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Dr. Larry Arnn On The Comparison Between the Vice President And the Chancellor Of The Exchequer

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HH: From across the sea, I join you, because I can’t miss our weekly Hillsdale Dialogue with Dr. Larry Arnn. All things Hillsdale available at All of our Hillsdale Dialogues from the last four years are available at They begin with Homer, and they bring us up to the Indiana primary, except I taped this before I left on vacation, so I don’t know who won the Indiana primary. But Dr. Arnn, it is nevertheless true that no matter who won the Indiana primary, Carly Fiorina is going to be Ted Cruz’ running mate. And if they won the Indiana primary, it is likelier that she will be the vice presidential nominee. And even if they didn’t, she could still be the vice presidential nominee. So I wanted to talk with you about vice presidents. And I specifically wanted to begin, though, by asking you about chancellors of the exchequer. Now this might seem a reach to many people, but am I not correct that they function effectively as a sort of prime minister in waiting?

LA: No.

HH: (laughing)

LA: (laughing) Well, if I describe what the chancellor of the exchequer is, you’ll see that there’s something to what you say. So first of all, the British cabinet is not like the American cabinet. The prime minister does not have a direct mandate from the people to be prime minister. He’s just elected as an ordinary member of Parliament. And then he forms a cabinet. And the way he forms a cabinet is to invite a bunch of people who wish they had his job, and who might get it. And so they’ll agree in exchange for the job he does give them, to support him for prime minister. And so that’s how it works. And then there’s always a few friends, people who just happen to love the prime minister, and he loves back. And they’re there to support and be loyal, and mostly, they are. So now, and so once you get one of your cabinet departments, the foreign ministry, the home office, the environmental, minister for environment, they’ve got one of those, the chancellor of the exchequer is the oldest, largest and most important, because you get to make the budget. And these ministers who have their job with some independence from the prime minister, they’re very powerful people. Prime ministers very much want chancellors, because just think. When you make the budget, you’re making the priorities of the government. And so chancellors are really strong. And no person has ever presented five annual budgets as chancellor of the exchequer and not then become prime minister. Winston Churchill is one of those.

HH: Oh, interesting. So while not guaranteed you will succeed, even if your party remains in power, if you are a successful chancellor of the exchequer, it will more often than not happen?

LA: That’s right. Well, it often happens, and especially if you’re long-serving. It has always happened if you do it for five years. And see right now, Cameron has announced that he won’t serve another term. And so everybody’s maneuvering to get into place. And the chancellor’s name is…

HH: Osborne, I believe.

LA: Osborne, George Osborne, right?

HH: Yes.

LA: And he’s thought to be a shoe-in, but now the exit from the European Union vote is coming up, and the very wily Boris Johnson is leading the fight to get Britain out of Europe. And that’s a bid to be prime minister.

HH: You know, it’s a bid, by the way, our president interfered with, and I was told by Steve Hilton again, until recently, a senior political advisor to David Cameron and the Karl Rove allegedly of Great Britain, that that was a disaster for the stay in the EU forces, that Britons greatly resent being told what to do, and they really resent being threatened as President Obama did. Is that consistent with your wife who is a Brit, and your experience?

LA: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And you know, first of all, we’ve been celebrating the Queen, right, because she just turned 90.

HH: Yes.

LA: And we all pay, and in the Arnn household, if you stop by, I’ll give you something about the Queen.

HH: Okay. It’s a deal. I may come to Hillsdale for that alone. Actually, just to talk to Penny about the Queen, because she’s spent her entire, she spent a lot of her life as a subject to the Queen.

LA: She knows all about the Queen, and she reads the British press every day. And of course, she was outraged in a new way, because Obama…

HH: (laughing)

LA: …outrages me all the time, but now, as when my friend, Rupert Darwall, who’s a journalist over there and a delightful man, and I sent him an email about that and said sorry about that. And he wrote back, and he said greatest thing ever.

HH: (laughing) Because he wants out.

LA: He wants it to end.

HH: He wants out, doesn’t he? You see, what’s amazing about what you just said, even seven and a third years into an eight year term, President Obama finds new ways to outrage us.

