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The Chris Wallace Show

Former President Trump Criticized for Using Term "Vermin" to Describe Political Opponents; President Biden Meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping; President Biden Announces Resumption of Military to Military Communications between U.S. and China; Recent Chinese Economic Downturn Examined. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired November 19, 2023 - 08:00   ET




CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and welcome. It's Saturday, which means we get to hear some smart people break down the week's big stories in a different way. Today we're asking, as Donald Trump's plans for a second term become clearer, would his return to power be dangerous for the country?

Then, following President Biden's summit this week with China's President Xi, how close is too close when it comes to U.S.-China relations?

And a new twist on the yearly debate that pits neighbor against neighbor, when to start decorating for Christmas.

Our group is here and ready to go. So sit back, grab your coffee, and let's talk about it.

First, our Saturday starter. Donald Trump isn't known for holding back, and when it comes to his plans for a second term, we're learning more every day. It's likely to be tougher than his first go-around, more radical, some even say more authoritarian.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We pledge to you that we will root out the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.

WALLACE: Donald Trump warning his political opponents he's coming for them, all part of a second term plan that's becoming clearer by the day. "The Washington Post" reports he would use the Justice Department to retaliate against critics and members of the Biden administration.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have done something that allows the next party, I mean if somebody, if I happen to be president, and I see somebody who is doing well, and beating me very badly, I'll say go down and indict them.

WALLACE: Trump is also spelling out his plan for the boarder. DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.

WALLACE: According to "The New York Times," Trump wants to round up millions of undocumented people, including those who have been in the U.S. for decades. To help make all this happen, "Axios" reports the Trump team is already screening tens of thousands of so-called foot soldiers who share his ideology, enlisting the conservative Heritage Foundation, which is asking applicants to fill out a questionnaire. All in an effort to replace some 50,000 federal workers.

TRUMP: With you at my side, we will demolish the deep state.


WALLACE (on camera): Around the coffee table this morning, podcaster Kara Swisher, editor of "The Dispatch," and "Los Angeles Times" columnist Jonah Goldberg, "New York Times" journalist and podcast host Lulu Garcia-Navarro, and Reihan Salam, president of the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor of "The National Review." So Kara, would a second Trump term be dangerous?

KARA SWISHER, PODCAST HOST, "PIVOT" AND "ON": Yes, I think what he is saying is dangerous, and using terms like "vermin" and others, I think that's pretty obvious. And he's sort of doing the revenge tour right now, the things he is going to do. And sort of trying to, making a list and taking names. It feels like the end of "Godfather 2." It feels very mobster, I'm going to take everybody out. I don't know if he can do it, but it certainly is unusual for a presidential candidate to use terms like "vermin" and others, and others not to be completely horrified by that term, which is so loaded.

WALLACE: Reihan, more than the rhetoric, even, I've got to say, it's the reports of the plans. And it isn't just reporting because Trump is saying this out loud when he talks about weaponizing the Justice Department, when he talks about mass deportation. Are we overreacting to reports of what a second Trump term would be?

REIHAN SALAM, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": It's worth noting that the Trump campaign has said that if it is not coming out of the president's mouth, if it's coming from some group outside of the campaign, it is speculative and theoretical. The fundamental challenge for the president, for the former president, I should say, is that the more authoritarian he seems, the more unhinged he seems, the less likely that it is that he is likely to win the next election. He needs to convince folks that he is going to bring back 2019 back again. He's going to be disciplined. He's going to be in command.

If that doesn't happen, if you have someone who is making authoritarian noises, that makes it all the more likely he's going to lose. That is the needle they need to thread.

WALLACE: Lulu, when you talk about authoritarian, there is also talk about invoking the Insurrection Act and imposing it in a way that the president could use the federal military for domestic law enforcement. [08:05:11] If he were to be reelected, and this word of "authoritarian" I think is completely apt, what would that says about the country's willingness to accept an authoritarian president?

