This is a rush transcript from "Life, Liberty & Levin," March 17, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARK LEVIN, HOST, LIFE, LIBERTY & LEVIN: Hello, America. I'm Mark Levin. This is "Life, Liberty and Levin." The great Bill Bennett. How are you, sir?
WILLIAM JOHN BENNETT, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY: Okay, Mark. Good to see you again.
LEVIN: I consider you one of the wise men out there of the Conservative Movement of the Reagan era, which is where we first met. You were head of the National Endowment for the Humanities. You were Secretary of Education and you didn't just sit in these spots, you made a difference in these spots. You were the first drug czar. We've got a lot to talk about.
BENNETT: Yes, sir.
LEVIN: But first of all, I want people to know. Long ago, you were a Democrat. When the Democrat was kind of a moderate Democratic Party. It's kind of a moderate party. Now, we see these radical leftists who got elected and they seem to be the leaders of the party.
I remember when Michael Harrington, a socialist from Massachusetts, Bela Abzug -- kind of crazy from Manhattan. How they were pushed to the side and yet the media promotes them. What do you think's going on?
BENNETT: Yes, putting them forward. Yes, I was a Democrat because I grew up in Brooklyn, New York - Irish Catholic family. I mean, we didn't know any Republicans. I remember my mother pointing out someone else and said, "There goes the Republican." So it's kind of a natural thing, but I joined the administration, the Reagan administration, joined you as a Democrat.
Ronald Reagan of course, famously had been a Democrat, but in '86, Elaine and I -- my wife switched. The specific thing was voting down aid to the Contras. I remember that, and one of the things about the Democratic Party that I did like growing up and as I was in my 20s, was that it seemed to be a party that stood for human rights and the defense of human rights, defense of America and human rights. I thought that was a huge, huge failure. So I switched to and became a Republican, I have been a Republican since.
I don't know what they're doing now and why they're doing this. It's very odd because the midterms showed us that -- I was reading in the backgrounds of a lot of these people that got elected as Democrats as congressmen -- marine, ex-marine, helicopter pilot this and that -- a lot of moderates, but it looks like all the energy is on the left and they are afraid of the energy on the left and they're afraid of being embarrassed by the left.
They don't want to be called anything the left calls anybody else. When I say "they," I mean the leadership -- Pelosi and the like. But we've been here before, Mark. You know remember, 1972, George McGovern. I was checking that. Was it 520 to 17 electoral votes? This party has done this before. It's yielded to this temptation before.
The fact that the Democrats are doing that bothers me, but it doesn't worry me as deeply as the fact that there seems to be some appeal to what it is they're saying particularly among young people -- millennials and Z Generation, Generation Z.
LEVIN: Well, and as Secretary of Education -- high school, middle school, elementary.
BENNETT: Yes, sir.
LEVIN: They were moving left, the NEA -- pretty hard left -- they pretty much control the school systems even more than the School Boards, I felt. Has that gotten worse? Has the propaganda, has the indoctrination gotten worse?
BENNETT: It's gotten worse. They are as powerful as they've ever been. The Unions you and I used to talk about, this I remember during the Reagan administration. You were looking at it from the Justice Department, I was looking at it from the Education Department, but what's happened is they have basically co-opted a lot of the education establishment.
So here, as you see in some other places, Republicans or moderates become a kind of faint imitation of the left-wing, so they yield on a lot of things. Bathrooms, you know, we're one of the most ridiculous things that ever happened in the state of North Carolina that you could go to the bathroom of your choice based on your choice of your gender.
It should have been laughed out of town, but wasn't. This was pushed obviously by the left, by LGBTQ community. But it was assented to by the establishment. So I think that co-option or co-optation of the education establishment has figured very prominently in this and I think the most important thing is we are not teaching these kids you've got a right -- elementary, middle, high school -- about America. What is America?
We talk a lot about the colleges and that's right, but you know, as the Jesuits -- I went to Jesuit High School --say, "Give me a child at least 17." We got them. What happens in those earlier years, I think is much more important.
