Quite an interview with Brit Hume today. Don’t miss it.
The audio is here:
The transcript is here:
HH: Joined now by Brit Hume, Fox News senior political analyst, and I call him America’s newsman. Brit, welcome back, it’s good to talk to you always.
BH: Thank you, Hugh, all the best to you.
HH: There is a lot of talk about how deeply divided Washington, D.C. is by a lot of people who are 25 and younger. And so I’m curious from someone who began his career with the legendary Jack Anderson when Watergate unfolded before him, then with ABC News, do you think the town is actually that deeply divided?
BH: Yeah, I do. I think, I mean, even in Watergate, for example, which no one who had eyes to see was in any doubt that there was a lot of partisan sentiment driving those investigations. The Democrats couldn’t stand Richard Nixon, never had been able to, and they were dying to see him leave office, and humiliate and embarrass him. But there were actually Republicans who were, who went along. So for better or for worse, the divisions were not as deep in those days. And the other thing was, Hugh, this is worth remembering. When on budgetary matters, there was a long period of time when the American economy, with some exceptions, grew pretty robustly, and it threw off this tremendous volume of tax receipts. And there was a lot of money to go around. And for years, you could raise spending on all kinds of areas and still have enough room to cut the tax rates from time to time.
BH: So that you had enough room within the, with all this money pouring in, so that everybody could get a little something. Those days are over, and that has fed into this.
HH: Now I want to pick up on something you just said about Nixon. The level of Democratic hatred for Richard Nixon was so deep that I’ve never actually been able to communicate it to people who didn’t study the record or live it. Do you think Republican disdain for President Obama is approaching the level of Democratic disdain for Richard Nixon?
BH: Well, I’m not sure it’s as personal. In Nixon’s case, it was deeply personal with a lot of people. And I’m not sure in the case of Obama it’s quite as personal.
HH: Okay, that’s good news, then, because then it’s possible, because there was no way Democrats were ever going to forgive him for his, or for the Senate campaign in 1950, or for a lot of things. But this, then, could be patched up. However, there aren’t really that many wise men, as they say. There’s Bob Gates. He’s about the last person in D.C. respected on both sides of the aisle, Brit Hume. Is there anyone else?
BH: And he’s gone.
HH: I know. He’s at William and Mary, but that’s like a two hour car ride. He can come up and mediate, couldn’t he?
BH: Yeah, but he’s not going to be able to mediate on budget issues. He’s a specialist, and I think it would be hard for him to play much of a role, for example, in this current impasse.
HH: Is there anyone who could play that kind of a role?
BH: It’s hard to think of anybody. I mean, you see, I mean, look, there is something new that’s going on here that needs to be taken account of, Hugh, in my view, and that is we’re dealing in part here with a conservative movement that has decided that America is so far off track as a nation that the traditional method of winning elections and making some, reducing the growth of government by some measurable amount, that that’s just simply not equal to the task before us, because it allows the entitlement state to continue to grow as it has managed to do throughout the era of Ronald Reagan and other Republican presidents, and that something stronger is needed, something more radical is needed, and that is what they’re embarked upon, and that is what they want to bring about. And that is different.
HH: Different bad, or different necessary, in your view, Brit Hume?
BH: Well, you know, that’s sort of not my department, really, but what I would say about it is that it’s going to mean that this is likely to go on for a long time.
HH: Well, I do think it’s actually not…it’s an Article I/Article III crisis much more than it is a budget crisis or a debt limit crisis. It’s about who’s in charge of things. And let me play for you a little bit from the President’s press conference today. Cut number 7, if you will, Adam.
BO: The only thing that I will say is that we’re not going to pay a ransom for America paying its bills. That’s something that should be non-negotiable, and everybody should agree on that. Everybody should say one of the most valuable things we have is America’s creditworthiness.
HH: All right, now play cut number 11 for Brit, please.
BO: I’ve shown myself willing to go more than halfway in these conversations. And if reasonable Republicans want to talk about these things again, I’m ready to head up to the Hill and try. I’ll even spring for dinner again. But I’m not going to do it until the more extreme parts of the Republican Party stop forcing John Boehner to issue threats about our economy. We can’t make extortion routine as part of our democracy.
