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Left, Right, and Center


Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.

Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.


Santa Monica, CA




Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.




1900 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405 310-450-5183


From impeachment acquittal to taking revenge

President Trump is on a revenge tour, firing administration officials who cooperated with the impeachment probe, using Twitter to rail against the prosecutions of his allies, and demanding to know why the Justice Department doesn't prosecute more of his enemies. Attorney General William Barr says he wants the president to back off and stop tweeting, but Barr has also been taking extraordinary interventions in criminal cases of interest to the president. Then: Bernie Sanders won the New...



It was a full week. On Monday, the Iowa caucuses were a bit of a meltdown for Democrats, but did the mess sort of, maybe help some of the candidates? Kind of. What happened to Joe Biden? And what happens when you’re a reporter covering a caucus and you see things obviously going wrong? **Tim Carney **and Olivia Nuzzi talk about what they witnessed in Iowa and how the campaigns are taking it as they head to New Hampshire. Election law expert Rick Hasen lays out the damage done in Iowa and...


No witnesses

As the impeachment trial of President Trump draws to a close, has this been a useful exercise? What did we learn? Who were the friends we made along the way? And will the result of the trial matter for future presidencies, or for the November election? Susan Hennessey of the Lawfare blog will tell us what may (or may not) be stopping John Bolton from talking, with the Senate declining to seek his testimony. Paul Krugman will join us to talk about his new book Arguing With Zombies where...


Does anyone change their mind anymore?

Forty-eight hours of presentations for the prosecution and the defense, and senators are watching it all silently, with only water and milk to drink. But will the trial change any minds, inside the senate chamber or in the country as a whole? The Left, Right & Center panel discusses eerily stable public opinion: on impeachment, on Donald Trump, and on the Democratic primary candidates. Why doesn’t anybody change their mind anymore? But: when people do change their minds, lately it’s been...


The eleventh hour

The Senate impeachment trial has officially begun, and yet...new information is still coming out and senators are still divided about witness testimony. Do the Lev Parnas documents released this week change anything? What about the Government Accountability Office determination that the Trump administration broke the law in withholding the Ukraine aid? If some Republican senators mount a campaign for witness testimony, what might that fight look like? Even so, don’t we already know how...


Iran, Iraq and impeachment

Iran’s response to our attack that killed Qassem Soleimani looks like a climbdown, for now. Is it time for President Trump to take a victory lap? Should we be watching for unconventional reprisals from Iran? Much of the coverage this week has centered around Iran, but what impact has this had on our already-fragile relationship with Iraq? Jarrett Blanc of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace talks about the way forward with Iran, including what remains of the Iran nuclear deal...


Iranian general killed in US airstrike

Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was killed in an American airstrike at the Baghdad airport. General Soleimani was arguably the second most powerful person in Iran and a destabilizing force in the Middle East for decades. He led Iran’s interventions in other countries in the region, including support for militias in Iraq that killed hundreds of American soldiers. The targeted killing of Soleimani was a major escalation in the conflict with Iran. Lawmakers are debating over whether the...


Where is the Center?

Who is the center? Are there swing voters anymore, and what do they want? How did Donald Trump succeed at appealing at enough of the center to win the 2016 election, and what kind of candidate do Democrats need to pick to win the center back over? Political scientist Lee Drutman will tell us who these voters are, and how being a swing voter doesn’t necessarily mean being an ideological moderate. Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and...



Donald Trump is officially the third president to be impeached. The Democrats held together, with just one defection to the GOP and one “present” vote than they had a few weeks ago to open the impeachment inquiry. After the impeachment vote, Nancy Pelosi surprised everyone by saying she wouldn’t send the impeachment articles to the Senate for now. What’s up with that? Then, the Democratic presidential candidates had their liveliest debate yet. They fought over who has the necessary...


Impeach and cooperate

The House of Representatives is almost ready to impeach President Trump, but they’re also working weirdly closely with him. This week they’ve approved a spending deal, signing off on his Space Force in exchange for federal employee parental leave, getting ready to approve his signature Nafta update. And the president’s phase one trade deal with China is maybe sorta done? On the other side of the pond, Boris Johnson won a resounding victory in the United Kingdom and is somehow set to be...