If you look at the latest survey on let's say Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's agenda, healthcare - free healthcare for everybody, free college for everybody, global warming number one priority. You will see majorities of millennials and bigger majorities of Generation Z which is following the millennials and that is worrisome, very worrisome. A cautionary tale and something we need to address and I'm going to get into this if you want, we don't just address it by saying "Socialist, socialist, socialist." We have to explain what's wrong with that view.
LEVIN: What is wrong with it? And how do we -- we're the real outsiders. You get into the educational bureaucracy, educational establishment. Do we need to break it up? Formally break it up? Do we need to apply any trust laws to what's going on? Do we do we keep competing against them with alternative homeschooling? Charter schools? And so how do we address this behemoth?
BENNETT: Well, I've been working on this for, I said some years, but I don't know. You're generous to me to say outsider. I said the other day, I was half joking. I said, all the socialism stuff, it's my fault, it's entirely my fault. I was the Secretary of Education. What the heck was I doing?
I was lecturing on choice and accountability in charter schools. I should have been lecturing on the history of socialism. Look socialism is as socialism does. And we can -- if you look at history, you see what it does. It immiserates people. It destroys economies. It immiserates people. They don't know the history.
If you go into a college freshman classroom and talk to kids, talk to them about anything in history, they don't know. They just don't know it. It's not their fault, but it is the education system's fault.
I don't know about the antitrust. I would yield to you on that, but I do think working inside the system -- more school choice, more I think criticism of what's going on -- but right now the debate I'll come back to your question as I'm talking, I'm thinking about your question, it may be is worse because a lot of the left now and you know, the NEA listens - the National Education Association listens to the left, is now suggesting the school first and foremost is not about Reading and Writing and Math and History. It's about social equity and social justice.
We can't teach these other things until we have social justice. That's of course something in their mind, which is you know, yet ever to be achieved by human society. So it's a question now as to whether the schools are about their business in any meaningful sense and by the way, if you look at the tests, we don't do very well in Math and Reading, haven't been for 20 to 30 years, but our worst subject is American History.
You cannot love a country and how do you ask someone to defend a country that a young person doesn't know and not familiar with, don't know the story or if they do know the story, they know the story according to widely used left-wing tendentious American History textbooks.
LEVIN: Your first really big book was about morality.
LEVIN: And it was a super duper big book.
BENNETT: It sold almost as much as a Levin book, almost.
LEVIN: But it was huge.
BENNETT: It was huge.
LEVIN: Do you think that book would sell as many copies today?
BENNETT: I don't know. I'll tell a tale at a school. I talked to my publisher and they said, "We'd like to get "The Book of Virtues" out again, 25th Anniversary Edition; however, we think you need to have a co-author who is of a different point of view to have to fill in the rest and we need to have stories about modern moral predicaments and we need to talk about, you can imagine, tick-tick-tick, what the agenda is.
They wanted to turn "The Book of Virtues" into a 21st Century politically correct manual. I said, "No." Bucks on the table, can't do it. Crazy. So this is what happens to the world. I would love to update "The Book of Virtues," with stories that people have sent me that fit with the overall theme and it's not about a particular time or place, morality is timeless. C.S. Lewis says you can no more invent a new moral code than you can a new color. It is what it is.
But I give you the world in which we live. I don't know.
LEVIN: And that's problematic because that's only 25 years ago.
BENNETT: That's right.
LEVIN: You can see big changes in the last 10 years.
BENNETT: That's right.
LEVIN: What accounts for this? Has the progressive left devoured the culture so thoroughly that when you look at entertainment, Hollywood, TV, the media, politicians, the classroom -- there's almost no room, no room for people who say, "Yes, time out, can we talk about Liberty? Can we talk about individualism? Can we talk about natural law? Can we talk about some of these things that undergird this great society?" What do you make of that?
BENNETT: The answer is yes. I was corresponding yesterday with my friend, Dennis Prager. You know Dennis.
LEVIN: Good man.
