Civilization vs. Barbarism

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This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 23, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Joining us from Washington, the co- director of Empower America. If it's Tuesday, it's Bill Bennett.

Bill, I don't know where to start. We've got the recall. We've got Wesley Clark (search) in. We've got Hillary flirting with getting in. We've got the Kennedy attacks. Why don't we start at the United Nations (search), though?

Kofi Annan (search) basically lecturing this country, lecturing this president, accusing us of engaging in a whole new strategy of preemption, which is not true…this was resumption, not preemption. I thought these attacks were vicious today.

BILL BENNETT, CO-DIRECTOR, EMPOWER AMERICA: Well, it's been a week, or more than a week of vicious attacks, from all sides of our critics. From Democrats, from the United Nations, from all around. It really is way out of whack, way out of proportion.

Kofi Annan is, of course, wrong. He's all wet on this. And why, by the way, does he give a different timetable for Iraq than he has given for other nations and for other efforts at nation building, such as in Bosnia? Why does the logic of occupation, as he said, have to yield to the logic of sovereignty within a very short period of time in Iraq but not in other countries?

George Bush went to the United Nations, he looked them in the eye. He said we've done what we've done and we're very proud of it, and invited others to join with him.

And I think it's unbelievable that supposedly thoughtful and intellectual people around the world and around the country think that there's some serious position to be supported that the French take or that the Germans take.

We liberated a country. We liberated 24 million people, and right now 23.5 million or 23.8 million are trying to put their country together. Before the United States was there they were under the thumb of one of the worst dictators.

Christopher Hitchens, who's a guy on the left not on the right, did a great article in Vanity Fair in which he pointed out the more digging we do…you know, and that's the country where all of the great archaeological digs were, you know, in Iraq…the more digging we do, the more bodies we find. What is with these critics criticizing this country for liberating people.

HANNITY: There's more than that. The clear…the fact that he can't make a moral distinction…see, I think we're in the middle of what could be even classified and what history may look back on as the beginning of World War III in the sense that if we don't deal with this idea that these guys that want to destroy us will use any power that they can get a hold of and any weapon that they can get a hold of to destroy us…the fact that the left in this country does not understand it…the fact that most countries in that body don't understand it is, frankly, disconcerting that we even want to be a part of this.

We've got to do what's in our best national security interest and we have 10 presidential wannabe candidates out there saying we ought to be bowing at the altar of this institution. It's insanity to me.

BENNETT: Yes, they're driving themselves further and further into this frenzy.

HANNITY: Yes, you're right.

BENNETT: It is really kind of a pack mentality. A lot of frothing at the mouth here. But morally, if we can speak that way, it seems to me, it's so clear and so stark.

Whose side could you possibly be on but the side of the United States, the side of the liberators, as opposed to, what, the side of the French? I mean it is quite an extraordinary moment. And we will see how it comes out.

HANNITY: And now you've got a new guy. The great latest hope for the Democrats now appears to be General Wesley Clark. "I would have voted for the resolution." 'I wouldn't have voted for the resolution." "I couldn't have voted, but perhaps I would have voted for the resolution."

You know, he's in this position of Al Gore (search) and John Kerry (search) of not knowing where to take a stand on anything.


HANNITY: You know, if we don't have more clarity on these issues, how do we lead in a post-9/11 world?

BENNETT: I don't know and I don't think this is a hard one to have moral clarity about. This is about civilization versus barbarism.

But, you know, a lot of people in this town think that Wesley Clark is the stalking horse for Clintons, all of the Clinton operatives there with Clark, and that's apparently possible.

HANNITY: Well, what do you mean by that? Do you think she's getting in? Do you think he's just...

BENNETT: It is possible, sure. He tests the waters. The Clinton people get in as his operatives. They're working the inside.

They get a sense of what's going on in the states. Some understanding with Clark is reached either now or later on, that he becomes the vice president or some other choice pick.

And meanwhile explores themes and takes a position…you know, the kind of third way that Clinton would like to take here, for the sake of opening up things up for Mrs. Clinton.

