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Talking Rocky and Ted Cruz With Richard Norton Smith

Monday, December 15, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

If you missed my Monday program with Richard Norton Smith which was largely devoted to his new book Nelson Rockefeller: On His Own Terms, you missed a wonderful show and an education in the GOP wars of 50 years ago –and today.  Thus the audio and transcript below are an early Christmas present to you:






HH: Today, I’m joined for the entire show by my friend, Richard Norton Smith, whom many of you hear every President’s Day in a show that we taped years ago talking about all the presidents. Richard, of course, is the extraordinarily gifted presidential historian and a biographer of Thomas Dewey and Robert McCormick, as well as Herbert Hoover and George Washington. He is the official historian of C-SPAN, he’s been my friend of 40 years. And Richard, welcome, it’s great to speak to you about your brand new book, On His Own Terms: A Life Of Nelson Rockefeller, good to have you.

RNS: Well, and Merry Christmas.

HH: Merry Christmas to you. This is a terrific book. And I’m going to quote Nelson Rockefeller on Page 255 of your book.

RNS: And that’s something you don’t do as a rule.

HH: No, I don’t. I wrote this down as soon as I saw it. The best way to read a book is to get an author to tell you about it. But dyslexia is at the heart of this book…

RNS: Yeah.

HH: And I think that’s one of the reasons he liked to talk about books with authors.

RNS: Yeah, and it’s one of those humanizing details that he shied away from during his lifetime. He was of that generation of men, well, you know, he’s a classic illustration of how the very rich get the worst medical treatment.

HH: Yes.

RNS: You know, he had this osteopath who was a sidekick, and an occasional procurer, but, well, Nelson probably would not have died when he did if he’d had a different medical regimen. But dyslexia was something, it’s interesting, because it did shape his life in ways that were profound. He, first of all, he never heard the word until he was 50 years old. And it’s, you know, it’s interesting, doing a life of Nelson Rockefeller, it’s not your conventional political biography. Continue Reading

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Nelson Rockefeller And Ted Cruz; Barry Goldwater And Chris Christie: The GOP Then And Now

Sunday, December 14, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My Monday Washington Examiner column is on how the incoming Senate, specifically Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Grassley, ought to deal with judicial nominees for the 24 months left in President Obama’s vast misadventure of a presidency.

Right now Texas Senator Ted Cruz is back at center stage, enraging his Democratic colleagues (and a few Republicans), poised, as National Review’s Eliana Johnson notes Monday morning, at the starting line of a run for the presidency, and serving as an life-sized omen that the high political drama that marked the Republican Party politics of 1958 to 1968 have returned in all their glory and turbulence.  (I can confirm I did attend the dinner Eliana reports on, as a moderator of the off-the-record discussion after the senator was on my radio show.)

Which is why Monday’s show with historian and author Richard Norton Smith should not be missed by anyone interested in 2016, no matter who they are backing.  Smith’s brand new and epic “Nelson Rockefeller: On His Own Terms” is a riveting and wildly entertaining bio-pic of a book, one covering most of the first three-quarters of the 20th century through the lens of the life of leading man Nelson Rockefeller and with the settings in Manhattan, Washington, D.C., Albany and vast stretches of South America. (Learning how Manhattan grew from the ’30s through the capture of the U.N.is a book within a book, as is the brief education in The Standard Oil Company.)

It is also a preview of coming attractions for the GOP as the race for the 2016 presidential nomination opens early in 2015.

Cruz is very much the combative, principled conservative, but perhaps much more Reagan than the Goldwater-like figure liberals, MSM and establishment Republicans want to make him.  Chris Christie, while New Jersey’s and not the Empire State’s governor, is the combative centrist, the same space occupied by Rockefeller beginning with his election as New York’ governor in 1958 though Christie’s fidelity to his beloved Mary Pat is the opposite of Rocky’s treatment of his first wife Tod.  Those camps and their leaders clashed often and bitterly for over a decade, and never really made peace until Ronald Reagan named George H.W, Bush as his Veep in 1980.  That treaty broke up years ago, and 2016’s gathering in Cleveland could be as dramatic as 1964’s Cow Palace convention, the proceedings of which open Smith’s book first chapter before the book begins its sweeping narrative of Rockefeller’s life which began on July 8, 1908 and which would include an epilogue as an appointed Vice President under Gerald Ford before his death in early 1979.

