This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 23, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Now the American people are looking for leadership, and instead they get this, and tax cheat Geithner, and that is our headline this Monday night, day number 63 of change we've been waiting for, "In Whom Do We Trust?"
Secretary Geithner finally introduced his bank rescue plan today and was greeted with a mixed reaction. Now liberal Paul Krugman at The New York Times says that the plan leaves him in a state of despair. The blog, the Daily Kos reportedly twittered today that Secretary Geithner is a liability to the administration like Donald Rumsfeld was to President Bush.
Recognizing this and the growing credibility deficit plaguing the administration the president has once again changed his tone from doom and gloom and malaise to positive, upbeat, and now to the comical.
Now Dick Morris will be here in a few minutes with complete analysis of TurboTax cheat Tim Geithner's plan to solve the problem he helped create, but when the administration tries to manipulate you, the American people, in such a calculated fashion, we're left with, you know, that one glaring question.
In whom do we trust, should we trust?
And joining us tonight with the answer to that question, and an exclusive first look at his brand-new book, I call him the great one, Mark Levin, author of the book just out today, "Liberty and Tyranny, A Conservative Manifesto."
Great one, how are you?
MARK LEVIN, "LIBERTY AND TYRANNY" AUTHOR: Good to see you.
HANNITY: Why do I have to fight to get you on the television program? It's like pulling teeth to get you here?
LEVIN: How do I look?
HANNITY: You look great.
LEVIN: Is this HD TV?
HANNITY: Yes, this is HD. As a matter of fact it is.
LEVIN: All right.
HANNITY: You look fantastic. We've got a lot to get to. Because not only are people mad and angry and afraid, but they also want solutions. You make the case in this book — you say that — so distant is America today from the founding principles that it's difficult to precisely describe the nature of American government.
And you make the case conservatism is the answer.
LEVIN: Conservatism is the only answer because we share our principles with the founding principles. We take our principles right out of the Declaration of Independence, right out of the constitution. Where does the leftists or, as I call them, the status, where do they take their principles? They're not out of the Declaration or the constitution.
These guys are winging it. And they're spending trillions of dollars winging it. They're empowering themselves. You saw Congress last week and this week. That is a mob. It is a mob, a frenzied mob. The founders would be absolutely appalled by it.
My goal here is to help give a rebirth to the conservative movement to help clarify who we are, why we are who we are, and — we're on the right side of history.
HANNITY: Look, I read your book closely, that's not only because we're friends, but, folks, every line in this book you're going to learn something. Every line is chocked full of wisdom. And you go back to our founders and our framers and the great philosophers that inspired them.
You said in a society, meaning American society now is transitioning towards statism.
HANNITY: And if the conservative does not come to grips with the significance of this transformation, he will be devoured by it.
HANNITY: This — that's a frightening, chilling.
LEVIN: Well, we have some pseudo conservatives out there saying just accept it and try and negotiate with it. The problem is...
HANNITY: Yes, without preconditions.
LEVIN: Without — the problem is we need to embrace our principles. They're great things, and I'm not talking about a bunch of talking points. This is life and death stuff. This is liberty and tyranny stuff. Embrace what? A $53 trillion debt that these entitlement programs have created? What? A $9 trillion new debt that's been created in the last six months?
How do we negotiate with this? What's our half measure, $5 trillion? $6 trillion? No.
HANNITY: You know, I was with you. Mark did a book signing, folks, in Long Island this weekend. We threw a big book party for you, 6,000 people showed up.
HANNITY: The biggest crowd they've ever had, and they've had former presidents there, OK? And there was one message that came across that every person that I spoke to that was there is they are furious. And you even wrote this on the book, you said Republicans seem clueless on how to slow and contain and reverse the statist agenda.
HANNITY: What do Republicans specifically themselves need to do? Because that's the only...
LEVIN: Republicans need to stop running from conservatism. I know it's hard because academia is leftist, the media is leftist, everywhere you look it's leftist, but guess what? Our founding principles are the right principles. And what I'm trying to say there, if you articulate them in an intelligent way and relate them to current events, we will succeed.
There is no other way. There's a road to tyranny, and I believe we're headed on that road, a sort tyranny, and there's a road to reinvigorate liberty in this country and limited government, and we need to understand it. We need to — it's not just to talk about liberty all the time. Why is liberty important? You know things of that sort.