LA: (laughing)

HH: (laughing) And that is, it was so obviously a stupid thing to do. Did he do it on purpose, or is it hubris, Dr. Arnn?

LA: Hubris. And hubris is a trait of character that is deliberate, and in other words, you have to set out to be hubristic in this way. You’ve got to do it for a long time. But I think he’s done it so long that he’s settled in the vice and he can’t change it.

HH: Can I ask you? This departs a bit. I want to talk about Lord Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill’s father, who was I believe also chancellor of the exchequer.

LA: He was.

HH: …for a brief time. Did he suffer from hubris, because he quit. And I think I recall him writing I had forgotten X, whoever it was that replaced him as chancellor of the exchequer. And he had forgotten that Salisbury had available to him a man of immense talent who could replace a man of immense talent. Was he hubristic, Lord Randolph Churchill?

LA: Well, it’s hard to say. Of course, Winston Churchill wrote a two-volume biography of his father, and he says not. And that was, so in the great politics of the 19th Century, and that’s the century in which Britain became democratic, you know, based on popular consent of the great majority of the people, they did that after we did. And Winston Churchill’s father was a Tory, or conservative politician who favored that. And he got elected, and he also, what he resigned over was the conservative government was spending too much money. And people thought, you know, and in America, too. For most of our history, you have to recover this, right, because the reversal that’s happened is just breathtaking. What used to be the argument was if you spend a lot of money in the government, you’re taking it away from the people.

HH: Yeah.

LA: And they have a right to it. And so he resigned, you know, months into the administration over, after a victory that he had helped them to win. And it just didn’t work. It just, it’s like nobody noticed. And so his career was over. And he never got high office again after that. Not too long after that, he became ill, and his health deteriorated, and he died. And Churchill, who was distant from his father, was loyal to his father, and fancied that he was constructing a career after his father. And I think he kept that idea alive all of his life.

HH: Is it part of the reason he wanted to be chancellor of the exchequer, because those were the robes his father had worn?

LA: Well, he didn’t, first of all, he was astonished by the job when he got it. He got the job in 1924, and Churchill in 1904 crossed party. He was elected Parliament first time in 1900. In 1904, he crossed over to the Liberal Party, because he didn’t like protectionism, right? So I’m a free trader like Churchill, unlike Hamilton and Lincoln and Trump. But then he’s in the Liberal Party, and he just scourges the Conservative Party for a long time. But he came back some during the First World War. Then in 1922, the Liberal Party decides to put the socialists in for the first time ever, and to be in cooperation with them in the government. And Churchill left them on that day. He wouldn’t have any of that, right? And so then he ran three times in a row, and lost narrowly, and he was in, it was huge national news, because he didn’t have a party. He just made up his own party name, Independent Unionist Constitutionalist, names like that. And he almost won when both parties had strong candidates in the race, and barely lost. But then the Conservative Party was watching that, and Stanley Baldwin invited Churchill to join the Conservative government that was elected in 1924. And Churchill helped bring Liberals, his old Liberal Party, and you know, by the way, if the Liberal Party is, the one he was a member of, were alive today in America, Hugh Hewitt and Larry Arnn would be members of it.

HH: Huh. Isn’t that interesting?

LA: It was awesome.

HH: That is so, I think you’re right. I think you’re right.

LA: And, but he leaves them, right? And then he sits down with Stanley Baldwin, and a man full of guile. He just always outmaneuvered Churchill. And he said, well, he said, thank you for your help. And Churchill said you’re welcome. And he said I understand you’re rejoining the Carlton Club, which is what you do. It’s a club in London on Pall Mall. And if you’re a Conservative, you join that club, if you’re a Conservative member. Yes, I am, he said. Well, I’d like you to be chancellor.

HH: (laughing)

LA: And Churchill was confused, because he thought he meant chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster.

HH: (laughing) We’ll come back and finish the story, because it’s amazing why he got that offer, and perhaps not as amazing why Carly Fiorina got her offer.

— – – – – —

HH: When we went to break, we were talking about Winston Churchill, because we were talking about vice presidents today, and I don’t know what happened in Indiana, but Carly Fiorina is very much in the mix. She’s one of three people who is going to be vice president of the United States, two yet not named, Hillary and Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mates or Carly Fiorina. And so the number two, or the second-most powerful position in the British cabinet is chancellor of the exchequer. And why was Winston Churchill so astonished when he was offered the job by Stanley Baldwin?

