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Analyzing The Speech (UPDATED)

Friday, December 7, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

I will get reactions to Mitt Romney’s speech on today’s program in interviews with (in this order) Michael Medved, Dr. James Dobson, Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke, Larry Kudlow, Dennis Prager, and Laura Ingraham.

Watch the Sunday shows to see how many conservative influencers are asked to analyze the speech.  Dennis Prager may have spent more hours reporting on religion than any other commentator/pundit, and has not received one call from MSM for a reaction.

The audio from today’s show will be available here later tonight, and transcripts of many of these interviews will be posted here later.

UPDATE:  Dr. Dobson on the speech (full transcript of today’s interview here):

You know, it was not a speech about electoral politics, presidential or otherwise. And it was also certainly not about Mormon theology. And if it had been, I would have written a very different kind of response. It was a magnificent speech, Hugh, and I was personally moved by it. He was addressing, as you said, the issue of who we are as a people, and what the source of our strength has been. And it’s directly related to our spiritual commitment since the days of the founding fathers. He was passionate when he delivered it, and he looked into the camera, at one point, I think he choked up. And it was just a very well-delivered, well thought out speech about the American people. And I loved it.

Michael Medved’s post on the speech is here.  Key excerpt:

In the most memorable words of a wonderful speech, Mitt Romney declared: “Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom…Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.” 

I’ve been critical of the former Massachusetts governor in other contexts, but these words deserve to be remembered. It’s possible-desirable, even-that future school children will recall them for their power and elegance. 

From my interview with Michael (transcript here):

MM: I can’t believe that anyone would not be favorably impressed. This is not just the best speech of this campaign so far, it’s one of the best campaign themed speeches I can remember. It’s vastly better than the John Kennedy speech to which it has been compared. Now I’ve been critical of Mitt Romney on a number of issues. 

HH: Yup. 

MM: I’m not necessarily a Romney fan. I’m not yet a Romney supporter. But I will tell you what impressed me about his handling this speech is how beautifully, how masterfully he handled what looked to be contradictory messages. Message number one was hey, don’t judge me based on my religion, don’t get my religion too much involved in politics. And message number two was we want a general involvement of religion in politics. And yet by affirming our common values, our civic religion, what Lincoln called our political religion, Mitt Romney hit a home run, it seems to me. 

From my interview with Dennis Prager (transcript here):

HH: So Dennis, I didn’t get to hear your show today. What did you think of Mitt Romney’s speech yesterday? 

DP: I thought it was magnificent, and I have not been in the Romney camp. I have not been anti-Romney, but I’ve certainly not, you know, been a partisan here. It was a terrific speech about the role of religion, about the role, what it means to be open, the role of religion in American society, what we are, how he takes truths, how he sees beauty in all of the religions, but he’s still deeply committed to his own. I had zero fault with it. 

HH: Wow. Okay, you’re with, you’re where I am. I hadn’t heard that. Now Dennis, I want to give people some background. I don’t think there is a pundit, journalist, commentator, analyst in America who has spent more time discussing religion than you. I think that’s a true statement because of your years… 

DP: I think it’s a fair statement, and I already began, and will continue on Monday, analyzing the speech to show how terrific it is. Now I don’t know what…it’s very interesting. I’ve just spoken in Santa Barbara, so I don’t know what’s going on media-wise. Is it being criticized? 

HH: There are two strains of criticism. One is that he left atheists out, and he’s exclusionary and divisive to do so. What do you think of that? 

DP: The talk was not about atheists. The talk was about religion in America. It is inconceivable to me that he thinks that an American who’s an atheist doesn’t have the same rights as any other American. But he doesn’t believe that atheism has contributed to the American values experience, and I don’t, either.

HH: And then the second criticism, which is much more subtle, and I have to think about it, he made the statement there can be no freedom without religion, which I agree with and many people agree with, and no religion without freedom. And I, a lot of people point out that many people of faith have endured, as Solzhenitsyn did decades in the camps, without losing their faith. 

DP: Oh, God, that’s not what he meant. 

HH: I thought so. 

DP: He didn’t say there can’t be any religious people in and unfree society. He said that religion, when it doesn’t allow freedom, fails. And he would give the example of the Islamic society of Saudi Arabia.

HH: Very well put, Dennis. That is the rejoinder, and I hadn’t gone through it, yet. That’s why I wanted to talk to you about this. Now again, I want to remind people, you did Religion On The Line for how many years? 

DP: Ten years to the day, five hundred shows, one thousand hours with people of every single faith.

HH: And so you know how difficult it is to talk about faith in an intelligent way, without people hearing you wrong. It is a very tough thing to do. 

DP: Very tough, but he did it, and that’s why I said to you, Hugh, what have been the critiques? I can’t think of any. 



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