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tv   After Words Charles Sykes How the Right Lost Its Mind  CSPAN  October 7, 2017 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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some bit player in the development of single state, but he's quite a bit more than that pretty much the same way that charlie good night or all of her loving, these famous cattlemen, that lonesome dove was designed after or based on, lemon is that to the northern great plains. charlie good night in the southern great plains are these guys who helped establish communities and develop more than just their individual cattle ranch. he did that in the northern great plains, helping to guide the railroad men establish settlements. all of these things combined brought people to the region far beyond anyone typical cattle drive or anyone cattleman ever could. he helped to put in place systems that brought people here and it's part of the
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fabric of the great plains as a whole. >> coming up on book tv "after words", former radio host and msn be see contributor looks at the conservative movement in america. he is interviewed by fox news contributor and host of the tammy bruce show. >> charlie, how are you. >> good. how are you. >> it's a pleasure. this is especially with our last year, it's this kind of an opportunity that perhaps you and i would never have and i'm looking forward to it. this is the book. i'm sure everyone who's watching has already seen this. what was interesting for me and being asked to do this is i'm not on the opposite side of you when it comes to president trump but the first sentence in your book as this is not a book about donald trump. how the right lost its mind is the title.
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immediately, you are taking a stand with the title. what i would like to do is make sure that he knows who's watching, what your background is. you've written a number of other books. a conservative who had supported trump will probably find a great deal in common with you on the issue of the academy, freedom of expression, et cetera. and yet, they see you, i tweeted we were doing this and some tweets came back, why are you doing that, he is a never trump. before we get into the meat of this headlights talk about your own background. explain to everyone who's listening what conservatism means to you. >> that's an interesting question because it's being
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redefined on a regular basis. for me, conservativism was all about limited government, fiscal responsibility, in a individual freedom, respect for the constitution. kind of an aspirational vision that was very well captured by ronald reagan when he talked about america being a shiny city on a hill. i think i come from a brand of conservatism that is reform oriented, that wants to actually deal with problems as they exist in the real world, but very muc much. >> that is a clear part of your book, obviously. with a title like this, i think conservatism is a longer word, is it really a decision point that has happened, a transition every.that's been achieved of people abandoning something or is it possible that were in the midst of a
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transition when it comes to what people want, whether they think it's failed or they don't like what happened were they feel the gop hasn't delivered. is it possible that people haven't lost their mind but we are in a position of transition at this stage politically. >> we are at a transition but it's also a clear break. what happened is a dramatic moment for the conservative movement that was a rejection too much of the conservative movement. adding many other things that happened, the title has two meanings, how the right lost his mind which was the rejection of the intellectual tradition of mainstream conservatism but it was also kind of the crazy that invaded
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the party, the explosion of hoaxes an extreme position and the willingness to tolerate bizarre behavior. a lot of that happened. there's kind of a double meaning. in terms of is it done, is it over? this is an ongoing debate and i think we'll have this debate. generation. >> a lot of people watching, including myself, there was a relationship that developed. i first supported scott walker, was not supportive of the president at first and grew into the nature of supporting him, i have not been disappointed, however we will be disappointed at some point like we are with all politicians. a lot of people would argue that this really is about the establishment leadership not delivering, that we do love
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reagan, we are children of reagan, all of what you stated in the beginning we also believe in, and yet we have watched government get bigger, 20 trillion-dollar debt, obamacare, and that current betrayal we've experienced, spending in general, government being made bigger by george w. bush. perhaps it's because we are children of reagan and we haven't seen that continue, somewhat argue what happened last year is in fact reassertion of an insistence that we go back to the conservative ideal. >> there may be people who want to go back to that who felt the trade by the republican establishment but donald trump is not the guy. five minutes ago he was a democrat intruding money to hillary clinton and chuck schumer. when he was first running there is a question, did he support single-payer health care. he's been a supporter of abortion rights. donald trump is not and never