BENNETT: Dennis has a list -- 40 things that the left has destroyed and you just go down the list and if they haven't destroyed it, they have tried to. More important, they've tended to take it over. The schools, many of the churches, media, politics and go right down the list of important institutions - character forming institutions, the mediating institutions, and the left is there in a relentless march, and they want to do this. They are intentional about this.
Our guys, our team, you know, ever since the founders, are guys, they wanted to go to Philadelphia, draft the Constitution and get back to their farms, get back to their work. They didn't love to be in Washington. The left loves to be in Washington because it loves to be in control, it loves to be in power and this of course is what now became so real and apparent with the candidacy of Donald Trump, when he said this to us and everybody or a lot of people realized what he was saying was true that the government was in the grip of an elite which needed to be challenged, and he did.
LEVIN: You're a scholar, you're an intellectual, you're a historian. When we come, back I want to know what you think about Donald Trump and his presidency.
LEVIN: Folks, don't forget, almost every weeknight, you can watch Levin TV, Levin TV. Just go to blazetv.com/mark, blazetv.com/mark. You can sign up there or give us a call at 844-LEVIN-TV, 844-LEVIN-TV. We'd love to have you. We'll be right back.
LEVIN: You mentioned Donald Trump. How's he doing and what do you think of him?
BENNETT: I like him a lot. I supported him, not originally, I wasn't sure and I was listening to the people who were saying there's not a chance. You remember that.
BENNETT: Not a chance. But then, you know, when he did the announcement, it caught my eye a couple of sentences in that announcement speech about America had lost some of its greatness. We needed to make America great again. It is interesting that that became again a rallying cry for a lot of people and that's the thing that's now regarded on by the left as an offense, a punishable offense apparently on some campuses.
My sons were -- they're ahead of me. My son who went to Princeton, he certainly didn't learn it there. He then got into business, live New York. He said, "This is the guy." And then my other guy, who also went to Princeton, joined the Marine Corps. He came around and they talked to Elaine and me and said, "This is the guy. Look, this is what you believe." So I saw I signed on.
I think he's doing a great job. I have -- and I have a good perspective. I'm a swamp creature. I mean, I've been living in this swamp for - since 1981 since Ronald Reagan brought me here, so I have a good perspective, I think.
But - and I have seen criticism. I've seen tough stuff. I've never seen anything like what he's taking. I've never seen constant barrage, but the most amazing thing is that he takes it, gets up in the morning, goes back to work, goes back in the fight. You know, there's a great thing they say about the Irish, somebody told me that this was my style. They said, "You're like the Irishman who walks down the streets. Sees a fight going on and he says, this is a private fight," but you know -- and yet, Trump looks for fights.
He starts them, but he usually has a good reason, a good cause, but boy, he's resilient. He is tough and I admire very much what he's doing because I know he means it when he talks about American greatness and how he wants to make this country great again and I think he's done great things.
LEVIN: I agree with you and as a movement conservative ranking guys and so forth, I was skeptical.
LEVIN: It was my late father, you know what he said to me? "Get off his back. Listen to what he's saying. This man can do what he's going to do. We need somebody like this.
BENNETT: Your father, my sons. Interesting.
LEVIN: That's two completely different generations.
LEVIN: And the media hate him in such a way that I've never seen before even Nixon. I've never seen it before. Is it because they were so invested in a third Obama term? Is it because they viewed him and the people who support him as a joke? Is it because he defies them? He not only rejects them, he humiliates them? Is it all those of things or something else?
BENNETT: It's all those things and I just add one word to your last one, defies them. He does not genuflect to them. They may make him mad, but in the end, he doesn't care what they say in terms of his direction. He is not going to change direction.
I was talking to a group of quote, "intellectuals" about this before the election, and they said they just couldn't support Trump. These are conservative intellectuals. And it occurred to me that one of the reasons they were saying that was because Donald Trump has never read any of their learned journal articles or op-eds. He doesn't care.