LA: Well, he’d had trouble with the Conservatives for a long time after he’d defected from them and kicked their tails. And that’s a big job, you know, and all these guys that had been close to Baldwin that had gotten Baldwin into the premiership, right? Churchill was not one of them. And so it was an astonishing choice, and people like Neville Chamberlain were just really mad about that. They didn’t like that. And Samuel Hoare, I always say the aptly named Samuel Hoare.

HH: Hoare.

LA: That’s right.

HH: (laughing) If people want to Google him.

LA: Yeah, I don’t like that guy. But he, it was kind of a surprising choice. And Churchill was a very good chancellor, in my opinion. And you know, there was lots of controversy, of course. He took Britain back on the gold standard, and that wasn’t that good for the economy, and I used to have, I have a long correspondence and I still keep it with Milton Friedman about all that, who’s kind of a buddy of mine, and loved Winston Churchill. And I actually have a letter from Milton Friedman about that going back on the gold standard point. It was Milton Friedman says thank you for the correction. And I wrote him back and I said good Lord, I have a letter from Milton Friedman correcting him about something about monetary policy.

HH: (laughing) All right, now I want to go to the connection between all of this, the chancellor of the exchequer, training for leadership is what it is, right? It’s training for leadership. People can train in a variety of ways, and you’ve said one of your concerns about Trump, and about Carly Fiorina, is that neither has held public office before. Yet we saw on Friday of last week Governor Mike Pence endorsed Ted Cruz. And again, I don’t know what the result is. I just know that governors have split over this issue of experience. Pence is with Cruz, Christie is with Trump. And Kasich is, neither of them endorsed Kasich who is a governor. What do we make of this year, Larry Arnn, and from Switzerland, from our mountain top estate in Switzerland? What do we make of this year?

LA: Well, politics makes strange bedfellows, right? So Trump, so first of all, Trump has done two things. He has, he’s brand new, right? Nobody, I, Larry Arnn thought it’s the most ridiculous idea in the world that Donald Trump could last in the race. That’s what I thought. I said it many times. Why? Nobody like him has ever been, nobody has ever been elected president as their first public service. So he’s surprising, right? And he’s disturbing. And so there’s animus against him, big time, especially by people who know, I mean, you know, Mike Pence knows Ted Cruz, right? Ted Cruz has been around. Ted Cruz has been coming up, you know, fast, getting elected to the Senate, served as a Senator. So Trump is different, right? He’s from outside, and he’s mixing things up, and you have to mention that he’s unorthodox on some important conservative things, things where I disagree with him. But you also have to mention that he’s getting a lot of independent votes. And if form holds from here, he’s actually going to set the record for the most primary votes for a Republican nominee if he’s the nominee. And so you’ve got to pay attention to that, and of course, it’s hard to figure out, and it mixes things up, right? And so of course, we’re all over the place trying to figure out what to do about Trump.

HH: And your college students are all over the place, and my radio audience is all over the place. And they would prefer certainty to the process. And I tell them all just watch it play out. I’m not here to dictate to people, and we’ll come back, one more segment with Dr. Larry Arnn, about this most interesting of political years, and important. Fundamental things are afoot. Dr. Larry Arnn said it here months ago, and I have quoted him a thousand times since, and I’ll continue to, and eventually, I’ll leave off the fact that he came up with it, and I will have said it first. Stay tuned, America.

—- – – —

HH: But we are having a shared experience in this election cycle of being roundly criticized by everyone for not declaring for that person those people want us to declare for, and by diviners looking for water who have found crooked sticks to decide that both Dr. Arnn and I are for, whether or not depending on who holds that divining rod Cruz, Kasich or Trump. Have you not had that experience, Larry?

LA: Oh, man. You know, I’ll tell you what, so I was answering questions from the Hillsdale College newspapers the other day, because they noticed that Jonah Goldberg had some things to say about my wisdom, gentleness and foolishness.

HH: Yes. Jonah always serves up a sandwich with a zinger in the middle of two slices of sweet bread, yes.