HANNITY: Yes, and it goes in a great deal — you say the modern liberal believes in the supremacy of the state. And you say, you know, that's the classic meaning of liberal, but modern liberalism is statism. When you use the term statist, what specifically do you mean by that?
LEVIN: They're not liberals, they're not progressives. I understand the history of the progressive movement. They represent government, and they represent government against the people. They're constantly trashing groups of people in this country, the individual.
They want to create a dispirited population, they want the population to surrender their liberties to the government, they want the government — the population to rely on the government for all their needs and so what they want to create drones.
HANNITY: Yes, well, you — and you're — yes, we can, change, change, change.
LEVIN: Right. Right.
HANNITY: We saw a little bit of that. I call it Obama-mania. A lot of people don't seem to — and you deal with this right at the outset of the book. The — how do we define a conservative or conservative principles, and there are competing, I guess, factions within the conservative movement for the mantle of what is a conservative.
LEVIN: Right. Well, a lot of people seem to think that they're smarter than Madison and Jefferson and Franklin and Burke and Locke, and Plato and Aristotle.
HANNITY: It's true. We know who they are, too.
LEVIN: Right. And they're not.
HANNITY: They're not.
LEVIN: And so I went back and look at these men and really digested what they wrote, and what I present is what is a logical line generation to generation of why we conservatives want to uphold our traditions and our values and why they're worth fighting for.
HANNITY: All right. You talk about, though, that the statist is constant agitating for government action and how they have the support of the media. Well, we only have a few minutes on TV. That they have the media as their allies, but they're constantly agitating, that it is a step by step process, and that they're, in a sense, smart enough politically not to try and go for one big bite at the apple. Explain that.
LEVIN: It's a gradual, incremental action although it's speeding up now under Obama. That's clear. Well, the media, when is the last time the media did a story on the greatness of capitalism? Look around you. Look at the greatness of liberty. Look at all the magnificent things liberty has given us.
And I don't just mean material things. Look at the life we live as compared to other societies. Instead all we get is this drumbeat of rich against poor, old against young. The media perpetuates this left-wing agenda.
HANNITY: One of the great things — we'll get into this when we get back — you go through our founders and our framers, and you're a constitutional attorney, and you talk about that, you go back to our founding documents, the articles, the constitution, the declaration, and you quote these men at length, and you talk about free markets, which — so we'll get into.
LEVIN: I try to tie them all together.
HANNITY: And coming up — we call him the great one, Mark — by the way, write him and tell him come on the program more often. It's like pulling teeth to get you here.
LEVIN: Some people call me the great big one. You've got to be careful.
HANNITY: That's more than I want to know. All right. We'll continue with the great one Mark Levin. His book in bookstores today.
HANNITY: And we continue now with — I call him the great one, Mark Levin, and a first look at his brand-new book, "Liberty and Tyranny, A Conservative Manifesto."
There's so much in this, we can't get it in and people, you're going to have to go and read this because there's chocked full of info.
LEVIN: I've got plenty of time.
HANNITY: I can give you the whole hour. As the statist is building a culture of conformity and dependency, you know, I thought about this. You listen to my radio show occasionally, right? I do my man on the street interviews. People want daycare, dental care, health care, housing, a car, transportation, a limo, and they think that that's the constitutional role in government. You counter this in great detail.
LEVIN: Well, to put a fine point on it, freedom is freedom from coercion, and what the statist says is you should have freedom from one, and we will deliver it. We will make possible — the impossible possible, we will make that which is unequal equal, and they create devils, they create — they turn citizen on citizen, and yet their agitation and agitating is never done, is it?
There's no limit to the power they want to take. How can you confine what the leftist wants to do, what the statist wants to do once you've abandoned the constitution. You have to rely on their judgment? They have no judgment. This is why they talk about a living and breathing constitution. They want to get away from the limits on government, and you see it right now in spades.
HANNITY: You — we now see popping up all over the country these tea parties and people angry. They've lost a lot of their money, and there's bailout mania fatigue here. You have a call to action here, and that is that it's going to be conservatives who lacked the confidence and persistence to deal with statism, but you also have a call to action towards the end of the book when you lay out your manifesto.
