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Matt Mackowiak's Mack On Politics

Smart political talk every week from Austin, Texas political consultant Matt Mackowiak, who has served in senior roles for two U.S. Senators and the Bush administration.
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Matt Mackowiak's Mack On Politics
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Apr 24, 2017

We begin the 22nd episode with a fascinating conversation with Jonathan Allen, the best-selling co-author of “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign,” where we delve in to how Allen and his co-author Amie Parnes kept their reporting secret throughout the campaign, if they book would have been different had she narrowly won, and whether overconfidence, arrogance, and disrespect for Donald Trump cost them the election. We explore Hillary and her campaign’s relationships with her husband Bill Clinton, as well as Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. And finally, we consider what regrets Hillary and her campaign have now.

Then, we turned to author, CNN contributor, and Daily Beast columnist Matt Lewis to take his temperature on the Trump era. What does he make of Trump’s White House, the GOP and the conservative movement?

Apr 21, 2017

The singular man of the moment Roger Stone, taped live in Austin.

We talked about his 40+ years of friendship with Donald Trump, how Trump won the election, what’s really going on inside the West Wing, and how Roger answers questions about Russia and his own activities. He’s offered to testify in public, under oath, in front of Congress.

Apr 13, 2017

The situation in North Korea is our subject for the 20th episode of the “Mack on Politics” and our guest is former Pentagon Chief of Staff and former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert.

We preview Vice President Mike Pence’s upcoming visit to Seoul, discuss the recent transition in South Korean leadership, examine the offensive and defensive options that President Trump may be considering, consider what China’s options may be, and then talk about the differences between what life is like in North Korea vs. South Korea.

Finally, we reviewed what it was like when Amb. Lippert survived a gruesome assassination attempt in March 2015, and whether he has hope for North Korea in the future.

Apr 6, 2017

Two foreign crisis are dominating the news this week, so in the 19th episode, we are focusing on the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump, as North Korea continues to test ballistic missiles and the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons on its own citizens.

First, we talked to former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a member of the U.S.-China Commission, about China, North Korea, defense spending, the budget, NATO and Syria. Then we talked about how the U.S. Senate has changed and what he misses about serving in the world’s greatest deliberative body.

Then, we spoke with Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China” and “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World.” In this conversation, we dive deep into what Xi’s agenda will be with Trump, what leverage the U.S. has over China, why the ‘One China’ policy is so important to China and then what advice Chang would give to President Trump ahead of this meeting.

Mar 29, 2017

In the 18th episode, we talk to Naval War College professor Tom Nichols, the author of “The Death of Expertise” about Russia. We covered what Russia up to, what their goals are, what the protests mean, what the stakes are for NATO and Syria, what’s going on between the Trump team and Russia, and what the future is for Putin’s regime.

Mar 27, 2017

In the 17th episode, we talked to Dr. Tom Coburn, a former Republican two-term U.S. Senator and former three-term Congressman. His new book, out May 30, is titled, “Smashing the DC Monopoly,” and it makes the case for an Article V Convention of States. In this discussion, we start by discussing the failure of the House GOP’s Obamacare repeal and replacement legislation, what the next year looks like under Obamacare, and how Obamacare has effected the practice of medicine. Then, we dive into the “debt bomb” facing the country, with a $20 trillion national debt and $124 trillion in unfunded liabilities. We wrap up by discussing why he believes a Convention of States is needed and how President Trump is doing.

Mar 13, 2017

In the 16th episode, our guest needs no introduction: James O’Keefe. He is the president of Project Veritas, a guerrilla journalism organization focused on exposing corruption “wherever it exists.” In our somewhat brief chat, we talked about his mission, whether the national media should be the target in the current environment and whether alternative journalism organizations need their own communications platforms to get around the media filter. We talked about how widespread corruption really is in all levels of government, and we mused about what he wants for his own professional future.

Mar 12, 2017

In the 15th episode, we first talked to Jim Geraghty, author of “The Weed Agency” and senior political correspondent for National Review Online about the week in Trump, where Obamacare is substantively and politically, and we evaluate the state of conservatism and the state of the national media. Then, we took a deep dive into Ohio politics, with The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Henry Gomez, to look back at how Trump won Ohio, muse about how that state can simultaneously be represented by John Kasich, Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, considered whether Brown has 2020 presidential aspirations, reviewed the state of the 2018 U.S. Senate and Governor’s races, predicted what will determine whether Trump can win Ohio again in 2020, and finally, we discussed Gomez’s recent professional decision to leave the Plain Dealer and head to Buzzfeed to report on national politics from Ohio.