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, JOURNALIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": I think that's the thing that worries me personally the most. I truly worry about democracy in this country where you see a huge portion of Americans listening to this and saying, gee, let's go for Trump 2.0. Let's do this again. When you say 2019 and that those were the heydays of the Trump administration and it all was so wonderful, I don't know that many people do remember it that way. They remember an administration filled with chaos. They remember an administration that seemed incredibly volatile. And I think definitely, at this point, it is a problem.

SALAM: It is all the more striking then, that Trump is polling as well as he is. And I will also say that the Biden administration is setting up some pretty dangerous precedents. For example, you have the Biden administration coercing social media companies into basically cooperating to censor and throttle messages.

SWISHER: That is not true. That is so not true.

SALAM: You might think that.

SWISHER: No, I don't think that. I'm actually pretty good --

SALAM: Kara, there are a lot of Americans, and also including a lot of Democrats and independents who believe the Biden administration is pushing too far --

SWISHER: They believe it, but --

SALAM: And that a future Trump administration could use that --

WALLACE: Look, Kara, go ahead.

SWISHER: This is absolutely not what happened. They were discussing things, and they occasionally may have said one or two things they probably shouldn't have said in the way they did. But they absolutely were not trying to censor the companies.

SALAM: I'm very glad to hear you think that.

SWISHER: It's a canard.

SALAM: The Fifth Circuit felt differently about that.

JONAH GOLDBERG, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "THE DISPATCH": So regardless of the debate about social media interference in the Biden administration, I take Reihan's point that the Biden administration has set up some bad precedents. I don't like lawless executive orders about student loans and all these things. They are bad. And it has been a problem with the imperial presidency for a long time. Where I disagree with Reihan is, like, if it doesn't come out of the mouth of the president, it is all speculation and so forth. There is an enormous effort from Heritage, from these other groups to live up to this ideal that personnel is policy. And all of the safeguards -- one of the reasons why the first administration is chaotic -- and I used to say, look, Trump isn't Hitler. At least Hitler could have repealed Obamacare -- was that you had people surrounding Trump, trying to stop him from doing all sorts of crazy stuff.

Now the fundamental requirement, you set up these, they all have to share his ideology, and the ideology is essentially a cult of personality. And you have all of these lawyers who are not Federal Society lawyers, but they're basically fifth rate dufuses who spend their time on Twitter trying to show off about how they love the use and abuse of power and they think that --

WALLACE: I have to say, because the Federalist Society basically ran, staffed a lot of the first term, and certainly was tremendously instrumental in the three Supreme Court choices, and now we're hearing the Federalist Society is a bunch of wusses.

GOLDBERG: They're a bunch of wusses. And also people like Bill Barr, who was a Federalist Society guy and almost the other guys in the Justice Department, he wants to criminally prosecute them. So this idea that -- I'm much more concerned about a second administration, partly because I think Trump has kind of gone off his feed mentally in a lot of ways. But second of all, he wants to surround himself entirely with yes man. All of the safeguards and all the circuit breakers that kept him from going off the rails and led to a lot of the good policy stuff that I would agree with you some of, that will be gone and it will be purely his id.

WALLACE: I know we're not going to get pushback from this side. What do you have to say, Reihan?

SALAM: -- emphasizing that when you're looking at the executive branch, it really is reasonable and legitimate to say that you want the executive branch to be unified under the authority of the president. There are some agencies that have a modicum of independence. But there are a lot of other instances, and you can see that right now with the State Department revolt against the Biden administration policies. It is reasonable to say that the president should be able to staff his administration with folks who are broadly likeminded. I think that's entirely legitimate.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I have spent a lot of time overseas in many volatile countries all over the world, and the United States has always been the envy of many of these countries because it has a civil service that is actually nonpartisan, that they do the job, and they staff all of these agencies, and they serve administrations, whether they are Republican or Democratic. The very idea that you are going to gut this, that somehow you're going to staff it with loyalists, people who are probably incompetent, really, I think, cracks the very foundation of this country.

