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Hannity

Norman Mailer Returns to 'Hannity & Colmes'

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," March 1, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: As we continue on "Hannity & Colmes," the always outspoken author, Norman Mailer, has collaborated on a new book with his son, John Buffalo Mailer, titled "The Big Empty: Dialogues on Politics, Sex, God, Boxing, Morality, Myth, Poker and Bad Conscience in America."

Norman Mailer and his son John join us now.

Let me just get it out of the way. I know, Bush is awful, he's terrible, he lied. Let me guess: you probably want to impeach him, right?

NORMAN MAILER, CO-AUTHOR, "THE BIG EMPTY": I don't care. He's not worth impeaching.

HANNITY: Really?

N. MAILER: Yes. He'll become a martyr if he's impeached. I'd as soon see him flounder along.

HANNITY: I want to get to some of your other statements here, because they — look, I do — I do admire you and, personally, I like you.

N. MAILER: I like you.

HANNITY: You're a nice guy.

N. MAILER: You've got to like guys on the other side once in awhile.

HANNITY: Is this the only time in your case?

N. MAILER: No, but I can count them.

HANNITY: You agree with your dad a lot?

JOHN BUFFALO MAILER, CO-AUTHOR, "THE BIG EMPTY": On a lot of things, absolutely.

HANNITY: Oh, boy. Well, don't worry; we'll fix you. We'll Hannitize you.

You called our president, George W. Bush, the enemy. Do you think George Bush is your enemy?

N. MAILER: Yes. He's my spiritual enemy. I can give you 82 examples, and I'm 83. I'll come up with 83, tonight maybe more.

To begin with, he wrecks the American language. We're a democracy and democracy depends on language growing. I say this over and over and over. One of the reasons the English got through all their falls and the loss of their empire, all their disasters, their strikes, their difficulties, their wars through the years was they had Shakespeare to fall back on. And they speak well in England. They do.

HANNITY: Blood, toil, sweat and tears, my friend.

N. MAILER: Yes.

HANNITY: Everybody has gifts. Bill Clinton had a great gift to gab, but he's full of baloney.

N. MAILER: I wouldn't argue with that. He wasn't as good as he should have been.

HANNITY: (doing Bill Clinton impression) "He wasn't too bad. How you doing, Norman? It's good to see you. How's it going?"

(speaking normally) But he had an ability to communicate that I will agree off-the-cuff the president's not great at, but it's what you say. It's what's in your heart. It's the principles that guide you in life, isn't it?

N. MAILER: No. The thing is, I don't care if you speak well or badly. He did have a very good education. He should have spoken better just for that alone. But he speaks only in cliches. Lyndon Johnson did the same thing. He wouldn't use one word. He used five words all hyphenated.

HANNITY: It sounds elitist to me.

N. MAILER: I am. I am elitist.

HANNITY: Are you? Why?

N. MAILER: Because that's part of the whole given in a democracy. I've had advantages.

HANNITY: You are a smart man; you're a brilliant author. Politics, there's a lot that I don't agree with, but you go as far to say, your philosophy is we've got to live with terror. You went on and you made a statement about our country, the only reason we went to war — if I could find it here — was to boost the ego of white American males?

You know, Norman, those comments while we are at war, while troops are in harm's way, while he is the commander in chief, do you not see the outrage in that?

N. MAILER: Yes, I do. So what?

HANNITY: So that's what you want to do?

N. MAILER: You know, you have the right in a democracy to make people angry.

HANNITY: You do.

N. MAILER: You have the right to speak your mind.

HANNITY: You have the right to be wrong.

N. MAILER: You have the right to be wrong. And I can be wrong and I can be right. I was not mocking the soldiers. I was a soldier, after all, along with a good many other people.

HANNITY: You're undermining them, though. You're undermining their leader.

N. MAILER: No, I'm not undermining them. Bush is undermining them. He undermined them from the beginning, because he got them in a war where there wasn't any thinking about getting into that war.

Can I have one minute on what's wrong with that war?

HANNITY: I'll give you 30 seconds.

N. MAILER: Good enough. It was a fascistic country for 30 years. People who live under fascism are not only miserable but they're full of shame. You just don't go in and inject democracy into them. They're half crazy with their own...

HANNITY: People said Reagan couldn't...

N. MAILER: I thought I'd get my 30 seconds.

HANNITY: Reagan said it's the evil empire.

COLMES: Hold on. It's my turn to talk. Let me get John in here. John, you decided to do this with your dad as kind of a dialogue.

J. MAILER: Absolutely.

COLMES: And what made this project happen? You agree with your dad on a lot of this stuff, right?

J. MAILER: On many things, on most things, we do. What it was was I was in conversations with people from Gen X and from my generation and the one below about what are we going to do when we have to take the reins? How are we going to deal with all the problems that we're inheriting?

COLMES: Right.

J. MAILER: And in every conversation, it was like, you know, this person would really be helped out by talking to my pop. And so finally, after we did a few magazine pieces on it, I thought, let's put it together and see if we can translate these conversations that we have all the time into this.

COLMES: You get into a lot more than politics, some which I want to bring up perhaps a little later in our next segment. But one of the things you say, Norman, the Bush administration, you know, holds great faith in the stupidity of the American people.

N. MAILER: Yes, well, let's say 52 percent of the American people are stupid.

COLMES: You think that's the amount?

N. MAILER: It's a hairline decision. And that's their constituency, and they do nothing to improve the intelligence of Americans.

