Bill Kristol joined me on the show today. The interview covered a lot of ground:
HH: Joined now by Weekly Standard editor, Bill Kristol. Bill, welcome, it’s always a pleasure to talk with you.
BK: Good talking to you, Hugh.
HH: I want to get to the crises in the Middle East, Afghanistan and China, but before I do, you’re a veteran of the White House. You had an office there for many years. You go in and out a lot. And I’ve been talking to people who any time ever officed there. How shocked are you that this intruder got in the front door?
BK: No, I’m pretty shocked. I mean, I’ve been struck over the years since I was there 20 years ago how much tougher it’s been to get in. And I don’t say this critically. It may be necessary because of the threats. Just as a visitor, someone who’s cleared in for a meeting, let’s say, or for a lunch during the Bush administration with a friend, as I say, I’m not critical of that, but given how much time one often has to wait for them to make sure you really are the right person that you say you are, and they look at your driver’s license, and call back to make sure that you’re cleared and expected, it is, someone just waltzing in there? It’s really unbelievable.
HH: I have been thinking of it as a metaphor for homeland security generally, that we are putting everyone through TSA checks and elderly ladies and little children, and maybe we’re not thinking outside of the box about what rapid response to obvious problems like this beheader in Oklahoma.
BK: Well, and you know, the Secret Service’s reaction was very curious, very interesting and sort of characteristically bureaucratic in the way that you’re suggesting, which is you know, when the story broke, as I recall this, we may have to set up checkpoints and sort of new barriers for people two or three blocks from the White House to sort of get a first look at them there, as if that would have had anything to do with this. And they’re going to inconvenience a huge number of tourists and regular people going to appointments and meetings for the sake of not dealing with the problem, which I think has generally been too often our approach. You know, TSA, you hate to sound like you’re just griping, you’re trying to get on a plane and you’re delayed and it seems annoying. But I do wonder whether all this doesn’t hurt the effort to fight the war on terror rather than help. It makes the whole thing look like a bureaucratic game. I think if you’re a citizen, and you’re standing there taking your shoes off and watching your grandmother in front of you having, who has an artificial hip being sort of patted down, and it’s just a game. And the way the TSA agents, most of them are mostly decent people, obviously, they, for them, it’s kind of check the right bureaucratic box. I don’t know how many of them are really saying hey, is there possibly a terrorist in this group, or how many are saying hey, the bureaucratic rules say that if this thing meets this category, we should stop this person in this way. So does my colleague, Steve Hayes, who was on the TSA watch list. You know, I used to think well, okay, it’s an inconvenience, but I guess we put up with it. But I really wonder whether it isn’t actually sort of debilitating to civic morale, to citizen morale in this effort that we’re all, should be engaged in. Continue Reading