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has been a conservative, in part because he is a man utterly lacking in principle who had been less than five minutes thinking that issues. even many of his supporters understand that with donald trump, maybe he is the vehicle to break the status quo, but he doesn't represent an idea. he doesn't represent an ideal of government. what is his relationship with nancy and chuck going to be after the midterm election. the people who were saying we are upset with the establishment because they have not given us conservative values, there were 18 candidates that were on that stage and almost every one of them had stronger conservative credentials, actually understood issues and policy and had principle and the
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republicans rejected all of those conservatives for donald trump. >> well it could be about, and this is where the gop part of your book is about giving advice to conservatives, and we can get to that, but as we establish our positions here and where people like us go as we move forward, the rejection of individuals who are seen as the establishment like when eric cantor was fired, we saw the trend to this of a wholesale rejection, it really did represent the standard that this was a wholesale rejection and it's a message to be sent. i think this is where the divide is credits plus the rejection of conservatism and
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more rejection of those who haven't moved it properly or say there conservative but where we've seen the next in line, john mccain, mitt romney and we see the world unfold and the ability also to deal with the world in its new face , with electronics, social media, the internet, is that part of the issue, not just media but how you interact on all of these formats which trump did very well at in talking to people directly and being able to communicate with them, which i don't think any of the other people standing on that debate stage were able to do with the exception of carly fee arena and even she wasn't able to translate it to the ground. is it about being communicators in a new age
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where president reagan didn't even have to do that. >> i think it's one of those interesting puzzles. donald trump represented something. he represented the big middle finger from voters to the establishment, but if you really wanted to deal with some of these issues, you would've gone with the marco rubio or a ted cruz or carly fee arena and they didn't. in terms of communication, yes he is a master of twitter but he was crude, he was rude, he was a serial liar, he's a
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fraud. >> this was relatively well-known and conservative who, not that long ago used to argue that character mattered. the president was a role model. he somehow found a way to rationalize the behavior of someone who insults women, mocks the disabled, mocks pows, paid a multimillion dollar fine for the students who just wanted to get an education, who even now sitting in the oval office uses his power to insult and call for people to be fired for engaging in free-speech, and yet we are supposed to think this is return to conservative values. >> that's interesting. i don't know if that election was that argument. >> no one is saying this is a return to conservative values
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in a sense that it was in fact an effort to put out the dumpster fire that was happening economically was and still happening around the world. cbs had a panel, three women, two african-american women and a white woman about our age, asking about the comments after charleston, if it bothered them. all of them said no, they were voting for a husband or boyfriend, that it was about getting things in order and that's the thing that's resonated about the role of the president and this person as an individual, and what was required at the moment. clearly people determined it wasn't going to be chris christie or marco rubio or jeb bush, that the statement at
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least worthy of taking seriously, and in your book the implication is that the voters are the trend in the republican party, which i'm not a republican is the phobia. for the average voter who wants their jobs back, who wants healthcare dealt with them wants money back in their pocket to see the future, is that fair to all of those individuals who acknowledge that on occasion we are going to be offended but there's something larger at stake. is it fair in that kind of a viewpoint to the voters. >> in your book, that what he represents was in a phobia and misogyny and racism.
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>> 's attitude toward women, we don't need to rehash it. we had him on camera. there's once a time where if someone bragged on cameras about sexually assaulting women, that would disqualify, certainly conservatives would've thought that. the blaming, his attitudes on other things, now does that mean that the voters are racist or sexist, no it does not. i think that's where a lot of people on the left have made a terrible mistake. they play the race card so often that it's lost, they said john mccain was a racist and mitt romney, every conservative was racist so when the real thing came along in the form of the old rate, which was clearly empowered and encouraged by the trump campaign the left was out of
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ammunition and folks on the right had become numb to it but here's the moral test. are they part of our tent? is it part of the conservative movement? william f buckley drew a line and said society needed to be excommunicated from the movement because they were too extreme, they were crackpots and he successfully did it. if you made place for these conspiracy theory whack jobs and said that dwight eisenhower was a communist movement you would discredit yourself but we don't have anyone who has the ability to say listen, we have to draw the line. what happened was we had a conservative movement that turned a blind eye. i'm not saying this is true of everyone but we turned it blind eye to conspiracy theorists and people who traffic.