SALAM: I would love a nonpartisan civil service. The problem is that you have a civil service, you have elements of it, at least, with people that have very strong ideological perspectives who have been particularly difficult for conservatives -- WALLACE: I'm going to throw one more log on this fire, Reihan, and that is, I said let's not talk about rhetoric. Let's talk about programs. Now let's talk about the rhetoric, because in the last few days, President Trump talked about his opposition on the left, he used the word "vermin." And here is what he had to say about people coming into this country illegally, from mental institutions and prisons in other countries. Take a look.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody has ever seen anything like what we're witnessing right now. It is a very sad thing for our country. It's poisoning the blood of our country.


WALLACE: This week, President Biden said, talk about vermin is, quote, "language you heard in Nazi Germany in the 30s." Reihan is, that an overstatement on the part of Joe Biden?

SALAM: There is a very straightforward step that President Biden can take. He can actually take these issues away by taking some of the decisive action on --

SWISHER: Oh, come on. Reihan, you can't --

SALAM: He's tried it in fits and starts. He's getting a lot of pushback from progressive in Congress.

WALLACE: Are you troubled by the fact that President Trump used the word "vermin" to describe his domestic opposition?

SALAM: I'm troubled by an awful lot of things. I think that he is very --

SWISHER: No, he asked you specifically. Are you troubled by the word "vermin"? And blood. This is -- I've never liked to use Nazi symbolism easily and carelessly.

SALAM: I think it is really careless to characterize this in Nazi language.

SWISHER: Careless?


SWISHER: Vermin is --

GOLDBERG: We can debate whether it is Nazi or not. Something can fall well short of being Nazi-like and still being really, really bad. And the way that Donald Trump talks about the role of government, talks about retribution, if it was coming out of the mouth of a Democrat, most of the people defending him would be hard on him. The people who freaked out when Hillary Clinton used the word "deplorable" are now saying, well, what's the big deal about "vermin." We should have one standard for politicians.

SALAM: I think that it is totally objectionable, and it is going to be counterproductive for him politically, right? And as far as the Trump campaign is concerned, that's something that they need to focus on. Fortunately, I am not the Trump campaign, right? It is their business, how they're going to figure that out. But I certainly think --

WALLACE: I bet a lot of people would be very happy to have you on the campaign.

GOLDBERG: You're one of the people I would like to have in there.

WALLACE: All right, now that you're all settled in, here is what is coming up. Biden and Xi try to rekindle the U.S.-China relationship. Should we treat China as a frenemy or a foe?

Later, more parents opting out of any vaccines for their kids, and we're not letting it --



WALLACE: And cringe or cute? The panel says yea or nay to this week's much talked about billionaire photoshoot.

Any time the leaders of the world's two biggest superpowers come together, it's a big deal. This week, President Biden hosted a summit with Chinese President Xi. They talked for four hours about everything from fentanyl to Taiwan to climate change. It seemed to be relatively friendly, especially given how frosty U.S.-China relations have become over the last year. But afterwards, CNN's MJ Lee asked Biden if he still thinks Xi is a dictator.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, look, he is. I mean he is a dictator in the sense that he is a guy who runs a country that is communist country that is based on a form of government that's totally different than ours.


WALLACE: China called that answer, quote, an irresponsible political maneuver.

Lulu, after their summit, President Xi at a big dinner said that China is ready to be a partner and a friend of the United States, basically said even the president's talk about a competitor was too harsh. Are you reassured?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: No, you would be surprised to hear. I think Xi was trying to play good cop globally, trying to show that somehow the United States is the aggressor in this relationship. I think it is very important at the moment that the two superpowers talk. I think it was a good meeting. I'm glad to see that the rhetoric has changed, but I think the substance hasn't. I think China at the moment is in a very precarious situation economically, and I think it remains to be seen if they're going to try and use this moment to either draw closer to the United States or cause trouble in the South China Sea.

WALLACE: Reihan, I think we'd all agree that the biggest immediate flashpoint between the U.S. and China is Taiwan, and one of the few deliverables from this summit is that they have agreed to resume military to military communications, which had ended after the U.S. shot down that spy balloon. Does that give you any sense that they're past the immediate flashpoint of Taiwan?

