Dr. Larry Arnn has been my friend for 27 years, and a keen observer of election 2016. He joined me in his private capacity –a citizen talkingto a citizen– about the vote next week:
HH: Dr. Larry Arnn has been my friend for 27 years. I’ve often called him my teacher on many things. He is currently the president of Hillsdale College, though he is not appearing in this half hour in that capacity. He’s just here as my friend, and as a keen observer of all things politics, a former part of the official biography team of Winston Churchill, a student of the founders and of Lincoln. And I wanted to talk to him on this election weekend and post the conversation. For those of you wondering about, you have to pull the lever and you are uncomfortable with Donald Trump, I have told you over the last two days the leaks from the FBI completely make this easy. You cannot vote for Hillary Clinton. She is as corrupt as the day is long. Her server was breached by between five and seven hostile agencies. We are going to find out that the Clinton Foundation is a money laundering operation. We will have a Constitutional crisis on our hands within a month if you elect Hillary Clinton. But that’s my opinion. Dr. Larry Arnn, welcome, what’s yours? And don’t bring up the Indians. The wounds are still stitched together.
LA: Oh, man, I thought we were going to grieve for a minute.
LA: (laughing) I’m surprised you can function.
HH: We are resilient. We’ve done this before.
LA: (laughing) I’ll tell you what. It’s so bad, and now, you know, and so in this remarkable time when the Chicago Cubs can win the World Series, Lord, look at this presidential election. Isn’t this the craziest thing you ever saw?
HH: It is. I have got posted over at HughHewitt.com a series of emails from a guy I call The Old Hand, a guy or a gal, I’m not revealing which. And The Old Hand prosecuted for the Department of Justice for 20-plus years. And these emails explain what’s going on. And it’s that the Bureau thinks she’s guilty, guilty, guilty, in The Old Hand’s opinion, and political people at main Justice are protecting her, protecting her, protecting her. Sound familiar with the Clintons?
LA: Oh, man. So I got up early this morning, as you know, you make me do. And I’ve been reading articles. And you know, look at what’s going on in the FBI. I mean, the reports are that there are major tensions between the Justice Department and the FBI, and that the FBI reports to the Justice Department. And the FBI can’t prosecute anybody. They can bring charges to the Justice Department. And so the way the cooperation works is that one works for the other. And the stories are that the, you know, that there have been consultations between senior people in the Justice Department and the Clinton campaign, and Bill Clinton last summer in a meeting in Arizona at an airport between the Attorney General and Bill Clinton. And Wikileaks, you know, got into John D. Podesta, who manages as a chairman of Clinton’s campaign, got into his emails, and he’s been talking to a deputy attorney general, and getting a head’s up about things. And people can judge for themselves the impropriety of that. But there’s a lot of movement across lines that some of it’s not supposed to happen. And some of it just shows conflict between senior people in the chain of command.
HH: Now I’ve got to say, Dr. Arnn, a week ago, Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal wrote a column called “The Grifters-In-Chief,” referring to the Clintons. Peggy Noonan has been writing all year about the distinction in America between “the protected and the unprotected.” The Clintons are clearly among the most protected people in the world. No one else in the world would get away with this pattern of behavior. And I think it’s breaking through. There is a story this morning that her blue wall has cracked in New Hampshire.
HH: That’s from Nate Silver of 538, not exactly a Republican partisan. He’s believed to be a man of the left. But he sees what is happening. Do you think this is happening, for example, in Michigan?
LA: Well, I hear stories that it’s very tight in Michigan. And you know, the race, obviously, the national race A) has been moving in Trump’s direction in the last ten days or so, and B) is very close now. And the Electoral race, which is more complex to analyze, also looks like it’s very close. Florida is not a bright spot, you know, but for Trump, apparently, but one doesn’t know. And there are reports that the early voting is more Republican than people thought. But in Ohio and in New Hampshire and in Michigan, it’s a contest. And nobody, you know, there are two kinds of people – the ones who say they know they don’t know and the ones who are confused.
HH: And I am among the don’t knows, because I really don’t know how to read a turnout model where I saw one report that older, white people are voting in a size and number that has not been seen before, and that African-Americans have thrown in their cards and are not showing up. And I believe, by the way, if that is true, it will be because the Clintons are pampered, preferred and rich, wealthy, wealthy, wealthy people who have never done any work. They’ve always been in the government. And somehow, they’ve amassed $250-400 million dollars, and that poor people, or people who are middle class and lower-middle class are simply disgusted by that.