You know, he doesn't care about that and I thought -- but he's done so many things. You know, the press likes to talk about the 8,000 lies. Somebody needs to make a list of the 8,000 great things he's done, big and little. I thought one of the biggest little things he did was what he said, "I'm not going to the White House Correspondents' Dinner. I'm not going." I don't know. Did you ever go? We went to a couple.
LEVIN: I never went there.
BENNETT: And walked out on a couple because it was so gross. But White House Correspondents' Dinner, I went -- Elaine and I went -- black-tie we go and we would watch the President of the United States being humiliated by a series of press speakers and then the big press award given to someone who had tried to take the President's guts out, you know and he had to shake the guy's hand. Donald Trump just isn't going to --
LEVIN: Isn't that the Roman circus right there?
LEVIN: I mean -- and they have conformity of thought. The media are more out of the closet now I think ideologically than ever before, am I right?
BENNETT: Yes, he's exposed them. He's exposed them. He has pointed it and he said, "Look and listen and watch," and you would think they would have been more careful about fake news, once he made this charge, but they haven't.
I watched your interview with Lin Wood. What an unbelievable thing that is. I mean, they go after Trump. They go after Tucker Carlson. They've been after you. They've been after me, lower cadence, but they go after this kid and they hold him up to ridicule and worse to the world and they'll check their facts.
LEVIN: What do you think is driving the media? I just think they've thrown in with this hard radical left. I think that the reporters aren't particularly bright, that they reject history, too, you know. They don't look at Huntley-Brinkley. They don't look at any of the people who built what it is that they're standing on and they go their own way, like your typical progressive. History doesn't matter. Context doesn't matter or agenda driven.
BENNETT: Well, I mean, I think if you go to a journalism school, there won't be George Washington and Lincoln on the wall, maybe Woodward and Bernstein. Expose a President, take down a President. It's kind of unfair to Woodward. I think Woodward has his moments of real objectivity.
LEVIN Bernstein is a --
BENNETT: Bernstein is another story. But I think that they go into this business in order to you know get somebody, "gotcha," the "gotcha" journalism and I believe they think -- they think that they are doing justice.
LEVIN: But not Obama. He gets a pass.
BENNETT: Right, well that's because that's the ideology. I wrote a paper once for CNN because I was working there and I wrote a paper for them on confirmation bias. You know, you look for evidence of what it is you believe and you turn the evidence in your direction and I don't know that it ever registered, but they're committed ideologues, many of them and they don't know it.
I know I'm a conservative. I know that and I think I can defend it based on history, based on human experience, based on historical record. You know, they asked my favorite author, Walker Percy, why was he a Catholic? He said, "Look at the choices." He said, "You know, I think original sin is the most clearly empirically demonstrable thing in the history of the world. You know, men are sinners."
I think I can defend it. They are leftist ideologues, many of them because-- and they don't know it, but this is a fact. This is not fake news. If you look at the surveys of where they stand politically, it's like an Academic Philosophy Department.
I was at Boston University. I was not only the only conservative in the Philosophy Department, I was the only non-Marxist at the Philosophy Department of 16 people.
LEVIN: You know, you've described MSNBC pretty much. We'll be right back.
AISHAH HASNIE, CORRESPONDENT, FOX NEWS: Live from "America's News Headquarters," I'm Aishah Hasnie. British Prime Minister Theresa May hopes the third time's the charm. Members of Parliament are scheduled to vote again on May's Brexit deal later this week after striking it down twice. She needs 75 lawmakers to change their minds and if the European Union doesn't agree to a delay, Britain will leave the E.U. on March 29th with or without a deal.
Historic flooding forcing hundreds of people from their homes in Nebraska and western Iowa. Rivers at historic levels now blamed for severely damaging up to 500 homes. In Nebraska, several levees have failed where the Platte and Missouri Rivers converge and the Democratic presidential field getting even more crowded. Now, New York Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand becoming the 13th Democrat to join the race. I am Aishah Hasnie, now back to " Life, Liberty & Levin."
