know—tying onto that—major theme of the book is the, you know, psychological dynamics of right-wing radicalization, and how it occurs in online spaces and in real life. So how did you go about sort of researching the recruitment tactics of these right-wing conspiracy theorist and trolls and, you know, what did you learn from all that?

Ginder: So, this was actually probably the most research that I did and was actually the most terrifying research, as you might imagine. There’s a character in the book who ends up getting more or less radicalized by this French right-wing troll and he finds her through a video game—a fictional video game—that I made up. I read a book that I really recommend called Antisocial by a New Yorker writer named Andrew Marantz that really dives into the process of radicalization on the internet.

And what struck me about it—on top of all of this, you know, horrific stuff that you can imagine and, you know, what’s out there on 4chan and Reddit and everything else, just the sort of discourse that’s happening—what really struck me about the process is how people who are seeking to radicalize others really prey on an individual’s loneliness. And they find someone who is seeking community, who feels misunderstood, who wants to be loved, and they use these abhorrent, horrific beliefs as a carrot, as a way into a certain community. And so that, for me, it was terrifying to read. It made me never want to go on the internet ever again and wanna like rip the entire thing down. But the research that I did into it really did inform that process for this particular character.

Gibbs Léger: Wow. So related to that, I know that almost all of us probably have a family member or know someone who has a family member who has moved further and further to the right as, you know, certain MAGA Republicans have brought fringe ideologies to the forefront in the past few years. Thankfully, in my case, our ultra-right person was married into the family, and now is no longer part of the family.

Ginder: Lucky you.

Gibbs Léger: I know, right? The one time divorce is good. But, you know, talk a little bit about, you know, the impact, you know, right-wing radicalization can have within families and what it does to those dynamics, which you write, I think, so brilliantly about in the book.

Ginder: Well, I mean, it causes—for the Harrisons, the family in the book—it causes some pretty intense problems for them, particularly for the mother who is running for Senate in New York, you know. And she doesn’t really like the fact that her daughter is shacked up with a fascist. You know, my family, like yours, we’ve been—thankfully—pretty isolated from all of that. But, you know, I certainly have friends who have dealt with this as well. And it’s incredible. I mean, the polarization that I think that we’re seeing in politics in general, to see it, like, seep into actual family dynamics like that is ridiculous.

A friend of mine, his parents are super right-wing, very MAGA, you know, are hearing all the horrific things that Tucker Carlson is saying every single night. And it’s, like, he is now—he describes it as—he’s living in an entirely different universe from them, which I actually think is the case. I mean, when you’re dealing with two entirely different sets of facts, that compose two entirely separate realities, I don’t actually know how you have a conversation around the dinner table, if that’s the case, which is really, really terrifying. And you know, as you point out, a lot of these really fringe beliefs are now being repackaged in a media-friendly way. And so, people are buying into that. I was listening to, you know, “The Daily” the other day, and it was a terrifying episode about the “Great Replacement Theory.” And they had some statistic that, like, 1 in 3 Americans essentially believe in that theory. And it’s really difficult to hear that and then not blame the, you know, right-wing media for repackaging such a horrific theory in media-friendly, digestible terms.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah. When you think about that percentage, it’s really depressing, like, I don’t know like any other word to say. It’s really depressing.

Ginder: It’s incredibly depressing. And, you know, that theory, I ended up researching for this book as well. It’s one that this French fascist buys into, because it’s one that’s actually quite prevalent in France. There was a French philosopher—far right-wing French philosopher—who wrote a book on it, I think within, you know, the past few decades.

Gibbs Léger: Wow. Alright, so switching gears from that depression. Yes, please, please. So, knowing you as I do, I was tickled by the little things here and there that I recognized as a nod to your time in D.C. I guffawed when the Rayburn cafeteria was mentioned.

Ginder: Oh my god!

Gibbs Léger: I know, so can you talk a little bit about what that’s all about? And generally, like, what are other things in the book that were, like, particularly inspired by your time in D.C. and the people that you met?

Ginder: Yes. So, there are a few. The Rayburn cafeteria speech, I think, is probably the biggest one, which was: When I worked at the Center for American Progress, Jennifer Palmieri was the vice president of Communications, and she had this feared speech that all of the junior staff kind of, you know, like would have nightmares about. And she basically gave it to you if you were acting a little too big for your britches or weren’t willing to kind of like do the grunt work that was necessary of junior staffers. And the speech was essentially about how when she was our age, she was thrilled to have a sandwich in the Rayburn cafeteria. And we needed to start being more excited and gracious about the work that was given to us. And so, that speech—a version of that speech—makes its way into the novel. Someone is, you know, complaining about her intern and says that, you know, when I was her age, I was thrilled to get Dick Gephardt a ham sandwich from the Rayburn cafeteria.

