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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Oct 18, 2018

Our guest is U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), who is the author of the new national bestseller, “Them: Why We Hate Each Other – And How to Heal”.

We explored a range of subjects in this conversation, including why he wrote the book, how the national media contributes to tribalism, the role both Obama and Trump have played, whether politics can solve our problems, how the Senate is working, and what major issues he wants to see us address in the future.

Oct 12, 2018

Ken Starr is our guest for the 103rd episode.

A former federal judge, Starr served as Independent Counsel from 1994-1999. He is the author of the new bestseller, “Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation”.

In this conversation, we explore why he wrote the book, what makes an independent counsel different from a special counsel, why his term lasted five years, how it felt to be in the middle of the storm, what the key decisions were that he faced, whether he is satisfied with the outcome and whether he has any regrets.

Then we discussed the Mueller inquiry, whether a sitting President can be indicted and his view of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Oct 5, 2018

The FBI investigation into Judge Brett Kavanaugh is the subject of the 102nd episode.

Our guest is Daniel S. Goldman, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.

In this conversation, we examine how the FBI investigation worked, how a supplemental background investigation differs from a criminal investigation, why Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh were not interviewed, whether our guest agrees there is no corroboration, why these allegations were never found in previous FBI background checks and whether Kavanaugh could have been charged criminally.

Sep 28, 2018

Making government work better is the subject of the 101st episode. 

Our guest is Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit founded in 2001.

In this discussion , we delve into several topics: why he started the nonprofit, how government can effectively attract top talent (especially young talent), how the scale of the federal government should be a selling point, why presidential transitions matter, what three things he would do to make government work better, whether he despairs at how difficult it is to reform government and what inspires him.

Sep 13, 2018

Populism is the subject of our momentous episode 100 and our guest just wrote a book on the subject.

Fox News politics editor Chris Stirewalt is the author of the new book, “Every Man a King: A Short, Colorful History of American Populists” and the book’s timing could not be better. 

In this conversation, we examine populism through the years, from Andrew Jackson through Pat Buchanan, whether increasing government dependence is a goal of populism, what he learned in writing the book, how Buchanan brought us Trump and whether Obama’s record created the conditions for the rise of populism again.

Sep 10, 2018

Bill Bradley is our guest for the 99th episode.

He served in the U.S. Senate from 1979-1997 as a Democrat from New Jersey and ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000.

Today he serves as Managing Director for Allen & Company and hosts a weekly radio show on SirusXM.

In this conversation, we talked about trade, Russia, the Middle East, and defense spending, before turning to what worries him most about Trump and how he believes the progressive movement is affecting the Democratic Party.

Sep 4, 2018

Our midterm election expert, Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, is the guest for the 98th episode.

Our topics in this conversation: The current state of play for control of the House, whether either party benefitted from the primaries, whether Trump voters will turn out, if special elections are predictive and whether this is a wave election.

Aug 30, 2018

The Catholic Church is the subject of the 97th episode.

My guest is National Review editor at large and National Review Institute senior fellow Kathryn Lopez, who has been writing about the church for many years.

In this conversation, we discuss the Pennsylvania grand jury report, the Vigano letter, Pope Francis’ response, our ideas for what how the church should respond to this crisis, whether deeper reforms are needed and whether my guest’s own beliefs have made her doubt her faith.

Aug 25, 2018

It was a consequential week.

The Trump legal situation is the subject of the 96th episode.

Our guest is attorney Gayle Trotter, a graduate of the University of Virginia law School and Fox News and Fox Business commentator.

In this conversation, we begin with her take on what happened this past week, address the question of whether a sitting President can be indicted, and examine the details of the alleged campaign finance violations, the Labor Day deadline, the recent immunity deals, and the President’s pardon power.

Finally, our guest makes a prediction about where the story is headed and gives her advice as to whether Trump to submit to an interview with Mueller.

Aug 13, 2018

Trade is the subject of the 95th episode.

Our guest is Tony Fratto, founding partner of Hamilton Place Strategies, CNBC contributor, and former senior Treasury official.