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pretty much all of us. i tried to push back on some of the stuff. >> donald trump began his presidential rise by pushing the barack obama birth certificate conspiracy. who push back against it. the majority of republican voters at one time believed that. the reality is we figured these were the fringes and those were the extremes and we could roll her eyes in the center would hold, but it didn't. i think this was a moral failure on the part of conservatives. i don't think the conservatives are racist, but i do think, for honest in this moment in the wilderness that we have, to ask whether or not we ignored it or we were way too tolerant of it because we figured they were on our side, were not the call them out on it so after charlottesville that was a real signal.
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that was one of those moments and you bring it up. we looked to our president to provide more leadership and moments of healing and unity and that was one of those moments were donald trump failed but again, if you followed what he did during the campaign this should not come as a spry. >> in the aftermath of that we've had larger discussion. we know this and media and how media can distort or mislead or lie about republicans and conservatives. that's generally what they do. is part of the issue that media decides what is going to be elevated, that they will decide the narrative that the elevation or the depiction of the reach of the alt right, is it a mistake to think of the
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conservative movement versus what cnn or msnbc or the new york times or any other element that has an agenda is deciding to elevate and promote that the difference between, i tell my audience this all the time, to not let the media determine your reality, to look to a broader base of information and for those of us in the media, that is our bubble, in a way that is it possible that we are mistaking the power and influence of that group that we recognize has got some issues this is the difference between what is conservative and what is the all right.
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versus a guy in the clan suit. this is where we begin to complete. we have additional definition of the alt right versus white supremacists. we don't even have agreement on that. a lot of people like that breitbart for information. people at will have a variety of opinions. you can find that at any networ network, but it depends on what were promoting. >> steve bannon who went on to become top aid to president of the united states bragged that he turned it into a platform for the all right. clearly it's a euphemism for white nationalism and anti-semite. >> and you could be correct,
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but there are people i would disagree with that and this is where the debate is at least the discussion about what it is. i think most people listening are going to have a different opinion or themselves be conflicted. we know what the nazis and the clan are. i think most people would say that's not breitbart and that's not fair, but it also means it might not be everything they believe. >> this is not hard. this is really not hard. it's not hard to denounce these extremists. this is part of what has happened with conservatives with donald trump. it's something that would've been easy and automatic has now become difficult. people who are white nationalists, white supremacist, they are not part of our movement. this is 20, 30 years. i have struggled against the stereotype of the left. you people do this.
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we do not make excuses or rationalize and then along comes the all right and suddenly it's like well maybe there were many good people there. as president of the united states who looks at these guys marching with tiki torches and said there's lots of good people there and then he looks at the end of th nfl and call them sons of bitches. there's a point of which the conservative movement needs to pass the moral test. you were asking about the media. i think there's no such thing of the media. there are multiple forms of media. we created the other side of the story, the mainstream media could not set the agenda. there was a time when people at cbs, abc, nbc and then suddenly came alternative media and conservative talk
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radio. this was a wonderful thing because suddenly we could talk about issues people cared about, it was the other side of the story, but something has happened where that diversity of voices did become these alternative reality silos. they have their own narrative, their own facts. we don't communicate. were an intellectual ghettos. we are in these echo chambers, bubbles, whatever you want call them. as a result of that our political debate has been dumbed down and you do have the fake news in the propaganda, the bright parts of the world that can distort reality. we are also at the point now, there's a reason why we use terms like post- truth era
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where we have a tolerance, where we've lost the graph grasp of propaganda and reality. if our arguments are better than we don't need to stay within our alternative reality silo. >> identify as a conservative, i'm also a feminist. when it comes to like president trump and what media can do, talking about good people at charlottesville, we know there were people from the city, people were going there to be against the nazis in the clan, other people were there were not with them because they cared about the historical relevance regarding a statue or they didn't want that to be torn down who were also not in league with whites premises, and it was a mix of people who were there.
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this is one of the problems where we hear what we want here or we choose to promote what we want to be the case in that trump was mentioning that there's lots of good people there are good people in general charlottesville would be true that you're either not associated if you are protesting against the statue and you didn't need to be associated with the clan or the nazis if you are protesting for the statue to stay. this is where in our world, one statement, one word can be expanded out on our opinion of the person or expectation, then that becomes the truth or the judgment. someone like myself will say this is what i heard and i don't believe him to be in that fashion.
