tv Book TV After Words CSPAN February 6, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm EST
diminishing because there's a movement afoot to create a new political culture. and i mentioned that in my last three books, i think. and that movement is made up of talk radio, of cable tv, of fox news, of talk radio with sean hannity and rush limbaugh and mark levin, and it's made up of the internet. recently the new york sun came on the internet, that's a good thing. it's made up of "the wall street journal" which has created an antidote to the new york times. so there is a culture in our country, and, by the way, national review and commentary. we are creating a culture that is vanquishing the culture smog.
but for now the culture smog is out there, and we have to deal with it. it's the one pollutant that the liberals never say anything against. but i as an environmentalist of sorts have spoke out against the culture smog and done my best to vanquish it, and the people that i've just mentioned are vanquishing it right there with me. >> host: what's an example of the culture smog? >> guest: well, we're on the 100th anniversary of ronald reagan today. and the culture smog has dealt with reagan as best it can. it's dealt with reagan as an impossible bunkler through his presidency, it's dealt with him as an amiable dunce toward the end of his presidency. and now it's trying to present ronald reagan as a kind of a
liberal, a feelth candidate -- feelth candidate, a stealth politician who snuck in liberal values. i knew ronald reagan. i had him in my house, i was in his house. ronald reagan was a movement conservative. i'm a movement conservative. i'm not governed by any particular pretorian guard. i have my freedom action, he had his freedom action. when he thought it was time to negotiate, he negotiated. but ronald reagan was always a movement conservative. and, by the way, he was, his presidency was made possible by the movement conservatives. one of the points that i make in this book and that i'm going to make in my next book is that
ronald reagan was, ronald reagan and the conservative movement have come to the fore, and they've thrust liberalism aside. and now liberalism is dead. and that's going to be my next book. >> host: why many your writings and most all of your books do you capitalize liberal and liberalism? >> guest: because i don't think it's liberal. i think liberalism has come to mean social democracy, and obama proved it this time around. but it's been less than liberal for a long time. i think liberal is the liberalism of john locke and be be -- subsequent liberals, 19th century liberals. i'm a 19th century liberal, but we've been co-opted by liberalism. at some point i think in the
progressive movement the progressives took the word liberal and used it for their own purposes. but they, the liberals of the american experience are the liberals of the founding fathers and the liberals of the conservative movement. we are real liberals, but this is an argument that will take a long time to work out. >> host: in your 1992 book, "conservative crack-up," you wrote, given the right disposition, a liberal can be a conservative, and a conservative can be a liberal. why have more student t of politics not made this conciliatory point? >> guest: well, i'm afraid that politics today is, the lines are drawn, and you're either on my side, or you're on their side. and that's a shame. because in the '20s people
could be liberal on some things and conservative on other things, and by liberal i mean kind of liberal in a good sense. but now you're either with me, or you're against me. i think this is a consequence in part of the 1960s generation. and i think the 1960s generation in politics in the early 1970s generation they had a devastating effect on politics and on political discourse. and by the way, they were the most ballyhooed generation since the founding fathers, and they're a terrific bust. the clintons were a bust. the clintons, always problems they had in the white house they had those problems in the white house because they didn't understand the white house. they understood shaking hands and creating enemies and things of that nature, but the governance of the country they
didn't understand. >> host: good afternoon and welcome to booktv's "in depth" program. this is our monthly program with one author and his or her body of work. this month r. 'em -- r. emmett tyrrell junior, he is the founder of the american spectator magazine as well as author of nine books plus the editor of a couple more. very quickly, here are r. emmett tyrrell's nine books. in 1977, "public nuisances" came out. "the liberal crack-up" in 1994. boy clinton, 1996. your bestseller? >> guest: yeah. >> host: the impeachment came out in 1997 -- >> guest: that was pretty close to bestseller. >> host: madam hillary in 2004, the clinton crack-up in 2007, the best of the american spectators: the continuing crisis in 2009, and his most
