tv Washington Journal Peter Wehner Discusses the Republican Party and... CSPAN January 29, 2017 4:22pm-4:53pm EST
it is not fair, not right. folks speak far better than me. i think they will be great americans. thank you, everybody. >> president donald trump spoke king of saudithe arabia and the crown prince of the united arab emirates. both countries are u.s. allies and part of the coalition battling the islamic state group. now we discussion examining the agenda of the trump administration and the republican party. from today's washington journal, this is 30 minutes. c-span.org or watch it on c-span television. we want to welcome back peter the former director of office at strategic initiatives for the bush administration.
good sunday morning. guest: great to be with you. host: let's start at the 30,000. . how is he doing? weeks do not determine the course of a presidency. tendenciese of the within him as president that worried me during the transition. word are showing. he does not have a real command of the issues. he is issuing executive orders where the legislation is being legislation onng immigration in this case. i think he is stirring things up. i think he is portraying himself to be an agent of change, which is one of the reasons he was elected. whether that is positive or negative remains to be seen. he has been a divisive force in
the country. i think there is clear evidence that is not going to change. host: how long have you been a republican? guest: my entire adult life. my first presidential election was 1980. i worked in his administration. i work in the george h.w. bush administration and the george w. bush white house. i will not be working in this one. host: i want to share with the audience a couple of opinion pieces you have written, one taking aim at barack obama. you said, the same country that twice elected mr. obama did not suddenly become a nation of deplorables, the destination of the democratic party came because mr. obama turned out to be great at poetry and that it grows. -- bad at prose. 2008 he spoke in a way
that lifted people's spirits. got is the first time we that in 2004. the 2008 campaign was a campaign of poetry, hope and change, uplift. that is why he was elected. the pros part is governing. i think he showed himself to be mediocre or worse. i think this stewardship of the economy was not good. his handling of the economy over the eight years was not very good. we had the lowest economic growth since world war ii. historically when you have a nasty session, the worse the recession, the better the rebound is. in this case that was not the case. you had workforce participation rate at the lowest point since the 1970's. the economy is sluggish. that is clearly one of the reasons why hillary clinton was
defeated and donald trump was elected. ishink the worst area overseas where the world is largely in chaos and falling apart. i do not describe all of the blame to him. i think his whole theory of foreign policy was lead from behind, and in the infamous words of one of his aides was shown to be a disaster. when you look from iraq to syria to egypt and on and on, the russian reset, relations with china, things have gotten worse. relations with our best allies like israel, and beyond that i think president obama came in promising to heal the divide in american politics. he did not do that. we are more polarized and divided now than when he took
office. democrats, and conservatives and liberals are to blame for that. president obama knew the country he was about to take over. the reality is he failed by one of the chief metrics he himself set up. he has admitted as much. host: another editorial, you have been busy writing, regards to president trump. when president trump is buffeted by events, when hard times come, when world leaders do not bend to his will, a pernicious thing will happen. rather than trying to address the alienation and anger that exists in america, he will amplify them. he will go in search of enemies. even republican leaders in order to create diversions that inflamed his most loyal supporters. guest: i think that is right.
time will tell if i am right on this. if i am wrong, i'm sure people will call that to my attention over the course of his presidency. i think we have seen more than enough of mr. trump to show that analysis is pretty much on the mark. one would have to understand that my primary concern with donald trump is not ideological, although i am a conservative and he is not, and that worries me. i think he is ideologically rootless. my concern about him has always been temperamental. i think his temperament and character are deeply problematic. i think you see also the manifestations of it. you saw it during the campaign. i think he is a man who is compulsive, the addictive, and impulsive. he does not abide by norms or standards. i think everything for him comes down to him.