BENNETT: I don't think it's evil or wicked, by the way. I think it's politics. And I think it's a plausible notion.


ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: It's amazing to me that everything that happens in the Democratic Party, there's always a Clinton plot presumed by the Clinton detractors.

The Clintons must be behind this, the Clintons must be pulling the springs. They're doing it to keep Terry McAuliffe in place or they're doing it to preserve a place for Hillary.

I mean, it's laughable.

BENNETT: Alan, Alan…it's not laughable, Alan.

Bill Clinton is the leader of the Democratic Party. I mean, who is the most revered person in the Democratic Party? Who is the person most Democrats would like the see run for president? The answer to the first is Bill Clinton, the answer to the second is Hillary Clinton, or Bill Clinton, since he's not…but he can't run again.

They're in charge. I mean, they set the stage. Look at the hysterical crowds when they went out to California.

COLMES: So Wesley Clark is a puppet. He didn't do it on his own. He did it with prodding from the Clintons. He's not curious about a candidacy. He's just doing it as a stalking horse for the Clintons?

BENNETT: Maybe, maybe both. Maybe he's serious and maybe he's also being used as a stalking horse. It can be done. I don't think it's wicked or evil, as I said. I think it's politics. It seems to make a lot of sense to people around here and I wouldn't put it past the Clintons.

But, you know, look, I don't keep bringing it up. They keep bringing themselves up. They keep inserting themselves into all sorts of things.

COLMES: Well, she's a senator. They are…

But I wanted to get back to the United Nations. You know, we did have a presidential national security director of 17 that came out and said we would use first strike on nuclear weapons, that we would do preemptive strike against countries we deem to be a threat.


COLMES: This was a radical change in a decades-old foreign policy. And you can be a disbeliever in this foreign policy and still believe in America and not be anti-American or be on America's side…I think the phrase in the last segment, or when you were talking to Sean, was "Those people are not on America's side."

We're on America's side, we just don't agree with this foreign policy, this preemptive strike deal.

BENNETT: No, I didn't say America's side. I said this is a battle between civilization and barbarism. And I believe it is.

Can people have disagreements about how to conduct that? Yes. For somebody to stand up at the United Nations, either in an open session or a closed session, and say that the United States is the nation that should get the finger waved at them and pointed at them, the United States should be the nation that should be criticized here, is just totally out of whack.

The United States is the nation that liberated the Iraqi people. The party…the Democrat Party, the party that I used to belong to…I belonged for 20 years, Alan…used to be the party of human rights.

The more they dig in Iraq, the more human bodies they find. At what point does some Democrat say…well, I mean, some Democrat has said, Joe Lieberman has said…this was a great thing to have done, to have liberated these people.

COLMES: Nobody is saying that getting rid of Saddam Hussein is bad thing. But, you say liberated a country and you mention millions of people, when we've already acknowledged there's more terrorism in Iraq. It's become a haven for terrorism. They've made the statement in the administration, we'd rather fight terrorism in Iraq than fight it here, as if that were the only two choices.

So if there's terrorism running rampant…we've invited terrorism in. The porous borders and lack of security has caused that, and the lack of electricity and running water. Is it really liberation going on?

BENNETT: Yes, there's liberation going on. Ask the people. You saw those polls from last week, Alan, of the people in Iraq saying, yes, they're in favor of it.

You saw the show of fireworks that took place after the death of Saddam Hussein's two sons.

We didn't invent terrorism. We didn't bring terrorism into the world. You know, Bernard Lewis, the great scholar at Princeton, points out that there may be 25 million or 50 million people who subscribe to the most extreme form of Wahhabism, this virulent form of radical Islam. Those 50 million people, or 25 million people, don't go away. They weren't created by the United States.

But as Tom Friedman of The New York Times said once, I thought very, very, very wisely…you visit a bad neighborhood before the bad neighborhood visits you. And it has turned out whatever was going on in Iraq months ago and years ago, it is now center stage for world terrorism.

