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Election 2016: Trump and the Republican Party

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Dr. Arnn joins Hugh Hewitt to discuss the state of the Republican primary prior to Indiana.

Access Hillsdale Dialogues Archive


Transcript:

HH: You thought I was on vacation, but of course, I left you a little present, because the Hillsdale Dialogue did not air on Friday before I left for Italy. I got Dr. Arnn to join me in studio before I left for the Boot, and we taped not only this program, but one for next Friday as well, this coming Friday. Dr. Larry Arnn, of course, is the president of Hillsdale College. He joins me here on the Hugh Hewitt Show every Friday, usually in the third hour, so that we can talk about the great matters of civilization both ancient and modern. We’ve been doing so for four years. All the conversations with Dr. Arnn or his many colleages at Hillsdale College who have participated are collected and available for binge listening at www.hughforhillsdale.com. www.hughforhillsdale.com. And all of Hillsdale’s many offerings online are available at www.hillsdale.edu. I am hoping Dr. Arnn’s recent appearance in Portland is not among them, as I understand my name was taken in vain at that Portland gathering, Dr. Arnn. And so I’m hoping that is not posted there.

LA: I worked up my standard response now. People rush up to me and say I just love Hugh Hewitt. And I say yeah, but I know him. 

HH: (laughing) That’s so, I’ve been told that you said it was your job to keep me humble, and I am a very humble guy. I’m the humblest guy I know.

LA: You boasted, I’m very humble, he boasted.

HH: So I want to begin by telling you about a guest I had on earlier this last week, Steve Hilton, who is considered Great Britain’s Karl Rove. He helped Cameron win his first reelect. Now, he’s up at Stanford in a start-up, and he’s written a book called More Human. But he graduated from New College. He earned his D. Phil. From New College. And you sent me to the New College Chapel. You and Penny Arnn sent the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt and I to New College Chapel many years ago after dinner, and we loved it. And I told him that story about hearing the corn, and he said do you know that when they built New Chapel, or New College, they planted oaks, so that that 300 years hence, they could replace the beams in New College. I didn’t know that. Did you know that?

LA: I did not know that. That’s great.

HH: Now what’s your, did you, were you a member of New College, or did you just attend Chapel when you were there?

LA: No, I was a member of Worcester College, which is really cool. And it’s the college, it’s the only of the Oxford colleges that has the college grounds, as they call them, which is the cricket pitch and the tennis courts stuff, and a lake inside the college walls. So New College is very beautiful. But New College is named New College, because it’s really old, because you know, there weren’t many, and they started another one. So, but Worcester is younger than that, although it is itself very old. And New College is one of the three Oxford colleges that has a boys school. And because of that, they have coral evensong. And if you go to England, go to Oxford, and go. And anytime, term time, about 35 weeks a year when they’re in term, they have it every night.

HH: I wish to echo this recommendation. As I said, I went there first with my wife, and a few years later when my son was studying in London, I took my son from London all the way out to Oxford to go to Evensong. And it is absolutely the most beautiful ceremony, and he brought along a friend who leaned over and he said this is like being in Harry Potter, which it really is.

LA: Oh, yeah.

HH: So…

LA: Yeah, it’s, you know, there’s a really good one in London at Westminster Abbey, and it’s at 5:00, so go at 4:00. And in London, the Oxford evensong, so was it crowded when you were there, Hugh?

HH: No, it was almost empty. 

LA: Yeah, that’s, you know, that’s a really great thing. Westminster Abbey one is well-attended. There’s also one at St. Paul’s also at 5:00 every day. But if you go to the Westminster Abbey one early, and I suggest 4:00 or even 3:45, and stand in line in the rain, the first people in the queue get to sit the choir stalls, and that is really gorgeous.

HH: See, that is a great tip. Now where is the cricket pitch at Hillsdale College, by the way? Where have you built your cricket pitch?