Mar 6, 2017

For the 14th episode, we take a deep dive into Obamacare, with nationally recognized expert Avik Roy, the President of the Foundation for Research in Equal Opportunity (FREOPP). We discussed the policy choices facing the Republicans, including the overall number of Americans covered, tax subsidies, means testing, Medicaid expansion, portability, and the potential for a 50 state marketplace. We also considered the politics of the issue and delved into legislative procedure to look forward. Finally, we talked about why he started his own think tank and what he wishes to accomplish with it.

Feb 23, 2017

In our 13th episode, we first talked to Blain Rethmeier, Managing Director for Crisis and Risk (Western Region) for powerhouse PR firm Edelman. Rethmeier just completed serving as an advisor to Gen. John Kelly, the Homeland Security Secretary nominee. Rethmeier helped shepherd Gen. Kelly through confirmation and we discussed what that was like, how it worked, and how the team helped prepare Gen. Kelly for his crucial confirmation hearing. Then, we turned the discussion to Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, and called upon Rethmeier’s experience as Communications Director for the Senate Judiciary Committee to examine how much Supreme Court battles have changed in the past decade. Finally, we delved into the world of corporate PR, reputation management, and crisis communications in a world where the President of the United States often praises and criticizes major corporations on social media.

Next, we interviewed columnist and author Ashley McGuire about her bestselling new book, “Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female.” We discussed President Trump rescinding the transgender bathroom executive order, how and why she wrote this book, whether an orchestrated effort to “end the gender binary” actually harms women, and where these issues tend to have practical consequences. We wrapped up by discussing her process for writing the book and what the publishing industry is really like, particularly for a first-time author.

Feb 20, 2017

Susan Page is the Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, and a former president of the White House Correspondents Association.

In this episode, we delved into what it is really like covering the Trump White House, reviewed the past turbulent week, discussed whether President Trump’s manner of operating is really the problem, inquired where she believes the Michael Flynn situation is headed amid an FBI investigation into potential campaign contacts with Russia, recalled what the historical precedent is for Democrat delays of Trump’s Cabinet, mused about what the State of the Union moment offers for President Trump, and then finally, spent a few minutes talking about the future of journalism.

Feb 13, 2017

On the 11th episode of the “Mack on Politics” national political podcast, produced in partnership with The Washington Times, we interview former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza and DNC vice chair candidate Adam Parkhomenko.

With Ambassador Garza, who joined us from Mexico City, we started with an overview of the U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship, before diving into specific discussions about a proposed border tax, NAFTA, what the Ambassador job is, how the race for the Mexican presidency is shaping up ahead of national elections in July 2018, border security, and whether he has optimism about the future of the U.S.-Mexico relationship and hope for the future of Mexico.

Then, we talked with former Ready for Hillary executive director, former DNC national field director and DNC vice chair candidate Adam Parkhomenko about the state of the Democratic Party, whether the party faces a strategic choice of whether to move left or to the middle, what type of reform is necessary at the DNC, whether the Democrats should fight Trump or find areas of agreement, and finally, we delved into what Hillary Clinton is really like.

Feb 6, 2017

In the 10th episode of ‘Mack on Politics,” we examine Russia and the Supreme Court with two experts: Michael McFaul and Ed Whelan.

Michael McFaul served as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2010-2012 in the Obama administration and served on the Russia desk at the National Security Council for three years before that. Fluent in Russian, he is currently a professor at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute. We discussed what is going on in Ukraine, what Vladimir Putin is personally like (he first met him in 1989), what the U.S. just did with sanctions against Russia (and what they are considering next), whether NATO remains a vital alliance, what Putin is up to in Syria, whether the “Russian Reset” worked, what a post-Putin Russia will look like and we review his personal experiences while he served in Moscow as Ambassador.