HANNITY: And the call to action is conservatives have got to be shrewder, smarter. They've got to be engaged, they tend to, you know, live and let live as you say. So if people want to counter Barack Obama's European socialism, they must what?
LEVIN: They must do this. We are a bigger army than his little group that he's put together and ACORN. There are tens of millions of us, hard-working Americans who follow the law, who believe in this country, who believe in the constitution and the Declaration, who like Americans' traditions and values.
What we need to reacquaint ourselves with the substance of our position so we have confidence to go out there and talk to our neighbors and our friends. Grandparents talking to grandchildren. Parents to children. We also need to stop allowing the statists to control these institutions. There's no reason they should control the media or academia or any of these institutions. We need to go get them.
HANNITY: Well, it's interesting because you're a constitutional attorney. You wrote the book "Men in Black," that was a huge, massive, big bestseller. But you said the constitution's meaning is erased or rewritten that — and the framers' intentions ignored, which is a big study in your life. It ceases to be a constitution.
Do you think the statist agenda is now unconstitutional and people have ignored it and through incrementalism they've achieved this?
LEVIN: At a huge chunk, and look today, the First Amendment, they're attacking talk radio. They're coming for you. Second Amendment, the right to bear arms.
HANNITY: They're coming after you.
LEVIN: They're coming after that. Fifth Amendment, the property rights, 10th Amendment, state authority. Almost every aspect of the constitution is under attack. Unless you're a terrorist, then they want to give you, you know, due process rights.
HANNITY: Yes, and close Gitmo. I want to talk to you specifically. You write about the free market which I thought was — because I'm a huge believer in capitalism, it brings the best out of people. We get — while we're pursuing a living, a standard of living for ourselves, we're creating — you know, we're advancing the human condition and creating wealth that's been unprecedented in the history of mankind, and it is constantly under attack.
You call the free market the most transformative of economic systems. It fosters creativity, inventiveness that we've never seen before.
LEVIN: And most of the problems in the free market are created by governments, whether it's the government compelling banks to give out bad loans, as they did in the `70s, `80s and `90s that led to the housing bust, first the boom and then the bust.
Even the automobile industry. The automobile industry isn't an example of a free market. The government controls the labor force, it controls the product that they make, it controls management.
HANNITY: Safety standards.
LEVIN: Yes, I mean, I don't know how these poor guys manage these companies to begin with. On the other hand, failure in the free market, it's not necessarily a good thing, but it's a productive thing.
HANNITY: My favorite chapter in the book is on faith and the founding, because you and I as friends have talked a lot about our belief and faith and our families and all this, but you come at it from a different point of view. You talk about reason cannot explain the creation of the universe. Reason. You know walk us through that a little bit.
LEVIN: Well, the framers were believers in the age of enlightenment, but they didn't worship it. So they believed in reason and they believed in science, and they practiced it to some extent, but they also knew that man is spiritual. If you look at the Declaration of Independence, it talks about unalienable rights. God-given unalienable rights and it references God six or seven different times.
There's a reason for that because our unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not conferred by man, they're not conferred by government, they cannot take them away legitimately, so the bottom line is we get these rights from something that's above, in my case, I believe it's God.
Now you might say, if you're a conservative well, I don't really believe in God. I'm an atheist. You can believe whatever you want. You can worship, you know, whatever you want or not worship whatever you — but the framers said correctly, we can't organize ourselves that way. We're organizing our society very specifically, and this belief in natural law is the way we do it.
HANNITY: You know, look, I learn something just about every sentence. For those of you out there that say well, what can I do, what can I do, you're going to learn a lot from Mark's book, "Liberty and Tyranny, A Conservative Manifesto", the antidote to massive European socialism.
LEVIN: And this picture in there, I think I was 20 pounds lighter.
HANNITY: No, I've got to tell you, you're a handsome guy.
LEVIN: Yes, but.
HANNITY: Now are you going to come back on the show? Do I have to beg you to come back?
LEVIN: Sure, I'll be here next year, same time, same place.
HANNITY: Great one, congratulations.
LEVIN: It's an honor. Thank you.
HANNITY: Three other radio stations around the country, the great one, Mark Levin, in bookstores everywhere.
Watch "Hannity" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!
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