HH: Now Brit Hume, ransom, extortion, extreme elements of the Republican Party, I asked Jake Tapper in the first hour of my broadcast if the rhetoric was balanced on both sides, and he admitted it’s not. The Democrats have gone over the limb here.
BH: There’s no doubt about that, and you know, I’ve never seen, actually, partisan attacks, where you simply are attacking the other party outright by name, calling the other party out, is something a little unusual. I’m accustomed to seeing, I mean, it’s done in one form or another, and it has been for years. But I’ve never seen it done by a president himself to the extent that it’s been done by this president. He does it regularly, it’s part of how he operates, it’s, I think, you know, for all the controversy that his presidency entailed, I never saw George W. Bush do that. I mean, there are ways to do it where you say things like those who say this, and my opponents say that, or there are people in the other party who say this. But with Obama, this is a staple. This is how he rolls. This is what he does.
HH: Let me play a montage from Sean’s show last night. I was back in New York on the Sean Hannity show, and they had put together a montage that begins with Nancy Pelosi and ends with Barbara Boxer. I’ll say their names as they come up.
NP: They’re legislative arsonists. They’re there to burn down.
ES: The Republican inmates are running the aslym.
HH: Ed Schultz.
DP: What we’re not for is negotiating with people who have a bomb strapped to their chest.
HH: Dan Pfeiffer.
BO: We can’t do it with a gun held to the head.
DB: But if you can have one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?
HH: Harry Reid.
HR: Why would we want to do that?
CS: Taking hostages.
HH: Chuck Schumer
CM: The hostage taker.
CB: Hostage taking.
BB: Taking their teddy bear and their blanky and saying if I don’t get my way…
HH: So Brit Hume, this is an avalanche of invective.
BH: No doubt.
HH: So what happens here? How does anyone calm this down?
BH: I don’t know that anybody knows what the answer to that is. I certainly don’t. I mean, I think it’s, I think this is as ugly as I’ve ever seen it, and I think it’s not going to end anytime soon. And I don’t see an early way out of this, unless, unless one thing happens. And the current impasse will end in some crude and unsatisfactory way, probably, for all sides. But the question really is, is when do we get to some moment where if things are settled, and the Republicans either succeed in their objectives of undoing Obamacare, and that happens, or the Democrats finally establish that this is how things are going to be and they win. But somebody, you know, we have divided government. The people have elected, you know, the people haven’t chosen one side or the other in this fight.
HH: Now Brit Hume, the President, though, does he really want things to be settled? He’s proven himself good at one thing, which is beating Republicans. And he wants us to believe the only red line he won’t erase is the one he’s drawn for Republicans. And his senior staff is gone. Axelrod’s gone, Emanuel’s gone, Bill Daley’s gone, he’s down to Valerie Jarrett and a bunch of people from the triple A. I don’t know that he really has any objective other than to have a partisan fight. He doesn’t have a foreign policy, does he?
BH: Well, her certainly doesn’t have a very effective one at the moment, and I don’t see a lot of sign of that changing. But I would challenge your premise that he’s good at beating Republicans. He’s good at winning elections, but you know, if he was so good at beating Republicans, he would have done a lot better in that mid-term, wouldn’t he?
HH: Yeah, true.
BH: And he didn’t. And that was, and you know, you hear the argument made by the President all the time that there was, that the other side in this Obamacare debate should shut up, because this is settled law, and there was an election held that affirmed it. Well, the truth is that this election, this presidential election wasn’t very much about Obamacare, and the reason is that Mitt Romney, although he said over and over again that he was going to stop it in its tracks, it wasn’t the central issue in his campaign. It was, his campaign was rooted in the idea that the economy was bad, that people would not ratify that, and that he was therefore, Romney, running downhill while President Obama was running uphill. And it turned out that President Obama indeed had been running uphill, but he ran uphill all the way to reelection.
HH: He did. 30 seconds, Brit Hume. Is the media helping or hurting this situation in a way that it has previously not done?
BH: Well, the media are, today, I will say this. The performance by the news media in that news conference today was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. It was just pathetic.
HH: On that great note, Brit Hume, thank you for joining us.
End of interview.