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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn and Victor Davis Hanson

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I am off to Colorado and then D.C. so posting will be light, but what better way to begin a pivotal weekend in the country’s history than by talking about the elections with columnist-to-the-world Mark Steyn (transcript here) and historian Victor Davis Hanson (transcript here).

Teasers from the transcripts:

Steyn on the president with Jon Stewart and the lefty bloggers:

HH: All right, we’ll keep an eye on that. Now let me ask you, we’ve talked about this many times about President Obama, and now I’m calling it the presidentialness gap between President Obama and everyone else who has ever been in the office. And it came back to me last night when he appeared on Comedy Central, and he was rebuked by a comedian who called him dude.

MS: Yeah.

HH: What did you make of that, Mark Steyn?

MS: Yes, I think finding the right balance…Walter Bagehot’s famous line on the British monarchy is that you shouldn’t let daylight in upon mystery. And that is not necessarily true for a president, but it’s true for a celebrity president, which is what Obama is. Obama ran with a certain sort of cool mystique in 2008. He has, aside from all his policy ineptitudes, and all the rest of it, he has damaged his mystique, perhaps because it’s not possible to be a celebrity president. I certainly hope not, because I don’t want the American people to repeat this mistake ever again. But I do not think it was at this stage, when his party is facing an historic defeat, when you’ve got 10% unemployment, as somebody said, I think it was over at the American Spectator today, in the old days, the jesters used to court kings. Today, an enfeebled king courted the jester. And that’s what it looked like. He’s just retreated to his base, which his base is sad, pathetic, hip, white, upper middle class college layabouts, which is basically the Jon Stewart audience. And I think if that’s what he’s reduced to, it’s not enough to be president of the United States.

HH: He also called in a group of left wing bloggers to talk to him in the Oval Office. I’ve got nothing against that. President Bush had talk radio hosts back on a couple of occasions. I have participated in that. But I read through the transcript, Mark Steyn, and these four or five anointed lefty bloggers, they asked about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, they asked about gay marriage, they asked about other stuff. Not one question about the war in which we find ourselves. The times I went in there with the talk show hosts, it was always all about the war. Are you surprised by this?

MS: No, because I think they have their priorities, and their priorities, they are a parochial and self-indulgent group of people living, in effect, on Cloud Cuckooland. What I found interesting about that was the winking that went on in Obama’s answer, where he said his position on gay marriage was evolving, evolving, and he said he wasn’t going to say any more than that, but that’s the most they could expect to get out of him at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon in the Roosevelt room. What he’s telling them is completely cynical. He’s saying in effect that he agrees with them on gay marriage, that his stated position is in fact just a fraud and a front, and as soon as the polls provide sufficient cover, it’ll move in the direction they want. This ought to be contemptible. This ought to signal to people that this is a man who at best is profoundly unserious, and at worst, is just the most pathetic and feeble kind of pandering opportunist. He doesn’t look good in that transcript at all.

Hanson on California’s choice:

HH: Now given that, let’s switch over to the Republican side. You were a farmer before you were a historian. And I’ve got to ask you, from the perspective of a farmer in California’s tortured Central Valley, can you imagine Jerry Brown as governor again?

VDH: No, I can’t, because the genesis of a lot of the things that we see now, public unions and cutting the water off, and small is beautiful by not investing in infrastructure, and enormous social services programs, that all started under Jerry Brown. It really did. It was an antithesis to what his father had done, who had invested in infrastructure and kept taxes low. So there was a time when California had an income tax rate of 4%, and we’ve got 10.1% that falls on people at $65,000. We’ve got 10% sales tax. We’ve got the highest gas taxes, and yet we have the highest deficits and the lowest reading scores. And why would anybody want to vote somebody in that was sort of shepherded that redistributive state in? I don’t understand that. Meg Whitman has not run a good campaign, though.

HH: I don’t believe these polls, and I just don’t, given that Andy Vidak’s ahead up in the Central Valley, and…

VDH: Yeah, he is.

HH: And Harmer’s ahead up in San Francisco, and Van Tran’s ahead down here in Orange County. So I just don’t believe these polls. But the consequences, Victor Hanson, of California going left, were those polls correct, with a hard left legislature and a left wing governor, looking at a Republican Congress, that Congress would simply say collapse.

VDH: Absolutely. That’s what I’m scared about. I think they’re going to say if you guys like high taxes and big deficits, and the lowest reading scores, 49th in the nation, then go ahead. Do what you want. We’re not going to bail you out. We’re not going to help you. And I’m worried about that.

HH: They won’t even give the authority to modify the contracts. Honestly, I think as a Californian, you and I probably have the same perspective. We’re on the cliff here.

VDH: Yeah.

HH: And if those polls are right, and I don’t believe they’re right, we’re going over.

VDH: I’m really worried about another factor, and that is Jerry Brown brought the idea that you do not utilize resources. We’ve got a billion barrels of oil offshore in Kern County. We’ve got the richest farmland in the world with a million acres idled. We’ve got timber, we’ve got all these wonderful resources, natural and manmade, that we’re not drawing on. We’re just sort of taking a finite pie and re-slicing the pieces. And boy, 3,500 people a week, almost 200,000 a year leaving with incomes estimated over $70,000? It’s scary, because I’m here at ground zero south of Fresno, and with a 17% unemployment rate. And it reminds me of the third world. It really does. We’re going backwards. It’s like 1945. All the things that I grew up with that we were battling, getting dogs licensed, getting mosquito abatement working, getting the roads in good shape, having crossing at railroads. All of that’s just starting to dry up

Read the whole thing. Both of them.