Next, we dive deep into the Supreme Court with Ed Whelan, the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), a former clerk to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Whelan gives us an overview of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, we discuss why originalism and textualism matter and whether judges should care about “outcomes.” Then, we looked at Gorsuch’s ten-year record on the Court of Appeals, previewed the Senate confirmation battle and the debate over the filibuster, discussed the current spring term and the upcoming fall term, and ended with his view on what it was like to work in the Supreme Court, what Justice Scalia was really like, and what the stakes are whenever the next vacancy arrives.

Jan 31, 2017
In the 9th episode, we look back on the life of Donald Trump with his friend and colleague of 40 years, legendary operative and author Roger Stone. As he writes in his new book, "The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution", which was released Jan. 31, 2017, we discuss how Trump decided to run for President, how he won the primary, how Hillary Clinton's vulnerabilities caught up with her, how Trump survived the Billy Bush "Access Hollywood" tape, how Stone answers questions about Russia and Wikileaks, how Trump can succeed as President, what the biggest misconception about Trump is, and finally, Stone reveals an incredible story about Trump.

Then, we talked to longtime Democratic consultant Joe Trippi, who managed the 2004 presidential campaign of Howard Dean. We take stock of the current Democratic Party, discussed the Clinton v. Sanders primary, considered how a 2016 bid by Joe Biden might have gone, look back at the groundbreaking 2004 Dean campaign, consider how Democrats were in the minority in 2004 and then back in the majority after 2006, look forward to the 2020 Democratic presidential primary and wrap up with a discussion of what motivates Trippi away from politics.

 

Jan 28, 2017

In the 8th episode of "Mack on Politics,", we talked to Rory Broomfield, Director of the Freedom Association, from London.

On the day that British Prime Minister Theresa May met with President Donald Trump, we delved into his assessment of PM May's speech in Philadelphia yesterday, we discussed the speech PM May gave in Britain before she left for the U.S. which detailed the path forward for Brexit, we discussed the next steps for Britain as it leaves the E.U., we considered the implications of a bilateral trade deal between the U.S. and and the U.K., and we discussed the future of the E.U., as France and Germany plan to hold national elections later this year.

Jan 24, 2017

In this episode of "Mack on Politics," we first talk about the state of the media in the Age of Trump with New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg. We discussed the Trump's media relations, why the media consistently takes Trump's bait, whether public job approval of the media really matters, who Rutenberg thinks we're the media stars of the 2016 campaign, what is really going on inside Fox News and what major media stories we should follow in the next few months.

Then we talked to national security and foreign policy expert Tom Rogan, a columnist for National Review, about Russia, Syria, NATO, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, in a fascinating 45 minute discussion of these foreign policy challenges for the new administration.

Jan 17, 2017

On Episode 6, we preview the Trump administration, look back at the 2016 campaign, and take a deep dive into campaign television ad buying.

First, we interviewed columnist, radio host, best-selling author and DailyWire.com editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro. We discussed his concerns about Trump, his hope for the new administration, what he believes the top priorities can and should be, what he thinks Trump should do to strengthen the bilateral relationship with Israel, what he makes of the state of conservative media, and finally, we talked about what is really happening on college campuses.

Second, we spoke to Republican operative and columnist Reed Galen, who has a new book, “The American Singularity” out about the 2016 campaign. We look back at the primary, explore if Trump could have been defeated, how Trump won the primary and the general, and how he evaluates the incoming Trump administration.

Finally, we interviewed ViaMedia president and CEO Mark Lieberman, who runs the largest independent political ad buying agency in the country. We looked back at how the Trump and Clinton campaigns bought TV ads, how consumers are watching TV, how the technology is changing, and how the 2016, 2018, and 2020 campaign cycles will be different.

Jan 9, 2017

In the 5th episode of the “Mack on Politics” podcast, we take a deep dive into Russia and the world of intelligence.

First, we began by speaking with former world chess champion, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, Russian pro-democracy activist and author Garry Kasparov (“Winter is Coming”). We discussed his upbringing in Russia and his adult life as a dissident, what he would tell President-elect Trump about Russia if given the chance, what his views about Henry Kissinger and Rex Tillerson are, how he believes Putin will test Trump in the early weeks of his presidency, if he lives in constant fear for his life, and what a post-Putin Russia looks like.