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then there either judged as a computer or a racist. how do we bridge that gap with two people who generally agree forcing things differently because of the passion informing the debate. >> we need to have these conversations, but i spent a good deal of time talking about the all right and the role the play and who they are and what they do believe and how they represent a thorough repudiation of american conservative value. i'm a conservative that believes america should be the shining city on a hill that we are based on the idea. they reject the idea the values of the declaration of independence rather explicitly. they don't believe it's an idea. they believe it's a geographical location, people of people by people of certain ethnic and backgrounds. the reality is throughout the campaign doll trump had more
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than one opportunity to repeat them, reject them, speak out against him and he dodged and delayed and went again and again and again. this is not a one-off. this is a problem. this is a cancer at the heart of the conservative movement if we are not willing to face at the left, there are these moral judgments, liberalism had to expel the communists in the late 1940s. conservative had to expel in the 1960s. we have to deal with the all right. unfortunately, had donald trump been defeated in this election, i think there would've been a reckoning among conservatives about how this had happened, but now some of these folks, there shouldn't be any misunderstanding, they do feel empowered. they do feel emboldened by this current political environment and conservatives who recognize them for what they are really need to be
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outspoken. this is our test, our time. >> even with the many changes that have been made and steve bannon being out of the white house, do you see with this dynamic, other people coming in as chief of staff, a variety of different approaches versus the initial choices and decisions? what you think is happening in this process? it's been about nine months. are you heartened by some of the changes that have been made? do you think he's on the right path is to mark do you think this is finally settling down a little bit about who is where and what conservative means. >> those are almost two separate issues.
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the best thing that the president has done so far as the appointment of the supreme court justice. i think people should have a lot of confidence and some of the grown-ups in the administration. donald trump presided over shame transition. he was unfit to be president and prove that almost from the moment he walked in the door and created the chaos around him. this presidency is not really shaped by its staff, it's shaped by the character and judgment of donald trump and he's a 70-year-old man. he's not going to change. we will see. give it a few minutes, honestly general kelly has not been able, in terms of conservative, he has no fixed principles whatsoever.
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it's hard to see there would be a dramatic turning point. will he be a conservative leader? will he move and work with the democrats? if he makes the alliance with chuck and nancy, we still argue this is a great conservative moment that the movement is intact? >> i think many people never viewed him as a conservative in that fashion. this was about a reformation. it was about getting someone in who would understand business, who could make decisions, who could get things done. this is part of the other problem. when you look at his approval rating today it's the highest it's been since the inauguratio inauguration, congress is going between eight and 10%. part of his job is to get
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things done in congress but americans aren't seeing that he's the problem. they are seeing the same thing we've seen for decades about whether things get done in congress, what kinds of things do move forward, is it really about limited government, is it really about handling the budget properly, and americans aren't seeing that when it comes to who's getting something done. >> which americans are we talking about? >> certainly we would love to have a president, we have americans who do not think he is levelheaded or fit for office. they're embarrassed by him. his approval rating, what america are we talking about. >> were talking about the same america, he's under 50%. they're giving congress eight and 10%. it is that america was looking
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at the spectrum, viewing him more positively, but it could be higher. in the political element of this, americans are watching and assessing in a certain way. for most people who voted for him, we want him to be successful because we want the country to be. we've seen the markets go up, we've got more money in the market, people are anticipating the issue with tax cuts. this is all about governing, absolutely. also bringing on. [inaudible] it's also about governing, you're absolutely correct. this is a test now for both congress and the president. the obamacare dynamic is key.