LA: Yeah, it’s, isn’t it, it is, you know, let’s remember in the last, in the second debate, Trump did something I thought was very artful. He said that he was giving something north of $100 million dollars to his campaign, and he knew that Hillary was not as rich as he, but that maybe she should give something, because she had $250 million dollars.
LA: And she didn’t respond to that. She went on to a point about the 2nd Amendment. So that’s, you know, that’s hard to explain, right? And you know, they make, they have made very large amounts of money by getting paid to speak and to write, and you know, there are two things, I gather, going on in the FBI investigation. If you just read the articles, you’ll discover that they’re interested in whether classified information was mishandled, that mishandled means put on a private server that may not have been secure, and whether it was hacked after it got on there or not, which is if that’s what happened, that’s some kind of breach of duty to protect the government’s information. And then the other is did you get, did people get access to the Clinton State Department and other places because they had relationships, financial relationships with the Clinton Foundation or with Bill Clinton? And that’s a different kind of breach of the public trust. And if those things are true, those are very bad.
HH: We’re talking on Friday. On Thursday night, CBS News reported confirming Fox News, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal stories that Anthony Weiner’s server contains Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails. Now Anthony Weiner’s server, given who he is and where he goes on his server, has got to have more bugs in it than a Bangkok brothel at the height of the Vietnam War. It’s got to be…
LA: That was good.
HH: Yeah, I know. I’ve worked on that a little bit. [Weiner’s] got to be the most easily hacked laptop in America. And the report from Fox that between five and seven hostile actors, either private actors or state agencies, have penetrated into the State Department via Secretary Clinton’s server, is profoundly troubling, because it raises the very real possibility of compromise, that they know how she thinks, how she acts. They know her soft spots. They know her associates. They know everything about her. Larry Arnn, as a matter of national security, she can’t become the president.
LA: Well, that’s my opinion, and you know, my opinions really stem from this. See, we don’t know what’s going to happen, right? The future is, as Churchill loved to say, is “imminent, though obscure.” And Donald Trump has, you know, never held public office or done really significant public service before, and he would be the first elected president like that. So he is unpredictable. And then the question is, is she unpredictable? And I don’t think she is. And forgetting all of this recent stuff, she and her husband have helped build the kind of government we have today, which you’re reading about in the paper every day. The government is huge. It’s very intrusive. It doesn’t have the checks and balances that it used to have. And it’s a major factor in politics. And that means that there’s a danger, in my opinion, and this is, this seems to me the abiding fact in domestic policy. And I can tell you what I think the abiding fact in foreign policy is, too. But the abiding fact in domestic policy is that the government is big enough to threaten to overwhelm the people, that it increasingly, it looks at us as members of identity groups more than it looks at us as citizens. And it plays politics with those identity groups, and it uses its authority to favor and disfavor them, and with an eye on the electoral process while it does it. So I’m afraid of that, myself. I fear that, and think that it will have bad consequences for the college where I work, and for the country. And so Hillary Clinton is a maker of that machine, and an actor in it. And the money that she and her husband have made are connected to their centrality in that great, huge, you know, well-intended, I will tell you, from the beginning, and probably by most people who have participated in it today, still well-intended. But I think it’s dangerous. And it does enrich the people who are strong in it.
HH: It does enrich the people who are strong in it, very much so. That’s one of the, the players in the game get wealthy. But let me also bring up as the protected class that Peggy Noonan has written about, are secure in their towers, and that would include Trump Tower. I’m not saying he’s not wealthy. Of course, he’s wealthy. But I read in the New York Times Morning Briefing this Friday, at least 239 migrants drowned this week as two boats sank while attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya. The tragedy pushed the death toll this year along that route to 3,940, compared with 3,700 in all of 2015. In France, the Times continues, the crisis is shifting from the Calais region to Paris, where up to 100 refugees arrive every day, and that there’s a video on the destruction of what is known as the jungle, the camp outside of Calais. The world is convulsing, Dr. Larry Arnn. It’s convulsing, but the protected don’t feel those convulsions. They are protected, as Peggy Noonan would write.
LA: Yeah, they are, and you know, you have to couple this with something. First of all, there’s you know, a very large movement, millions of people involved in it, and they mean death to the West. They think it’s very evil. And they, you know, including people who grow up in Western countries. They think that the destruction of the whole system of the West is the object. And many of them are prepared to commit suicide to kill a lot of people and make a lot of disruption. And then add to that, that we live in an age where very great amounts of power can be concentrated in lots of different ways. The archetype is the nuclear bomb. And those are apparently not so hard to make anymore, although I couldn’t make one. But you know, there’s a danger that Iran, which sends a lot of those terrorists around the world, and sustains and funds them where they are, is going to get a nuclear weapon. And so politics are dangerous in a different way, which is the great warning from, you know, these two things that I just said about what I think is the key thing in domestic politics, and this key thing in war? Those are the two things that Winston Churchill, above all, in my opinion, spent his life warning about.