is erratic, and that is dangerous to have in a president. that is fine in a reality television star. that may help the ratings. when you are president, you have a lot of power. i do not see a man who is reflective or has any kind of self-restraint. i do not even see the people around him have the capacity to restrain him. he won an election that was is historic. i am willing to give him the fact that he is able to tap into certain things in the american public. i just think what he is tapping into our the darker impulses of america, and that the key amplifies anger -- think he amplifies anger. beyond that, there is this bizarre attachment he has two conspiracy theories that he
throws out. tot recently that 3 million 5 million illegal immigrants him the popular vote. we are going to see an assault on the truth that i think is going to hurt us. that started on the left in the academy, postmodernism. crystallizedeen it in this form like we are about to see now. that concerns me. host: let's get to your phone calls. with peter wehner. guest: we are a think tank. we are a public policy research organization. we are conservative in approach and tend to view issues through the prism of judeo-christian moral traditions and put public
policies within a moral framework. we are medium-sized. i think they have some really excellent scholars that are part of that. i am proud to be part of it. host: thank you for waiting. go ahead. caller: good morning. guest: good morning. host: -- caller: you say a lot of true things, you know. i'm trying to figure out where you put the blame on president obama for going into iraq when you know george bush had an agreement with the iraqis, and he did not want none of the people to stay there. republicanomy, every voted against everything. it was in the tank. you still say he is to blame. we don't want to talk about the
oil spill we have and the diseases. let me ask you something, the worst came into thing anybody could come into. for the republicans not to say that they don't want to work with him, that he was going to be a one term president, and you know why the health insurance law, they cannot overturn it because it was inherited. god is so good because they cannot overturn what he did. thank you. guest: thank you. i agree with you god is good. we may disagree on some of the other stuff. let me try to this aggregate your question -- disaggregate your question. there is no question barack obama wanted to withdraw from iraq. if you read the stories from the new yorker and elsewhere on the record, it is clear he wanted to
withdraw all troops from iraq. he had no interest in getting a status of forces agreement. the prime minister at that time new it. barack obama ran on a commitment to get us out of iraq. he did. the cost for having done that was extraordinary. he inherited a country that was relatively speaking in good shape. don't take my word for it. take the word of joe biden and barack obama who talking about how peaceful -- talked about how peaceful iraq was in 2010. when we withdrew those troops, iraq descended into chaos. eventually isis came in and took over parts of syria and iraq and established what was essentially a caliphate state that did not have to happen. i feel like it was ideology that drove president obama to do what he did. i do think he was driven largely
by ideology. he fancied himself as trains olitical who transp came through with reasonable judgment. i don't think the record aligns with that. he did inherit a terrible recession. much of the reason it was mitigated was because of the tarp funding that president bush started before him and he continued. the recession ran its course and ended after a year or less in office. it has been the recovery since that the record does not hold up. he has not had a stronger down.y with wages flat or the increase in wages went to the top 20%. the stock market did well, but most americans were not happy. that explains in large part why donald trump is present.
obamacare, which is his signature domestic achievement, i think that was , fromd from the beginning healthcare.gov, which everyone knows is a disaster. president obama promised you could keep your doctor and health insurance, and that turned out to be false. it was unpopular during his presidency and is still unpopular. i don't think that is the fault of republicans. that is the fault of president obama because his name is attached to it. he is the co-author of wealth and justice and morality, democratic capitalism, veteran of three republican white house andserving as speechwriter special assistant to the office of drug control policy and served for how many years with
president george w. bush? guest: from 2001 until 2007. host: you mentioned iraq. estimated 134 million people affected by this band. your reaction. it is a bad idea. i think it is a bad idea. countries he has chosen are random. there is a random quality. the countries included happen to be the one that mr. trump does not have business dealings with. whether that is a coincidence or not we will let other people decide. the main problem as it relates islamic extremism in this country is ongoing.
