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Dr. Larry Arnn On Federalist 64, 75, And Washington’s Farewell Address

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HH: Still on an absorption of the fact that the German airlines pilot was known to be mentally ill. Makes you just wonder sometimes who’s running the world. They should all be as competent at running their institutions as Dr. Larry Arnn is at running Hillsdale College. It is the Hillsdale Dialogues, the last radio hour of the week. Dr. Arnn is the president of Hillsdale College. We were again together a week ago in Phoenix, and I must say, Dr. Arnn, I was back on Wednesday of this week with Scott Walker in a crowd of another thousand people, many of whom had overlapped, and all of whom came up to say that they found you remarkably charming and witty. And I said well, hadn’t you expected that from the radio? And they weren’t quite sure if it was you or me, but now they’re convinced it’s you.

LA: No, we were both there, Hugh. They didn’t get a test.

HH: Well, it still was great fun. But it’s been a wild week since then. And even though the Hillsdale Dialogue is overlapping right now the Constitution 101 series roll-out, and we want to encourage everyone to go to, because we need the Constitution more than ever, and it’s explained in 45 minute lectures. All you have to do is register. Are people watching that again for the second time, and lots of newbies, Larry Arnn?

LA: Yeah, that’s right. It’s going very well. We’ve lately passed our millionth registration for online courses.

HH: That’s absolutely remarkable. The reason that so many people want to watch them is that they’re wonderfully delivered with humor and a light touch, and they’re stoppable, so you can watch them for ten minutes, and if you have to get up and get away, you don’t miss them all. And they don’t go on forever, but they give you everything you need. And today, I want to focus on the separation of powers and foreign affairs, Dr. Arnn, because obviously both of those are in the front pages. Kyle, your assistant and I were talking about how we would structure this week, and I said well, I love talking to him on a Friday afternoon after a week like this, except the news that gives me rise to talk about it is so bad.

LA: Yeah, gosh.

HH: It is, you studied, because you’re a part of the official Churchill biography team, you studied ’37 and ’38. When did Churchill reenter the government?

LA: September 3rd, 1939.

HH: All right, so for the year and a half prior to that, he must have woken up to the newspapers and the BBC reports every day just shaking his head at the incompetence he surveyed.

LA: Yeah, you know, in the summer of ’39, he gave a broadcast that was aired on the radio in the United States, and it begins holiday time, holiday time, my friends across the Atlantic, and everyone is going off to their vacations. But what is happening in the world? In Europe, armies are marching. And that was before the war had broken out.

HH: And so today, when we wake up every day and we see Egyptian troops massing to invade Yemen, Shiite militias alongside of regular Iraqi forces outside of Tikrit, on top of which we’ve got these negotiations in Geneva, does it have that feel, do you think? Obviously, you weren’t alive in ’39, but it does have the feel of every day, a new crisis.

LA: Oh, I’ve read the story, and you know, so Hitler comes to power in January of 1933, and by ’36, he was beginning to move. And so through ’36, ’37, ’38 and ’39, it’s Austria, and it’s Czechoslovakia, and then it’s Poland. Those are the big countries. But before that, the Rhineland and then lots of small countries in Europe, and you could watch it. Armies that used to march one way in a lot of the nearby European countries, they would start goose-stepping. They’d start learning to march in a new way, because the tide was rising all the time.

HH: And so Churchill tried to rally a country, but just would not be rallied, right?

