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Friday, April 27, 2012

Time To Wake Up - Seth Leibsohn's Morning Monologue on Bill Bennett's Morning in America

The following transcript was sent to The Elephant in the Room by Bill Bennett's Morning in America radio show. For those that don't know, Morning in America is a radio show that airs live Monday through Friday from 6:00am to 9:00am, EST. It is hosted by Dr. William Bennett, the former U.S. Secretary of Education. Bennett's radio show is an insightful one, and he runs it just as we run our blog: respectfully, and guided with truth and fact. Bill does not engage in shouting matches and he slings no insults. His show is nothing but intelligent, fact-based debate where all viewpoints are discussed and respected regardless of platform.


On Fridays, the show is run by a special guest host (usually Seth Leibsohn). The host runs the show in the same manner as Bill and never deviates from the values of thoughtful debate that Bill maintains throughout his broadcasts.

Below is the transcript from today's show. I think it raises good, fair questions about the President's record, his accomplishments, and his overall push for Obama-defined "fairness." Agree or not, in my opinion, it's a good debate especially with a general election that's 6 months away.

Time To Wake Up

February 24, 2012

As Broadcast on Bill Bennett's Morning in America

By: Seth Leibsohn

Dwight Lyman Moody put it this way: “The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it.”  I’ve always liked that quote, and I think it’s an excellent instruction in how to comport ones’ self on a daily basis—in character, integrity, and in facing adversity.  But I’ve been thinking about that quote all week as I’ve been thinking about our politics, our presidential campaign, and our country.  Because, at the end of the analysis of this administration’s past three and a half years, I’m worried that a contrast in character of the candidates is simply not enough, not in politics, not in the politics we have to contend with today. 

And yet, denouncing and arguing hasn’t worked either; at least not the way we’ve been doing it, and not thus far.  The RealClearPolitics average of polls right now has Obama up over Romney, by nearly four points.  That tells me this is a close election.  And everything can get shaken up—Carter was trouncing Reagan at various times throughout 1979 and 1980, too.

But there’s something different going on this time.  In this election, race will be invoked—we already see that.  Religion will be invoked—we already see that.  Economic divisiveness will be invoked—we already see that.  And we can never expect that the mainstream media will give our side a fair shake.  We have a lot of work cut out for ourselves.  Perhaps a lot more than usual.

So I’m thinking it may be time to start turning the language of Barack Obama around, taking it upon ourselves, and appealing to the fundamental decency of our fellow citizens.  President Obama likes to talk about fairness.  A lot.  And so, too, should we.

I’d like to start with some questions on first responsibilities.  The Constitution says we wrote our Constitution—and wrote our nation into existence—to, among other things (and just a few other things at that), “Provide for the common defense” and “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”  And so, John Jay, wrote in the Third Federalist Paper: “Among the many objects to which a wise and free people find it necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their SAFETY seems to be the first.”  And he defined “SAFETY” this way: “as it respects security for the preservation of peace and tranquility, as well as against dangers from FOREIGN ARMS AND INFLUENCE, as from dangers of the LIKE KIND arising from domestic causes.”

So, a few questions:  Is it fair to the American people, is it fair to our allies, is it fair to our military (and please keep in mind how much both parties like to speak about how much they care about our soldiers) that President Obama has put forth plans to cut our military?  Is it fair that he wants to cut it so much we will only be able to fight in one land war at a time?  Is it fair to our military that he is also cutting the salaries, health care and retirement benefits of our current military?

Is it fair to our allies that he stripped them of Missile Defense, in order to appease Russia?  And has Russia done anything for us in return?  Was it fair to the American people that President Obama signed a treaty with Russia that gave Russia a veto over American missile defenses?

How about other friends:  Was it fair that President Obama bowed to China in refusing to meet with the Dalai Lama—his fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, for goodness sakes?  In fact, let’s quote the Dalai Lama, because he says something else that I’ve always liked and contemplate a lot:  “Our chief purpose in this life is to help other people. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.”  Is that the Obama record?

Let us continue:  Is it fair to the American people, has it helped them or has it actually hurt them, that President Obama killed off the jobs creating and energy producing XL Pipeline from Canada?  And that his administration is responsible for “canceled leases on federal lands in Utah,” “suspended leases in Montana,” “delayed leases in Colorado and Utah, and canceled lease sales off the Virginia coast,” according to Investors Business Daily?  Is it fair to the American people, has it helped them or has it actually hurt them, that his canceling of domestic energy efforts and slow walking of permits has taken place as the price of gasoline has gone up at the same time, from $1.83 a gallon to almost four dollars a gallon?

Is it fair to the American people, has it helped them or has it actually hurt them, that unemployment has gone up under his presidency and we’ve had the longest streak of over eight percent unemployment since the Great Depression?  But the real unemployment rate, to quote Jim Pethokoukis, isn’t even close to eight percent: if you include “the discouraged plus part-timers who wish they had full time work. That unemployment rate, perhaps the truest measure of the labor market’s health, is a sky-high 14.9%.”  Is that fair to the American people, has it helped them or has it actually hurt them?  

Is it fair to the American people, has it helped them or has it actually hurt them, that this administration has increased the national debt five trillion dollars? Is it fair to the American people, has it helped them or has it actually hurt them, that President Obama has not submitted a budget with less than one trillion dollars in deficit spending even as he promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term?