recent book last year, "after the hangover." mr. tyrrell, why four books about the clintons? >> guest: well, they weren't solely about the clintons. but the clintons dominated their party. and i was drawn into write about them. i guess, i guess the answer would be he was the president of the united states, he was representing the culture smog as the dominant, they were the dominant political figures of their generation. that's what harris said in "the washington post". as a matter of fact, i show that they were -- what about newt gipg rich? -- gingrich? what about george w. bush? there was a lot of competition for that. but i think you probably, i probably wrote those books because i was at the apex of the assault on the clintons in the
american spectator. and i think they turned up the heat in the kitchen, and i think they have to admit by now we cooked their goose. >> host: 202 is the area code if you'd like to dial in and converse with r. emmett tyrrell. 737-0001 if you live in the east or central time zones, 737-0002 for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones. you can also send us an e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a tweet, twitter.com/booktv. john braca e-mails in to you, do you think that the reform conservatives -- david frum, david brooks, etc. -- will remain relevant in the age of the tea party? >> guest: i think they're irrelevant now. i think david frum would have to jump off george washington bridge to the get attention today -- to get attention today,
and david brooks already has. that wonderful interview in the new republic where he said, generally, i know more about political philosophy and policy than anyone i sit down with. generally, i know more, certainly, about political philosophy. but when i sat down with barack obama, barack obama had been in the senate one month, but when i sat down with barack obama, he knew more about political philosophy and about policy than i did. i knew that. and then i looked down, and i saw the wonderful crease in his pant leg as he sat across from me, and i said to myself on the basis of a crease in his pants, mind you, i said to myself, this man is going to be president someday, and he's going to be a very good president. and i said to myself, i said,
what if barack obama had been wearing pantyhose? [laughter] what would our friend say about that? but they're not relevant anymore. and then brooks went on to say that david -- that barack obama was berg yang and new edmund burke very, very well. when you write for "the new york times", you can say any preposterous thing, and it'll be taken seriously, at least by the editors of the new york times. not by me. >> host: from qualify at the hangover -- after the hangover, conservatives have remained marginalized by the political culture and left with only one expedient to stardom which is to snipe at fellow conservatives. >> guest: yeah. and that's, that's how -- look, you just, it's a wonderful
segway into this because frum and brooks have made their way in politics by saying things about conservatives that aren't true. and they're celebrated for it. and they play the culture smog's various pollutants very, very well. however, i don't think they're going to be able to play those pollutants very, very well in the future because -- by the way, that's "after the hangover: the conservatives' road to recovery. "and that's an important part of the title of that book. and i think that the conservatives have recovered. they are dominant. they're going to be more dominant in the years ahead, and i think the culture smog. i mean, look, "the new york times" can hardly pay its bills. it's got to -- "the new york times" has got to receive a subsidy of some sort from the man referred to, the mexican
billionaire, carlos slim, who isn't slim and, by the way, he's not a mexican. he's a lebanese. [laughter] >> host: well, we have an e-mail here from jerry carroll of hot springs village, arkansas. why has "the new york times" deteriorated during the salzburger era? >> guest: gee, that's a terrible -- that's a very intelligent question, i can't answer all of it. but i'll tell you this, as politics has become more and more ideological, "the new york times" has given up any effort to be bipartisan. it's a left-wing propaganda sheet. and it's a terrible situation because you want to pick up -- i read the times every day. and i want to pick up something that i can say that is thoughtful and free of the taint of the culture smog. but it's, it's rare that i can
do that now. now, "the wall street journal" you can pick up a review of something in the arts, or you can pick up a review of something in business, and it's, that's for your politics. thank god. some people can be prix of politics -- free of politics. i will hazard a thought to you that i say, you know, elsewhere in my writing i say that the political, there's the politically pee doe of a liberal, the political libido of a anymore to nymphomaniac, praca sex offender. they politicize everything they touch. the conservative political libido is that of a lady or a gentleman, and it's much more subdued. as a result, they lose some races that they should win. and they ruse son only -- lose on some issues they should win