LA: Ah, you know, we have a little cricket played at Hillsdale College, but we don’t have a pitch. And I haven’t seen cricket played in three or four years, but once in a while, we get students from countries where they play it, and it is a tremendous game, and it’s like baseball. Churchill said I decided to become a cricket fan, because Churchill said you’ll never understand British politics without understanding the game of cricket. So I would listen to it.

HH: I can’t believe that. Churchill said that? That means I’ll never understand British politics, because I don’t understand cricket a lick.

LA: Yeah, well, it’s like baseball, and it’s a team game, but it doesn’t look like it. It looks like individual performances. That’s why it’s like American politics. And like American baseball, it’s infinite as to time and space. That is to say there’s no set size of the field. You can hit it out in cricket, like in baseball, and then the games, they used to go on, by the way, a typical match was seven days. And now they’ve got one day matches. And everything’s much faster than it used to be. So those are, you know, those are attributes it’s got that are like British politics, and like American politics.

HH: Bill Bryson, Bill Bryson is a wonderful writer, described coming upon a cricket match in Australia in his book, Notes From A Sunburnt Country, and he could not figure it out, and it went on for days and days, and people pitched tents, and they stayed days and days and days at the cricketfest. So I don’t know that I’ll ever pick that up. But I intend on this Friday to talk with you about British politics and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, compared to the vice presidency. But let’s first talk about domestic politics. It becomes increasingly hard to be accepted as Switzerland. No one wants to believe in Switzerland, Dr. Arnn, and you and I have camped there trying to be objective about this race from the beginning. But nobody wants to believe us that we objective about this race.

LA: Yeah, I know. And they think that we’re for somebody, and I did vote for somebody, but I’m not telling you who, and I can see now that Switzerland is a terrible place to be, except for every other place where we’d be.

HH: Except (laughing)

LA: (laughing) 

HH: Well, I, too, will have to vote for someone on June 7th, and I will make up my mind on June 7th, and I will tell my audience. It is an open question right now who I will vote for on June 7th. I don’t know. I don’t know if it will matter, either. What is your assessment on this opening of May of the state of the Republican race, on the eve of the Indiana primary?

LA: Well, Indiana, well, first of all, Trump has got tremendous momentum. I mean, he had a really good week last week, and he had a really good week the week before, too. And then before that, he had had two bad weeks where lots of terrible things were said about him, and seemed to tell, and he slipped in the polls some. And then he’s recovered since, and should, it looks to me like it’s hard to tell that he’s at a high right now, a high for the whole race. And so first of all, he’s got a lot of strength. Indiana matters a lot, and it’s close in Indiana. The Trump vote is not as large in the polls as the combined Cruz and Kasich vote, and they have worked out their cooperation. Who knows if it will stick, or if it’s even going on right at this minute, but they have said that they would. And if Cruz picked up a lot of Kasich’s votes, and that’s what he would have to do to win Indiana. And if he won Indiana, especially if he won it smartly, that would raise the question up again. But I’ve looked at some of these delegate counters, and if Cruz winds Indiana, even if by a little, and if he does well in California, and I saw one yesterday that said he didn’t have to sweep in California, that it looks like he might get the number. And so it’s still doubtful, though, in this way. This morning in the Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Strassel, a buddy of mine, writes that she’s been interviewing delegates, and interviewing Republican leaders in states, and she says that there’s a movement that the Trump delegates might not vote for Trump, that they don’t think that they’re tied to under party rules, which, and there’s 50 sets of party rules, so who knows who’s right? So all of that is going on, right? It’s a heck of a race, it’s very tightly fought. There is a clear leader, but a lot of people don’t want him. And so it’s still not fixed, yet, in my opinion.

HH: I must tell you that I was at the Republican Attorney General’s staff retreat on Thursday of last week in Salt Lake City, and mentioned to them, and found quite a lot of support among the Constitutional scholars, and I mean scholars there. There are solicitor generals around the Republican Attorney General’s office who are true, you know, Thomas clerks of the sort that you turn out at Hillsdale, lawyers who are good and smart and originalists. And they say there is a terrific argument, and I agree with them, that states cannot bind party delegates by law, that that is an unconstitutional imposition of a state upon a private association that exists for the purposes of nominating candidates for the presidency. What do you make of that argument, Larry Arnn?