SALAM: My big fear is that Xi Jinping is going on the Vladimir Putin train. That is Vladimir Putin in 2014, and actually before that, he tried to harden the Russian economy. He tried to insulate it in various ways, knowing that he was going to face extreme intense economic sanctions. Right now, the Chinese are building wartime emergency hospitals in Fujian, right across the Taiwan Strait. He is actually taking marginal land that is not really well suited to agriculture and moving it into agriculture to build up grain supplies.

He is expecting that there are going to be hardcore economic sanctions because I believe he is planning something really big and dangerous and awful. And I think that President Biden is, I think he is doing his best, but he hasn't been sufficiently focused on this threat, and that's a big problem for the country and the world.


SWISHER: China is our enemy -- enemy, but they're our major rival, that's it. Economically, technologically, absolutely. Our reliance on them for technology is quite heavy. We've got to start developing this stuff in this country.

But you have to talk to them. You have to talk to them if they're your rival and have some sort of a relationship. But I have no question he has designs on Taiwan. And that will be disastrous for us from lots of perspectives, all of the chips are made there. And so you have to worry about that. It's fine to talk to him, he did a good job. The smiling Xi with the t-shirts and stuff like that, fine.

WALLACE: Let me pick up with you on this question, because it is your strongest point, which is that the technological competition between the U.S. and China. I want to put up a poll on the screen, a Pew study out this week found in 2020, three percent of Americans regularly got their news from TikTok.

SWISHER: Correct.

WALLACE: Now, that's up to 14 percent of U.S. adults. What is the danger if people in this country let their guard down?

SWISHER: It's owned by China. And you know, we don't allow media ownership in this country, but that's media ownership from somewhere else. We don't allow foreign media ownership with -- if they bought ABC, we'd notice it, if they bought anything else. They essentially are the media arm in our country, it's where people are getting their news. And so that's, they've come in in a different way.

And the reason that's grown is because it has gotten bigger, that's all. It has gotten bigger. Facebook has gone down considerably. Instagram has gone up a little bit, oddly enough, LinkedIn has gone up for news. But this is where people are getting their news. And so you have to wonder, any company that is China owned has this ability to manipulate and use propaganda. Now, we have to prove that, but it is an obvious thing.

GOLDBERG: One easy way to prove it is just type in anything into search on TikTok about the Uyghurs and see what you get. It is a --

WALLACE: What do you get?

GOLDBERG: Very little.

WALLACE: You get stuff about Jews for sure, because China is on a big antisemitic kick right now in their state media and they're pushing a lot of this stuff. Look, I've been saying for years now we have one of the only points of consensus in American politics is hawkishness on China. So the real choice is smart hawkishness versus dumb hawkishness. And I think Biden did the right thing here. I get the argument why he shouldn't have called Xi a dictator. This is off Xi and they're trying to make amends. But Xi is a dictator.

And the win with getting this military-to-military communications thing isn't quite the win people think it is, because apparently in the past when we've had crises with China where we had this system, the Chinese just didn't pick up the phone, right? So like, yes, now the phone will ring, but they still won't answer. And I think at the end of the day, if China had the military of Bhutan and the economy of Bhutan, we would say who gives a rat's derriere about China? But they matter. They're huge. A war would be catastrophic.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But they are also in trouble. They're also in trouble.

GOLDBERG: They're in huge trouble.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right now, the one thing we really do have to acknowledge is this isn't the China of two years ago, three years ago, 10 years ago. This is the China of today, and they really are struggling economically.

WALLACE: What we're talking about here is considerable economic problems.


WALLACE: The Xi economic plan isn't working. The growth which was in the double digits is really trash.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You're seeing young people leaving. You're seeing wealthy people leaving. You're seeing just a complete stifling of economic activity. They are really, really in a difficult situation.

GOLDBERG: That was the big win at this meeting is being able to talk to all of the executives.

SWISHER: May I say one thing? Our economies are dependent on that. Just today in "The Wall Street Journal", Estee Lauder, the reason sales are down and the stock is down is because Chinese sales are down. You have Tesla. You have Apple. There's so much exposure there that it will affect us.



WALLACE: Back, Jonah, in 1984, I was with, on the trip when Reagan went to Beijing and met with Deng Xiaoping. And the interesting thing then was that U.S. policy, was the idea if we engage with China and boost capitalism in China, economic reform will lead to political reform. It didn't.