LEVIN: Bill Bennett, you're particularly upset about the Nicholas Sandmann case in the way the media trashed this kid.
BENNETT: Yes, I am. I guess, a psychiatrist might say, well I'm identifying. You know, he's a Catholic kid, Catholic school. That's my background. I saw those kids there for a pro-life rally and then saw all of this develop.
Watching your discussion last week on the show with Lin Wood, you guys were talking about the legal aspects, the challenge. Tough case, I think, right, even though it's a strong argument. It seems to me it's a tough case legally.
If anybody can make it though, I think your guest --
LEVIN: There's a good chunk that he can go after them. He's focused in like a laser.
BENNETT: Yes, you bet.
LEVIN: Anyway --
BENNETT: But to me, the culture is significant. As a non-lawyer, I went to Law School, but I never practiced, I would say my argument would be this. For God's sakes, do something. Something has to be done. Here is this kid destroyed around the world in terms of his reputation. That's on the internet forever, by the way, no matter what happens and this is partly a function of the technology and the media how quickly these things move.
You cannot, you know, destroy someone with falsehoods so quickly, so effectively and let it go by. That's why it's important that he wins, but it's important that we send a signal to the media, the journalistic community, "You can't do this. You just can't do this."
So yes, I feel very badly about that, and I'm outraged by it. So you know, as you know, it's an outrage a day, two or three things a day, but this one is -- this one is sticking because they got it so wrong and because they were so cruel in their treatment of this young man.
You know the old saying, "The lie goes all the way around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes." Falsely attributed to Mark Twain by the way. It's actually Jonathan Swift, but that's a footnote, that's a fine point.
LEVIN: Let me ask you this and not to pick on -- well, I'll pick on CNN. They seem obsessed with trying to destroy Fox. They seem obsessed with trying to destroy Hannity, Carlson, Ingraham. They seem obsessed we're trying to turn the news operation in the opinion part of the network against each other and by the way, as a side point, I can't tell the difference at CNN. I don't know what's the news, who does the news and who does the opinion? You do know pretty much at Fox.
And I am not saying it because I'm here. I don't have to be here. I'm saying because this is what I observed. Have you ever seen one network try to destroy another network? Is it because they're so low on the ratings, in their number. They're behind MSNBC now. They figure that's how they claw their way out?
BENNETT: Remember the Biblical description at the Lorraine Motel, Martin Luther King was killed, "Behold the dreamer, let's slay him and see what becomes of his dreams." These aren't dreams and I don't mean to over dramatize this, but they cannot stand the truth. They cannot stand the light. They cannot stand the contrast that Fox creates.
Fox is saying something entirely different from what they are saying and that is an embarrassment to them. Fox also defends itself. That's an interesting way you put it there because you talk about Tucker Carlson, you talk about Sean, you talk about Laura Ingraham, part of the Bennet team speechwriting. It goes through -- a lot of people work for me.
You know you get to be old enough --
LEVIN: I said you're one of the wise men.
BENNETT: Anyway, I'm very proud of the people who work for me, but Laura and Sean and Tucker -- these people can defend themselves and have a great forum to defend themselves.
Sandmann, what's that kid going to do? Well, he's got somebody now. He's got an advocate now, but I guess that's part of back to your earlier question, something has to be done because things are out of control.
I wake up some mornings and think we've lost the guardrails, you know, the things that keep us together as a society and someone, an old friend of mine, and someone you know, Gary Bauer.
Gary Bauer and I had lunch and he said, you know, I am a big supporter of Donald Trump, but are we in an interregnum? You remember before the election, Donald Trump, we were saying, you know we've got to do this. The great essay that the "Flight 93 Election" written by our friend Michael Anton, okay, because if we don't, we may go down the tubes with the election of Hillary Clinton, and I think that's right.
So as Gary said, what happens after Trump? Well, let's hope that's put off another four years in 2020. But that's a worry about society and overall worry about American society.