LA: Well, he, you know, never despair. So what really happened was he was isolated, right, really from 1930 on, and he was at odds with the government first about Egypt, then about India, then about appeasement of Hitler. And what did he achieve? Well, the first thing he had to do was argue them out of the position of disarmament, which is what we’re doing right now. And then you know, we are reducing the size of the American military forces consistently now for several years in a row. And if it stays on the trend, they will, the American, the percentage of the budget that goes to the American military, which is not the best way to measure it, but it’s one way, will be lower than before the First World War, any time before the First World War. So he had to argue them out of that, and he didn’t have many friends in that argument. He was at odds with the majority government, of which he was a member of their party. And the Socialist minority was not much help. Then he got him away from that, and he got them committed to rearmament, and then he had to ride herd on them, because they would say they were doing more than in fact they were doing. And they would consistently underestimate the danger abroad. And like today, people began to come to Churchill, because he was making this fight, and at first, nearly alone, half a dozen to a dozen people helping him in a House of Commons of six hundred and some. People started bringing him information. And he started finding out that the government knew better than the things that they were saying. And he would announce this in the House of Commons, and he began to attract attention. So by the time 1936 and ’37 rolled around, the British government is committed to rearmament, if they’re not doing it fast enough. And by ’38 and ’39, they’re working harder at it. And those weapons that they built, that they might have built without Churchill, they made a difference when the war came.

HH: Now I’ve got to say as well this week marks a turning point. We have now hit bottom on Defense spending. It will be 2015, because 2016 budget in both the House and the Senate is higher thanks in no small part to the efforts of your friend and mine, Senator Tom Cotton, but Georgia’s Tom Price and Lindsey Graham. And the hawks have generally, Ted Cruz, the hawks have generally said this far, no farther, and we’re going to rebuild. And that may be a turning point. And I just hope it’s ’35 and not ’39, Larry Arnn.

LA: Yeah, you know, if that, if all of that had got going in Britain, you know, there’s historians who write this now, if it had got going in ’33, ’34 and ’35, Churchill believed, and some historians believe he’s right, that there wouldn’t have been a Second World War.

HH: Right. Right. Deterrence.

LA: That’s it.

HH: Peace through strength.

LA: Hitler was, in the beginning, Hitler was relatively easy to stop. But he built his army up, and he improved his strategic position, gaining territory at very little cost for a long time, rather as Iran is doing right now.

HH: The only thing that makes me queasy about that is that the Khameneists seem to have far more strategic patience than did Hitler.

LA: Well, you don’t know, right? First of all, they’ve done marvelously well lately because they’ve been allowed, whereas they were resisted before. And so we don’t know what they will do, you know, when they run up against…if they get an open field, and that’s what really did Hitler in, one of the things that did Hitler in, was that he won so much, so fast. And then he didn’t finish the job of destroying England, Great Britain, and he turned on the Soviet Union. And then in a second, enormous folly, when Japan attacked the United States, which proved their undoing, Hitler didn’t wait. He declared war on the United States of America, for goodness sake, you know, which hadn’t done a thing to him. And well, I guess we’d been supplying, we’d been trading with Britain.

HH: Hadn’t done an obviously warlike thing to him.

LA: Yeah, right, you know, and there was a big resistance in the United States to do what we were already doing, and it’s not at all clear that we would have declared war on Germany if they had not declared war on us first. And so he was, he did go nuts, you’re right, and thank God for it, I guess. But these guys, you know, I mean first of all, what are these guys like, you know? Churchill said, I was reading this, we just had a hostile sort of…old people get away for classes at the Kirby Center in Washington, and this is the first time we ever did one on Churchill. And I was reading them the reasons why Churchill understood Hitler to be what he was. And it wasn’t just counting up guns and tanks. He says, “You must consider the character of the Nazi regime and the rule in which it implies.” And what is it like in Iran right now?

HH: Yeah.

LA: What is it like? You know, you practice the faith they tell you, and if you don’t, you’ll be punished and potentially tortured and killed. If you write something they don’t like in the paper, they’ll knock on your door and come and get you. And these, and regimes that rule themselves this way are dangerous to their own people. And if they’ll do that to their own people, what will they do to their neighbors?

HH: Now the weakness in Great Britain has an analog today in the weakness of the Obama administration. Richard Engel, who is a very widely-respected correspondent of NBC News, had this to say this very morning, Dr. Larry Arnn of Hillsdale College. I’d like your comment on it. Cut number three:

RE: Look at the timing of the strike in Yemen, and I think it reveals a lot about the negotiations. Saudi Arabia and the other Arab countries didn’t consult extensively with the U.S. military. I know several people in the U.S. military who were taken by surprise by this, senior officials who would have been expected to know that there was going to be an operation in Yemen. They didn’t. They were finding about it almost in real time.

