Newt on Hannity from the Reagan Library
March 13, 2009
MR. HANNITY: All right. It looks like the White House has been reading the poll numbers that Americans are not exactly embracing their agenda. As pollsters Doug Schoen and Scott Rasmussen pointed out in The Wall Street Journal today, “The president’s numbers have now dipped below where George W. Bush’s numbers were at the same point in his presidency in 2001.” And that’s what Americans should keep in mind when they see such tactical political moves by the White House. This is just more politics as usual, not the change that you can believe in.
And joining me tonight is the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Mr. Speaker, good to see you. It looks like you’re sitting in the Oval Office. Am I right?
MR. GINGRICH: Well, I’m actually at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. They’ve built an Oval Office for high school and elementary school students to come and have various scenarios and find out what it’s like to make big decisions and to be in these rooms. It’s a great facility. And of course, it’s in our movie “Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny.”
But the thing that struck me with what you just reported, Sean, is that if you come here and you look at how Reagan led the nation out of malaise, how he led it out of an economic disaster, how he led it to ultimately win the Cold War, optimism and a confident belief in the American people was at the heart of the Reagan tradition. And it’s kind of nice to see President Obama begin to leave the Jimmy Carter language and try to embrace more of a Ronald Reagan optimism. And it will be interesting to see if he can sustain it over the next week or two.
MR. HANNITY: All right. Now, here’s the skeptical part of Sean Hannity, all right, because I’ve been on this very program critical of the doom-gloom malaise talk of the president. And now he stops it, now he strikes a more optimistic tone. And am I wrong to have some questions about the sincerity of all this, whether this is theater, whether this is acting, whether this is contrived, whether this is political?
MR. GINGRICH: Look, whether you assume that it is contrived, theater, acting for political purposes, it’s still better than the earlier contrived, political acting that was negative and sounded like Jimmy Carter.
So I mean, presidents, to some extent, have to be actors. What I don’t know and what you don’t know yet is, you know, the difference is Ronald Reagan, in his heart, was an optimist because Ronald Reagan has this great difficulty that he believes in government. And it’s pretty hard to be optimistic if you’re trying to get bureaucracies to be as creative as the American people. So it will be interesting to see if he can sustain it. I think he can only sustain it if he drops a lot of his policies because his policies are ultimately disastrous for this economy. The huge energy tax increase, for example, will be a disaster for this economy.
MR. HANNITY: You see, I don’t think he’s going to be able to keep it up because I think, ultimately, that has been the single biggest weapon that he’s used, the fear tactics, to scare people into supporting his agenda. But you know, one thing you said — I don’t even identify myself as a Republican. And I know some people say, well, you’re pretty identified with the Republican Party. But I consider myself a Reagan conservative because, like you were saying, I believe in the American people. There’s two issues that I have that bother me. Number one, the sustainability and the amount of money he’s spending. And more importantly, have the American people shifted in terms of their mindset? And do they want the government in larger numbers to take care of their every need?
MR. GINGRICH: Well, let me say, first of all, you’re exactly right to focus on the amount of money. It is unsustainable. We can’t keep printing money and dumping our debt on our children and our grandchildren. And if interest rates start back up, the cost of paying for the U.S. debt will be astronomical, and it will be a burden we carry for two generations. So there are some very profoundly bad things about this policy of just throwing money at the problem without having any kind of real impact.
In terms of the public, you know, I saw a recent Gallup poll figure. By a significant majority, Democrats believe in government and they think government will work. By a very significant majority, Republicans don’t believe in government and do not believe it works. And independents just sort of split. Historically — I’ll give you a number that’s fascinating. When asked the question, should the government spend more to bail out business, the Gallup poll had a 57 to 34 against. That poll was in 1938. This country historically does not believe that printing money to have bureaucrats try to run businesses makes any sense.
MR. HANNITY: Do you think — as we analyze these polls and the decline of his popularity, do you think part of it is maybe because he’s been so negative? Do you think maybe that guys like Sean Hannity were right in saying that he’s far more radical and he was using conservative rhetoric as he was reading the teleprompter as he was traveling around the country?
MR. GINGRICH: (Laughs.)
MR. HANNITY: Why are you laughing? I see — go ahead.
MR. GINGRICH: Look, you may have already done this earlier, but page 11 of the new budget is something every American should look at and cut out and treasure. It is a chart done by two French socialist economists, one of whom was a very close adviser to Segolene Royal, the socialist candidate for president last year. Now, how any White House staffer could be foolish enough to put a chart by French socialists in a budget by the United States is, I think, mind- boggling.
MR. HANNITY: (Laughs.)
MR. GINGRICH: So now, Sean, I feel comfortable going around the country saying, it’s clear they’re influenced by French socialism. Look at page 11 of their own budget.
MR. HANNITY: All right. But that was my argument. You’re having too much fun. But he has declining –
MR. GINGRICH: Well, why can’t it be my argument, too?
MR. HANNITY: Well, it can be.
MR. GINGRICH: (Laughs.) I want it to be my argument, too, Sean.
MR. HANNITY: (Laughs.) So he has the declining popularity. I say it’s, in part, contributed to doom and gloom and negativity. Hang on. I think he’s far more radical. And there’s this other factor. I think he may be in way over his head.
MR. GINGRICH: Well, look, somebody sent me a wonderful note today that pointed out that in the first few weeks in office, he’s already collected $150,000 in back taxes from his own appointees. And he ought to think of that as kind of an exciting breakthrough.
MR. HANNITY: (Laughs.)
MR. GINGRICH: This administration, in some ways, does resemble Jimmy Carter, and I think the page 11 of the budget is a good example. I think some of the appointments are a good example. Every time I see Geithner, I’m reminded that he couldn’t figure out for four years in a row how to pay his own taxes. And we should pay attention to him? But I think that there’s an underlying, big-government and, in many ways, fundamentally dishonest pattern. And the place I want to focus is the energy tax which they don’t really tell the truth about and would cripple this economy.
MR. HANNITY: We’re getting a tax cap and trade by literally turning on our light bill. But that’s going to come in the days to come as is the debate over national health care. By the way, the DVD is phenomenal. And Mr. Speaker, I put it on my website hannity.com for people who want to get “Rendezvous with Destiny.” Thanks for being with us.