on. but thank god there's an area where we conservatives can welcome a liberal in at least when he's not or she's not going to be ranting on about politics. that's not true i. i'll tell you something about the american spectator's long history. in the '70s and the early '80s, about 25% of our audience was liberal because liberals could, liberals were interested in what conservatives had to say. and i, of course, have been in liberals' audience for years. that's not true today. that 25%'s deminnished to a few, a handful, and those handful are probably studying us with the hope that someday they can investigate us and prosecute us. [laughter] but that's how politics has
changed in this country. but for me, for my intentions, i'll remain -- there'll be some areas in which i'm not going to be political. >> host: here's an e-mail, mr. tyrrell, why do you consider your magazine conservative rather than a lockstep republican publication? you do not realize that republicans like nixon propose soviet-style medicine, that republican presidents have never eliminated any public welfare programs and have always increased the debt burden of the u.s. >> guest: well, that's not true, and i knew richard mix son. [laughter] i don't know what he's talking about, soviet-style. richard nixon, i observe, was more a pal than he was a -- he was of more a politician than he was an idealogue or a conservative. but he was open to
conservatives, and the conservatives made their first mark in his administration. i knew him in retirement, and he was really interested in what we conservatives had to say. and to some degree he was a conservative. there was an intellectual vibrancy about his era and his presidency that has steadily diminished. he had pat moynihan in his administration, he had henry kissinger in his administration, and he had irving crystal in and out of the white house. all of that eventually changed. he had, he had bill buckley in his administration. so that was a very interesting administration. one of the observations that should be made about richard nixson is that -- nixon is that he really was kind of intellectually alive in a way that other politicians aren't.
bill clinton, for instance, is not the least bit intellectually alive. he's not the least bit intellectually driven. i've had a couple of run-ins with him, as you know. but, well, if there's a guy that you should compare -- if there's an administration you should compare with the clinton administration, i think you should compare it with the administration of harding. right down to the fact that harding loved golf and had a posse wife. bossy wife. the two of them will get along well together when they both, when bill goes off to his eternal reward. >> host: and, in fact, you dedicate the impeachment to warren harding. >> guest: yeah. i think warren harding, i'm told that ronald reagan has called the icon -- if there's another
iconic republican, it's, it's lincoln. i say that harding is an iconic republican for the clinton administration. and i'm surprised that no one has caught on and picked up that comparison of bill clinton, an amiable, big lovable lug of a cassanova and harding, amiable, handsome, big, lovable lug of a cassanova. they've both, they were made for each other. >> host: three of your books use the term "crack-up." why? >> guest: well, i introduced the term crack-up into politics. as i recall, scott fitzgerald introduced it into, into, into
general fiction writing. but i introduced it into politics because i see a lot of crack-up taking place. many american politics -- in american politics. the clinton crack-up, i'm surprised that people didn't notice that bill clinton really had cracked up. you know, i started that book with, well, i ended the book with an investigation of clinton in toronto at his 60th birthday party. and here he has, here's a man that argued with me in public at the jockey club and blew up at me and screamed at me in the jockey club. by the way, it was like tinkerbell with a snit. i mean, i thought -- i had to tell him, i said, mr. president, please, go over there and sit down, you're going to ruin this wonderful evening you're having
with your wife. but when i saw him years later at his 60th birthday, i felt something for him that i didn't think i'd ever feel. i felt sad for him. because he was a sort of shriveled, whitened-haired, and he was a, he was just a waif of his old self. i'll tell you something funny that happened at the -- >> host: were you invited to the party? >> guest: actually, i was invited by a very lovely israeli woman, but i wasn't invited by bill. and i did have my picture taken with bill. but one of the funny things that happened was i was there throughout the evening, and toward the middle of the evening the president wanted to have his picture taken with the israeli woman i was with. and he didn't realize that she was with me. [laughter] so we had our pictures taken.