The other one is—the other funny one—when I was an assistant at the Center for American Progress, as you know, Daniella, my boss was Laura Nichols. And I remember—it was my first job out of college—and I remember when I went to go get her coffee for the first time. She would be appalled to hear this by the way. She, you know, vows that she never asked me to get her coffee, which I got.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, that’s definitely not true.

Ginder: Laura, I got you coffee like three times a week, exactly. But I remember I went with a colleague of ours, Anna Soellner, to Starbucks, and it was like my second day on the job. And I got Laura her latte and Anna leaned over my shoulder and said, “Laura likes cinnamon in her lattes,” and then handed me the cinnamon. Which, like, that detail … like, I remember exactly where I was standing in Starbucks and for, like, you know, the rest of the time that I worked with Laura—I don’t even know if she noticed the cinnamon in her lattes—but I always put cinnamon her lattes because Anna said very seriously that Laura likes cinnamon in her lattes.

Gibbs Léger: I am crying. I mean, we all have those stories, right? I was waiting to see if there was going to , like, a mix-up at the airport that was going to make its way in there.

Ginder: Oh my god, no. It went through my mind. It went through my mind. I was telling that story to someone the other day. For those of you who are listening and didn’t have to live through this, I once was booking Laura on a flight—I love that this is just becoming about Laura, we have to make sure that she hears this.

Gibbs Léger: Oh, 100 percent.

Ginder: I booked Laura on a flight. She was flying down to North Carolina, and the price differential between flying out of Dulles [airport] and flying out of [Reagan] National [airport] was huge. And it was much cheaper to fly out of Dulles. And she wanted to fly out of National, but I ran the price differences by her, and she eventually said okay, just, “I’ll fly out of Dulles.” And I gave her all of her flight information, and I gave her her briefing book for her trip. And then she called me a half an hour before her flight left, screaming, saying, “Where the hell is my flight?” And we were sort of at the end of our ropes with each other at this point. And I said, “Well, where are you?” And she said, “Well, I’m at National.” And I stood up and I screamed into my phone “Well, your flight’s at Dulles,” and then hung up the phone. And I then immediately turned to everyone around me and said, “Oh my god, I just got fired.” I wasn’t fired. I wasn’t fired. But I did get an email from Laura, and the only thing the email said was “V disappointed.”

Gibbs Léger: That is just so funny. I think about that, like, I think about that often. For one, it makes me always double-check to make sure I know what airport I’m flying out of.

Ginder: Yeah, well, I also, like, break out in cold sweats thinking about it. You know, I was certain that I was gonna get fired for that one. But alas, Laura and I still text each other all the time.

Gibbs Léger: See? There is grace and goodness in this world.

Ginder: There is grace and goodness in Washington. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Gibbs Léger: Exactly. I want to ask you about your book that’s being turned into a movie.

Ginder: Sure.

Gibbs Léger: Tell our listeners about this.

Ginder: Sure. So, I wrote a book that came out in 2017 called The People We Hate at the Wedding that is being turned into a movie—that has actually already been turned into a movie, though it hasn’t been released yet. It is starring Allison Janney, Kristen Bell, and Ben Platt. And the director is Claire Scanlon, who’s basically directed, like, all of your favorite episodes of every TV show—she directed it, from, like, the Office to, I mean, like every single show she’s had a hand in and is an incredible director. And then it was adapted by the Molyneux sisters, Wendy and Lizzie Molyneux, who are these comic geniuses that are essentially behind Bob’s Burgers and, like, the Bob’s Burgers universe. They’re wonderful. They did an incredible job with the script. There’s not a ton more that I can tell you about the release date yet. I’m still waiting to find out about it, but we’re hoping it’ll be at the end of this year.

Aside from that, I didn’t have a ton of involvement with it, which I was actually really happy about, because I was writing this book at the time. But I did get to visit the set.

Gibbs Léger: Oh fun!