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it's a microcosm of what people are rejecting. six years of campaigning on repeal and replace. when it came down to it they wouldn't do it. how do you explain that in the spectrum of why they rejected i it. >> for six or seven years, every republican said we are going to get rid of obamacare. this is one of the stories i tell, the quick conservative who are making promises they cannot fulfill and then when they were not realized, then convincing that these they were being pretrade and that we needed to rise up. what happened is we
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overpromised, under delivered and now suddenly they have congress and the president and they say what you do with obamacare. turns out they didn't have any good answers. they had a president who could not be bothered to learn the details of policy or to sell the policy. we ended up, you probably remember when we complained about obamacare being rammed rammed through, compared to what the republicans wanted to do without a single hearing or debate, there were no speeches, no selling and yet somehow we are surprised that failed. i think the worst thing that has happened to conservatives in the past eight months is
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this desire to enable the dysfunction and to define a scapegoat. i think many don't feel he can fail, he can only be's daft in the back. there's this constant -- >> when it comes to a president who will not lead, is there anything he can do that would soften your rhetoric? you've called him many things and you've condemned him, effectively. is there anything he can do, and you are operating, have you met the president so your conclusion are based on what you've seen and you've made judgments which is what our job is to do, but is there anything he could do and his
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efforts to lead, is there anything you can praise whether it's a response to the hurricane, stock market and at least the vision and goals that he's trying to help and implement. >> i described in the book that i'm a conservative. it does not mean i'm against everything he does. in fact, when he does something you agree with, you applaud him. i think some of the other executive orders have been pushing the country in the right direction, and pushing to do more of the right things, but also i don't feel
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that donald trump's personal success needs to be defended on it every particular case. i'm not gonna rationalize or pretend when he's behaving in a clownish way or like a buffoon. when he's reckless and dangerous i think he needs to be called reckless and dangerous. when he's betraying fundamental conservative values, i think they need to say he's betraying conservative values. i would hope that conservative understands, this may be the ultimate, and i know you understand this the victory is that you win the battle but at such a cost you lose the war. unless we stand up, we are going to be stained by all of this. are conservatives really going to rationalize and defend everything this president does? are we going to pretend certain things aren't happening. >> is it worth working so that for people hearing this program, getting a certain impression that all is lost
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when we've described his certain successes. if he is the person you described, it's fascinating that certain judgment is there , the praise he's received in houston and in florida, he's been in for the ricoh. there's politics everywhere. we know the difference between mayors who are democrats who are working to make sure what some people say is a narrative which is to denigrate him enough where nothing can get done. people are concerned that's what's happening. >> donald trump is not the victim here. >> this is the thing that fascinates me. his supporters believe that he's a leader, he strong, actually, he's thin skinned and whiny and he plays the victim card.
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he's a man who can't take the punch. he punches back. >> how is this when we say we want him to succeed and you can't do that by being in groupthink or supporting him. how does that conversation and those accusations are description, how does that help us encourage someone to be a leader and engage? a lot of people think that it doesn't, but this is not forward thinking at all when it comes to the president and the governing of the country. >> donald trump is donald trump and he is gonna be who is going to be. he's a billionaire, he's the president, but i want to shift the focus to little bit to what is he doing to us. what is he doing to conservatives in the republican party and to the culture and the level of our discourse.
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whatever his a local accomplishments are, some will be positive and some will be negative, i think the damage that he's doing to cause is that i believe in and i care about will be long-lasting, i also think the damage the country will be long-lasting. first of all the dishonesty. >> we know you don't like his style. >> you've described him in these terms as well but then you've decided to support him. >> but that's an interesting point. at one point then you say they don't need to sacrifice their dignity and principles. >> this is an important part of the conversation, recognizing and going through a passionate, political framework, seeing on the surface what we will respond to, for me as a feminist and a woman and a gay woman and
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believing that there could be certain alternatives but remaining engaged, seeing what the alternatives are, what the conversations have been, what's being represented and what's not. coming to it a conclusion as many women did that in fact, he isn't necessarily the man we will marry. were not looking for a boyfriend but the nation was at such a point where in fact yes, we are looking for leadership and someone who will change the trajectory. those are things were making political decisions and voting, the difference between what we think of the nature of what our job has been in the job we expect of him to be so this is where this happens. if were talking about the country and damage and your
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concern with the president and we talk about congress and what you write about here, the people you admire, paul ryan, the history of the conservativism and they want people to know that there's a section in here that's very helpful in the sense of the nature of what the conservative intellectual has been, what it is now, and what matters to you and where this foundation is. what do you say when bill kristol is tweeting his anger and paul ryan and mitch mcconnell. you have the base separate from trump of damage of change, of being unable to present something or win or present an alternative, they