GOLDBERG: No. It looked like it was going that way for a little bit, and certainly it had -- it does not look that way at all. But one of the important things to remember is that one of the reasons why they're clamping down politically, in part because Xi is clamping down, trying to turn it basically into a Spartan country where he wants it to be a militaristic country, and shut down on independent freedom internally.

WALLACE: At least he is talking about sending pandas back to San Diego. So that would be good.

Up next, from flying elbows, to punches almost being thrown, just another day in the playground, or in Congress?


SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN, (R-OK): You want to do it now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd love to do it right now.

MULLIN: Stand you butt up then.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You stand your butt up.


WALLACE: It's no wonder they can't do much done. We unpack the chaos right after this.

This weekend, members of Congress are back home for the Thanksgiving recess. Before they left Washington, they passed a temporary funding bill to avoid a government shutdown. But while some are celebrating the move, critics point to the real reason it happened -- Congress can't seem to agree on anything.


WALLACE: With that, Congress did what it always does these days, kick the can down the road.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: It gives us until January and February to get the job done.


WALLACE: But come the new year, lawmakers will almost certainly be just as divided over spending and facing another government shutdown.

SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN, (R-OK): You want to do it now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would love to do it right now.

WALLACE: This week was not encouraging. A senator challenged a witness to a fistfight.

MULLIN: Stand your butt up then.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You stand your butt up.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT): Hold it. Stop it. No, no, sit down. Sit down.

WALLACE: While over in the House, one member accused another of elbowing him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a clean shot to the kidneys, and I turned back and there was Kevin.

WALLACE: But when it came to helping our allies in real battles, Congress failed to provide more military aid to Ukraine or Israel. As the new House speaker put it --

REP. MIKE JOHNSON, (R-LA) HOUSE SPEAKER: This place is a pressure cooker.


WALLACE: Reihan, why can't Congress get anything done, pass a real long-term budget to the end of the fiscal year, as opposed to a two- month C.R., aid to our allies, let alone deal with the real issues that confront the country, like entitlements or immigration? Why can't Congress get anything done?

SALAM: The fundamental problem is that Congress is just way, way too centralized right now. Ever since Newt Gingrich you've had the committee system that has been basically hollowed out. You basically have this dynamic where it's totally zero sum. One party believes that if they just hold out and ensure that the party in power doesn't get any wins, then they can win the next time around.

And I think that what you need is a more decentralized Congress. You need the committee system to start working. And you need a little give. You need factions within both the Republican and Democratic parties to be willing to cobble together deals on discrete areas within the purview of the different committees. You need regular order. And that would be a much, much healthier system for the country.

WALLACE: Lulu, why is Congress broken?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The Republicans. There's one word for that right now. This is not a problem of Congress being broken. This is a problem of the Republican Party being broken.

SALAM: So you don't see a zero sum dynamic?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let me finish. You have a small faction within the Republican Party that is holding that party hostage. They are holding the entire congressional system hostage. I mean, let's just see what they've done in the past few months -- 31 times instead of trying to resolve real problems in this country, they have actually tried to zero out the salaries of members of the Biden administration, instead of actually trying to address things like immigration reform, things like actually passing funding for Israel and Ukraine. I mean this is a Congress that is obsessed with trying to get partisan vengeance, trying to score points, and it's not really that interested in trying to resolve the problems of this country.

GOLDBERG: I actually think you're both right. I agree entirely with Reihan on this. Structurally, institutionally, Congress is broken. Everyone pines for the way Nancy Pelosi ran things. The way Nancy Pelosi ran things was bad for America and bad for Congress, because it is bringing down legislation like tablets to the masses. There's no process of discovery. There are no committee hearings. There's no regular order. There's none of the stuff that absorbs political debate in this country.

SWISHER: We got an infrastructure bill, though.

GOLDBERG: Yes, well, look, if all you care about is consequentialism and results-oriented stuff that is passed down by basically a leadership that just presents a fait accompli to members who have no power whatsoever, then that's so great. I think that is a terrible way to run Congress and it's one of the reasons why the country is so polarized.