HH: And when we come back from break, I’ll play the rest of that quote for Dr. Larry Arnn of Hillsdale College. Go to to sign up for the Constitution 101 dialogues, or to for all the conversations that we’ve had about the classics of the West, and of the Constitution.

— – – –

HH: Dr. Arnn and I were talking about similarities between these urgent days and those of the mid to late 30s. When we went to break, I was playing Richard Engel of NBC News explaining why our allies don’t trust us anymore, and let’s pick up the rest of that quote.

RE: And they believe, and some U.S. members of the Congress believe that the reason Saudi Arabia and other states didn’t tell the U.S. it was going to launch this war against Shiite-backed or Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen is because Saudi Arabia and other countries simply don’t trust the United States anymore, don’t trust this administration, think the administration is working to befriend Iran, to try and make a deal in Switzerland, and therefore didn’t feel that the intelligence, frankly, would be secure. And I think that’s a situation that is quite troubling for U.S. foreign policy, where traditional allies like Saudi Arabia, like Egypt, like the United Arab Emirates, don’t know if the U.S. is reliable at this stage to hold onto sensitive information.

HH: Larry Arnn, of course that rings a bell from the 30s where the allies of Great Britain in Poland and Czechoslovakia and elsewhere would see Neville Chamberlain jump off to go meet with Hitler, and come back with a new piece of paper that betrayed all their confidences.

LA: Yeah, and also, of course, then the demands came, not on Poland, because Chamberlain stood and fought on that one, but in Czechoslovakia, the demands that they give up their border regions where their fortifications were, and their armaments industry and much of their heavy industry was, came not just from Germany, but from Germany, Britain and France altogether.

HH: It’s remarkable.

LA: Yes, extraordinary.

HH: Now I’ve got to also tell you, today I began my day by going to see a new movie called Ride The Thunder, which is a docudrama of the last five years of Vietnam, which features quite a lot of historical footage of Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, and Ronald Reagan, and especially of then-dissident John Kerry, now negotiating in Geneva, that it angers you how epically wrong they were about everything, both what had happened, what was happening, and what would happen in Vietnam. And the theater was packed with many Vietnamese and a lot of Vietnam veterans, and this movie will roll out across the country. But you know, Larry Arnn, why do we continue to repose trust in people like John Kerry who have been so epically wrong for so long, and like Joe Biden, and like President Obama?

LA: Well, Winston Churchill, he wrote to Lord Beaverbrook, a good friend of his, in the 20s – unteachable from infancy to tomb. That is the story of mankind.

HH: (laughing)

LA: (laughing)

HH: Okay, well, they are unteachable.

LA: Aren’t they?

HH: But they have the foreign affairs power. Now I promised Kyle I was going to talk to you about Federalist 64, Federalist 75 and Washington’s Farewell Address, because this is the business we’ve chosen, as they say in the Godfather. This is the Constitution we made.

LA: Yeah, well, so first of all, those three things can be put together to tell the story that Obama’s in charge of all this and he takes the lead, and the other branches of government are supposed to follow him, follow, yeah, him, the president, and also that Washington’s Farewell Address contains an injunction against permanent alliances and friendships and animosities all with other countries. And stay away from Europe is strategic advice that Washington gives. And so those are in there, right? And it’s certainly true that, and especially Hamilton, and you know, John Jay writes one of those, and Hamilton writes two of them, and John Jay negotiated the treaty by which we made our peace with Great Britain and became recognized by them as a country. And so these are very experienced guys, and they do think that the lead must be taken in foreign affairs by the president of the United States. And you can, you know, it’s just like, and is that a principle? And if so, what does the principle mean? So there’s another very good thing that Kyle sent me today, I don’t know if he sent it to you, but James Madison was, of course, a member of the House of Representatives before he was president, and after he had written the Constitution. And he makes the point, which is, by the way, case law today in America, that just because they take the lead in making a treaty doesn’t mean that the Congress as a whole or the House as a whole surrenders its other powers. And so these are deliberative bodies. And in the implementation of the treaty, they can’t be bound by anything except the Constitution. And then of course, the president makes treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate. And so you know, we talked two weeks ago about the fact that the great, long, bipartisan consensus about how we go about foreign policy between the Congress and the president that is sort of a feature of modern American world leadership, that was contingent on some things. And that was the Congress was involved with the president in the mapping out of the strategy. And every single agreement made with another country was submitted to them for debate and discussion as a treaty. And Obama is specifically saying he’s not going to do that here.