Ginder: Yeah, it was incredible. They filmed the vast majority of it kind of in and around London. Two-thirds of the book takes place either in London or the British countryside. It’s about an estranged family going to a wedding of one of the children. And it was a blast. I mean, I’d never been to a movie set before. And so, I went to London for the week. And then I went to the set for actually just a day, but the COVID testing protocols were pretty strict, so I had to be in London for three days, tested every day before going on to the set.

But it was hilarious. I mean, the day that I went, they were shooting, like, maybe two hours outside of London on this, like, sort of, like, Downton Abbey-esque estate. They were filming the wedding scene. And they sent a car to pick me up at my hotel—which, like, I like can’t remember the last time that ever happened—certainly not when I was Laura’s assistant—and so this car picks me up. It’s, like, six o’clock in the morning. I show up to the set. And again, like, I’d never been on a set before. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I certainly wasn’t expecting there to be, like, hundreds of people—like, literally hundreds of people—and my, like, initial reaction was to feel this, like, intense sensation of guilt that I had made all these people get up so early to film this movie. And so, I like walked around for the first—I was there for like 10 hours—and I walked around for—literally Daniella—for like the first four hours apologizing to people.

Gibbs Léger: Oh, stop!

Ginder: Being like, “I’m so sorry,” like, to the producers, to the director, to, like, Kristen Bell. I was like, “I’m so sorry that I made you get up so early.” They must have thought that I was the biggest freak. I’m sure they were, like, who is just to get him out of here.

And then, like, I didn’t see Allison Janney until the end of the day, but it was just this sort of, like, slow climax for me until I saw her, and I kept telling myself, like, play it cool in front of her. You know, just say that, like, you’re so appreciative that she’s doing this and that you love her work, just, like, play it cool. I’m terrible around celebrities, by the way, like, absolutely terrible. And anyway, I eventually saw her. I was introduced to her, and instead of playing it cool, I like melted into this, like, giant puddle of gay, and I just started screaming, “Oh my god, C.J. Cregg, I love you so much!”

Gibbs Léger: Oh, Grant.

Ginder: I know, but she was so sweet. She, like, hugged me, we took pictures together. A few days later, we went to a brunch together and we ended up splitting dessert. As she was leaving that brunch, she was like, “So are you in LA?” And I was like, “No, I’m in New York.” And she was like, “Darn it. I was thinking we could hang out,” and I was like, “Oh, did I just say … no, no, no, no, I moved to LA. I moved to LA, sorry. I just moved to LA.” Like, you know, I embarrassed myself in every which way possible. But it was an incredible experience.

Gibbs Léger: Oh, that is so amazing. And I understand. There are certain celebrities that I would probably do that around as well.

Ginder: Well, if I’m not mistaken, there is a very famous photo of you looking longingly at—is it—Bradley Cooper when he came to CAP?

Gibbs Léger: Yes, it is Bradley Cooper. I couldn’t tell you what we talked about in that conversation, but I know that I managed to move my lips and sounds came out.

Ginder: Right, right, and you know what, I consider that to be a big step. I mean, one time I was at a bar in New York, and my back was to the door. And I was, like, telling a story that my husband was totally ignoring, but then, like, for an instant, he like really clocked into what I was saying and, like, was really focused on what I was saying, and like kind of preventing me from turning around. And he was, like “What happened next? And what happened next,” and then like five seconds pass and his attention drifted away, and I was like, “What was that about?” He was, like, “Oh, nothing. It was just like Claire Danes walked in behind you and then walked out, and I would be so embarrassed if you turned around and freaked out and saw her.”

Gibbs Léger: So, before we go, there are two things. One, since I’ve had my child, I’ve read four books: Michelle Obama’s, Barack Obama’s—both of these are audiobooks, by the way—The People We Hate at the Wedding—I actually read the physical copy of that book—and then, even though you sent me a copy of this book, I lost it somewhere in my house, so I listened to the audio version of this book.

Ginder: Oh, I’m so flattered. That’s such great company, the Obamas and me. Oh my god.

Gibbs Léger: Exactly—huge, huge company in the last five years. And, whomever did the audio for this book, like, she was phenomenal.

Ginder: Yeah, she’s incredible, really amazing.

Gibbs Léger: I loved it, really got into it. And I just want to thank you for being, like, one of, like, the two people who, when I randomly tweet a line from “Clueless,” or I say something that’s from “Gossip Girl,” like, you get it immediately.