since 2011, there have not been any examples of people from those countries being involved in terrorism. the way this is going to be interpreted is probably going to exacerbate some of the anti-american feelings among radical islamic people that are homegrown in this country. beyond that, it is going to make our job more difficult not easier. host: donald trump tweeted this morning a short while ago. guest: he is tweeting already? good heavens. i wish he would get more sleep. host: "our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting now. look at what is happening all over the world, a horrible mess!" extremism is a real problem. the question is whether this is
an action to deal with a real problem. , if he is going to have success as it relates to jihadism that is going to require defeating isis abroad and various extremist organizations. we will see what he comes up with. this is a man who said he would destroy isis very quickly. at the same time he said he would use no troops to do it. that would be a neat trick if he pulls it off. ban if it was going to address a problem and make america safer, i would be in favor of it. as best i can tell as it relates to syrian refugees, there is not a problem right now. there is a humane aspect to taking these people in and all of a sudden saying we are not going to. there is a haphazard quality to this. why not egypt, pakistan, saudi arabia?
i think that this kind of action is very consistent with what one would assume and predict with donald trump. disconnectedive -- in some extent from reality. i don't think it will be well done. handledthink it was well in airports. there are people with visas coming into this country who cannot do it now. it is early. we will see. i think incompetence is going to be a real issue with him and his administration. i think we will see more evidence of that as time unfolds. host: an editorial this morning, can mr. trump handle the truth? another tweak this morning from him, "somebody with aptitude and conviction should buy the fake
news and failing new york times. they need to run it frankly or fold it with dignity." good morning. caller: good morning. media, i think, i think. he is just one person. he is trying to impose his thoughts on everybody else. you know he is just one person. go back to cnn news. the news media is taking this going and going. host: we will stop you there. we appreciate your comments. guest: i cannot quite get who is the one person. host: i think she was referring to you. guest: i am one person. that is right. i may be wrong. i don't think i have cornered the market on truth. i'm pretty direct on my thoughts
on mr. trump, and events will unfold. he is president. he may turn out to be fantastic. he may turn out to be extraordinarily and unusually competent. he may turn out to be sober, thoughtful, informed. in may bring the country together rather than divide it and govern wisely. i don't think he will. as i said, there is a lot of ammunition and that in terms of what we saw in the campaign. that is not a state secret. those are hard facts. you mentioned the new york times headline. this is a real problem. areld trump, his comments not attached to the truth, or if they are, it is incidental. he is not driven by. he is engaged in an assault on truth.
he does not seem to want to let go. it has manifested itself in all sorts of ways. one way is this fictional account that there are three to 5 million people who voted illegally. this ridiculous and petty argument about the number of people that were at the inaugural event. he insisted it was the most ever. he sent his press secretary out on the saturday after he was inaugurated to make that case. host: you mentioned that. this photograph to be clear taken at approximately the same time, the noon hour on generate 20th 2009 when barack obama was sworn into office. and at approximately noon on january 20, 2017 when donald trump was sworn into office. guest: you can believe your lying eyes. this is not in dispute.
mr. trump saw him on television. he is completely discredited. mr. trump season as this authoritative voice on the legal votes that supposedly happened. i am old enough to remember when conservatives and republicans cared about the truth and felt like you had to align your arguments with truth and the reality of things. there seems to be some element within the right, not just the right, but i mostly hear about conservatives him because i am -- conservativism because i am myself conservative. donald trump is driving them in all sorts of places the they will deeply regret. you cannot work in a self-governing country if you cannot agree on basic facts. there is no percentage in possible -- persuasion possible.