Laughed out of Europe

President Trump was in the UK earlier in the week for the annual NATO summit, where he fought openly with French President Emmanuel Macron about policy toward ISIS. Macron was caught on camera having an incredulous conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They were laughing about Trump’s rambling press conferences. So Trump cancelled his final press conference at the summit and left early to head back to Washington. Jonathan Katz,...


Pragmatic but still undecided

If you think about it, the Iowa caucuses aren’t THAT far away. This week, Josh Barro interviews two political scientists who have been studying major trends and shifts. First,Lara Putnamfrom the University of Pittsburgh updates us on the Resistance groups: middle-aged, college-educated women in American suburbs who became politically active after the 2016 election. Where is the Resistance now ahead of the 2020 primaries? Then, Davin Phoenix explains his work studying the “anger gap”:...


Should Democrats go for it?

It’s been two weeks of dramatic public testimony in the impeachment inquiry. The House, almost certainly, will move forward with articles of impeachment and it seems Democrats are hell bent on finishing the impeachment process by Christmas. But the inquiry hasn’t swayed public opinion of President Trump, and as a result, Republicans don’t feel political pressure to support impeachment. As for the White House, President Trump is calling for a Senate trial, so it seems he’s eager to present...


The impeachment hearings begin

The impeachment hearings have begun. Thirteen million Americans tuned in on Wednesday, and President Trump himself was angry tweeting about them on Friday. Will they change minds as the House heads toward what could be a near party line vote to impeach President Trump before Christmas? On the first day of impeachment hearings, President Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. What explains their cozy relationship, even as the US and Turkey drift apart? Top White House...


The polls, one year out

This week, a few polls in key battleground states made a lot of liberals nervous. The polls show signs of a close 2020 election, a departure from the picture we often see in national polling. Part of the message is that President Trump’s electoral college advantage is widening, and with critical wins in swing states, it’s possible he could be re-elected with an even smaller margin than in 2016. What’s the key message for Democrats here? What do the numbers say about the field of...


The al-Baghdadi raid

In a near party line vote, the impeachment inquiry is now a formal inquiry. Once divided, all but two Democrats voted for the resolution. How did the party coalesce so quickly? On Sunday morning, President Trump announced a special forces mission, in conjunction with local partners, that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. But this isn’t the end of ISIS. Michael Singh, Washington Institute Managing Director and former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National...


It’s a quid pro quo. Is it impeachable?

Ambassador William Taylor described a quid pro quo — military aid in exchange for a Ukrainian announcement of an investigation into Burisma — in his testimony to Congress. He says a top national security official told him that, and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland confirmed it, saying he’d made a mistake when he said only a White House meeting depended on such an announcement. In fact, “everything” depended on it. President Trump usurped Congress’ constitutional spending powers for personal...


Who Wins from the Syria Cease-fire?

The situation in Syria changed quickly this week. A five-day cease-fire, which Turkey is calling a “pause,” negotiated by Vice President Mike Pence, seemed to be barely holding up less than 24 hours after it was announced. President Trump considers the agreement a victory, but some members of the GOP disagree. Mike Singh of the Washington Institute joins the panel to talk about who the winners were from the agreement. Hint: it wasn’t the Kurds. White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney this...


Impeachment, Ukraine, China, the Kurds

The Ukraine story got a lot bigger this week. Can a lot of this mess be explained by pointing to the departure of the people in President Trump’s circle who contained his worst instincts? The impeachment story and a health scare have shaken up the Democratic primary. Joe Biden struggles to hit back at the president’s unfair attacks on him. Not much attention has been paid to Bernie Sanders suffering a heart attack, but Elizabeth Warren has gotten quite a bit of attention for saying she was...


It’s looking pretty quid pro quo-y

“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” That was a text message from our top diplomat in Ukraine last month, just before this whole mess about President Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden became public. Ukraine was wondering what was going on with the $400 million in militar aid it was owed, and it’s looking more and more like a quid pro quo. Trump says his key focus is corruption. Democratic pollster...