HH: And that is why, by the way, I’m going to pains. I had Senator Rubio on, on Monday on this show. I had Governor Walker on Wednesday on this show, estimable men, both. And I asked them explicitly if the president enters into an agreement with Iran that he does not submit to the Congress, what will you do when you become if you seek and are successful, the presidency? And they both said well, it’s gone. I’m not honoring. Scott Walker said on day one, I will retract it, which you would hope would be noticed by the mullahs, right?

LA: Yeah, that’s what Tom Cotton’s letter was about, because see…

HH: Yup.

LA: Those two Federalist papers that you mentioned, those are written in, you know, the middle part of the Federalist Papers is organized going of the four departments of government, right? There are three big ones – the president, the Congress and the Supreme Court or the courts. And one of those two is divided into two parts, the Senate and the House, and in the Federalist Papers, they go body by body, and they describe them. And they make the point that the structure, the structure of separation of powers, and Madison makes it most beautifully in the 51st Federalist, where he makes it sort of in a cosmic way, if men were angels, no government needed. If angers were to govern men, no controls on the government would be needed. So these features of the president taking the lead to the extent he does, and that is carefully defined in the Constitution, that’s part of the general structure of separation of powers, where all of the bodies have to cooperate to produce policy. And that’s what makes the government not just safe, but also deliberate, that is to say you reason about things.

HH: But what makes it, here’s why it’s dangerous, and we’ll go to break and think about this. Someone always has the lead, though. The House has the lead in appropriations bills, the Senate has the lead in confirmation. The president had the lead abroad. Here’s former CIA director James Woolsey on Morning Joe with Mika about this Iranian deal aborning.

MB: Would you characterize Iran’s role in the world right now?

JW: Sort of like Germany’s in 1934 or ’35.

MB: Wow.

JW: I think they are doing everything they can to spread their empire. They are controlling the capitals of four neighboring states through proxies or otherwise. And they are working hard on, I think, a nuclear weapon. And I think if we have a deal with them of the sort that’s been described, they’ll have one within a year or so.

HH: We’ll be right back with Larry Arnn, because the Constitution lets the president get out over the skis of the country very far.

— – – – –

HH: So Dr. Arnn, Woolsey says look, the President’s going to empower Iran with a nuke. He feels it’s like a ’34-’35, and yet, #64, #75 and the Farewell Address imagined cooperation, but they give the lead to the president. And if the president takes that lead the wrong way, boy, are we in a mess.

LA: No, give the lead, right, but that’s not, they give the lead in the context, right? In other words, the president can’t make a treaty by himself. And the Constitution is still operating to this extent. Everybody not party to that treaty is saying that the minute they have the power to disrupt it, they will. And by the way, they will have a lot of power before the 2016 election, because if he signs anything that requires the government to do things, eventually it’s going to run up against the money power of the House and of the Senate. So, and you know, the appointment power, all of that, those are all still there. And that means that the mullahs have heard that he’s just one guy, and there’s more of us back here, and we matter.

HH: And the incoming minority leader, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid announced his retirement today. He blessed Chuck Schumer. I can’t imagine they would elevate Dick Durbin, because he’s a Chicago ward healer, right? And Chuck Schumer’s a pretty smart, if often on the wrong side of the issues, guy. And Schumer said he’s going to sign the deal for the sanctions. There’s maybe a potential veto override here, which would be that rebalancing you’re talking about.