Then, we spoke to lifetime intelligence community professional John Schindler, who worked at the NSA for nearly a decade, taught at the Naval War College, and is a national security columnist for The New York Observer. We discussed his views about Russian interference in the U.S. election, Wikileaks and what their real mission is, who Edward Snowden is and what his real mission is, and we reviewed Iran and North Korea and the intelligence challenges those opaque regimes pose to the U.S.  We finished by examining the state of the U.S. intelligence community, made up of 17 agencies, and then heard John name his four favorite spy movies.

Jan 4, 2017

In the fourth episode of "Mack on Politics," we start with a timely interview with Bill Kristol, who recently announced he was stepping away from Editor duties at The Weekly Standard after 21 years. We reviewed how conservative media has grown over 40 years and considered what conservatism means in the Age of Trump. Kristol revealed what he believes the biggest mistake the GOP can make and he detailed how he believed Trump can succeed. Kristol urges conservatives to remain true to their principles in the Age of Trump and he believes most observers are underestimating the coming battles between the GOP and the Trump White House over policy. Kristol admits he is “hopeful” about Trump and his Cabinet, while still concerned about Trump and his character and temperament. Finally, we discuss Kristol’s friendship with Secretary of Defense designee Gen. James Mattis (USMC, Ret.) and what Kristol believes Obama’s legacy will be in foreign policy, specifically as it relates to Israel.

Then we turned to a detailed 2016 campaign discussion with Jeff Roe, the longtime GOP consultant who managed the presidential bid of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). We asked Roe about what he learned from managing a presidential campaign, how he was brought into the Cruz team and how he decided to work for him, whether he thinks in retrospect there was any way to beat Trump in the primary, how Trump beat Hillary, what Roe would suggest Trump do to build a successful reelection effort starting now, and whether he wants to join the Trump administration.

Jan 2, 2017

In the third episode of "Mack on Politics," we begin by interviewing former Clinton White House Director of Production for Presidential Events Josh King (@polioptics) about the optics of campaigns. He dives deep on the imagery of the Trump and Clinton campaigns and tells war stories from his Clinton White House days. His recent book, "Off Script: An Advance Man’s Guide to White House Stagecraft, Campaign Spectacle, and Political Suicide" is a great and fun read.

Next, we spent some time talking to legendary Washington, DC journalist Betsy Fischer Martin (@BFischerMartin), the former executive producer of NBC's "Meet the Press" for the late Tim Russert, about the state of the mainstream media, how the "Sunday Shows" are changing, what challenges the current media environment places on campaign coverage and how Tim Russert would have covered the 2016 campaign.

Dec 22, 2016

In the second episode of “Mack on Politics,” host Matt Mackowiak interviews senior media consultant, NBC News political analyst and co-creator of Showtime’s “The Circus,” Mark McKinnon. They discussed the imagery of the presidential campaign, when McKinnon knew Trump was for real, why Hillary Clinton lost, how they produced “The Circus” and why it was the most successful show in the channel’s history, how McKinnon managed to switch political parties in the late 1990s, what he wishes people knew about George W. Bush, and whether Democrats reflexively opposing Trump are making a political mistake.

Then Mackowiak talked to nationally syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt, author of the bestseller, “The Queen,” about how Trump shocked the world, why he’s encouraged about Trump’s conservative cabinet, how Trump can move his legislative agenda, and what he makes of Trump’s defense and national security team. Then they took a deep dive into the Supreme Court, and Hewitt makes his prediction for President Trump’s first Supreme Court appointment.

Insights from Mark McKinnon and Hugh Hewitt, only on the new episode of “Mack on Politics.”

Listen here.

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Dec 14, 2016

Mike MurphyIn the inaugural episode of “Mack on Politics,” host Matt Mackowiak interviews longtime GOP consultant, NBC News political analyst, and former Jeb Bush Super PAC mastermind Mike Murphy. They discussed how Trump improbably punched through the so-called “Blue wall” of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, how Hillary wasted her national convention, if he had any regrets about strategic decisions made for Jeb’s Super PAC and whether he has any hope for Trump.

Then Mackowiak talked to Erick Erickson, former editor-in-chief of RedState.com, radio host for WSB in Atlanta, Fox News contributor, author, and founder of TheResurgent.com about how Trump won, whether the GOP primary was winnable for anyone else, and what Erickson thinks is the state of the conservative movement in the Age of Trump. They also discussed religious liberty and his own foray into conservative talk radio and migration away from Red State to create his own successful conservative site. (Wednesday, December 14, 2016)

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