Phil Donahue Talks War and Politics

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 8, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


YOUNG SEAN HANNITY: You know what I think the No. 1 problem in America is?

PHIL DONAHUE, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST: You didn't hear my question.

HANNITY: I'm answering your question.

DONAHUE: You don't like my question.

HANNITY: I'll answer it my way. The No. 1 problem in America in my view is failure to take responsibility.

DONAHUE: Thank you for the speech.

HANNITY: That's my position.

DONAHUE: But you haven't answered my question.

HANNITY: I'm not encouraging people to take responsibility for their actions. And I think adults who get pregnant, there's no reason for...

DONAHUE: I'm encouraging you to take responsibility for my question.


SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Look, I was a little bit younger there.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Who was that?

HANNITY: That, of course, was the great Phil Donahue and one of my early TV appearances.

Watch the interview with Phil Donahue Part 1 | Part 2

DONAHUE: You look like you just made your first communion right now.

HANNITY: Oh I deserved that. How are you?

DONAHUE: I'm well, thank you, thank you.

HANNITY: Now, you can't remember that show. I mean, you did, what, 6,000 shows?

DONAHUE: I did. I'm Cal Ripken. At least that's what I claim to be.

HANNITY: Well, first of all, welcome back to the program.

Because we can't debate the war, and I want to get into all the details of your documentary. I want to ask you this as a broader question.

In the last century of humanity, we lost between 130 and 180 million souls. And I wrote a whole book about "Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism." I'm proud. It was No. 1 on the New York times, Mr. Donahue.

But the question is what are we to do with fascism, communism, totalitarianism, Nazism, now terrorism? Don't we have to be at war with those that will kill innocence, as we saw in the last century?

DONAHUE: Sean, this is a massive blunder. And what you appear to be saying to me is, "Hey, we lost all those people. Hey, listen, war happens." That is cynicism that is lethal. That is the attitude that gets us into these wars that — six minutes to get in and, what, 60 years to get out? I mean, Sean, even you...

HANNITY: Even me?

DONAHUE: Really, I see you as a very reasonable guy. We have to, all of us, look in the mirror and say, "What have we done here?"

Are you willing to send more people, throw them on the sword for this mistake that has cost us economically? People can't find a good job. The dollar is falling against the euro; barrels of oil through the roof. People are going to lose their homes. We owe the world everything.

And you're saying we've got to — because they might, Iran — we can't — we go to war for what people — what we think people will do, not for what they do.

HANNITY: Can I answer you? Because I asked you a philosophical question, trying to avoid Iraq because there's a broader question. And I want you to...

DONAHUE: I'm listening.

HANNITY: Because you are a liberal. Liberals care about human rights and human souls.

DONAHUE: They sure do.

HANNITY: And gender and race.

DONAHUE: And the United States Constitution is what we care about.

HANNITY: Well, so do conservatives.

DONAHUE: Why — why didn't you — why was the Iraq war resolution unconstitutional, and why didn't you speak up against it?

HANNITY: Because it wasn't, and it was the right thing to do.

But if you look at Pol Pot and the killing fields, if you look at Nazi Germany, if you look at Stalin's Russia, totalitarianism, 130 million souls. Phil Donahue, we have images of children in the north in Iraq that were gassed by Saddam Hussein. And to assume that it wouldn't happen again is naive on a level that ought not even be discussed after 9/11.

You — do you want me to put up the images of those kids, dead from that weapons of mass destruction?

DONAHUE: And so that's why we have — by the way, ten Americans died in Iraq the last two days. Ten Americans. Mothers are going to look out the window, probably happening right now, as the two uniformed officers come up that front walk.

HANNITY: It's horrible.

DONAHUE: They faint.

HANNITY: It's horrible.

DONAHUE: But boy, the laptop bombers who would never think of sending their own sons and daughters to this war, can't wait to send more.

HANNITY: Senator McCain's son went.

DONAHUE: Senator McCain is the exception, and my hat is off to him. A rare exception.

COLMES: By the way, I don't think we did stop totalitarianism in Iraq. We didn't stop the fighting. We didn't stop the bloodshed.

DONAHUE: Thank you.

COLMES: Because that continues to go on in Iraq day after day. But let me ask you...

DONAHUE: I need you to go around with me. I'm getting old. Go ahead.

COLMES: Let me ask you about Thomas Young.

DONAHUE: Thank you.

COLMES: Let me ask you about this film. Who is Thomas Young?

DONAHUE: Thomas Young is a 20-something heartland kid, Kansas City, signed up 9/13. Wanted to go get the evildoers, saw the president on the pile.

He's at Fort Hood in training and "Why am I going to Iraq?" His light-bulb went on right away. Too late. He's in. He goes to Iraq.

Five days, the bullet comes down here, exits the T-4 part of his spine. He is paralyzed from the nipples down. Twenty-five years — he was 24 when he was hit. Paralyzed. He can't walk. He can't talk.

COLMES: He was in an unarmored vehicle.

DONAHUE: There was no top on the truck. You know, 26 guys in the back of the truck. They could hardly move, and they were fish in a barrel. Main Street, Sadr City.

COLMES: Finds himself in Sadr City, thinking, "I'm going to handle this." This is his patriotism.

DONAHUE: Right, right.

COLMES: Thinking, "I want to go into Afghanistan after the terrorist camps."

DONAHUE: That's what he wanted to do. He wanted to go get bin Laden. He wanted to go to Afghanistan.

And now people are saying, "Well, you signed up. You volunteered." And he volunteered to go to Afghanistan, not to Iraq. Iraq is Bush's war.