I’ve not even spoken of what I think will be the twin foreign policy relics of his presidency: Egypt and Iran. Is it fair to the American people, has it helped them or has it actually hurt them; was it fair to the Egyptian people, has it helped them or has it actually hurt them; was it fair to the Israelis, has it helped them or has it actually hurt them that President Obama assisted in ushering out our ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt only to create a situation where the Muslim Brotherhood would take over that country?  A take over, by the way, that has turned the Sinai into a terror zone and that just this week witnessed the canceling (by Egypt) of natural gas supplies to Israel.

Was it fair to the American people, has it helped them or has it actually hurt them, that when a radical Islamic nation at war with us for over thirty years and attempting to acquire nuclear weapons had its own revolution in the streets, a revolution poised to topple that nation, this President said we would not meddle—ensuring the safety and sanctity of the radical Islamic regime?  I’m of course speaking of Iran.  Was it fair to the Iranian people, did it help them or did it actually hurt them that President Obama said we would not meddle, even as protestors in the streets were asking “Where’s Obama?”

Now, let us go to the news of this week:  Has it been fair to the American people, has it helped them or has it actually hurt them, that he not only criticized Arizona for trying to tamp down on illegal immigration with a law that mirrored the federal law but then went on to sue the state and encourage boycotts?  Has it been fair to the American people, has it helped them or has it actually hurt them, that he allowed the Mexican president—standing by his side—to condemn Arizona?  Has it been fair to the American people, has it helped them or has it actually hurt them, that he has allowed his State Department officials to compare Arizona’s illegal immigration law to the Chinese as being on par with China’s human rights abuses?

By the way: If you want what we were told was one of the best defenses of Arizona, see the op-ed Bill and I did in 2010 for National Review.  It’s linked here and at

On the domestic tranquility and common defense front, just one last question:  Is it fair to the American people, will it help them or will it actually hurt them, to take the posture, as was done this week, that the war on terror is over?  Here’s the story from the non-partisan, the exquisitely non-partisan, National Journal: “The Obama administration is taking a new view of Islamist radicalism. The president realizes he has no choice but to cultivate the Muslim Brotherhood and other relatively "moderate" Islamist groups emerging as lead political players out of the Arab Spring in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere.”  Thus, “The war on terror is over,” according to the State Department.

So finally, is it fair to the American people, will it help them or will it actually hurt them, to believe there is no choice but to cultivate the Muslim Brotherhood and call Islamist groups “moderate?”  By the way, the official motto of the Muslim Brotherhood, as we cannot tire of stating: “Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”  And Hamas—on our State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, the group that trains children in martyrdom in camp, school, and on television—is a self-identified Muslim Brotherhood organization.

Fairness to America and her friends.  Helpful to America and her friends.  Hurtful to American and her friends.  Just what is the straight stick and what, at long last, is the crooked one?  And just what will it mean to ratify this history?  That, perhaps, is the most crucial question of all.

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  1. I immediately was set back and stopped reading in astonishment of the first thing he mentions, in it being unfair that 'Obama wishes to cut back military spending.'

    I have trouble taking the rest of the dialogue seriously just from that. Our military spending is out of control and excessive, and to deny that is akin to a liberal saying our entitlements are perfectly OK.

    We do not need more military spending, nor do we need to have spending higher than the next ten countries combined. We do not need to be able to wage two land wars at once, especially being a country practically alone on its own continent that is bordered by two completely friendly (and non-threatening) allies.

    Additionally, he continues on to say that ‘Obama will cut healthcare and veteran benefits’, but that couldn’t be anymore false. He’s actually done more for veterans thus far than many other presidents.

    I’d wager that before judging anyone on fairness, he should perhaps re-evaluate the fairness (and accuracy) of his statements.

    There is plenty of room for constructive and meaningful criticism of our President and the administration, but this is not one of them.

  2. Rken:

    I can see your point about the wars. I really can. I also thought making the point about fighting more than one ground war (like it was some kind of necessity) was a little odd. So I can surely see your point there.

    For military spending, that's not up to you or me. How much is too much? Too little? I don't think we are experts. Same for entitlements.

    In all honestly, I am a little disappointed in you saying you couldn't take the rest of the dialogue seriously. You're a good analyzer and a good writer. This article does make good points. I think they are fair, and they address a key issue: Obama's record. I am astonished, too, that he is leading in the polls. This article addresses that and it really should say, "how are you people still behind this guy."

    Obama has cut health benefits overall. Raiding medicare is one example. You know this, though. That's okay. These are your opinions and I DO respect you and them. One of these days, I will go head to head with you. Take care.

    1. Oh, don't get me wrong, I still read the dialogue in its entirety.

      The comment about the military just overshadowed everything else for me, and even seemed out of place with the momentum of the remainder of what was said. So with that I felt that I'd just have it as my focus, as it also is particularly important to me.

      Thanks for the comments though; happy we see eye to eye on the military concerns. Admittedly of course I wouldn't (nor any of us really) know where to start in what to cut where and how much, and what is a 'good area' of spending to be at. But the message is still worth delivering.

  3. My my my... Rken and MN 4 Rick, the first takes SL's words out of context the other politely agrees and congratulates him on his insights. Where is one to find a straight edge? SL's comment on the military begins "Is it fair to the American people, is it fair to our allies, is it fair to our military... to cut the military (spending)." The point being that any reduction in the US military further erode the American people's and our country's allies will to stand up to the tyrants of world. Gentlemen to your surprise their are worst human conditions then war and war at time is the only way to avoid them.