you cannot make up your own facts. you cannot do it individually, and you cannot do it as president. host: we will go to new york. dave. good morning. caller: good morning. and curious about insurance trade barriers. guest: i think that is a huge problem. this goes to the point i was making earlier. republicans for the longest time have been free trade. one area in which donald trump has been consistent has been he is appears protectionist -- a f ierce protectionist. he is bringing people on the toht who were free traders reject that view. he could potentially get into a trade war with mexico, china,
which would be awful. free trade is a good idea. it works. it helps to lower prices and bring prosperity. you cannot stop it. you cannot stop globalization. most of the problems mr. trump identified, the blue-collar voters and workers in this country, which is very real. this is something a lot of us were talking about long before mr. trump got on the political stage. ofse problems are part automation and technology, not free trade. you cannot reverse them. he should not try to reverse them. if you worked in the horse and buggy industry when the automobile came, that would be difficult, but you cannot stop the automobile industry. there are people out there, whocipled conservatives
continue to make the case for conservative principles. in that respect, i would credit the conservative intellectual class and a lot of writers for having principles rather than getting on the trump bandwagon. a lot of commentators in the cable news world have embraced him. i think in doing so they have shown themselves to the hypocritical about beliefs they stated with some degree of animation and conviction. before he left office, you said the following about barack obama. is among the most talented campaigners we have ever seen. as president, he failed in a manner and on a scale that damaged his party, undermined faith in the institutions of government, and let the nation
more riven then he found it. the economy has been listless. the condition that allowed a cynical demagogue to rise up and succeed him." good morning. republican line. caller: it is kentucky. good morning. and to your guest speaker. forgeteaker seems to that this visa and green card was basically to bring people into work. is ahe is not telling you lot of these companies abuse it severely. the jobs, the pieces and the take cards, the jobs they americans can do. they want to sit there and lowball them, lowball the americans and bring cheaper workers from overseas. at the same time, he needs to get his facts straight.
the people that are drawing welfare right now can do the jobs of picking fruits and stuff. you are giving them a free check. you're just needs to get his facts straight. host: thank you. nice to say that i need to get my facts straight, but you not pointed out the fact that i stated incorrectly. you are conflating several things, the refugee band with the immigration proposal. on issues of immigration, we may not disagree profoundly. i am in favor of immigration, but i think we should reform the immigration system like we need to reform so many systems in this country, education, tax, entitlements, and others. i think we need to appreciate immigration policy, which was set in the mid-1960's, away from low skill to high skilled workers. we should use this to bring in
the most qualified people who help this country economically. undoing some of the immigration laws we have. i am fine with that. there is a real debate and scholarly debate about whether low skill immigrants coming to this country, how many jobs they cost and how many they create. the reality is if you look at the troubles plaguing blue-collar workers in this country, even if you believe that immigration policy is responsible for some of that, it is very small. it is true that those workers to bring things to this country as well. the idea that the problems plaguing americans today are driven primarily by low income immigrants is not accurate. i think the real debate is how much of a problem is it or how much of a benefit is it.
i am in favor of changing our immigration system to bring in high skilled workers. host: i want to follow up on point of you working with three presidents. leon panetta said one of the hallmarks was his ability to tell president clinton or president obama, you are wrong. do you think this white house has a person in the administration will tell resident trump he is wrong? guest: i don't suspect so. even if they do, i don't think it will matter. i don't think he is suffering collective enough to take those reflective self enough to take those words of counsel. i think he is probably surrounded by sycophants who don't want to tell him he is wrong. i think they are understandably worried about the blowback and the anger that would elicit a mr. trump. it isf they do, i think
like spitting in the wind. it would not matter to him. we know from the campaign there were people that tried to change him to make them more responsible and less reckless. it did not matter. it might last for a week or 10 days, but in the end he will be who he is. i think he will turn out to be a pernicious force in american politics and hurt our country thefor the world -- hurt world. i think it is unfortunate. host: for those that want to follow your work, where is the best place to go? guest: if you check out the ethics and public policy center, you can google that. i write for the new york times twice per month. host: >> these that "washington
journal" light every day with policy issues that impact you. coming up tomorrow morning, a correspondent will discuss interactions with congressional leaders. washingtonff news correspondent will talk about lowers promise to prescription drug prices. be sure to watch "washington journal" live at 7:00 eastern on monday morning. join the discussion. >> now, utah governor gary herbert delivers his annual state of the state address at the state capitol in salt lake city. this is 25 minutes. [applause]