Closing in California

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My column is on the sprint to the finish in California. The wave makes it possible for Meg Whitman to close and Carly to cruise.

The president’s decision to interject “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into the final weekend of the campaign underscores how haphazardly he has conducted this campaign. His appearance on Comedy Central also underscores the “presidentialness” gap that the public has in its mind between President Obama and every other one before him. “Is he serious?” they ask as they survey 9.6% unemployment, a disastrous rollout of Obamacare, a failed and wasted stimulus and wars that claim American lives? Comedy Central 120 hours before an election? He puts his record on the line for piercing examination by a comedian?

President Obama is fueling the wave. Maybe all that training in organizing detailed by Stanley Kurtz included a course in taking a dive when you want an opponent to blame for your failure.

If the Tea Party Patriots needed any additional reasons to keep up their jet-fueld barnstorming, it is the president’s complete indifference to the issues driving the electorate.

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The Wave Grows, and the President Fuels It

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The average of assessments on the battle for the House shows that the GOP “wave” is growing, with the average pick-up now at 62 seats.

Expect it to grow higher still as the president’s incredibly divisive campaigning style –“punish your enemies” and the Republicans can “sit in the back of the car”– serves to remind all voters why there was no compromise on Obamacare, and how the jam down that insulted them all is just the Chicago/Alinskyite way. Powerline’s Scott Johnson collects all the “Signs and Omens” here. President “I won, you lost” is out reminding voters every day that he broke his promise of a new kind of politics just as he reneged on the “guarantee” that people could keep the insurance and doctor they had if they wanted to. The president is nationalizing the election that every sane Democrat wanted to localize.

The president’s brass knuckled rhetoric and the vice president’s buffoonery are driving more independents towards the GOP and Obamacare’s costs (see below) will push many Democrats there as well. When the federal employees figure out they are getting health care premium hikes, word will spread through the vast government employee network that Obamacare screwed them as well. They won’t be able to say so out loud, but Democrats who aren’t in union leadership have lots of reasons to vote against the D.C. elites as well.

Why is the president adopting such party-destroying tactics so late in the game? Why is Pelosi of all people out on the trail reminding all voters that a vote for any Democrat is a vote for her?

Pelosi’s obtuseness is legendary, but the president simply doesn’t know any other way. Stanley Kurtz’s new book, Radical-in-Chief, provides an explanation for the president’s astonishing stump tactics, and he will be my guest today in the third hour.

Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism

Would “Vomiting Out Obamacare” Be Too Strong A Description For The Election?

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The New York Times recognizes what any objective observer has known for months –Democratic incumbents are fleeing Obamacare.

Key line in the story:

Strikingly, just after Labor Day, the only House Democrats with television ads on the health care law were among the 34 who broke with the party to vote against it.

Strikingly? That is truly funny. What next? “This just in to the New York Times: Unemployment is an issue in the elections and voters don’t think the ‘stimulus’ worked”?

Day after day stories accumulate over the trainwreck that is Obamacare. Here’s the Wall Street Journal account of the RUC process that did not get fixed by the law. Here’s an observation from today’s Des Moines Register editorial on the subject:

But some employers may choose to stop coverage anyway. It may simply make financial sense for them if the penalty is a fraction of the cost of providing health insurance, and other considerations aren’t a factor.

Even the biggest, most heavily subsidized plans are hitting their employees with higher costs. “Open season” for the federal workforce is arriving on 11/8, buta summary of the price hikes has been published by Government Executive Magazine:

The total average premium increase for FEHBP plans will be 7.3 percent, or $27.10 per pay period, the Office of Personnel Management announced on Oct. 1. Of that amount, the government will increase its contribution to employees’ health care costs by $18.86 per pay period, or 7.3 percent. That leaves federal workers with an average increase of $8.24 in their premiums, or 7.2 percent.

The average nonpostal employee will see premiums rise by $5.53 per pay period for individual coverage, and by $11.45 for family coverage. For postal workers, premiums will cost an extra $6.10 per pay period for individual coverage and $12.73 more per pay period for family plans.

As Obamacare rolls out voters are stunned to discover they are paying more for less.

On Sean Hannity’s Great American Panel Monday night, Bob Beckel confidently predicted that Obamacare-repeal would die in the Senate and that if it passed it would be vetoed.

He may be right, but as Obamacare rolls out it will remain the destroyer of Democratic careers, and with two Democratic senators for every Republican senator on the ballot in 2012, it will be political suicide for the Dems to block repeal or for the president to keep vetoing efforts to scrap the disaster and start again.

Democrats bought into the Obama/Pelosi/Reid propaganda about voters liking the bill once they understood it. Voters understand paying much more for a lot less, and they hate it, and the politicians who jammed the bill that caused the nightmare down their throats. This is the essential political dynamic of the next two years, one that combines with the national shudder over out-of-control spending and special deals for special friends like the “stimulus” and the UAW bailout.

The wave isn’t going away until the Democrats who triggered it are gone or at very least repentant of the enormous damage they have done and willing to work to clear away the rubble and help the grown-ups rebuild.



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