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Dave Barry’s “You Can Date Boys When You’re 40″; Steyn In A Canadian Courtroom, and Thomas Friedman’s World

Thursday, March 6, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The news has been so grim this week that I am giving you an hour of Dave Barry today, talking his new book You Can Date Boys When Your Forty.

I was obliged to add additional humor to today’s show because Mark Steyn, while he did appear in his regularly scheduled spot –the transcript will be posted here– has spent all week in a Canadian courtroom, which is designed to make anyone as dull as the average United States senator.

The Thomas Friedman column Steyn, Guy Benson and I discussed is here.  I will also ask Lileks  to help me understand just how a carbon tax will topple Putin.

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The CPAC 2014 Challenge: Focus And Combine Forces

Thursday, March 6, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Conservatives are gathering from across the country in D.C., and they are doing so in the shadow of an international crisis that will bring seriousness to the speeches they hear and the conversations they have.

For many years now CPAC has been an orgy of finger-pointing as various groups within the conservative movement nod at each other as the root cause of the rise of Barack Obama, never fully grasping that the president’s rise was an almost inevitable byproduct of a national withdrawal from the hard realities of a post 9/11 world.

Not just the terrible hardships of Iraq and Afghanistan, though surely those conflicts cost much in blood and treasure.  But much more than those: The seeming endlessness of the challenge, its vastness across the globe.  When the Soviet Union collapsed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we took ourselves off on a holiday from history, packing only Francis Fukayama’s The End of History for reading and not Anne Applebaum’s The Gulag: A History.  It was supposed to be easy.  There was supposed to be a peace dividend.  Bill and Hill said so.  They lived as it were so.

To borrow a bit from good Dr. Johnson: The prospect of Putin’s hangings now concentrates the mind, if the mullahs, the gas attacks, the butchery of Benghazi hadn’t already.  And hopefully it will concentrate the minds of all the attendees at CPAC.

As homework to convention goers, I assign a few posts.

The first is New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristoif’s conversation with me from Wednesday in which he offers the best defense possible of Hillary’s bid to be president in 2016.  True, on the same show, Jonathan Alter allowed as to how Hillary could very well be very old news by 2016, a tarnished Washington insider of 20-plus years duration.  But Kristof summons up the best case for the former Secretary of State.

To set the Kristof defense in context, scan down the various answers offered up to me over theist two months of what –exactly– Hillary accomplished at State.  It is an assemblage of quotes by turns amusing and infuriating.  The former- First Lady-turned-senator-turned-SecState did very little good and much harm.  Don’t believe me. Believe her allies and her friendly watchers in the wings of the Manhattan-Beltway media elite.  Read the transcript of my conversation Tuesday with the New York Times’ Peter Baker as we cover the five years of Obama-Clinton-Kerry foreign policy serial fiascos.

Note that the witnesses against Hillary and the president are not from the CPAC speaker’s line-up.  These are MSMers and her friends, the senior management of Hillary Inc, which is preparing its IPO.  Maybe an IPO that won’t ever happen.  As George Will noted to me Wednesday, political people are proud people, and Hillary may recoil from a second smash-up of  her presidential ambitions.  Hillary’s progress towards the White House wonld be anything but smooth, traveling over the ground marked at the start with a shattered reset button and passing through North Korea, the PRC’s surging navy, the fiasco in Egypt, the trampling of the Crimea, a near-nuclear Iran and of course the slaughter of Benghazi.  ”There is much and more to tell” as the saying goes in The Game of Thrones, and all the queen’s media can’t keep the obvious collapse of her tenure from dominating every debate, every sit-down with the real press and even some with the palace guard.

So great is the pressure, already that Hillary is making unforced errors in places as remote from the serious campaign trail as a ladies lunch in Long Beach where she dropped the H word, summoning the distant crimes of Hitler to put into context the crimes of Putin, which recent crimes were encouraged by…a certain reset button?  Shades of the Hoare-Laval Pact, which couldn’t be brought up under Godwin’s Law save for the former Secretary of State opening the door to a serious analogy extension.