At the same time, you're absolutely right that the GOP right now in the House is a clown show.

SWISHER: Which some in the GOP are calling it. There's lots of people in the GOP saying this.

GOLDBERG: Yes, it is a hot mess. And it is partly a product of the political dysfunction that comes when you only have like a four-seat majority, and it's impossible to get anything done. You basically have the Republican Party being two different parties right now. One is a performative party of largely jackassery, and the other one is a party of people who are terrified of being primaried by actually trying to legislate, and it is creates gridlock.

SWISHER: And it's an individual performer thing. And you're right, it's not just jackassery. It's performative art on Twitter or wherever it is, and you see it all the time. And so they are individual performers rather than a team.

And there was one great quote, and I don't remember, it was a Republican representative who said they have never been on a successful team, some of these people. And that's absolutely true.

GOLDBERG: There is no institutional memory of how to legislate.

SALAM: It does take two to tango, though. And one of the issues is, for example, there really was an opportunity for members at the Problem Solvers caucus to drastically change the way Congress does business by saying we will have Patrick McHenry in there as speaker. We're going to empower this person, and we're going to do something a little bit different, try regular order for a change. The problem is that those Democrats in the Problem Solvers caucus were terrified of primary challenges. They thought that they could not survive in the party if they made that move. And that is why we have this --

WALLACE: But Reihan, you talk about this, what you're basically saying is that there should be bipartisan compromise. That's exactly the reason that Kevin McCarthy is no longer the speaker, because he, to raise the debt ceiling, and to pass a temporary spending bill, he had to get help from Democrats, and the Republican caucus kicked him out.


SALAM: And that's why I will say that Speaker Mike Johnson is someone who really could make a difference here. He is someone who is, look, he's new to the job. He is someone who is a fresh face. But he is also someone who has rock solid conservative credentials while also saying he wants to get back to regular order.

WALLACE: Wait, wait, wait. So what they did, the way they were able to pass this temporary spending bill into January and into February is with more Democrats than Republicans supporting it, this bipartisan compromise. That left one conservative member very unhappy, Chuck Roy of Texas.


REP. CHIP ROY, (R-TX): One thing, I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing, one, that I can go campaign on and say we did. One.


WALLACE: I mean Kara, that is certainly -- one, yes. That's certainly --


[08:40:3] WALLACE: He has been in there for 20 minutes, so the Republicans let him get away with it. If he goes to the Democrats again to pass legislation in January, do you think the Republican caucus will allow that? SWISHER: No. I think it's the same clown car, different driver. That's what it feels like to me. And it's going to be very difficult. And you know, these fistfights, I know it is all joking around, like this is you hit him in the kidney, or these guy doing this ridiculous --

WALLACE: I've got to say, it didn't look so jokey to me in that sense.

SWISHER: But it is so ridiculous. It is such a dude thing. It was so ridiculous. Everyone who had any sense was laughing at that.

WALLACE: If I said that it was such a girl thing --


SWISHER: You're not going to -- there is no AOC getting up and taking her wedding ring off and going after people.

WALLACE: She is not married yet.

SWISHER: Any case, it is not happening ever.


SWISHER: But it is just indicative of everyone that just says whatever is on their mind at any one point, because we live in this sort of instant impulse culture now, and it has infected Congress in a really bad way. And so maybe they're talking behind the scenes, I don't know. But the performance in Congress is circuslike.

WALLACE: Jonah, there is another problem, and that is this desire to tie everything together. So everybody agreed, we need to give aid to Israel. But the White House said, well, no, if you're giving aid to Israel, we want it for Ukraine, because otherwise we won't get it for Ukraine. And the Republicans say, well, if you're going to do that, then we want some big concession on border enforcement, and we end up with nothing.

GOLDBERG: Right. And part of the problem is, and again, it is a problem with both sides, people want things that can go on cable news and complain about rather than actually get things done and do legislation. And Congress that does not work.

