Columnist and author George Will –one of Donald Trump’s most relentless critics– joined me today to discuss the former Vice Presidential nominee’s endorsement of Donald Trump today.
The audio: 01-19hhs-will
HH: I’m joined by nationally syndicated Fox News contributor and author of A Nice Little Place on the South Side, George Will. George Will, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, great to have you.
GW: Glad to be with you.
HH: What did you make of that?
GW: Well, I don’t think it’s the Republican Party turning a fresh face to a promising future. We should all believe in recycling but there are limits, frankly.
GW: I really think in the closing hours before the moment of seriousness arises, and I think it does arrive in America when people are actually confronted with a ballot and they no longer think they’re sending a message, they realized they’re sending a president, and I think this is one of the final episodes of what I hope, perhaps naively is, the silly season.
HH: Now George Will, you’re very gracious, I just mispronounced the name of your book. It’s a Nice Little Place on the North Side and I just made a baseball — it’s just terrible — but I’m actually mad at the Cubs because the Cubs have been trying to steal Carrasco or Danny Salazar for some Cuban outfielder who’s 23-years-old and the Indians are easily tricked and I hope you would not be betting that, George Will.
GW: Listen, the Indians are going to be really good this year.
HH: Because of that starting pitching, I don’t know about Soler because I don’t follow the National League at all, but I’m not wanting to rate any of those people. Back to Sarah Palin. The end of the silly season. What message does that send and who gets it? Is it a net plus or a net negative in a general election to have Sarah Palin on your team and in Iowa and New Hampshire in the primaries?
GW: Well, Donald Trump is shrewd, realized that he needs validation because he’s about to be hit with a close, ruinous examination of his past which will demonstrate that he is and has been in no sense a Republican and his present which will indicate that he is in no sense a conservative, so he’s looking around for people who are considered conservatives who will validate him by supporting him. I’m not sure if that’s going to work, but I think it indicates that he’s aware of the treacherous mine-field into which he’s about to walk as people turn around and say, “Now wait a minute. Do we want a man running against Hillary Clinton who not so long ago was writing checks to Hillary Clinton?”
HH: Now you have a few Trump tattoos, George Will. I only have one. I am a “third-rate radio announcer” and I still get along with Mr. Trump and I welcome back. He’s the best interviewee in America. Why do you think he has been so successful in this season?
GW: Well, first of all, he is entertaining. Second, he is shrewd, as I said. He understands the anxieties that people have and speaks them.. That is actually nothing wrong with that. Politics is supposed to address people with anxieties. And he also recognizes that this kind of a Jacksonian moment in American history that Walter Russell Meade who is brilliant on this saying that the Andrew Jackson impulse in America: national honor, suspicion of concentrated power, defense against the cultural imperialism of the elites, is an honorable American tradition. It deserves a spokesman and it has found one in Mr. Trump. What puzzles me, Hugh, is this. He is a populist and he’s arousing populist furies and people say when you talk to Trump they say, “We want to get things done,” but I don’t know what they want to get done. Back in the 1880s and 1890s, when populism was sweeping the prairies, where Mary Elizabeth Lease is saying farmers should “raise less corn and more hell,” the populists knew exactly what they want. They wanted regulation of freight rates to get their crops to market. They wanted lower prices on grain elevators, they wanted free coinage of silver to reduce the loans that farmers had to get. They wanted an end of tariffs. This is a very specific agenda. I don’t know, perhaps you can tell me, what is specifically, Trump’s agenda do the Trump people have?
HH: Their first and for many them, their last item, is the wall which I often have said is the visible expression of a an invisible commitment to sovereignty and they believe him in a way that they don’t believe in anyone else because many people have promised a double-sided fence with a road running between it at least half of the 2000 miles of the country and many people see in that oft made and often broken promise, George Will, the collapse of Washington integrity and I read John Mitchum’s book on Andrew Jackson, I hadn’t heard what Walter Russell Meade said that actually captures it. Jackson of course was a dualist saying he’d once been pinked by someone and he was a raucous brawler and a heck of a soldier but that’s not really what Donald Trump is. He’s not a military man, he can’t bring that to the table, so what does he make his argument based on? Is it just pure celebrity?
GW: Well, it’s not pure celebrity. I think people in this country are sick and tired being told what they can and cannot think and say and here’s a man who just relishes saying “I will say what is impolite.” The other day at Liberty University, I burst out laughing. I’m watching him down there and he says, “When I’m president, every department store will say Merry Christmas” (laughs). Now I don’t know how that became a presidential-level problems and I don’t know how presidents bring that about, but you cans see that it strikes a chord with people.
HH: Sure it does.
GW: On the other hand, Hugh. If there’s a worse legacy, and it’s going to take us decades to dig out from under it, the Obama administration, is President Obama’s executive authoritarianism, his cheerful, breezy, blithe indifference to Constitutional integrity to respecting the separation of powers.
HH: That is why I think the Supreme Corut took certiorari in the immigration and added the question to take care of the laws you’re faithfully executed. I teach Con Law, George Will, that’s just a new original question they feel compelled to bring up.
GW: I think you’re exactly right, it was a momentous event today that will I think result in a momentous decision sometime before the end of June. This is the problem though, we now have three leading candidates for President of the United States – Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side say they have no objection to any of the executive authoritarianism of President Obama and indeed each of them promises to go in two or three steps farther and on the Republican side, the leading candidate at the moment, Mr. Trump would double down on those two because he said the other day, one of the things I will get rid of is, “on my first as president, there will be end of gun-free school zones.” He said, “I will sign.” Well, what’s he going to sign?
HH: An executive order. That’s remarkable.
GW: What are we talking about? Okay, an executive order. How does that work?
HH: It actually doesn’t. It’s like the president’s executive order on immigration. It doesn’t work, but it doesn’t matter I think. So, George Will, we got two minutes, so expound on this for me. Donald Trump is a learning machine. I watched him at Liberty University, I watched him in New Hampshire with Scott Brown the day before, he was incredibly gracious to a disabled woman. He is getting better and better at this. And Steve Schmidt thinks he’s going to be the nominee. If he is the nominee, how many Democrats cross over to vote for him and how many Republicans cross over to vote for her if she is indicted?
GW: There would large numbers going both ways. TI would be a very interesting migration. I think you would have more Democrats going to the Republicans than Republicans going the Democrats but you would also figure that there would be movement to have a third-party candidate because if the election is Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump, this will be the first election since God knows when, there was no real conservative candidate. And I don’t both of us who have started our political careers, and I cast my vote for Barry Goldwater.
GW: Who valued that classic, creative defeat of his because he took the Republican Party and said henceforth it will be a Conservative party. Those of us who feel that way are not about to sit idly and see the Republican Party which was saved by William Howard Taft to 1912 for conservatism that was reclaimed by Barry Goldwater for conservatism, we’re not going to let it disappear in 2016.
HH: We have to have an hour-long conversation on this because of the nature of the international threat that was not there when Taft did what he did George Will, it will be fascinating. Always a pleasure, George Will. “A Nice Place on the North Side,” his latest book about “Cubland.”
End of Interview