HH: And we will come back to that warning right after the break. Don’t go anywhere, America. Dr. Larry Arnn will continue in his private capacity, just as a private citizen talking with me.
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HH: I want to talk about Donald Trump, Dr. Arnn. Many years ago, I would sit in the classrooms, in which a great teacher, Harvey Mansfield, would lead conversations of which I was only dimly aware of their importance. And Bill Kristol and Alan Keyes and others would try and explain to me, but I am too dense to be a Straussian. I just did my best. You had Harry Jaffa doing the same thing. Well, that fellow, Strauss, wrote a book in 1964 called The City And Man, and has in it these words. “However much the power of the West may have declined, however great the dangers to the West may be, that decline, that danger, nay, the defeat, even the destruction of the West, would not necessarily prove that the West is in a crisis. The West could go down in honor, certain of its purpose. The crisis of the West consists in the West having become uncertain of its purpose. The West was once certain of its purpose, of a purpose in which all men could be united. And hence, it had a clear vision of its future as the future of mankind. We do no longer have that certainty and that clarity. Some among us even despair of the future, and this despair explains many forms of contemporary Western degradation.” Now is Donald Trump on the side of ending the crisis? Or does he represent its peaking?
LA: Well, I think neither. You know, I’ve got plenty of criticisms of Trump, and I’ve made them on your show, including ones this morning.
HH: Yeah, as do I.
LA: But let me make a case for him. Donald Trump speaks to us as citizens of a nation. And that’s actually come to be an old-fashioned notion. That quote you read from Strauss sounds quaint, because we in the West, the academics among us, chiefly, are not ambiguous about the West. We think it’s a contemptible idea.
LA: And so we also think that if you think that your country is to be governed by its citizens, then what you are is some sort of a bigot or a parochial, or a racist, because all of those words turn into the same thing the way we use them today in politics. But the old idea is you have to have a people, becuas otherwise, you can’t have consent of the governed. Just look at the European Union. Look at how it works, right? Who practically can do anything in any country about some big policy of the European Union? People don’t even know who their members of the European Parliament are. And the reason for that is it’s not really important to know. They can’t really do anything. My friend, Vaclav Klaus, the former president of the Czech Republic, loves to say “I have had a blessed time late in my life when I got to live in a country p[that is free]. We were in the Warsaw Pact forever. And I fear that this European Union is becoming the same thing,” right? [HH Note: Interview with Klaus here.] So the point is Trump is adamantly against that. And there is a consistency that runs through his positions about that, right? Make America great again. American citizens govern America. They should decide who else becomes citizens. The law should be the law. He said many handsome things for a long time about those themes. And those themes look to me like you know, and of course it’s odd to say, right? Trump is not a learned man about the history of America. He is not eloquent, if eloquent means speaking in the way that Abraham Lincoln spoke. But I’ll add the caveat who is. But he has got a kind of rugged, direct and also fearless way of addressing us as a people. And I think all that’s refreshing. And I noticed, you know, back in the time when we were in Switzerland, over the course of that time, I began to take Trump seriously. I didn’t vote for him in the primary. I voted for somebody else. But after the primary, I was able to endorse him, and have maintained that endorsement through the tapes and all the troubles partly because of this point that I’m stating right now. I just like it that he, like in his campaign, one of the things I learned early on was his campaign is not driven by big data, that is to say this enormous effort to divide us, you know, into our groups and find out everything about us and talk to us singly and in our groups according to what we want to hear. And one of the reasons he’s been resilient in this campaign is that stuff tends to disappear as the campaign goes on and people get interested in its intents. And people start thinking. There’s polling data going back many decades now that show this. People start thinking about their country more toward the end and less about themselves. And so he was ready for that, right? And I like that. And then you know, if you look at his plans, there are some of them I don’t like, but there’s none of them that I think are crippling or fatal. So I support him.
LA: Oh, yeah, big time, sure.
HH: It is hard, it is hard to ignore that. There are many problems here, but to the NeverTrumpers out there, I hope you will read and reflect on Dr. Larry Arnn’s commentary over the weekend. I think the Republicans have got to come home as Speaker Paul Ryan said yesterday. Dr. Larry Arnn, thanks for your personal appearance. We’ll talk later in the program about, in your corporate capacity, about C.S. Lewis.
End of interview.