Hillary is reeling because President Obama is reeling, and the United States is reeling because President Obama is reeling and his foreign policy is in a shambles and the debt he has accumulated and the spending he has institutionalized will require enormous Republican wins in both 2014 and 2016 to set right.  The Hagel defense budget is worse than a joke appearing as it does at a moment of international crisis and not just in Ukraine, but in the waters separating China and Japan, along a North Korean coast bristling with missiles, in the killing fields of Syria and the nuclear complexes of Tehran.  America is in retreat from the world in a way not seen since 1978, but there is as yet no Reagan on the horizon, for no Republican would-be nominee is talking seriously about the need to rearm and reposition our forces after President Obama’s disastrous scamper from Iraq and his ham-handed “diplomacy” in Afghanistan leading soon to our ignominious exit there as well.

General al-Sisi has saved his country from the Brotherhood but has concluded –and who can blame him– that this Administration is not to be trusted and the Saudis feel the same way.  Tel Aviv knows there will be no cabining of Iran as a result of American pressure, and all of Europe accepts that Putin does what Putin does and there is no dealing with the marginally-balanced KGB colonel turned-richest-man-in-the-world.

The world is in a very bad way, then, and George Will spelled it out in our conversation Wednesday, one I recommend to you for many reasons.  (Not for Will’s legendary baseball acumen, for he wrongly judges the best manager at work today.)  Will has sound advice for the Republicans, for the rising generation, for Jeb Bush on the anchor that is Common Core.

But mostly Will is in a position to speak from experience on the business of turn-arounds, having famously sat down with Ronald Reagan early in the Gipper’s presidency when the new leader of the free world was confidently attired in a brown suit, and fully aware of his own mind and the direction he intended to pursue and of the enormous challenges ahead.  Will knows very well the depth of the well America finds itself at the bottom of, but knows as well that a generation is rising perfectly competent to the challenge.  Two of those new leaders –Rep. Tom Cotton and Senator Marco Rubio– penned a crucial piece on the Ukraine crisis this very week, and others are int he wings and ready to lead an American resurgence on the world stage, and Will names Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush specifically.  Will rejects despair, embraces realism, encourages resolve.

As should the folks at CPAC, especially with regard to the budget for national security.  The sideshows should be shelved, and the focus placed for the week and the next eight months on three issues and three alone: The defense budget and the military strength it provides to cover the foreign policy failures of the president Hillary and John Kerry, the collapse of Obamacre, and the need for the Senate to be in GOP hands when and if another Supreme Court vacancy arises during President Obama’s last 34 months in office.  (Read my exchange with Will on this particular point.)

On the question of national defense, the party has many serious voices outside of Congress, including John Bolton, Robert O’Brien, former Senator Jim Talent, AEI’s Mackenzie Eglan and Fred Kagan, Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes, Stephen Hayes and the entire Weekly Standard team as well as many retired senior generals and admirals.  They need to combine their energies, efforts and expertise into one organization and urge one set of spending priorities and provide backing for the Congressional committees that will have to do the serious work of budgeting during the Obama-Hagel interregnum of fecklessness.

CPAC 2014 can begin the process of rebuilding the Reagan coalition, including its commitment to a robust national defense that assures the peace and deters the Vladimir Putins, Kim Jung-uns, Assads and Khameneis of the world.

 

George Will On POTUSs Past and Present, Terry Francona, and Jeb Bush

Thursday, March 6, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

George Will joined me for a wide-ranging conversation on Presidents Reagan and Obama, America and the GOP’s future, Jeb Bush and Terry francona.

Audio:

03-05hhs-will

Transcript:

HH: On a day with Nicholas Kristof amd Anne Applebaum and Jonathan Alter and Stephen Hayes, I’m so pleased to welcome now George Will, who is perhaps America’s most respected syndicated columnist, Fox News contributor, Washington Post syndicate. George, we have a lot to talk about. Welcome, it’s great to have you on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

GW: Glad to be with you.

HH: Can we at least begin by agreeing that Terry Francona is the best manager in baseball?

GW: No, we can’t. Next?

HH: (laughing)

GW: (laughing) Nice try.