In this deep dive, we discuss the state of play on trade actions and reactions, NAFTA, fast track authority, the Mexican presidential transition, how trade may affect the midterm elections, the recent $12 billion agriculture bailout, the role of Peter Navarro and how tariffs are being used against the EU and China.

Aug 9, 2018

One man was responsible for chronicling the taxpayer dollars wasted and the fraud committed during the U.S. reconstruction effort in Iraq.

His name is Stuart Bowen. He is our guest for the 94th episode – live from Austin.

In this fascinating conversation, we begin by talking about the role of Inspector General and its limitations, what he found when his work was complete, how sectarianism and corruption paralyze Iraq, how ISIS has been decimated, whether Muqtada al-Sadr will be able to form a coalition government, what Iran wants in Iraq, what the future holds in Syria, whether Trump had sided with the Sunni countries over the Shi’a ones, and what Iraq’s future looks like.

Aug 3, 2018

U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) is our guest for the 93rd episode, taped live in Austin from the Resurgent Gathering.

Davidson may be best known for succeeding former Speaker John Boehner in Ohio’s 8th district.

But his story is more remarkable than that.

He was an officer as an Army Ranger, then ran a successful manufacturing company, before winning a 16-way special election to serve in Congress in 2016.

In this conversation, we talked about how he thinks Congress is doing, how he thinks President Trump is doing, how the midterms look, and then pivot to discuss trade, agriculture, Dodd-Frank Reform, the Mueller inquiry, and finally what it’s like to serve in Congress.

Jul 26, 2018

One of our nation’s most respected legal scholars is our guest for the 92nd episode.

Randy Barnett is a law professor at Georgetown and the author of “Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People”).

In this conversation, we focus on the Supreme Court and the recent Supreme Court nomination of DC Circuit Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

We begin by examining the current status of the nomination, then turned to the fight over document production, whether a judge should be reviewed differently for an appellate court versus the Supreme Court, how the Kennedy Court may become the Roberts Court, why Trump’s judicial nominations are historically consequential and how originalism and textualism came to be.

Jul 17, 2018

North Korea is the subject of the 91st episode. Our guest is former CIA senior analyst and CSIS senior fellow and Korea chair Sue Mi Terry.

In this conversation, we begin with a gut check on where the negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea currently stand two months after the Singapore summit.

Then we delved into the issue of suspending military exercises, the return of the remains of American soldiers, what a nuclear inspection regime might look like, whether both sides agree on the definition of denuclearization, whether sanctions relief is North Korea’s primary objective, how the Iran Deal experience is part of this, and what South Korea, Japan, and China are thinking.

Finally, we explore what life is really like in North Korea and what advice our guest has for President Trump.

Jul 11, 2018

Our guest for the 90th episode is former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

He supervised Brett Kavanaugh in the White House Counsel’s office, so we began the conversation with his memory of what kind of lawyer and employee the new Supreme Court nominee was like.

We then talked about the difference between the DC Circuit Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, why the public views the Supreme Court as a political institution, what role Congress can and should play, what kind of pressures he felt as Attorney General, how he thinks DOJ is doing today under AG Jeff Sessions, what he makes of the conflict between DOJ and House Republicans and how he views the recent DOJ Inspector General report and the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Jul 2, 2018

For episode 89, we talked to Mona Charen, a syndicated columnist and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. She is the author of the new book, “Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense”.

 In this conversation we explore the many important themes in her new book: Does women’s equality threaten traditional families? What can be done about rape culture on college campuses? Is chivalry dead? Is gender a choice? Is modern feminism increasing the happiness of women?

Jun 27, 2018

Perhaps no two people have studied Trump voters with greater focus, depth, and commitment than Salena Zito and Brad Todd, co-authors of the national bestseller, “The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics.”

In this conversation, we first examine why they wrote the book and how they did it – together.

Then we turned to the book’s biggest questions: Is Trump’s election a major political realignment? Are Trump voters misunderstood? How severe is the economic pain that fueled the anger that elected him? Is the media missing this story? And finally, can Trump lose this coalition, and if so, how?


Jun 19, 2018

Mexico is the subject of the 88th episode and I can think of no one I would rather talk to than Alfredo Corchado.