You know, I'm a student of the founders. I've written a lot about the founders. They believed in the separation of powers. They believed in all the stuff you guys did at the Justice Department, but most of all, they believed that the final protection of the country was a sense of what they call virtue in the people that they would have the sense and the moral sense and I think Americans have it, but a lot of our institutions are doing the best they can to take it out of people, to suggest that if they feel that way, they're wrong or they are bigots or they are racists or whatever.
And the schools do this. I read a survey the other day I thought fascinating. A survey of kids before they went to high school. Kids whose parents were born in another country and 85% of them identified as Americans, themselves as Americans. When they were done with high school and after two years of college, 60% or 70% identified themselves as hyphenated Americans. It's backwards. It's backwards.
LEVIN: And we pour hundreds of billions of dollars into these institutions which we do not control. We'll be right back.
LEVIN: Dr. William Bennett, I've known you a long time, haven't I?
LEVIN: I think I was in my 20s or something.
BENNETT: No, okay --
LEVIN: Yes, I think so.
BENNETT: Okay, we'll say that.
LEVIN: You've always been a rock. You came under a lot of attack particularly when you were the drug czar, the first drug czar. And you were attacked by the libertarians, you were attacked by the leftist. You were attacked by local governments and so forth, and yet you were right in so many ways.
We have this horrific opioid epidemic and it is an epidemic, isn't it?
BENNETT: Yes, it is. We were right. We -- President George Herbert Walker Bush took this one really seriously back to me when I needed him to and the country took it seriously. It was the number one issue and we focused on it and one of the most widely circulating myths and lies is that we lost that war. We didn't --
Drug use in the United States, illegal drug use from 1979 to 1992 went down by more than 50%. We pushed back and when we pushed back, it went down. It went down dramatically. This was a push by government, by the administration and I was happy to be there. This was a push in Colombia, thanks to Delta Force and some other folks, the brave Colombian people. The media was actually good and cooperative. You're old enough to remember the ads jumping off the diving board into an empty swimming pool, this is your brain on drugs. Fried eggs. And the country took it seriously.
What we're in now is worse by the numbers. The number of people who died from cocaine crack maybe 10,000. Last year, we lost 70,000 people to illegal drugs and another myth, people think most of this is because doctors are over prescribing. It's not true. There are some over subscribing, obviously, there are some pill mills, but three-quarters of the deaths are from fentanyl, street stuff heroin and of the people who die from overdoses from OxyContin and other prescribed drugs, these are people who get them illegally or by stealing them from people who were prescribed.
So it's the illegal problem we have got to deal with and we've got to attack it head-on and it's now very much as I've said to folks in the administration, a lot of this is Trump country. You know, the people who supported Donald Trump, rural America, West Virginia, rural Ohio -- it's not just there, but it's a more serious problem than what we had in the late 80s and we took that very seriously front and center. We've got to do the same and what doesn't help, Mark is this effort to get marijuana everywhere. It's just crazy.
C.S. Lewis says, you know, when the boat is sinking from water, don't grab for the fire hoses and we are -- not everybody who smokes marijuana goes on to other things, but very few people who get into these other drugs -- fentanyl or other stuff -- didn't start with marijuana. That's where it starts.
Take a look at Colorado. Take a look at the driving deaths. Take a look at the scores, I believe in a few years, the academic scores. Take a look at the quality of life in Denver and this is what we're pushing and we've had some Republicans pushing this, too.
LEVIN: The former Speaker of the House.
BENNETT: Yes, sir, John Boehner signed that.
LEVIN: Did that surprise you when he left Congress and then joined that organization promoting?
BENNETT: I'm happy to say it did surprise me in the sense that I thought I'd lost the capacity to be surprised anymore or shocked, you know, but yes, it did. It really did. There's a lot of money in that, a lot of money in this stuff.
And by the way, the marijuana that people are smoking today in Colorado is not the marijuana of the late 60s. Three, two, three percent tetrahydrocannabinol. In the late 60s early 70s, today average in Colorado maybe 20% to 25%. It's a difference between a light beer and a slug of much --
LEVIN: So it's much more potent.