and i went over and sat down at the table made up of his aides, his top political aides on the road and various other people. and no one bothered to ask me who i was or what i was doing there. i was with this israeli woman. >> host: they didn't recognize you? >> guest: they didn't recognize me. and at one very interesting, very, very tense moment in the evening -- tense for me, because, you know, i had been close to the president a few minutes before, and now i'm sitting at a table with his top aides. frankly, i was wondering when the hell the arkansas state police were going to come and carry me out, the secret service or something like that. so i'm sitting there, and i'm listening to all this blah coming from the dais and the greatest president ever, our last elected president and all of this kind of nonsense. and i was getting a little giddy
by it all. and this woman sitting next to me was from dublin. dublin, ireland. and she and i knew various people. she didn't know who i was, but she -- and so she asked me, where do you come from? i said, well, i'm from washington. and she said, oh, you're from washington. that is the way most of these people -- they let it go at that. but this irish woman insisted on going further. and she said, um, what do you do? and i said, well, i write books. she said, oh, you write books? what's the title of one or two of your books? and by now i saw the humor of the whole event, and i turned to her, and i said, well, i wrote "finnigan's wake. "and the irish woman from dublin, ireland, turns to her husband and she says, he wrote
"finnigan's wake with. "and everyone at the table either thought i was james joyce or thought i was finnigan, but at any rate, they were just delighted to have the author of "finnigan's wake" at the table. i rest my case. the culture smog is in decline. >> host: r. emmett bob tyrrell is our guest. when did you begin writing and why? >> guest: '67. >> host: why? >> guest: that's an interesting question. in '67 i found "the american spectator." and on c-span for books today i'll tell you why i founded "the american spectator." this is a first, first revelation by e me. i founded "the american spectator" so that no editor would ever reject my prose ever again. and ever since i've founded "the american spectator," i've known at least one place where i can write and i'll be accepted, and
that's in "the american spectator." now, we've gone out and opened up "the american spectator" to other ideas and other people, but first and foremost it's the place for me to entertain myself. >> host: your first book, "public nuisances," published in 1977 originally, why did you feel -- or why did you write about visiting a house of prostitution in terre haute, indiana, in that book? why was that part of that book? is. >> guest: well, it was funny. and it's -- i hadn't thought about that in a long time. i might add that i did not avail myself to the professional offices of these women. instead, i got my fingers
slapped, as you might recall. i went back -- >> host: by the cook. >> guest: my friends were upstairs, and there was a nice guy, a very old man cooking chicken for the chicks. and i was admiring his chicken, and i thought, that looks -- you really do concern oh, yes, he said, i used to work in a jazz hotel or jazz parlor, and now i'm working here in this establishment, and this is my chicken, and i'm very proud of my chicken. i went to point, i wasn't going to -- and he swatted my hand, and he said, don't you touch that chicken, people have to eat it. and i was properly smitten by it. but i remember that from the story. i don't remember why i told the story. [laughter] but i'm glad you enjoyed it. >> host: how i important is humor in your writing? to you? >> guest: well, because i write
about politics, i see a lot of humor, and i think that politics is funny. when it's not tragic. in the clinton administration, it was almost all fun. in the obama administration, it's funny and it's tragic. i don't, i've tried to figure out why i don't find obama quite as funny as i found clinton. i think it's because he's put us in a frightful situation. we have an enormous amount of debt, and it's got to be paid. and all he can do is run up more debt. and give us these jim crack arguments that a thousand -- a trillion dollars of debt is going to be rung up so that we can retire or a trillion dollars in debt. i don't know who he thinks he's
talking to. maybe he's talking to a community action project. but he's talking to the american people, and this won't wash. and we've got, now, the overhanging, the overhanging of into entitlements that are, we're owed, and we've got a trillion dollars in debt with obamacare, and we've got to retire that. and the main -- and, by the way, we've got to also try to maintain peace in the world. and right now we've got the situation in egypt, and we always have incendiary situation in the middle east. and we've got to solve those problems, and we've got in the white house the most inexperienced, idealogically-blinded man in american history. it's, it's not as funny as it used to be. >> host: and final question, mr. tyrrell, before we go to calls, 2009 you published "the best of the american spectator's the continuing crisis." two questions, what is the
continuing crisis, and have you renamed it the current crisis? >> guest: no. no, we haven't renamed -- well, that's what we call my column on, in, on the internet. but "the continuing crisis" is a front page piece of "the american spectator" that's there every issue, and it's kind of a potpourri of nonsense. it's a potpourri of nonsense with an occasional serious dig in the, in the piece. but otherwise it's supposed to be an entertainment. >> host: this is booktv's "in depth" program. our guest, r. emmett tyrrell jr., author of nine books. first call for him comes from steven in uniontown, pennsylvania. stephen, you're on the air. >> caller: hi. peter, right? >> host: yes. >> caller: peter, i really enjoy
c-span in spite of some of your guests. mr. tyrrell, i'd like you to explain to me how a president that could pass nafta, the welfare reform act, the commodity futures modernization act and the graham-leech act could be considered a liberal. thank you. >> guest: i don't understand the question. >> host: he's asking about bill clinton, why -- because of -- >> guest: oh. >> host: -- some of the legislation that was in his administration, why you consider him to be a liberal. >> guest: right. well -- [laughter] he began his presidency -- he ran as a moderate, he began his presidency lurching way off to the left with health care reform and infrastructure buildup, and he got whacked in the midterm elections. and then he had to move and to accommodate the republicans.