Richard Nixon first held his party together in 1960 even as Rockefeller battled not only Goldwater forces but also the Eisenhower-era establishment, and then Nixon put it back together again after the electoral catastrophe of 1964 on his way to a narrow win and a center-right GOP in 1968.  In the Nixon space as we enter 2015 are any number of would-be presidents, and not far removed from any camp are the William Scranton/George Romney figures of Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Scott Walker.  (Mitt Romney, of course, if he runs again, will be replaying the resurrection and return story of RN, with his supporters arguing that Republicans cannot afford a 1964 collapse after eight years of President Obama and with Hillary looming.)

Whomever you support and whatever you think of Senator Cruz et al, reading Nelson Rockefeller: On His Own Terms will prepare you for the dramatic clash of all the factions of the GOP coming at the party in 2015 and 2016.  The book is a joy to read and as excellent an education in the history of the 20th century GOP, the country as a whole, as well as of a great American family and its favorite, flawed but brilliant son as any you will find.   Join me Monday for an extended conversation with Richard Norton Smith.



Chuck Todd On The Release Of The Senate Report: Is It A Personal Issue Between Brennan And Feinstein?

Friday, December 12, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Chuck Todd made his regular Friday appearance with me to talk about Sunday’s Meet The Press, which will feature former Vice President Dick Cheney:




HH: Meanwhile, at Harvard Yard tonight, hundreds, maybe thousands of people are gathering in the aftermath of last night’s collision between the naked runners and the protesters in that silly story I covered. I’m joined by Chuck Todd, moderator of Meet The Press. Chuck, I don’t know if you’ll be covering the primal scream at Harvard. I don’t think you can actually show the footage of that event on NBC.

CT: No, I don’t think so. I think I’m going to have enough fireworks and enough primal screams from folks when I interview Dick Cheney.

HH: Oh, so that’s who it is? It’s Vice President Cheney’s your guest this…

CT: Vice President Cheney, and also, I have Ron Wyden, who will represent sort of the Democrats when it comes to the report that the Intelligence Committee put out. But yeah, no, I’m going to have, I think, a pretty, hopefully, a pretty robust conversation with the former Vice President. Continue Reading

Congressman Mike Pompeo On The Senate Report And The Vulnerability Of Americans And Allies To ICC Proescution

Friday, December 12, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Congressman Mike Pompeo, a member of both the House Intelligence Committee and the Select Committee on Benghazi joined me to start Friday’s program, and we discussed his visit earlier in the day to CIA headquarters as well the status of the Benghazi investigation, the motives of Senator Feinstein in releasing the report, and the possibility of Congress taking up legislation to assist any American or ally who ends up dragged before the International Criminal Court as a result of the release of the senate report:




HH: I begin today’s program, though, amidst the wild weather on the West Coast where it’s raining like it hasn’t in a decade, thank God, with Congressman Mike Pompeo from the great state of Kansas. Congressman, merry Christmas, it’s great to have you.

MP: Great to be with you, Hugh, glad you’re getting some rain.

HH: Oh, we need it. Now I am not happy that the Senate passed this afternoon the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, because it cuts the military pay in benefits, and their housing allowance. But Jim Inhofe said on this show last week that that’s going to be put right in the new Congress. What do you think about that?

MP: Well, I voted for the NDAA over on our side as well, Hugh, with the commitment that we’re going to get it fixed. I know we ought to. I know we must, and I’m confident that we will. We talked about this, we talked about this maybe six or seven months ago when there was a budget bill that also had an impact, and I was able to vote against it. And we did get it fixed. I’m confident we’ll get it fixed this time as well. It’s not right to do this to our men and women in uniform, and I’m confident we’ll get it fixed. Continue Reading

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