BENNETT: Much more potent, much more powerful. Maureen Dowd of the "New York Times" wrote a column about going to Colorado and chewing a marijuana candy bar and wrote in her column, "I thought I had died after a couple of bites." She had to then apologize with a couple of subsequent columns because they got on her, but the stuff is potent and dangerous.
And one thing we know for sure from the science, my former drug czar, my former Secretary of Education speaking here, for young people, it harms and can destroy focus, attention and memory. Are they important in school? Are they important in growing up? Focus and attention? Are they important on the job?
LEVIN: Not if you're going into journalism.
LEVIN: Let me ask you this -- it is spreading and it's becoming popular even among Republican politicians.
BENNETT: It's popular in public opinion polls, people favor it. Can I tell you why? The medical marijuana thing was very smart. I have the pictures of these children who are having bouts of epilepsy and the cannabinol helps them calm down. True in a few cases. True in some cases. You can do that without administering a cigarette, a marijuana cigarette.
As a doctor said to me, just step back from it and think about it. Does anybody really believe that he'd get a bunch of dry leaves, light them on fire, inhale them and that's good for you? Can anybody seriously believe that? So the medical marijuana, Trojan horse. It brought out everybody's sympathy and from that, we've gone to this general recreational marijuana.
But you know, the final argument is do you want to live in a country where half the people around you are buzzed all the time? And if you sat with people who are stoned, you can't really have a conversation with them because they're laughing all the time or you know, they are somewhere else.
LEVIN: Well, luckily I don't live in that world, at least not yet. Folks don't forget, almost every weeknight, you can watch Levin TV. Go to blazetv.com/mark, blazetv.com/mark to sign up or give us a call 844-LEVIN- TV, 844-LEVIN-TV. We'd love to have you. I'll be right back.
LEVIN: Bill Bennett, immigration is a very big issue and I think rightly so. What is this open border stuff? We shouldn't have walls. We shouldn't have fences. It's a bizarre obsession with the left and they didn't used to have that position. Is it because demographics have changed so much and their constituent groups have changed so much that come on in, eventually you'll have children, eventually we'll get you registered; eventually we'll overwhelm these red states. Is it that simple?
BENNETT: It's partly that. It's partly recruiting. You can get more people to vote Democrat, I suppose, the more illegals come and the more people who come who sign up to the Democratic Party, but I think it's also anti-Trump. You know, if he's for it, that's reason enough to be against it -- "it" being any policy.
Obama did some of the same things. I don't know if you saw, I think it was Congresswoman Ilhan Omar again criticizing Obama the other day saying, "Well, he separated children. He did all these things." Well, he didn't do it as directly and as I don't mean to separate children -- he didn't push his arguments, present his arguments as forcefully as Donald Trump did, but did many of the same things.
The question I have for the Democrats is what is your policy? Just what is your policy? Is there any limit to the number of people who can come in? I don't see an argument. I think this is, by the way, a huge winning issue for the President, whatever the courts say, whatever the Congress does or doesn't do, people understand it's a country and for it to remain a country, you've got to have borders. You have to have borders and defining limits to have something you call a nation.
LEVIN : And some of these cities and states are even allowing illegal aliens to vote in local and state elections.
LEVIN: Well then, why not just send absentee ballots all over the world and have people vote? You can have seven billion people vote for the mayor of San Francisco or seven billion people vote for governor? Your point is, where do they want to go with it? It's insanity. It's illogical how far they're willing to go.
BENNETT: Well why would you treasure a nation if you have never been taught what it's about? See again, I keep coming back to the schools, I guess. Plato said, the most important questions in society who teaches the children and what do they teach? And I think that's right.
In the world, the American achievement in history is unique and high. There has never been a nation like it. If you are in some godforsaken immiserated place and there are no godforsaken places, what some dictator's boot on your neck and you see soldiers coming over a hill with a flag, you pray that it's the American flag and American soldiers. Why? Because they're not there to hurt you, they're not there to take your wealth, to take your wives. They're there to help you. That's what America has been and that's what makes America unique.