They are pouring in from other places. We do see all of the Jihadists and people from the other countries coming in because that's where the fight is and we are taking it to them. And that's a good thing, it's not a bad thing.

COLMES: Look, it's probably going to happen on in October 7. Even Gray Davis said he wants it to happen on October 7. Let's get it done.

BENNETT: Yes, let's get this over with.

I got to tell you guys, you've got maybe the most entertaining show on the air, but Jay Leno beat you on this one. You saw, he had 110 candidates for governor on and they each got to speak for 10 seconds. The catch was, they all spoke at the same time.

Anyway, I mean, soon this will be over, but there is a serious point here about the law which I have to complain about. I mean you know my view on this. I'm not crazy about this kind of recall thing, but they decided to do it, so they did it.

But how can you have confidence in the law when on one day you have three…you have a decision that 3 - 0 and then two weeks later you have a decision that's 11 - 0, except it's exactly the opposite direction. I'm mean, this does suggest what a lot of people have been worried about, which is, you know, we're not really paying attention to laws anymore.

Judges are pretty much doing what they want to do, and that's not the reasons we make laws, and that's not the reason we have constitutions. They're supposed to counter people's whims and subjectivity.

COLMES: But if you want a claim…I'm not sure you're making this claim, but if one's going to say that there's some political influence in the judge's decision, the decision made today wasn't by just by a bunch of Democrats…I mean or a bunch of Republicans. It was a bipartisan court and it was a…you know, nobody voted...

BENNETT: Oh, no, I agree. And I agree with the decision. And I mean, I think the fact, Alan, that you had 8 Democrats out of 11 suggests that this is obviously not right wing conspiracy, as some people had allege from the very beginning, this whole recall thing.

But what I'm saying is that when you have a 3 - 0 one-way and an 11 - 0 the other way, the next week, it suggests…are people reading the same documents? Are people really all graduates of law school? How does this happen?

You know, there's a lot of debate about what judges are doing in the study of law these days, and as someone who studied law, I think it's a serious matter.

HANNITY: The people of California, we've got to liberate them from the bonds of liberalism that's governing that state. And we have a situation here where it appears by all objective measure Gray Davis is going to be recalled. There's one Democrat in the race and there are two Republicans in the race.

Darrell Issa said today that one of these guys has to get out. I agree with him. I think the Republicans ought to unite.

It appears…unless over the weekend Tom McClintock can double his number and challenge Arnold, it appears that Arnold has this race. He's far ahead. Do you have a problem with the fact that he's a more liberal Republican?

BENNETT: Yes, sure I do. I mean, you know, my sympathies are more with the McClintock. That's closer to my point of view. I know Arnold, I've known Arnold for years.

But what do I expect will happen at the end? I expect what will happen at the end is that McClintock will say…he'll urge his followers to support Schwarzenegger, but Schwarzenegger still has that largess.

HANNITY: But this is a point that came up a lot on my radio show earlier today. The governor of California is not going to reverse Roe v. Wade. On parental notification, he might have a role to play. And Arnold is with us on that particular issue.

And I think sometimes people are misguided. I like Tom McClintock. I think he's a rising star, not only in California but in the entire party. I think his day is coming. Unless he can fill this gap real quickly here, I think he will serve as a spoiler and help elect Bustamante at the end of the day which…what?

BENNETT: We'll see what he does. Somebody suggested, I heard the other day, that they have a debate, Arnold and McClintock themselves. Then they have an arm wrestling contest. That means it will come out 1 to 1, and then there's a third thing to decide what they really ought to do.

HANNITY: Maybe a decathlon. I don't know.

COLMES: Maybe Arnold should bow out and let McClintock…maybe Arnold is the spoiler.

HANNITY: Arnold has twice the polling numbers so far.

BENNETT: Social conservatives are about more than abortion. It's about education, it's about welfare, it's about driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. It's about a lot of things. So I think Tom McClintock needs to think twice or three times before he...

COLMES: Thank you for being with us, Dr. Bennett.

BENNETT: You're very welcome.

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