 

Ginder: Oh, D, I’m there with you. I mean, like, “Clueless” is my entire life philosophy. I really believe that, like, the major lessons I’ve learned about just existing in the world come from that movie. You know, “Gossip Girl” basically tells me, like, where not to go in New York, but “Clueless” taught me how to live my life. And so, anytime you tweet a line from “Clueless,” I will be right there with you.

Gibbs Léger: And I appreciate that. I appreciate the solidarity. Thank you. Thank you for understanding. Well, Grant, this has been a blast. I am so proud of you, and so happy for you. I wish you nothing but just continued success and keep writing these great books.

Ginder: Thank you, I was so thrilled to do this. CAP, for me, is still home base. Those relationships, to me, are still some of the most important that I have. And so, when the offer came through to join you on the show, I was just thrilled.

Gibbs Léger: Well, thank you Grant Ginder. Thanks again and good luck.

Ginder: Thank you.

[Musical transition]

Gibbs Léger: As always, thanks for listening. Please be sure to go back and check out our previous episodes. I want to end with two quick things, one thing that’s annoying me, and one thing that makes me very happy. Let’s start with the annoyance first, shall we? Jeff Bezos, you know, just be rich and like, just go do rich people things. But no, he’s got to, like, be a troll, I guess. I don’t know a better way to say it. He’s making ridiculous claims about the economy on the internet, right.

Listen, we’re all feeling the impacts of high prices right now. And the Biden administration is trying to do things to help give people some relief. But Jeff Bezos, you know—I guess he’s trying to compete with Elon Musk for being the trolliest billionaire on Twitter—decided that he was going to tweet at the president about economic policy and making a bunch of insinuations, including saying that corporate greed has not played a role in inflation, that billionaires like him have no responsibility for price increases, and, like, even said that Joe Manchin saved us all from economic disaster by opposing Build Back Better. I just … really? Wrong, wrong, and wrong again.

Like, here’s what I need you to do, Jeff Bezos. Stay off Twitter. I want you to focus on making your company, Amazon, a truly great company for everybody who works there, for all of your employees. Why don’t you focus on that instead of delving into economic policy, which clearly you don’t really quite understand, and stop acting like a toddler who’s upset that, like, mommy and daddy are maybe going to, I don’t know, take away your snack because you’re misbehaving. It’s just ridiculous. The man has more money than God.

Anyway, let’s switch to something positive and happy. Karine Jean-Pierre is the new White House press secretary. She took over for Jen Psaki this week. And she is the first African American to hold that position. I believe she is the first out LGBTQ American to hold that position, certainly the first Haitian American to hold that position. And I just am so happy and so proud for her. She had a great mentor in Jen Psaki, who I thought did a fantastic job over the past year-and-a-half or so. And yes, of course, the bar was set extremely low by the Trump administration. But even if you go back to, like, the extremely high bar that the Obama administration set for how you engage with the press, I thought Jen Psaki just did a really great job, and obviously she’s had tons of experience doing that during the Obama administration.

But I’m really excited to see Karine grow into the role, make it her own, and just thrive, and really be just a role model for all the young Black girls and boys who maybe they thought that’s not something that they could ever aspire to. But it’s, like, look, you can, you too could go and speak on behalf of the president of the United States, because she is doing it. And we love to see glass ceilings of all manner and shape broken, so congratulations to her.

So, that’s it for this week. Again, we’re in a pandemic still. I mean, we can quibble about whether we’re heading into an endemic phase of a pandemic, but I don’t care which word you use, COVID is still here. So, take care of yourselves. Get boosted. If you’re eligible for a second booster, please go ahead and get it. Like, let’s try to not be overtaken by any more variants and any more waves because I don’t want to learn the names of anymore variants, thanks. We will talk to you next week. Take care.

“The Tent” is a podcast from the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It’s hosted by me, Daniella Gibson Léger. Erin Phillips is our lead producer. Kelly McCoy is our supervising producer. Tricia Woodcome is our booking producer, and Sam Signorelli is our digital producer. You can find us on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.

Contributors

Daniella Gibbs Léger

Executive Vice President, Communications and Strategy

@dgibber123

Erin Phillips

Broadcast Media Manager

Kelly McCoy

Director, Broadcast Communications

Tricia Woodcome

Senior Media Manager

Sam Signorelli

Executive Assistant

Explore The Series

Politics. Policy. Progress. All under one big tent. Produced by CAP Action, “The Tent” is a news and politics podcast hosted by Daniella Gibbs Léger. Listen each Thursday for episodes exploring topics that progressives are focused on.

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