Fox News “Hannity’s America” discusses the future of the Republican Party
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: And when Senator Specter announced last week that he was leaving the Republican Party after 28 years, he said it was in part because he felt the party had moved too far to the right. But is that really true? Is the GOP more conservative than it was during the days of Ronald Reagan? Joining me now is the author of the New York Times best-seller A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media, Fox News contributor Bernie Goldberg. Hi, Bernie, before we get into longer answers, just a couple of quick questions. Can you name any specific issues where the Republican Party today is more conservative than when Reagan was president?
BERNIE GOLDBERG, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: No. I totally disagree with Arlen Specter.
HANNITY: Yeah. So, in other words, the party, if anything, has probably moved too far to the left?
GOLDBERG: No. No.
HANNITY: I had you there.
GOLDBERG: I know what you mean by that. Here’s my take. Somebody once asked Bill Buckley, William F. Buckley—generally speaking, the person said, what kind of Republicans do you want to see win elections? And Buckley said the most viable conservative is who I want to see win. The keyword is “viable,” Sean, meaning the Republican who has the best chance of winning, the conservative Republican who has the best chance of winning. Not the most conservative, not the purest conservative, not the conservative that never strays from conservative principles, but the most conservative who can win. That’s what I want. I want to win. And if that means that the person, the candidate, isn’t always the most conservative, I have no problem living with that.
HANNITY: Alright. But his statement that the party has moved to the right is false. We agree on that.
GOLDBERG: Listen, I not only agree with that. Arlen Specter is an opportunist. I wrote a column about him on my Web site. I said I used to work at CBS with people just like him. Sure, they had politics, they were liberals, but they believed in something a lot more than their politics: they believed in themselves. Arlen Specter is looking out for number one. This isn’t about ideology, whether it’s liberal ideology or conservative ideology. Arlen Specter is looking out for Arlen Specter.
HANNITY: But maybe this is where you and I are going to find a little bit of a disagreement here, because there are certain fundamental principles that I think are good for the country. For example, he supported this stimulus bill, which I think is leading us to the road of socialism and bankruptcy. If we don’t have a strong national defense and we weaken our defenses, we reach out to dictators, and we don’t appreciate America’s greatness and goodness in defense of freedom, I think the country’s headed in the wrong direction. So I’m not looking for ideological purity as much as I’m looking for certain fundamental principles on very big issues before I can support a candidate. Is that different from what you’re saying?
GOLDBERG: No. I know what you’re saying. But Jim DeMint, the conservative Republican from South Carolina, right after Arlen Specter defected, said that he would rather have 30 conservative Republicans in the Senate than 60 Republicans who don’t stand for anything. Well, you know, that sounds good, but in reality those 30 Republicans would be principled eunuchs. They would be powerless. They would sit there in the Senate, these 30 pure conservative Republicans that Jim DeMint seems to want, and they would watch liberal Democrats shove one piece of legislation after another right down their principled throats. I don’t want that. I don’t want that. I want to win.
HANNITY: Alright. But is everything you’re saying, Bernie, predicated on a belief that for Republicans to win they’ve got to move to the left of Reagan? Remember, Reagan had landslide electoral victories we haven’t seen since.
GOLDBERG: Two points on that. The answer is no. I agree with you. They don’t have to move to the left of Reagan. But if the American people need a conservative—. Let’s put it this way. If the American people love conservatism as much as some people seem to think, then why is it that the only conservative president I could think of in the past 75 years is Ronald Reagan? There were no Democrats who were conservatives. Ike wasn’t a conservative. Richard Nixon with affirmative action and wage and price controls wasn’t conservative. Bush I, “read my lips,” he wasn’t conservative. Bush II, he sure as hell wasn’t conservative. So how come we haven’t had a bunch of conservative presidents if American want conservatism?
HANNITY: Well, I don’t think anyone was so, quote, “ideologically poor.” But, you know, you can’t deny that George Bush was conservative on national security issues. He staked his entire presidency on keeping this country safe after 9/11, Bernie.
GOLDBERG: And he didn’t veto a single bill when Republicans spent more money than Imelda Marcos in a shoe store.
HANNITY: Yeah. Good point. But now we have Barack Obama, who’s quadrupling the debt and spending more than every president from Washington to George W. Bush. So what do we get in response? Go ahead.
GOLDBERG: And that’s exactly why, Sean. That’s exactly why Republicans need to support other Republicans, even if they’re not as conservative as as you or I would like. Let’s take Pennsylvania as an example. Arlen Specter, good riddance. But he’s going to be running in a general election. Pat Toomey, the conservative congressman who’s going to run in the primary, he seems like a nice fella. I don’t know him; only from the news. He seems like a good guy. But what if the polls show—I’m saying “if”—what if the polls show that Pat Toomey is too conservative for the state of Pennsylvania, but a less conservative, pro-choice Republican like Tom Ridge might beat Arlen Specter? Then I’m for the moderate and not the conservative in that case.
HANNITY: Well, the polls bear out that Ridge would do better against Specter in a head-to-head matchup, so that would would certainly back up your theory. But I’ll tell you this—but, Bernie, there’s—. Look.
GOLDBERG: But, Sean, let me ask you a question. Who do you want, Sean? Do you want a more conservative Toomey?
HANNITY: I’ll be honest. I don’t get involved in primaries. I like Pat Toomey a lot. He is a great conservative.
GOLDBERG: So do I.
HANNITY: It’s a pretty liberal state. It’s going to be interesting to watch what happens in Delaware, where Biden’s seat is up. It’s going to be interesting to watch what happens to Jon Corzine, the Democratic governor of New Jersey, and Chris Dodd, who has a whole host of ethics issues. But the only thing I would say in response to you, Bernie, is I think what has been missing from the Republican Party is an articulate vision for the conservative message and those principles applied to the modern day: the party of national defense, energy independence, fiscal responsibility, free market solutions, health care, education, and the party of the American dream. I’ve said this a lot, but here’s my point. I promise I’ll give you the last word. If they do that, they would inspire people to understand conservatism. I don’t see a lot of articulate conservative Republicans out there. I think conservatism has been missing from the Republican Party.
GOLDBERG: And if John McCain adopted every single one of the positions you just outline, he would’ve still lost the election, because if you put McCain and Obama up on a split screen, one of them is yesterday and the other is tomorrow. What Republicans need is somebody with conservative values. I don’t disagree with that at all. But they need somebody who is attractive enough. You know what they need? They need a conservative Barack Obama. They need somebody who is young and cool and hip and telegenic and fits the media/television age and who would be good in the United States of Entertainment. And McCain didn’t lose because he wasn’t conservative enough; McCain lost because he was the wrong candidate.
HANNITY: I would argue that we certainly need some emerging conservative people out there that are telegenic, that can articulate that message. If they adopt those conservative values and they can articulate it in this television age, I think the trajectory’s going to be straight to the top. But, Bernie, good to see you. We always appreciate it. Always a good discussion. Thanks.
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