When was the last time most 16 or 17 year olds heard that? I toured the schools, Mark. I went to 120 schools and asked kids what about America? Very, very few of them could make the case that there was something special about it. I don't mind talking about the sins and the problems and all of that. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the man who introduced me on my confirmation hearing said, "Am I embarrassed to speak for a less than perfect democracy? Absolutely not. Find me a better one."
But in the long run of human history, which is mostly misery and suffering, the American achievement is unique.
LEVIN: I'm always amazed at how the left can trash our country, talk about systemic racism and then people south of the border trying to get into this country by the millions, why would they try and come to a country that is systemically racist?
BENNETT: That's exactly right. I used to, when I was in the schools -- I remember, there was this high school in San Diego, a young woman said, "Why do you love this country?" I said, "Well, a lot of reasons," but I said, "Short test," the Gates test. They called it the Gates test. Every country has gates and when you raise the gates which way do people run, do they run in or do they run out? And I said, we raise our gates, people run in. We don't raise our gates and people run in. What is it about this place that makes people go those thousands of miles, try to jump through the Berlin wall to get freedom? What is it about that?
LEVIN: We'll be right back.
LEVIN: You know, Nancy Pelosi, wants everyone to put their guard down, says, "I'm not interested in impeachment." Yes, but her lieutenants are and they take orders from her and they're doing everything to try and set up that scenario. I think, it'll backfire very, very badly on them. How do you see that?
BENNETT: I don't know. I wouldn't want to accuse her of not telling the truth. God knows. But, you know, she did give herself an out, unless there's evidence that's so overwhelming blah-blah-blah, we're not going to impeach.
But does it matter whether they go for impeachment or not? Which might be a political risk. You remember Bill Clinton got out of all that with an increase in his popularity, so there's that problem. Americans don't like to see their President impeached particularly when he's pretty popular.
LEVIN: He's good at everything.
BENNETT: Well, A, B, he's pretty popular and gets more popular to many people's surprise, but I think their game is, you know, despise, vilify, accuse, go after this, go after that, go after everything, what the 81 witnesses that Chairman Nadler is going to call.
So just try to take him down, take his reputation down, take his standing down, just pound, pound, pound. Have the media cooperate and play for 2020. Everything is about 2020.
I mean, the conventions in Milwaukee, the Democratic Convention in Wisconsin. They're going to at least visit Wisconsin for the convention, so whether they impeach or not, the game is the same, get Trump.
LEVIN: Where do you see this country going in the next five or ten years?
BENNETT: I don't know. You know, John Adams, somewhere writes that to Madison, I think, that he hopes this experiment will last 150 years. We've done much better than that, but you know, it's a do-it-yourself project and it depends upon the people.
When I'm around here listening to the debates, watching TV, I get discouraged. When I leave and go out into the country, you know and talk to people, I feel better. When I'm with my family, I feel better.
Our boys, Elaine and I have two sons, both went to Princeton. They used to call me up and said, "Hey, another guy attacked you today in class, dad." You know, this was a standard thing, but they got through it and they're strong and they're patriotic and I have great confidence in them.
One of my sons joined the Marine Corps. We got to know those kids. They're a big important part of the picture, too, not as big as it should be, but I'm encouraged every time I talk to the average everyday American. So it's important to get out of the beltway, but my family gives me not only great strength, but also confidence about the future.
LEVIN: And is this part of the problem though? The people, they think one way, but the concentration of government --
LEVIN: And the bubble in Washington --
LEVIN: And in the LA area --
LEVIN: Drive the agenda. They talk the left about more votes, more votes and yet they rule more and more with an iron fist. Bill Bennett, it's been a great honor.
BENNETT: Thank you, Mark.
LEVIN: Thank you, my friend.
BENNETT: Thank you, my pleasure. Thank you, sir.
LEVIN: Thanks for joining us. See you next time on "Life, Liberty & Levin."
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