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were unable to defeat him. doesn't that speak about the party itself or the lack of leadership. that's the core of the issue. >> is an interesting question. one of the questions i had asked was the seat represent continuity or not in the republican party. was this a hostile takeover of an otherwise coherent party. he is a symptom of things that are wrong rather than in the facts. he is an effect as well. i think all of that incoherence is playing out on a national stage. the garrotte right now. they control the presidency, the house, the senate, a majority of the supreme court, and yet what is getting done? what is getting accomplished. this is the moment we step back and you say the republican party has gone very
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good at understanding what it was against, we hate barack obama, want to be hillary clinton and make liberals cry, we hate the news media but what are our policy answers. congressional leadership who has also been very critical of the president are not interested in helping him succeed. do you agree with that or not? >> first of all, almost all the problems with donald trump has experienced in his first eight months have been
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self-inflicted. i understand he likes to play the victim card, but the comments, the decision to fire the fbi director, a variety of these things have been done to himself so to the extent that donald trump is not succeeding, the buck stops there. can you imagine that on donald trump's desk, who can i blame, who can i tweet storm. but look. i'm very critical of paul ryan who i consider a friend because in fact i think he's made a bargain with donald trump. he is working so hard to get some of this legislation through that he's willing to overlook a lot of things that the president has done and a lot of things he has said. keep in mind the house representative did pass and obama repeal and they're likely to pass reform, tax
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reform so ultimately at what point does the buck stop with donald trump and i understand they feel the need to defend donald trump, but at some point, on those defenses enabling him, get out from behind your twitter account and go talk to the american people about taxes. go explain why. maybe while you're doing that, release your own tax return until the other swamp creatures you brought to washington to stop milking the taxpayers and get out there and start talking about these issues. where was the leadership on healthcare. where was the leadership on taxes. >> many people see when the house does something, and as we've discussed, the senate is not on another planet. they know what's happening, they know each other and its leadership of the party. a lot of people have grown past the idea that there is
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this genuine fight or at least there's a recognition that republicans in the house can say we did pass this and the senate just can't figure out what to d do. it seems to be the convenient and where nothing does get done so you have the motion of we did ask and we can't do anything about obamacare or taxes until we get the senate and then we got the senate and we can't do it so we get the white house. we gave them the white house. someone who articulated during the campaign exactly what his focus is going to be, obamacare, taxes, job economy and yet it's as though there is this stoppage on the agenda and legislatively, that they are getting things onto his
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desk. >> it turned out in retrospect. to suggest this with all of the appearance that the republicans have, mcconnell and john mccain, decades of knowing what the process is, to blame it on the president exclusively, this is where they say this is not making sense. where can mcconnell go. what should he be doing. is the senate obstructing?
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is it time for new leadership. is it time for the gop to have new leadership that's interested in legislation and moving things forward. >> yes, but i retire about the president. >> i've been talking about congressional leadership. >> i understand that. >> they been in there for decades. >> 1981, massive tax cuts were passed. what were they known as, the reagan tax cuts. he didn't make excuses. democrats controlled congress. >> there were relationships, absolutely. >> yes because the president didn't spend time on twitter attacking. >> so you're saying he's not helping and obstructing because he's not seeing enough of donald trump. >> i'm actually not defending, what i'm staying is is this what conservativism has become?
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as opposed to saying look, let's talk about our ideas and small government and deficit. how do we make people, how do we make their lives better. donald trump, conversation you and i are having is exactly the conversation in some ways that i had with the left. the left said donald trump is conservative. he is the conservative movement. he represents everything conservatives have ever stood for. >> they feel you have already spent years controlling the narrative about what conservativism is and it's easier to put him in that box. no one has expected him to be conservative which is in fact maybe what the point was that
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we need a businessman of action. i'm not arguing at all that this is about the conservative movement. this is about triage. this is about who you find an emergency room when you brought in. we need to move from triage. >> that's a good analogy. i bring in inexperienced doctor. i don't bring in a reality tv star. i don't bring in the guy who founded trump university. i don't bring in someone who's known for making promises they can't keep. >> americans do not see him in that way and have made that determination. >> some have seen him that
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way. >> well enough to that he is the triage guy. if we take that and have faith in that decision for a moment, the house and the senate, you can always bring it back to the president, understand. >> in this book, i mean to get to this as well. we actually both come from a liberal ground. this is what excites me a great deal about politics in the country. here we are talking about the conservative movement. you're a republican. >> i'm not anymore. >> identify as conservative. you do as well. we are very different.