HH: Okay, I was going to slip that by. Who is better than Terry?

GW: Mike Scioscia, if his players will stay healthy.

HH: Oh, you’ve got my producer, he’s got his arms in the air. That’s a bad choice here.

GW: (laughing)

HH: But you know, Francona has rehabbed everybody. He turns .300 pitchers into 17 game winners.

GW: Good. That means he’s a good pitching coach.

HH: All right, let’s get to the serious stuff.

GW: That is the serious stuff.

HH: Well, this is the stuff that matters, I agree. You’re not an Indians fan. You’re a Cubs fan, right?

GW: Right.

HH: And the futility that I have lived with is greater than the futility that you have lived with.

GW: Impossible.

HH: Well, because Cleveland sports includes more than just the Indians. We haven’t won anything in 50 years.

GW: Well, this is true.

HH: Okay. I began with Nicholas Kristof today, and I want to begin with you where I ended with him. Does Hillary Clinton have a legitimate claim based upon her record at State on being the leader of the free world come 2017?

GW: Well, first of all, ask yourself if there is anything that can be accurately called the free world anymore given that Europe is incapable of decisive action. You know, Henry Kissinger once famously said if I want to talk to Europe, who do I call? What’s the number?

HH: Yeah.

GW: Europe remains today a political, not a political expression, but a mere geographical expression. With regard to Hillary Clinton, name one region. Never mind. Name one country with whom we have better relations now than we did in 2008, just one.

HH: Nicholas Kristof argued Burma.

GW: Okay, give him Burma. Change the name, but give him Burma. It’s not even called Burma anymore.

HH: You’re right. You’re right. I agree.

GW: Look at the flashpoints around the world. The 38th Parallel of North Korea may still be the most dangerous place in the world. On the water and over the water, in the airspace over the China seas, China and Japan are dancing perilously close to armed conflict. Syria, we’re watching the man we said must go seems to be determined to stay and seems to be winning the war. Iran is proceeding without any measurable diminution of its pace toward nuclear weapons. Where is the success? Continue Reading

NYT’s Nicholas Kristof Defends Hillary With Faint Praise

Wednesday, March 5, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The New York Times Nicholas Kristof opened the show today.  The audio and transcript are below:

Audio:

03-05hhs-kristof

Transcript:

HH: As the effort by the United States to broker the first face to face meeting between Russia and Ukraine failed today, I’m joined by one of my favorite columnists, though I very often disagree with Nicholas Kristof. He’s always thoughtful, and he’s always trying to put things into perspective. Nicholas, welcome back, it’s good to have you on the program.

NK: My pleasure.

HH: First of all, context, how serious is this situation, in your view?

NK: Well, I think it’s getting a little less serious, if you will. I mean, the big risk has been that Russia would move from seizing just Crimea to seizing Eastern Ukraine, and that for right now, that seems a little less likely right now. And so my guess is that this will fade to some degree, that Russia will probably hold onto the Crimea, probably isn’t going to give it up, probably is not going to actually grab Eastern Ukraine. And ultimate, Putin is pushing Ukraine into the European orbit as much as the Soviet Union did turn Czechoslovakia into the Western orbit when it invaded in 1968.

HH: Now Nicholas, I’ve got a pit in my stomach feeling. This is so bad when we just casually say Crimea is being swallowed by Putinland. And it’s an awful thing. It’s truly an awful thing. Do you think the West is reacting with the appropriate amount of concern for the people of Crimea?

NK: Well, I mean, as I look around at international crises around the world, then I do, I mean, I think that there are others that worry me a lot more. Crimea, most of the people probably would prefer to be in Russia. Now there’s no excuse for Russia breaking its 1994 international obligations for violating the sovereignty of another country. But meanwhile, you know, we do have in Syria something like 150,000 people who have been slaughtered in the last few years, and the international community has been paralyzed. We have Congo, where perhaps seven million people have been killed. We have Sudan, Darfur, and so this is much more of a strategic competition between the U.S. and Russia, but in terms of lives, in terms of brutality, in terms of humanitarian catastrophe, I don’t think that Crimea compares to those. Continue Reading

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