LA: Yeah, I’m going to pick my word carefully here, because this sounds like an anti-Trump statement, and I’m not that. But parties are political, but they’re exactly right, political parties are private organizations. And there’s way too much control of what we say. We had an event here in Seattle, where I am this morning, last night, and Kirby Wilber, a radio host, was hammered by the Federal Election Commission a few years ago, and I wrote something about that. I was angry about it, because all he was doing was going on the radio and talking about elections. And now, we regulate that, see? And so if we’re going to regulate the political parties, then of course, there’ll be enormous efforts by the powers that be, the authorities in government, to regulate them in a way that serves their interest. So they need to stay free, and that means, and see, just remember, what’s the check of them dumping Trump? Trump has the most votes by a bunch, right?

HH: Yeah, yeah, this is not anti-Trump to say, and indeed, it might benefit him. I don’t think so, but it might, to say that parties are private, and we don’t want government running them. I’ll be right back with Dr. Larry Arnn on the Hillsdale hour. Stay tuned, America.

— – – — – 

HH: I’ve carried my Plutarch with me to Italy so I can luxuriate in Plutarch. Dr. Arnn rushed me through Plutarch. We only spent eight or nine weeks on Plutarch, and I still deeply resent President Arnn for doing that. And there ought to be a Hillsdale course at www.hillsdale.edu on Plutarch. That’s another one of my many suggestions that I go, I make and go unheeded by Dr. Arnn. Is there a Plutarch Hillsdale online course, yet, Dr. Arnn?

LA: No, no.

HH: See, I’m right.

LA: Yeah.

HH: I’m unheeded, completely unheeded.

LA: Yeah.

HH: So…

LA: Yeah, but hugh, just think. If we did a course on all the books that you haven’t read…

HH: (laughin)

LA: (laughing)

HH: Maybe it would be easier to do a course on the books that I have read.

LA: There you go.

HH: There we go.

LA: Because Plutarch, I think that’s where the suggestion comes from. 

HH: We could also go to Solzhenitsyn one day in the life of Ivan Denisovich. Have you got, do you have a course on Solzhenitsyn? We haven’t talked about Solzhenitsyn, yet, in the Hillsdale Dialogues, and we ought to.

LA: We have had, we should. You’re right about that. We have had courses on Solzhenitsyn, but Dostoevsky is much more common, you know, if you want a troubled Russian.

HH: (laughing) Well, we will come back. After this election season has taken us off our plan, but we find ourselves, I quote you now, I quoted you to the Attorney General last week. Fundamental things are afoot. And I think that summed it up so perfectly. And the rancor is so deep that I want to go back to an interview I had with Carly Fiorina in a moment, but first, your reaction to Senator Cruz’ selection of Carly Fiorina as his would-be running mate?

LA: Well, it’s very revealing. First of all, I like her. And it’s very revealing about them. They’ve got to do something right now. They’re, it’s obvious. What, they gave up the chance to go to the convention and dicker for delegates by offering the vice presidency, see, so they did that now. That means they understand they’ve got to win right now. And I think she’s a good choice, because she’s just as tough as she can be, and she’s a good campaigner, and she did win the Republican nomination in California. And California’s coming, so that’s what he’s doing. And you know, I think…

HH: Richard Nixon…

LA: If she were elected vice president of the United States, she’d be really good at it.

HH: Richard Nixon had two rules. First, do no harm in picking a vice president, and he found that through hard experience. He did himself harm with both Lodge and Agnew. And second is that they be prepared to become president. And he again was wrong about Spiro Agnew in that regard. About Henry Cabot Lodge, I cannot say. I don’t know the man, nor have I studied him. But what do you make about Carly Fiorina’s preparedness to be president?