and he did accommodate the republicans. he did say, as a matter of fact, the era of big government is over. but his heart was with the left, and i don't think that you can say that he was some sort of -- i think you can say that he tried to accommodate reality. and in that regard i respect what he did. >> host: next call for mr. tyrrell comes from hope sound, florida. hi, david. >> caller: how you doing, peter? >> >> host: good. >> caller: as always, thank you for c-span. i'm a longtime subscriber to "the american spectator." i began getting it in the early 1980s when it was still a large-size, tabloid-sized magazine, and i enjoy it every -- i wait for it every month. i can't wait to get it and read your columns as well as the continuing crisis. which you didn't explain is taken from a whole lot of
left-wing publy cases -- publications, little blurbs that are just unbelievably funny. [laughter] >> guest: thank you. >> host: i, i -- it's terrific. you mentioned earlier on the program that we're seeing the remaking of ronald reagan into a liberal. we just saw it this morning on "meet the press" where both willie brown who was speaker of the assembly under reagan, democrat, and andrea mitchell tried to make the case that he was some kind of a liberal. of course, peggy noonan put them both down beautifully, but it is just disgustingly unbelievable what these left wingers try to do. and i'm waiting for your comment on that one. thank you. >> guest: well, it is true that liberals play games with politics, we vents that are astonishing -- with events that are astonishing.
who would have imagined at the end of the cold war when we should have all grabbed arm in arm and all celebrated together liberal democrats, conservative republicans, people in if between, we should have all celebrated because we all had a hand in defeating the soviet union. toward the end the republicans and scoop jackson democrats were about all that were standing, but we beat the soviet union. and we beat them without firing a shot. and who would have believed that the liberals would then start to say, you see? , see, the soviet union fell of its own accord, and we didn't have to spend all that money. it could have been spent on other things. we didn't have to waste all that money in the american military. gee, if you'd have told that to john kennedy, i think he'd be surprised. he'd be celebrating the fall of the soviet union right there
with me. and, yes, i'm astonished. first of all, i'm extremely pleased that liberals are celebrating the wisdom and the intelligence of ronald reagan. but who would have believed that they'd be trying to tell us that he's not a conservative? i mean, we suffered, in my case, from 1968 when he first ran for president to 1976 when he ran again and in 1980 and throughout the '80s we suffered defending him from the claims that he was a dummy and the claim that he was an amiable dunce and claims that he was a war hawk and he was going to blow up the world. those claims were made in "the new york times" and "the washington post" and on major news outlets. and we, we successfully defended
them against that, and then here we find today that coming out of the blue these liberals are saying to us that he was a stealth liberal all the time, and he was on their side. i give up once in a while. >> host: bruce tweets in, how would mr. tyrrell define the conservative movement, that is, its fundamental principles and goals? >> guest: well, in "after the hangover" the conservatives' road to recovery i lift from michael oakshot the great british philosopher, and i say that it's -- conservativism is a temperament whereas liberalism is an anxiety. and liberalism and conservativism is a temperament to enjoy the fruits of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
and pursuit of happiness is understood by john locke and george mason, by the way, as free enterprise for better or for worse, commerce. whereas liberalism is an anxiety. it's an anxiety about all those things around us, and it leads to the kind of government control that liberals are famous for. >> host: next call comes from vance in norman, oklahoma. go ahead, vance. >> caller: hi, mr. tyrrell and peter. i just wanted to make a couple of observations. see how mr. tyrrell might respond to this. first, i'd like to say that i am a proud liberal and so was -- [inaudible] and so was friedrich high yak, and i think -- hayek, and i think your half-hearted defense of richard nixon really is