HANNITY: Oh, stop.

N. MAILER: This is my great rage at Bush.

COLMES: But do you think anybody who votes for him is stupid?

N. MAILER: No. I think they're bright as hell. I think Rove is very bright. Cheney is bright. Rumsfeld is bright. They're all damn bright. What they don't have is moral ethos.

COLMES: Why do you think so many...

N. MAILER: You know what that is?

HANNITY: I'm aware of what moral ethos is.

COLMES: Let me ask this. Why do you think so many people vote for him and support him?

N. MAILER: I answered you already. It's because more than half the country is stupid.

COLMES: I just wanted to hear you say that again.

N. MAILER: And one of the reasons...

(CROSSTALK)

N. MAILER: Can I get a sentence finished? One of the reasons they're stupid is because they're made stupid. They're encouraged in their stupidity. When you have a president who speaks only in cliches — only in cliches — to the public — I'm sure he's a little brighter in private — but when he speaks only in cliches to the public, he's rendering the people stupid.

COLMES: You also say in the book...

N. MAILER: One last thought.

COLMES: Yes.

N. MAILER: And a democracy depends upon people getting brighter all the time. Democracies are delicate. They're not just ipso facto and just go on and on.

COLMES: You the say the purpose of the right in America is to keep the majority as stupid as possible, as they run into less opposition by having stupid people. You basically put that squarely in the right's province, that they're the ones who are doing this.

N. MAILER: Yes. Yes. Well, they're determined to keep us stupid. And they have a good many very fine tricks.

The whole thing with Cheney was marvelous. What they said is, if we get into immediately into why you shot the guy, the first question you'll be asked by a Times reporter who doesn't go out hunting is, "How many quail did you bag that day?" Nobody ever asked that question. Because Cheney probably said, "Let's sit on it for 24 hours, 48 hours, and let the press heat up and get into a frenzy and then half the country will hate them because half the country hates the media because they go over the top all the time against Bush."

HANNITY: You know what?

N. MAILER: Give me your better hypothesis on why they held up.

HANNITY: I'm going to explain — I'm going to tell you when we get back why Reagan was right and your side was wrong, why Bush is right and why your side is wrong and why you're an elitist snob but we still like you. We're going to get to that in a minute, all right?

N. MAILER: Yes, yes. You notice...

HANNITY: Half the country is stupid.

N. MAILER: I said I was an elitist. I didn't say I was a snob.

HANNITY: Well, when you say half the country's stupid, that's kind of snobbish.

N. MAILER: Yes, but I want that half to become brighter and brighter.

HANNITY: Get away from the government schools and take the vouchers that Republicans are offering so you can have some competition and free market capitalism.

N. MAILER: Come on. I'm not here to debate things...

HANNITY: No, because I'm going to beat you in that debate.

COLMES: ... me he would win. He actually admits that he beats me every night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLMES: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." We now continue with the authors of the new book, "The Big Empty," Norman Mailer and his son, John Buffalo Mailer. Why "The Big Empty"? What does that mean?

J. MAILER: Well, that's his title, actually. But it's essentially the moral emptiness of the world that is the corporation, that is this administration, that is where we find ourselves in America today.

COLMES: You talk about, Norman, two kinds of patriots in America: those who believe virtually everything, don't argue and don't challenge and then the second kind. You say most are the first kind.

N. MAILER: Well, there are these two kinds of patriotism. There's blind patriotism, unflagging patriotism. And then there's the patriotism that says I live in a democracy and it's very important for the health and the life of this democracy that it get better all the time, not get worse. Because when a democracy gets worse, it can get worse and worse and worse. And the nightmare in every democracy, the very nightmare, is if it gets worse and worse and worse, we could end up totalitarian.

COLMES: This idea that we don't question, we don't ask — this idea, wartime president, you can't question. You can't question the policy. You're called a traitor. You're told you're not going along with the commander in chief in a time of war. We hear that over and over again.

N. MAILER: Well, it's Bush — it's just nonsense. First of all, he started a war he didn't have to start. And second of all, we have an absolute right in a democracy to argue about a war.

And we've argued about wars. Every war we've been in we've argued about, with the exception of the Second World War, because there, force majeur, there was a villain you could really believe in was a world conquering villain, if allowed to become that. So everybody hated Hitler and that was called a good war.

HANNITY: Hey, Norman...

N. MAILER: Vietnam ended up ridiculous, because Ho Chi Minh looked like a sage...

HANNITY: I've got less than a minute. I'm going to tell you something. You say 52 percent of this country is stupid.

N. MAILER: That's my number.

HANNITY: All you liberals thought Reagan was stupid. Reagan did the impossible; he brought the wall down. He ended the Soviet regime. The world is a better, safe place.

N. MAILER: You going to take up all my minutes?

HANNITY: I'm going to tell you something right now. George Bush is doing the same thing. You're going to be proven wrong from the prism of history.

N. MAILER: I wasn't proven wrong the last time. Reagan bankrupted the Soviet Union by increasing armaments.

HANNITY: Darn right he did.

N. MAILER: We bankrupted the Soviet Union. We didn't defeat them.

HANNITY: We beat them.

N. MAILER: And look at the mess they're in now. We didn't beat them. We bankrupted them.

HANNITY: They're better off than what they were under — sure, they are.

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: Thank you for being with us. We've to run. But you know, the interesting thing is, nobody thinks they're in that 52 percent. Thank you very much for being with us.

Special luck with the book. We appreciate you being here.

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