LA: That’s right, and remember, Schumer has distanced himself from Obamacare. I mean, it is astonishing. At the moment of his retirement, it’s time to eulogize Harry Reid. Lord, what a mess he made.

HH: Lord, I need that on tape.

LA: Lord, what a mess he made being Obama’s lapdog.

HH: (laughing)

LA: (laughing)

HH: That’s it, isn’t it? We don’t need anything else. Lord, what a mess he made being Obama’s lapdog. Here’s what the President said to him today when he called up, by the way, he cited the founding fathers. You’ll love this, Larry Arnn, cut number two:

BO: Harry is unique, and you know, he’s got the curmudgeonly charm that you know, is hard to replace. I’m going to miss him, but the good thing is I’m going to get to leave this place with him at the same time, and I think what Harry understands is the same thing that I understand and that our founding fathers understood, which is you know, the system works better when over time some new blood comes in.

HH: So he called into a radio show, Larry Arnn, that Harry Reid was on. And he basically, it was Neville Chamberlain talking to Samuel Hoare.

LA: (laughing)

HH: …telling him what a fine job he’d done.

LA: It’s a misspelling, but as I have said for years now, the aptly named Samuel Hoare.

HH: Yes, it is a misspelling, Hoare. So, but you’re right. They have coexisted together in eight ruinous years.

LA: Yes.

HH: …enabling each other to unmoor the country from its anchor posts.

LA: Yeah, you know, the constitutional system, you know, it’s creaking right now. It’s lawless right now. I mean, here’s an example for our friends who listen to this. The Republicans have been learning, the minority they were in the Senate, they’ve been learning that they’re going to have to pass a budget, and then they’re going to have to pass appropriations, which means permission to spend money toward things, because that’s the method whereby the legislature directs expenditure in America. And it’s like a third world country that we have not been doing that for, you know, ten year now?

HH: Yeah.

LA: And so they’ve been trying to do it, but because of the filibuster rule in the Senate, there’s been filibusters against appropriations bills. And that means those are the bills that allocate the expenditures of the government, and they’re filibustered, which means it leaves the President more widely open to deploy the money where he wants to. And so the constitutional structure, it’s creaking, and the good news is it’s not gone.

HH: And there’s more good news which I’ll tell you about, which actually relates back to separation of powers and to Federalist 48 and 51, and the Madison speech that Dr. Arnn referred to when we return. Don’t go anywhere, America. I will tell you, you might want to go read Judge Hanen’s 110 page opinion in Texas V. United States. Not really. I don’t think you can get that done in this short commercial break or it would give you a headache, or you’d strain yourself.

— — —

HH: Dr. Arnn, I walked into my Con Law class on Thursday, and I told them, you know, I’m taking next semester off to be over at Colorado Christian University. I wasn’t sure when I would be teaching Con Law again, but that it didn’t much matter, because there is no more Constitutional law. And I preface that having just read Alabama V. United States, in which Justice Kennedy changed his mind again, so the law changed again in advance of the marriage decisions which will probably change the law again. Nevertheless, I had them read a district court judge, Judge Hanen in Texas, who wrote a 120 page opinion telling us why the President’s Secretary of Homeland Security could not issue the new immigration policy concerning parents of aliens of Americans born in this country. And it’s a wonderful thing. It’s a sweeping essay on the limits of the president’s authority to act without rule-making and in the face of Congressional opposition, and the standing of the states to say we’ve been injured, and we can stop him. It’s a good thing, so we should celebrate a little bit.

LA: Yeah, and remember, the way we save the country is to shore up the things that are being overcome. And in that opinion, which is, as you say, brilliant, he just makes an obvious point that seems the single most important one to me. There’s laws on the books passed by the Congress and signed by the President that give directions about how people who are not citizens and here illegally are to be treated when they come before the law. And his executive orders give a command to states to different procedures. And it’s also true that there’s an Administrative Procedures Act about how the bureaucracy’s supposed to act when they put rules into place. But there’s black letter laws that are being violated here.

