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Hannity

A Look Back at the Legendary Liberal Author

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," November 12, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Now, over the weekend legendary liberal author Norman Mailer, he died here in the city of New York at the age of 84.

Now, although we agreed on absolutely nothing, we did have a great relationship, and we had some fascinating debates throughout the years, and here's a reminder of one of them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

NORMAN MAILER, AUTHOR: Yes, he's my spiritual enemy. I'll give you — I can give you 82 examples, and I'm 83. I'll come up with the 83rd tonight, maybe.

To begin with, he wrecks the American language. We're a democracy. A democracy depends on language growing. I'd say this over-and-over-andover. 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 is — was they had Shakespeare to fall back on. And they speak well in England. They do.

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

MAILER: Yes.

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

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

HANNITY: You are a smart man; you're a brilliant author. Your politics, there's a lot that — 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?

MAILER: Yes, I do. So what?

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

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

HANNITY: You do.

MAILER: You have the right to speak your mind.

HANNITY: You have the right to be wrong.

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

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

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

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

HANNITY: I'll give you 30 seconds.

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.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: The Bush administration, you say, holds great faith in the stupidity of the American people.

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

COLMES: You think that's the amount?

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

HANNITY: Oh, stop.

MAILER: This is my great rage at Bush.

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

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...

MAILER: You know what that is?

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

COLMES: Why do you think so many Americans — well let me ask you this. Why do you think so many people vote for him and support...? Well, a lot of viewers.

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.

MAILER: And one of the reasons...

(CROSSTALK)

MAILER: Hey, 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...

MAILER: One last thought.

COLMES: Yes.

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 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. Ok. Now, you basically put that squarely in the right's province, that they're the ones who are doing this.

MAILER: Yes. Yes. Well, they're determined to keep us stupid.

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

MAILER: Well, you know, 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 life and the health 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLMES: We're going to miss Norman Mailer.

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