absurd. i mean, milton proceedman called him the most socialist president in the 20th century -- milton friedman. so then i would also like to ask you what you think not only about the word liberal, but also about the fork in the road that the republican party -- >> guest: okay, hold it right there. hold it right there. >> host: stay on the line, vance. go ahead. >> guest: well, i had a generous remark about richard nixson, and i dare say milton friedman had a generous remark about richard nixon too. it doesn't mean that he was not our kind of person. but, you know, you can talk about people in politics, and you can admire them for what they do right. i only said that he had a very active interest in be -- in bringing into the white house an array of people that showed a
lively mind. now, and, by the way, milltop friedman -- milton friedman didn't get a chance to see the present president in the white house. i think he'd find him pretty much more of a socialist than richard nixon. now, go on. i'm sorry for interrupting. >> host: vance, you still there? >> caller: yeah, i sure am. can you hear me? >> host: yep. we're listening. >> caller: well, i just want to respond to that because i had a professor who knew milton friedman very well, and he said the last time he saw mr. nixon while he was president was in the white house and asked him why, why did you impose wage and price controls? and he pulled out a copy of "the new york times" and says, look at this. look at what they're saying to me. and then milton friedman just left and had nothing further to do with richard nixon. >> guest: well, i knew milton friedman, and at any rate, and
milton friedman was a gentleman, and i don't think there's any reason to disagree with what i just said or disagree with that little anecdote of yours. but go on, pardon me. >> host: he is, he is off the line. from your first book, "public nuisances," you write: the final irony of nixon is that the very qualities that earned him the wary respect of tyrants drove many american liberals right out of their minds. is it possible that the qualities that made him successful abroad made him a disaster at home? or was he ever a success anywhere? >> guest: uh, well, richard nixon was a complicated man. i've come to the conclusion that in that essay of mine on detente i was excessively harsh. but then occasionally i'm given to be excessively harsh.
richard nixon and henry kissinger, i jumped on them for detente. the truth of the matter is detente worked. it gave us a breathing spell. it gave us time to work out to the position where ronald reagan could fashion an arms buildup that broke the soviets' back. so i think richard nixon was a successful president in that regard. in that aspect of his presidency. he was a disaster in other areas, particularly domestic spending. whoever that wonderful liberal is that just left us. [laughter] i think he's my kind of liberal, but he's awfully hard to -- [inaudible] >> host: grace in tampa, florida, you're on with r. emmett bob tyrrell. go ahead with your question. >> guest: hi, mr. tyrrell. i think ronald reagan would be rolling in his grave right now if he knew -- [inaudible] for china. it's kind of interesting, i did
vote republican. i am a democrat. but i think i'm going to go with democrat because i think the republicans this year are having an issue with social security. and since so many americans are unemployed, millions and millions going from unemployment then to social security years and as they want that reduced, i think that the government actually should not be getting social security, the congress and senate. but my question, i want to talk to you about why do the conservatives which had the dumbing down during the reagan era, and by -- i was glad to watch c-span during the perot time because that was the only time i got clear coverage, and i still watch c-span all the time to get clear coverage of news. it just became a dumbing down of the media. why didn't you catch the foreclosure debacle? why didn't you catch the bank, goldman sachs, etc. why was that totally ignored? when the middle class knew it was going on, and now here we go again in the middle east?