LA: Well, that’s, obviously, you know, I didn’t think, I mean, I think it’s a mark against Donald Trump that he’s, that he would be the first for whom this was his first public service. She’s like that, too. But this is the vice presidency, not the presidency, and she has run a big corporation, too, I think, and so one could watch her in office. And then, you know, unless something happened to Ted Cruz while he was president, if she wanted that office, she’d have to run for it, and now she’d had public experience on the basis on which to do it. That’s why it’s such a great, you know, why it’s so important in my opinion for principled people to get to be president of the United States to use their chief appointments to build the bench for the future. And I think we’ve failed doing that since Reagan, and including Reagan.

HH: Let me play for you, I talked to Ted Cruz on Friday, and I want to play for you one clip of that before the break, cut number four, please:

HH: Senator, yesterday Ross Douthat in the New York Times wrote a very interesting column. I don’t know if you’ve had to chance to see it yesterday, but he points out 300 million Americans, 125 million will vote. Donald Trump has won about 10 million votes. I’m not sure what your vote total is. He’s won more votes than you. Nevertheless, Douthat argues that in this primary electorate, the Trump support seems unwilling to accept evidence that Donald Trump cannot win in the fall, that they reject that evidence as bias, that he will put New York and Michigan into play. In fact, Corey Lewandowski yesterday said he would win Massachusetts. Other say Pennsylvania. What do you make about those arguments, and what do you make about Doutaht’s assumption regarding their unwillingness to deal with what the media puts out as facts?

TC: Well, look, I didn’t read that particular column, but I mean, I can tell you on the merits that the Trump campaign operates in a fact-free environment. They are utterly divorced from reality. The numbers are clear.

HH: I’ll come back after break and talk with Dr. Larry Arnn about Ted Cruz’ characterization of the Trump campaign as utterly divorced from reality when we return. Don’t go anywhere, America. It’s the Hillsdale Dialogue with Dr. Larry Arnn. Stay with me.

— – – — 

HH: When we went to break, Dr. Arnn, I played for you Ted Cruz talking to me on Friday saying that the Trump campaign was divorced, utterly divorced, from reality and operated in a fact-free environment. That came after I quoted to him a Ross Douthat column saying that Trump supporters were unwilling to confront evidence of his general election weakness. What do make of both Douthat’s point and Cruz’ response?

LA: Well, I think we don’t know, right? Churchill said the future, though imminent, is obscure. So we know this. We know that at the 1980 Republican convention, Ronald Reagan was the nominee, and we know that people thought he didn’t have a chance. He was way behind. We know that Gerald Ford went to him and proposed a co-presidency, because people think you’re such a cowboy that you need me and Henry Kissinger to run with you. I’ll be veep, and he’ll be secretary of State, and we’ll handle the foreign policy. And then, people will vote for you. And there’s good reason to believe that that’s one of the reasons that Reagan picked George Bush. He moved toward the middle. But he was way behind in the polls, and that’s what made all that possible. So I don’t think we know about that, right? You know, right now, Trump’s down. I mean, I looked this morning. He’s down seven or eight points. Cruz is about even when I looked. That’s better, right? Yeah, Cruz looks better in the general. But the, but you know, how does that looking matter? 

HH: True. It doesn’t. It doesn’t.

LA: And you know, and Trump’s negatives are very high. And I’m going to go out, and so let me caution everybody. I’m beyond my expertise here, but I did read an article two days ago that said that there were, Reagan’s negatives were at this stage in 1980. So the point is we’re going to have the race, and the race is going to matter. And so whoever gets nominated, then they’ve got to do something else than what they’ve been doing so far, and we’ll see if they can do it.