They thought they were going to have a merry little war. You can tell. That stunt on the aircraft carrier.

COLMES: You hear Rumsfeld saying, "We'll be in and out in six months."

DONAHUE: Really. People out there, Sean wants to keep going.

COLMES: He went in — you say he went in as one kind of patriot and came out as another kind of patriot.

DONAHUE: That's a very good way to put it.

COLMES: What does that mean?

DONAHUE: He's a warrior turned anti-warrior. He's a warrior who realizes that, first of all, you shouldn't shush a nation when a president decides he's going to go to war. If we ever needed the First Amendment, we need it then.

We have people honestly believing that, if a president calls a war, you have to shut up and sing. That is not the nation my mother raised me to pledge my allegiance to. We should speak out. That's when we need it the most.

And by the way, I'm almost finished. We sent thousands of Americans to foreign battlefields to protect our way of life, which includes free speech. If we're not going to use it where we need it the most, stop wasting their blood. Don't send any more.

If you're not going to use it, it's already lost. We'll find a Mussolini who will tell us what's good for us.



COLMES: And we now continue our interview with television personality and co-director of "Body of War," Phil Donahue.


HANNITY: Go back to my fundamental point. Fascism was evil; Nazism was evil; imperial Japan was evil. Totalitarian communism was evil, Phil. And it took blood, sweat, tears, financial burden, and a horrible, horrible price to pay.

And I would argue, and then I will let you have the floor, and I'll shut up, that today's modern-day evil empires...


HANNITY: ... are Ahmadinejad, Assad, Hamas, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda. And if we don't fight them the same way, we risk what we saw in the last century, which is hundreds of millions, perhaps more, if you couple it with weapons of mass destruction, dead.

It's not that any of us on the conservative side like war, Phil. Nobody wants to see innocent people die. We don't want to see our neighbors lose their legs and suffer for the rest of their lives. But we do see the danger that we can have a repeat of the last century.

You have the floor.

DONAHUE: So you're arguing that we are safer because we attacked Iraq.

HANNITY: You're darn right. Absolutely.

DONAHUE: We are safer?

HANNITY: Yes. It was the right thing to do.

DONAHUE: And we'll be — and we'll be even safer when we bomb Iran, huh?

HANNITY: Well, it all depends. I would rather have a peaceful resolution. But if he's going to continue to deny the Holocaust and threaten to blow Israel off the map, we may — may, unfortunately — need to strike. Or Israel may strike them.

DONAHUE: Would you bomb Gaza? Right. Would you bomb Gaza?

HANNITY: You're asking me. I'm not bombing anything. I am saying that, if you don't confront evil like Ahmadinejad — are you going to wait for him to launch a missile into Israel and Tel Aviv?

DONAHUE: We go to war, not for what the other guy does, but for what we think he's going to do. He's going to this...

HANNITY: Or what he does do.

DONAHUE: You should hear this debate. It's in our movie., by the way, is our Web site. I mean, he's coming. He's outside your bedroom window. He's under your bed. Saddam has this; Saddam has that.

(Makes panting noises)

You can feel the heartbeat of the nation start to accelerate as this president scared the hell out of the nation.

HANNITY: Did you ever see the dead children?

DONAHUE: You make a very important point. We sold him the gas he used to kill those people. You're going like this.

HANNITY: Are you going to blame America?

DONAHUE: Oh no, I'm blaming America.

HANNITY: He launched chemical weapons at his own people. You're going to blame America?

COLMES: So it was the...

DONAHUE: We sold them — Rumsfeld shook his hand in the '80s.

COLMES: It was around the time the Kurds were being bombed that the Reagan Commerce Department gave permission to sell the raw material.

HANNITY: So it's America's fault? It's America's fault he did it?

DONAHUE: Thank you, Alan. Thank you, Alan.


HANNITY: Blame America.

COLMES: I'm not blaming America.

DONAHUE: Blame — you see that? Wherever you turn, "You're not allowed to say that. Blame America. Shhh, shhh, shhh."

COLMES: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

DONAHUE: These people...

HANNITY: These people.

COLMES: We had Paul — Pat Robertson said the ACLU and the communist sympathizers and the — and the abortionists and the feminists caused 9/11. That's...

DONAHUE: Amazing, amazing, amazing. Unconstitutional. I'm going to — listen, you're going to lose this one, Sean. Don't get out there with this. This was an unconstitutional resolution giving the president permission, if he has to.

HANNITY: Okay. Last question. Does that mean you're going to vote for Hillary?

DONAHUE: I'm going to vote for the Democrat. I'll tell you who after...

COLMES: Do we just turn around and leave Iraq? What do we do?

DONAHUE: We — we went to the moon. We can — we can certainly withdraw from Iraq in a way, with a coalition of nations — certainly, the U.K. has to help us in this. We should rebuild the destruction of the devastation that we've brought to this nation. We should help these people reach out. It's going to be tough.

I don't know what's going to happen, Alan, if we pull out of Iraq. But I do know what is going to happen if we stay. We had 10 Americans die in the last two days. That's going to continue, continue. More Americans are going to die for a mistake.

This isn't about winning; this is about face. This is about a face of old men in Washington. And we're saying no young life is worth an old man's face. Get out of here. This was a horrible mistake. We have to be big enough to acknowledge it. And we have to stand by to help the people who have been — lives have been devastated.

COLMES: "Body of War,"

DONAHUE: Thank you both. "Body of War" opening IFC Theater in Manhattan. Looking for you.

HANNITY: All right.

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