LA: Yeah. And so I, Jonah had a point, I said last time, and so I’m explaining to my college newspaper now why is their president such a fool.

HH: (laughing) Well, I have to do that every day for three hours. That’s why I fled to Italy for two weeks, is I’m tired of it.

LA: Well, come back. (laughing)

HH: …until it’s over. No, I have to come back and vote on June the 7th. Now this brings me to the last point I want to make with you. Ross Douthat wrote a very fine column a week ago yesterday, Thursday, before I left the country. And he said there are 330 million Americans, 125 million or roughly will vote in the fall. Donald Trump has collected about 10 million votes thus far, which is more than Mitt Romney had, by the way, in the entire presidential campaign. It wasn’t contested as long, so it’s something of a false positive for popular…

LA: No, Trump is likely to break the record all time.

HH: Right.

LA: For Republicans.

HH: For all time. And a lot of that has to do with open primaries and bringing in Democrats.

LA: Yeah.

HH: What Douthat went on to say is what alarms him is Trump people genuinely believe he will put Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and Corey Lewandowski said last week Massachusetts in play. And Brooks, and Douthat’s argument is this is not true. You cannot win New York. You cannot win Massachusetts. It is possible to win Pennsylvania and Michigan, but that Trump supporters are immune to facts, because they do not trust the conveyor belt of those facts, the mainstream media and pollsters, and that this gives them an enormous blind spot. What do you make of that argument, Larry Arnn?

LA: Well, first of all, you know, you cannot as a prediction about the future. So you can’t call it a fact, right? I think that there’s some people who think that Trump is going to pierce the blue wall. And there’s, you know, that’s the Democratic advantage in presidential campaigns by swaying independents and consolidating the Republicans. There’s evidence for that. But people who think they know that, they don’t know, right? We’re just about to have a whacking big campaign, and remember, Reagan was way behind when the 1980 campaign started. So I don’t think Mr. Douthat knows that, and I don’t think the people, the people who think he’s going to carry those states, I don’t think they know that. I think they’re guessing that based on the evidence that’s here. And there is some evidence that he will do those things, and of course, Mr. Douthat is right. There’s plenty of evidence that he won’t. But when he says it can’t be done, what he means is it hasn’t been done for a long time.

HH: Now one of the criticisms that Ted Cruz leveled at Donald Trump a week ago, I asked him ought Carly Fiorina to debate before the first vote of the convention, whoever it is that Donald Trump has put forward as his running mate, he’ll have to do that before the convention. And he thought, he allowed that that might be a good idea, and I think it’s a wonderful idea, of course, because I like debates, and I like to moderate them. But then he went on to complain that Donald Trump had not debated in 46 days. That will now be 51 days, and that he ought to be debating, and that the Democrats have a race that is over as opposed to the Republican race, are still debating. What do you make of his argument? Ought there to be more debates, Larry Arnn? And you and I, I believe in more debates, because I think they advance the Republican cause, the conservative cause. Every time you can beat up on Hillary in front of 25 million people, bravo. What do you think?

LA: I think three things. I believe in the sacred principle of open debate, as do all the candidates. Second, I believe the candidates will do what they think will help them win at any given moment.

HH: Yes, yes.

LA: Both of them. And the third thing I think is…

HH: You are so cynical, Dr. Arnn.

LA: Yeah, and there is, there is a point here. It would be a cool time to have a debate, because there’s been, you know, I was, they were getting kind of samey there, right? And they were shouting at each other, and as I said to you, I enjoyed that. And I thought it was, I even thought it was substantive in a different way than we normally get. Substantive today means you talk about line 84 of the Internal Revenue code, and whether you like it or not, right? And what these guys are shouting about is who’s going to save America. And I like that. But then they got kind of samey, and then they became polite and more substantive, and all the commentators, including Hugh Hewitt, liked that better, and I didn’t like it.

HH: (laughing)

LA: So I was tired of the debates. But now, time, as you say, has passed. It would be cool to see another one.

HH: And I would love to see a vice presidential debate. I promised I would let you go a little bit early today, Dr. Arnn, because I know you are making many appointments. Thank you for staying this long. for all the Hillsdale Dialogues,

End of interview.


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