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that is a bridge also that hasn't really been met when it comes to if we both can be. those conversations, the issue of faith, what it means to each of us as individuals, this is a book, this is personal. the politics are personal. it's about what you stand for, what i stand for, what were worried about. we have the same worry with different individuals that we think need to be dealt with. i do see, and i think people felt comfortable voting for president trump because of the idea of the individuals who were in congress, of the balance of what would occur. no one expected congress to be stalled. that's what's harming things even more, because of the passion in which people feel
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about trump and working with him versus what can we do as conservatives we have to get past the vitriol of what the american people did in the election. what is the number one thing. if you have ten different republicans i think we might get ten different answers about what the first thing to do would be. like i said, what's exposed are some real problems in the conservative movement. there's a phrase, i don't know that i actually use it in the book, but i use it a lot. it turned out a lot of things i believed in may have been representative of zombie conservativism. we had been saying the same things for many, many years as
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if the same solutions that were applicable in the 1980s to the 1970s still need to be applied right now. we as conservatives have not adapted. we haven't really changed our approach issues sufficiently. some would say isn't that what donald trump did but i do think he exploited some grievances in some unfortunate way, but let's face it. this should be the moment of maximum success for the republican party. we needed to win all these things, and yet here we are. that's why i try, in the book, to talk about the conservative movement and how it's been tearing itself apart over decades and over years. >> that i think is valuable in your personal story and how americans change politically, young democrats come he go to
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become a journalist which is a perfect pairing and then just like your father, a liberal who didn't like what he saw with the vietnam war, adapted and changed the events that were happening in your life. americans, arguably are going to the very same thing right now. the value of the conservative movement, the intellectual movement of the definition of of ideas, but also its fluid. they're much more fluid because they are open to ideas. with the goal of wanting the country to exceed, i have a goal of wanting the country to succeed. and wanting the president to succeed. what would you say to those who are trying to save the nation with a very unique man at the helm. what can conservatives do to
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bring us through this to remain that shining city on a hill. >> i think we need to go back to principles. i think we need to go back to the concept of william f buckley and what is conservative. i also think we need to go back to first principles like making sure we do no harm. let's remember why the constitution was written the way it was. was not written so one party could get everything it wanted. process actually mattered. the rule of law mattered. respect for the rule of law mattered. it would be great if we could get back to a moment where we would hold everyone to the same standard where we have complete moral relativism where everybody switches their standard depending on, i
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frankly think, if there's a diagram between liberals and conservatives of them, things like truth, the rule of law, the importance of the balance of power, all of those things to keep our democracy intact and to also realize that we don't need to keep up the cycle of hyperpolarization. our real concern is that our politics are not about ideas or accomplishments anymore, it's really about attitude and it's making us more divided, meaner and or dumber in some ways. i would hope that intelligent voices on both sides of the divide -- >> for those not involved in
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politics, their goal, their agenda, what they want for the future, they see the sniping, the difficulties, the hyper partisanship also as a problem. how does this speak to this idea, this constant argument about what the president is or is not. he's clearly transparent. isn't this where america kind of delivers. >> i think he has written risen above the expectations himself. isn't that what the goal should be as facilitated by a functioning government, to do things to help the average person. >> you should start with reality on the ground.
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are we making people's lives better or making it easier for them to get into school, do we have an ethical framework of government. they're good and they're great and they're decent and resilient and hopefully they can get through this. >> i think we will. it's a very exciting time, this is a great book, how the right lost his mind, maybe, maybe not, lots of great stuff in here. your background and history of the movement and what we can and should be doing. take you for being here with me. great conversation. >> if you would like to view other "after words" programs online, go to our website at, type "after words" into the search bar and all previous "after words" episodes will be available.


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