HH: Yeah, now and I point out to the audience, to my students, and I want to point out to the audience, when the deferred action for childhood arrivals came into place, no one challenged it. That was DACA. And that only covered 700,000 children, and we felt bad for them, and so none of the states challenged that. And then along comes the deferred action for parents of Americans and lawful permanent residents, DAPA. They’re not executive orders. It’s just policy from DHS that the President directed Jeh Johnson to put into place. And so the 700,000 was followed by 5 million, because that’s the way it works if you don’t stand up to defend your powers that have been assigned to you by the Constitution.

LA: That’s right, and he’s, you know, in one of my stations in life, I won’t say which one, but I once had a subordinate person, and he said that he was entitled for various reasons to absolute control over something at the place where I was working at the time. And I said wow, that’s a big claim. And I said so like the bills get paid in relation to that place? And he said yeah, and I said who does that? And he said I don’t know. And I said you know, I do. I said what if we were both to call that person? You call first, and then I’ll call, and let’s give that person contradictory orders and see which one she follows. (laughing) And he started, you know, I said really.

HH: Point taken?

LA: You see what you’re saying? So that’s the point, right? A lot of this stuff, remember that Madison makes the claim. This is one reason why I think that the present minority in the Senate has got some thinking to do, and I pray they’ll do it, because Madison says that the ultimate safety is in separation of powers, and the ultimate protection of that is the interests of the people in the different branches to do their jobs well, and the ambition to get the credit that goes for that. And so they shouldn’t be lapdogs of the other branches.

HH: Well, that’s a high ambition. I’m glad you’re praying for the minority. I had cause to quote this week Thucydides, who said the secret to happiness is freedom, and the secret to freedom is courage. And then I asked my audience of education reformers from where comes courage? And it comes from education, right?

LA: That’s right. Well, it comes from, all the virtues come from love. And all the love come from the longing we have to be what we fully should be. But you’re right. It comes, and education is not just inculcating or instilling that. It’s pointing out to people the realization of something. And the reason it carries the day in education is because of course they do long for that.

HH: Now I had a very accomplished man come up to me at lunch before Scott Walker and Doug Ducey and I got going, and he told me his daughter was a freshman, and that she was a learning machine. She loved to learn. She read everything. She came home, and he was going to go look at Hillsdale with her. And I said make sure you’re there when Dr. Arnn is on the campus, because if you’ll call ahead, and he’s there, he’ll sit down with you. And when she’s done talking to him, Larry’s tricked every student who’s ever done that into going to Hillsdale. But if they have a genuine love of learning…

LA: Yeah.

HH: …they’ll go there, right?

LA: Yeah, and see, we don’t, like you know, young people, they’re so much fun. I refer to classes for old people hostels, and I want to tell you what I mean by old people. I work among the young, I mean, the really young.

HH: Yes.

LA: And everybody who’s not one of them, to me, including me and you, Hugh…

HH: Yeah, we’re old.

LA: We’re old people, right?

HH: Yeah.

LA: And they have this joyfulness about them. And also, it’s really easy to torture them, because although they’re really smart, they haven’t had time to digest and put everything together. And so you challenge them to do that by asking them questions and tangling them all up.

HH: And here’s the hard question. After we’ve seen what we’ve seen in the Middle East this week, can you reeducate an entire region? Can you get a culture to change on its head, because it wasn’t always that way. Churchill loved the Arab region and the Muslim states. It wasn’t always this bloodthirsty.

LA: Yeah, well, that’s right, but so here’s an example. It’s always important to look for reasons for hope when you’re in bad times. So Churchill fought the socialists all his life, and they beat him in 1945. And they nationalized nine big industries and turned the country around in a whole new direction. And he just kept at him. And now he had something to point to, right? He’d been warning things will be very terrible if these guys ever get in. Well, it was terrible that they got in, but by cracky, now he could really say. And the next thing you know, you get Margaret Thatcher.

HH: And maybe, who knows who we’ll get? Larry Arnn, it is always a joy, Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College,, America, or

End of interview.


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