The transcript of my interview with Norman Podhoretz is here. His take on the 2008 elections:
HH: My question goes to something Bill Kristol and I once talked about, which is whether or not the fundamental understanding of what happened in 9/11 is absorbed at a level below the intelligentsia, and will manifest itself in presidential election after presidential election. What do you think, Norman Podhoretz?
NP: Well, what I think is that that is correct, and I think that the Democrats are committing political suicide, at least for the 2008 presidential election. I mean, you know, the Democrats suffered from the disability of the McGovern years, when they were rightly considered soft on national defense, not to be trusted to protect us against foreign threats. They worked very heard to overcome that reputation, especially under Clinton. And now what they’ve done is to resurrect it. And they’ve gone even further than they did under McGovern. I mean, embracing defeat, calling for American defeat, rooting for American defeat. Of course, they deny that they’re doing this, but people know what they sense and hear coming out of these Democratic politicians. If I had been advising them, I would have said you guys are crazy. You’re throwing the ’08 election. And that is what I absolutely believe, contrary to what most pollsters will tell you, and especially if Rudy Giuliani, whom I support, should get the Republican nomination, I think he can beat Hillary, who is the shoe-in.
The transcript of my interview with Lawrence Wright is here. Key graphs on Sayyid Qutb’s legacy:
HH: But did he intend to launch Takfiri? Did he intend to have his…the fiction writers who he mentored in Egypt end up being the targets of al Qaeda, as you describe here.
LW: Yeah, yes, that’s interesting. The word Takfir that you just used is very key to understanding this. It means excommunicating another Muslim. In other words, it’s not enough to say I am a Muslim. You have to prove to me that you are a Muslim in my view. And it first in modern times came up when Sayyid Qutb was in prison in Egypt. And he was in the Muslim Brothers. And a group of Muslim Brothers were held in a solitary cell by themselves, and the guards went in and mowed them down, because they were on a hunger strike. And Qutb was in the prison hospital when some of the wounded were brought in, and he said to himself, what kind of Muslim would do this to another Muslim? And his answer was, they are not Muslims. In other words, he declared them, he declared Takfir on them. It was up to him to decide who was a Muslim or not. And that seems justifiable in that instance, but it expanded to the point that when, for instance, al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, Zawahiri declared the entire country of Afghanistan to be Takfir. They were Suffis, for the most part, so they weren’t true Muslims, the people they were ostensibly there to defend.
HH: Well then, it becomes a kind of rolling independent association of inquisitors without portfolio. They can…who declares that, and has that spread? Has this doctrine spread into other people declaring them Takfir?
LW: Yeah, it is an ancient heresy that goes back to the moment when the prophet died. And there were always Muslims who were declaring that others were not a part of the faith. And you know, the schism that exists today between Sunni and Shia goes back to that date. It’s been a problem for that faith since its inception. And modern day Takfiris, like bin Laden, like Zawahiri, really believe in their hearts that they are saving Islam, and they are saving humanity by purifying it, by killing all the heretics. And you know, it’s a religious cult that has attracted the attention of a lot of disaffected young people who want to have a way to express themselves. But essentially, that’s what it is.
The transcript of my interview with Mitch McConnell is here. Key graph, responding to my question if any Democratic senator has denounced the MoveOn.org smear of General Petraeus:
MM: Well, if they have, I haven’t heard it, but it’s not going to be a one day story, Hugh. I assure you, we’re going to continue to press Democrats both collectively and individually to denounce this ad. I think this organization is ruining the reputation of the Democratic Party. They ought to want to protect their reputation rather than have an organization which claims it controls them, which claims its meeting with their leaders periodically, which claims its talking to their leadership staff every day, the assumption you get from all that is that this is quite coordinated. Do they or don’t they?