He is the border correspondent for The Dallas Morning News, splitting time between El Paso and Mexico City. He is the author of the fantastic book, “Midnight in Mexico,” and his new memoir, “Homelands” is just out. 

In this conversation, we discuss why he wrote the book, how the guest worker program has been vital to the U.S. and Mexico over decades, where the current Mexican presidential election stands, what Lopez Oprador’s expected victory will mean for the U.S.-Mexico relationship, what life is like in Mexico today, how the trade issue is being negotiated, how Trump is viewed in the country and how the border wall issue plays.

Jun 12, 2018

On the 87th episode, we talk all-things-Trump with Sam Nunberg, a longtime political advisor to Trump who left in the early days of the campaign but remains close to many high ranking Trump world figures.

In this conversation, we discuss the optics of the North Korea summit, the prospects for the midterms, and where he thinks the Russia inquiry stands.

We discuss his questioning before the grand jury, and get his take on Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Rudy Giuliani, Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon.

Finally, we delve into the question of whether Trump should agree to be interviewed by Mueller and whether pardons are likely.

Jun 6, 2018

Sean Davis is our guest for the 86th episode.

He’s a co-founder of The Federalist and a former aide to U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

In this conversation, we preview the forthcoming U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General report, which is independently examining how DOJ and the FBI conducted the Clinton email investigation. We explore what questions most need an answer, who the key individuals are, and how this may connect to the Russia inquiry.

Then we discuss the Mueller inquiry, the Steele dossier, Spygate, whether Trump should agree to an interview, and how this all may end.

May 31, 2018

The story of what led to the resignation of Gov. Eric Greitens (R-MO) this week is one that will be studied for many years. That story is best told by Gregg Keller, a prominent Missouri-based GOP consultant has worked with many of his state’s top elected officials.

Keller has a unique perspective because he has been at war with Greitens for over a year. It was a war he won – but at great cost. 

In this conversation, we discuss Greitens’ outsider status, how he got himself into this mess, what the legislature was doing to force his hand, how a judiciary ruling pushed him out, what the personal toll was for Keller and his family, and what the state’s future is. Then we looked at the U.S. Senate race in that state, which will be on the of top races in the country in 2018.

Finally, we discussed how he thinks President Trump is doing and how the midterms are shaping up.

May 22, 2018

The intelligence community is in the news.

So for our 84th episode, we wanted to talk to former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden (USAF, Ret.).

In this timely conversation we explore Gina Haspel’s priorities at CIA, where the line is between Congressional oversight and CIA’s right to protect sources and methods, the curious case of Stefan Halper and the FBI using an informant to collect intelligence on a presidential campaign, as well as how he views Russia, North Korea and Iran.

May 16, 2018

Our guest is Mark Dubowitz, who was recently profiled in The New York Times. 

He is the CEO of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and has been called one of the most influential figures on the Iran Deal.

In this discussion, we discuss the current state of play, Iran’s ballistic missile program, the sunset provisions, John Kerry’s role, Trump’s new national security team, the Iranian uprising, a new maximum pressure campaign, what the future of Iran looks like, his role in influencing the national debate, and whether the U.S. moving toward Saudi Arabia and away from Iran is a good thing.

May 9, 2018

The Iran Deal is the subject of the 82nd episode.

Our guest is Matt Continetti, editor in chief of The Washington Free Beacon.

His recent column, “Donald Trump Ends the Obama Mirage,” explains why he supports President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA.

In this conversation, we discuss how strong Trump’s announcement was, whether the decision will have diplomatic or economic consequences for our European allies, whether any agreement with North Korea or Iran should be a treaty and how Syria and Israel are involved.

May 1, 2018

Amy Chozick spent ten years covering Hillary Clinton.

She writes about the experience in her new bestseller, “Chasing Hillary.”

She’s a writer-at-large who covered Hillary’s 2016 campaign for The New York Times and previously reported for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered Hillary on the 2008 campaign after being a foreign correspondent in Tokyo.

In this conversation we examine who Hillary really is, what drives her, what defines her, how the campaign unfolded, what it was like covering it, how journalism is changing, and what one question she wants to have Hillary answer.

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