This is a partial transcript from "HANNITY & COLMES", July 23, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
MONICA CROWLEY, CO-HOST: Earlier today, Alan had the chance to talk to former presidential nominee and the author of the brand new book, "The Essential America," George McGovern (search).
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: "The Essential America." Are we going to see "The Essential America," — that's the name of your book, new book. Are we going to see "The Essential America" at the Democratic convention in Boston next week?
GEORGE MCGOVERN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think so. These conventions are certainly an important part of the whole political process in this country. I know that you read every once in a while somebody recommending we do away with national conventions. That's like doing away with the World Series of baseball.
COLMES: But they've become infomercials. It used to be there would be some drama. You didn't always know who the candidate was or at least maybe not the vice president. And now it seems everything is known ahead of time before we go into the convention.
MCGOVERN: Well, they're much more controlled than they used to be, and you know the reason for that is television. They want everything in primetime that's attractive and everything that isn't in time when nobody is watching. So things have changed a lot in the 32 years since I was at a national convention as the nominee of my party.
COLMES: You say the "Essential America," and yet one of the talking points on the other side seems to be that John Kerry (search) and John Edwards (search), and I keep hearing this phrase "out of the mainstream." They're not essential Americans. The "L" word, they tie them to.
MCGOVERN: No, I don't think they're out of the mainstream. I wish they were a little further away from the middle of the road, because I don't think an awful lot gets accomplished in the middle of the road. You have to stand up for what you believe. But I think John Kerry and John Edwards — if we ever had candidates that were in the mainstream, it's those two.
COLMES: We keep hearing the fourth biggest liberal, John Edwards, the biggest liberal in the Senate, John Kerry. And they cite the "National Journal," which categorizes these things forgetting that earlier in 19 — rather in 2003, that same publication referred to John Edwards as a centrist to conservative Democrat.
But these labels, they keep trying to use the labels against...
MCGOVERN: Right. This book is trying to convince people you shouldn't be ashamed of being called a big liberal. Why, because every program now endorsed by both major parties began as a liberal initiative over conservative opposition.
Take, for example, Medicare. When Medicare was proposed — and I think you'll agree that's something that no politician wants to be caught opposing today — it was called socialism. One prominent Republican, George Bush Sr., said it would be the end of the American health system and the end of medical quality in the United States if we went to Medicare.
Now fortunately, he changed his mind, and there's nothing wrong with changing your mind. That's just a way of saying that I'm wiser today than I was yesterday.
But all of these liberal programs — Social Security, Medicare, civil rights, rural electrification, the school lunch program, the Pure Food and Drug Acts.
COLMES: Why is it that "liberal" has become such a dirty word to so many people? And during this upcoming convention, they're going to take that "L" word — the conservatives will try to tie it around Kerry and Edwards and use that in an attempt to demonize them and advance the Republican agenda.
MCGOVERN: It's — it's sometimes regarded as a dirty word, because that's been pounded into our psyche by generations.
COLMES: Have liberals not done a good enough job fighting back and laying out an agenda that resonates with America?
MCGOVERN: I — I think it's not that they haven't laid out an agenda. I think that they've been intimidated by all the charges against liberalism.
I'm very proud to be a liberal, and I can't think of any serious problem facing this country that can be resolved, except by a liberal solution. I don't care whether you're talking about education or health care or the environment or energy or foreign policy. We need some of the liberal insights in order to resolve these problems.
COLMES: What do you make of the 9/11 Commission and the report that came out?
MCGOVERN: I haven't had a chance to really study that report. I've been so busy on this book promotion tour of mine that I haven't been able to look at it carefully, but I think they did a pretty good job.
COLMES: They — they seem to be fair and balanced and didn't seem to blame either administration, but they blamed systems in place for decades and lack of communication among agencies. Is this something we can easily fix and should, there be a quick response?
MCGOVERN: I don't think it is going to be easily fixed. I think a lot of the things we've done are not very helpful.
You know, Alan, has it crossed your mind that we don't have very many people saying why did these militant young Arabs hate us? What is it that motivates them? I mean, they certainly didn't fly into a big building knowing that the pilot, the terrorist was going to be the first one to die? They didn't do that for fun.
COLMES: We had this author, Anonymous, on the show last night, this CIA agent who says it's not because of who we are; it's because of what we do that. They don't like our foreign policy.
MCGOVERN: The president says that they did this because they — they are cowards who hate our freedom. I don't believe that. I don't believe anybody hates freedom. I think that what they hate is the condition of their lives: the misery that they see all around them and the feeling that somehow the richest country in the world and the most powerful military state in the world, the United States, has been pursuing a foreign policy that doesn't really come to grips with the problems they have in their lives. It doesn't really make them feel better about the hope for the future.
A lot of these young men, I think, are desperate. They've given up any hope of achieving things by peaceful means. I would like to see an American foreign policy somewhat like it used to be, when we were regarded all around the world with great admiration. Today that's no longer the case. We're regarded as arrogant. Many people think we're the bullies of the world.
Have you seen these public opinion surveys in country after country, saying the country that they think is most likely to go to war is the United States? I don't like that reputation.
And I think it makes it more dangerous for us to live in a world where there are so many frustrated and difficult people.
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