SALAM: I will say one thing about those big bills that get things done, for example, the infrastructure law from the last Congress, this actually was a terrible piece of legislation because it didn't go through regular order. It wasn't properly scrutinized. It was a big bang style thing with a bunch of Christmas tree ornaments in it that was not actually thinking carefully how we can spend taxpayer dollars wisely. And I hate that.

WALLACE: All right, duly noted. Coming up, the billionaire pictures some say they can't unsee. It's "Yea or Nay," that's next.

It's always a challenge to decide what subjects to talk about and what to avoid when your family sits down for Thanksgiving dinner. So this week especially, consider it something of a public service as, once again, I asked the group here yea or nay. It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas earlier than ever. Halloween decorations traded for Christmas decorations as soon as November 1st. In stores like Costco, full Christmas displays in August. And in Britain, this song is already racing up the charts.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want a lot for Christmas. There is just one thing I need.


WALLACE: The whole gang started singing it, particularly lulu, who has got a good voice. Jonah, yea or nay to Christmas creep.

GOLDBERG: Nay. I actually love Christmastime. I also love Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving needs it's time to shine.

SWISHER: This is the war on Christmas.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: War on Christmas.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: I love it. I love it. I am so excited.

WALLACE: All right, but wait a minute. Let me get this right -- 80 percent of people say they feel Christmas fatigue by the time we actually get to December 25th, 75 percent say they're sick and tired by the end of Christmas. Lulu, when should we get into the Christmas mood?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Summer. I start watching the Hallmark Channel and their Christmas spectacular in summer. I like snow, I like ho, ho, ho. I don't think that we need to limit it. It's a spirit.

WALLACE: All right. Next, when it comes to ringing up those holiday gifts, you may soon have fewer options. CNN reports stories like Walmart and Costco are rethinking their self-checkout stations. This comes after a British supermarket chain says it's firing its checkout machines and bringing back real cashiers. Kara, as our techie, I bet you love self-checkout.

SWISHER: I don't, because they're badly done. They're bad products. I hate a bad tech product. You're constantly having to get someone come over and swipe it. They don't work well. And then they're continuing pushing toward the palm checkout at Amazon, they want you to put your palm over, as if I'm going to give Amazon my palm information. It doesn't work. It doesn't work, and cashiers are better. People are better.

WALLACE: Reihan, yea or nay to self-checkout?

SALAM: A big yea for self-checkout in principle, but the big tragedy here, the big story behind this, is the fact that a lot of stores are abandoning self-checkout because of shoplifting, because of so-called shrink.


And this is a huge problem in big cities around the country.

WALLACE: Why do you like self-checkout?

SALAM: I like --


SALAM: -- society with some trust, a society where actually we believe that people are not going to be robbing stores blind, they're going to maintain some decorum.

WALLACE: We're wrong.


WALLACE: All right, finally, it's the photoshoot social media can't stop talking about. Jeff Bezos and his fiance Lauren Sanchez photographed by Annie Leibovitz for "Vogue" magazine. The pictures were mocked online, isn't everything, with one person saying they would like to unsee the photos. Kara, yea or nay to Bezos and Sanchez posing for "Vogue"?

SCHLICHTER: It was an unfortunate photo, I would say.


I think I like a lot of these photos and these performative photos, but I think they took it seriously. You see a lot of Annie Leibovitz pictures, and people like Arnold Schwarzenegger naked on a horse as a joke. It's kind of a joke. This thing was took seriously, and it was a little cringy. Cringy is how I would say.

WALLACE: Lulu, I think of you as our resident romantic. What did you think of Lauren and Jeff saying we love each other and, frankly, we look pretty great doing it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I mean, this is the thing that I was astonished by. These are people who are really fit. They have really focused on their bodies.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: One of my colleagues calls it arm-core, and I really like that, because there was just a lot of very buff arms in these pictures.


SWISHER: I called it body-hack mountain. WALLACE: This picture doesn't quite show it, but Bezos has a gun show going on.

SWISHER: Yes, he's got a gun show.

WALLACE: All right, coming up, proof you should pay close attention to our gang's predictions.

Plus, alarming numbers every parent should know about. It's "Under the Radar," next.