HH: David Brooks wrote on Friday of last week that the Republican Party seems generally unaware that this is a Joe McCarthy moment. He’s urging a repudiation of Trump. He’s part of #neverTrump, which you and I are not part of #neverTrump. I am committed to support the nominee of the Republican Party, because parties are continuing bodies, and there are reasons not to bolt. And I suppose I could change my mind on that, but I doubt it very much. And so what do you make of this David Brooks argument that this is a Joe McCarthy moment? What does me mean, and is it true?

LA: Well, I guess what he means is that Joe McCarthy was disgraceful, and claimed that there were communists in the government over and over and over, and kept changing the number that he claimed were there. There is the inconvenient fact that there were communists in high places in the American government. But never mind that. And so we’ve got to divorce ourselves from him, because he’s disgraceful. And this is our moment where we don’t go down that terrible road. And I am not persuaded of that. I, you know, I mean, you know, add up the things. This is what we’re doing. We’re adding up the things, right? So Trump has got a good record attacking the regulatory state. I’m a free trader. Like Churchill, not like Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton, Trump is a protectionist. How we will actually do that, he says more than one thing about that. That’s one of the claims against him, by the way. He says more than one thing about that. Trump is very earnest about getting control of immigration. So am I. Do I think we should deport the ones who are already here, round them up and send them back? I do not think that. I don’t think Trump will do that, but he has said that he would. So you go down the list, and I can keep going, right? There’s good things, and there’s bad things. And then there’s his manner, which is, you know, lots of things not to like about his manner, I will tell you.

HH: He came, in fact, Dr. Arnn, to Orange County last Thursday night, the night of the NFL draft. He had 8,000 people at the Pacific Amphitheater, which is a large crowd, hundreds of demonstrators smashed police cars, violence, etc., all that. But he repeated there an anecdote that he had told and been told before was fable, and I’ve checked it out and indeed fable, but I want to play it for you, because this does go to his style. And the style is what upsets a great number of people. This is what Donald Trump had to say last week in Orange County, California, cut number six:

DT: So General Pershing is having, was sent there to solve a really serious terror problem. They caught 50 radical Islamic terrorists. They caught them. They took the 50, they lined them up. They took a pig, and then they took a second pig, and they cut the pig open. And they took the bullets from the rifles, and they dumped the bullets into the pigs, and they sloshed it around, and then they took the bullets, and they shot 49 of the 50 people. (applause) And the 50th person, they said take this bullet and bring it back to all of the people causing the problem, and tell them what happened tonight. (applause) He took the bullet, he brought it back, that 50th person, and for 42 years, they didn’t have a problem with radical Islamic terrorism, folks, okay? (applause)

HH: Now Dr. Arnn, that, I researched it. It is generally believed by all historians of the moral conflict to be a fable. There’s one bit of evidence that supports it. I’m very careful about this. There’s one tiny bit of evidence that does not support it, and Trump’s been warned off of it, and it is probably, in the eyes of most people, not helpful to our Muslim allies that we need in the war against the Islamists. Yet he repeats it, and it excites some members of his crowd. What do you make of that?

LA: Well, first of all, I can tell you why it’s effective. I have a firm opinion about that. We are so particular and so mincing in our steps and our words when we talk about Islam, radical Islam, right? And you know, I mean, it took two days to figure out that the people in San Bernardino who killed those people out there at the Civic Center, that they were Islamic, and they did it in the name of that. And you know, it took much longer than that for the guy to name the guy at Fort Hood and what his purposes were.

HH: Yes.

LA: Disaffected employees, right? So people are tired of that, and they don’t feel safe. And so then Trump makes strong claims. And you know, I don’t know if that particular one is true, but you know, I’ve seen footage of them beheading people, lots of them, that group of Christian young men that they lined up on a beach and cuts their heads off, a half a dozen of them, or a dozen of them, or something like that? The world watched that on TV. So terrible things are happening, and Trump’s point is, and the reason Trump’s point is popular is people think heck, we’ve got to fight these guys. And I think that’s true myself. And you can go look at the career of Churchill. Churchill was you know, careful what he said about the Germans, because he was very eloquent, right? And he was a very capable human being. But he danced a line, right, because he wanted, you know, and really, a lot of it depended upon the war situation. At the moment when the war situation was most desperate in 1940, Churchill was pretty tough on the Germans, right? But then you know, once it was in that year, what are we going to do about the Germans? They’ve caused all these wars, and Churchill replied there are 55 million malignant Huns, and most of them are curable. And the rest of them are killable.