"Under the Radar." This week, more and more parents are opting not to get their children vaccinated. We're not talking about COVID vaccines here. New data from the CDC shows exemptions have allowed kids to forgo state-required vaccines for diseases like measles, polio, and chicken pox are at an all-time high. For years the U.S. maintained a 95 percent vaccination rate for kindergarteners. But in recent years it has dropped and now sits at 93 percent. That may not seem like much, but doctors say even a small increase in unvaccinated kids in school leaves the country vulnerable to outbreaks of dangerous diseases.

In 10 states, exemptions were above five percent, which the CDC says is the red line for greater risk of an outbreak. This all comes amid a rise in anti-vaccine and anti-science sentiment. A recent survey finds one in four Americans, 27 percent, don't really trust scientists. You can see here that has doubled from before the COVID pandemic when only 13 percent, they don't trust scientists.

When we come back, hit me with your best shot on what is news before it's in the news.

And we have proof the gang's predictions sometimes come true. That's next.

Every week, we end the show asking our gang here for their best shots, their special takes and predictions of what is going to happen in the news. And yes, we're keeping tabs, whether their shot is a hit or a miss. So it's time for our first best shot replay. Take a listen to what Jonah said last week.


GOLDBERG: We're going to see a lot of stories about the flocking of big donors to Nikki Haley next week, and an intensification of talk about Tim Scott dropping out soon.

WALLACE: Why, first of all, the move to Nikki Haley?

GOLDBERG: Because I think that her performance in the debate was geared for attracting a lot of big donor money. There is a lot of big donor money that says Tim Scott can't win, that Chris Christie can't win. They don't want to give it to Ron DeSantis, and Ron DeSantis is not going to drop out. And Tim Scott, he's just not been able to figure out an explanation for why he's running for president.


WALLACE: So Jonah, when Tim Scott dropped out last Sunday, the day after you made your prediction, his top staff reportedly did not know he was going to do it. A lot of them were surprised. How did Jonah Goldberg know?

GOLDBERG: I drop Benjamins on shoeshine guys all around the country. I have snitches and informants everywhere. I can't reveal my sources.


WALLACE: But you just had, you knew this was going to happen?

GOLDBERG: I had a sixth sense about it, yes. It's a gift. It's just a gift.


WALLACE: All right, so Jonah has one on the scoreboard and takes an early lead. I don't want anybody to be bitter about this.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Does he get a prize?


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Does he get a prize?

WALLACE: No, it is the beginning of the season, not the end.

Now, guys, it's time for your takes and predictions this week. Hit me with your best shot. Jonah, we're going to play the hot hand. What's your best shot for this week?

GOLDBERG: Since we all know past performance is predictive of future results, I'm going to win Powerball. I think that we're going to see, maybe not in the next week, a real flight towards some celebrity, probably someone like Matt McConaughey, getting into politics or at least talking about politics, because there is such a hunger in this country because no one wants anybody who is actually running.

WALLACE: And is he going to actually run for president?

GOLDBERG: I think he will show a lot of leg.

WALLACE: OK. Kara, best shot?

SWISHER: Not that one. I think there is maybe some real repercussions to Elon Musk continued promotion of antisemitic tropes on X. Obviously, IBM pulled out for reasons. Apple just did. The CEO Linda Yaccarino has her hands full and is trying very desperately to say we don't believe in these antisemitic tropes. And yet, I'm like the calls coming from inside the building kind of thing. That's what it feels like. So I think there may be some repercussions here. But he's done it a lot, so who knows?

WALLACE: Reihan, best shot? SALAM: So when you're looking at the Democratic Party, who is the number two in the party after President Biden? Is it Gavin Newsom? Is it Kamala Harris? Is it Gretchen Whitmer. The real answer is J.B. Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, not because of his magnetism, not because of his charisma, but because he is gearing up to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to reelect President Biden. And he's also gearing up for his own presidential campaign come 2028, and possibly if something happens to the president, in 2024.

WALLACE: You think of all of the people out there, and I think that the governors are the ones, you would put him at the head of the line as a possible plan b for 2024 ahead of Newsom and Whitmer?

SALAM: Nobody else has done more for public sector organized labor. They giveaways are incredible.