HH: (laughing)

LA: He said that, right? 

HH: Yeah.

LA: Now on the other hand, as the war went on, he increasingly appealed to parts of German society that had not participated in all that, or were not in sympathy with Hitler, and Churchill wanted a great Germany. Well, you’re going to have to do both things with the Muslims, right? on the one hand, there are some of those states that have been very good friends to us. And there are many of those people, and there must be many hundreds of millions of them who are not a threat to us, you know, at least tens of millions for sure. And so you want to be talking to them. And that means you want to be doing both things, and you have to alternate them, and that takes some delicacy. 

HH: Speaking of a lack of delicacy, I want to play for you former Speaker John Boehner’s comments on Ted Cruz, and then Carly Fiorina’s reaction to it on my program last week. Here’s what the Speaker said. He called him the embodiment…

LA: He called him Lucifer, right?

HH: Right. And so here’s what Carly Fiorina said about it then, cut number one:

JB: He’s Lucifer in the flesh. 

HH: That’s it. Lucifer in the flesh. And here’s what Carly Fiorina told me about it on Friday, number one:

HH: Carly Fiorina, you just mentioned Senator Mike Lee. He called my friend, Mark Levin’s show, yesterday as angry as I have ever heard Mike Lee over what I call the despicable comments of former Speaker Boehner about Senator Cruz. Your comments on the Speaker’s slashing attack, the Lucifer comment?

CF: Well, it is despicable. It’s beyond the pale. But I think it tells you everything you need to know about Donald Trump. John Boehner said yeah, we’re texting and golfing buddies. Okay, great. That’s why I have been crystal clear in saying that Donald Trump will never challenge the system, because he’s texting and golfing buddies with John Boehner. He’s a seven-time contributor to Hillary Clinton. He’s, you know, contributed to the DCCC as well as the National Republican Congressional Committee. How do you do that? You do that if you game the system.

HH: Dr. Arnn, last two minutes of this edition of the Hillsdale Dialogue. That was both your comments on the Boehner comment, and on the art of Carly Fiorina’s response, which she took, condemned, and then turned into an attack on Donald Trump?

LA: Yeah, and she did that in the twinkling of an eye.

HH: Yes, she did.

LA: She’s pretty good, isn’t she?

HH: Yes.

LA: Also, there’s a theological problem here, because I think that there could only be one God, but there could be two Devils. 

HH: (laughing) Yes, there could. In fact, we are told in Scripture there are many devils.

LA: (laughing) So the fact that if we determine that Cruz was a devil, which he very much is not, that still wouldn’t exclude Trump.

HH: So, but what is wrong with the Speaker? I mean, I’ve tried my best over the years to go easy on John Boehner, because I am a Republican, he’s a member of the leadership. But he’s a Dean Martin Republican. And we’re done with that era. And there is no excuse for this kind of bitterness and anger. It serves no good purpose.

LA: I forget, what state is he from?

HH: Unfortunately, he’s from Kentucky, but they call it Cincinnati. 

LA: (laughing) 

HH: (laughing) 

LA: Yeah, where did that, but that, by the way, that’s the kind of another crazy man eruption. We’ve talked about a couple of Bill Clinton’s eruptions, right? 

HH: Yeah.

LA: Like everybody just looks up and says what was that?

HH: It’s just going around. We’ll talk more about this on Friday, America. Don’t go too far, because Dr. Arnn is going to be with me in another prerecorded segment on Friday, because the Hillsdale Dialogues must go on, even when I’m not on. So stay tuned.

End of interview.

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