why didn't you catch that either? i mean -- >> guest: i can't understand what you're saying. why don't we what? >> host: why didn't -- grace, i'm going to paraphrase, and just say yes or no if this is correct, but why didn't the conservatives catch the coming of the fiscal crisis, the crisis in the middle east, is that where you're going? >> >> caller: yes, exactly. war the voices of the conservative journalists and writers to catch this information -- >> host: all right, grace. we got the point, thank you. >> guest: well, i don't know that anyone, anyone caught the recession. no one that i know caught the recession. and the middle east, we were supposed to catch this mubarak's demise? as a matter of fact, where was hillary clinton? two weeks before, before the recent crisis she met with the
foreign minister of egypt. before she met with the foreign minister of egypt, she had lectured the middle eastern leaders on the need to reform. after that meeting two weeks ago in which the foreign minister apparently told her some things about the coming crisis, she jumped up and spoke with much more sobriety about the middle east. so i don't think anyone should be blamed for, in this country, for the middle east, and i don't think that you can blame too many people in be conservativism or in liberalism. i would say this about the economic crisis, for years subprime loans were made as a matter of policy by fannie mae and freddie may, and they were encouraged by the democrats.
and i caught that, and i tried to say something about that, and others did too. so, and as far as dumbing down goes -- [laughter] so far as i can see the entire country's been dumbed down. it's not just the conservatives. but if you're in favor of a more intelligent conservative, you're more than welcome to read the american spectator. >> host: this is booktv's "in depth" featuring one author and his or her body of work. this month r. emmett tyrrell jr., founder of the american spectator magazine and author of nine books, plus editor of a couple more. here are his nine books. he started out with public nuisances, then in 1994 the liberal crackup.
>> host: from yuma, arizona, nancy, you're on with bob tyrrell. please, go ahead. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. i'd like to ask if mr. tyrrell is going to write a book about newt gingrich and the positive, positive effects that he had in 1984 and beyond? and also a comment. they commented about how republicans, why didn't they see the financial meltdown, and there were republicans speaking out against fannie and freddie, but barney frank kept shouting them down and kept saying -- [inaudible] thank you for taking my call. >> guest: she ought to be on this show. i'll go out and sit in her audience. [laughter] i think you mean the good things that newt gingrich has done since 1994. and i thought i tried to make
that clear that inasmuch as bill clinton was a conservative from '94 on, he was conservative in part because of newt gingrich. as for my next book, i want to write a book about the death of liberalism. i've written my most recent book, "after the hangover: the conservatives' road to recovery," and it talks about our road back. but now i want to talk about the liberals' road to the grave. because i think liberalism is dead. i think that liberalism in terms of the american people in 2008 liberals, in 2008 liberals were outdone by -- outnumbered by conservatives 2 to 1. it was something like 40% to 20%. and people like sam tanenhaus
and james carville and people like that were writing books about the death of conservativism. when at the time i don't know where 40% of the american people would go to die. we outnumbered liberalism then, we were -- we had shaped the center of american political life so that liberals were running to the center that we had shaped. liberals were -- you didn't hear obama talking about raising taxes and spending gloriously when he was running. he ran as a moderate conservative -- moderate liberal. liberals when they run for high political office unless they're in berkeley, california, they can't tell the truth. and i think that'd make a very good book, and i'm working on it now. >> host: and in "after the hangover" you write about the death of the conservative movement, and you recount about four of them l from 1964 to
2008. what makes you think that the liberal movement is actually dead? >> guest: well, i actually -- the first part of that question let me take up now. liberals are forever telling us how to be good conservatives. we conservatives. they're out will to help us every step of -- they're out there to help us every step of the way. they're forever telling us in '64 and '72 and '92 and '08 we had finally come -- we were not more ri bummed, we were dead. what makes me think that this time liberalism is dead, first of all, i don't think anyone's ever pronounced on it before, before me. [laughter] but there's been a steady decline since world war ii. in the numbers of liberalism. look, world war ii under franklin roosevelt and harry
truman liberalism absolutely dominated american culture. since then it has steadily declined whereas liberalism -- whereas with conservativism has reached ever higher plateaus, higher, higher and higher. until now we outnumber liberals about 2 to 1, and i think we're going to outnumber them by more. if decline of liberalism continues much further, they'll be about as popular as the american nudist movement or the american prohibition party. and people will look in 40 years from now, and they'll see this little, quaint liberal movement, and they'll say, what did they once do? what did they once represent? and i'll say or my children will say, well, they were about -- they were much more popular than
the nudists. and they had the good sense to keep their clothes on. >> host: what does the hangover refer to? >> guest: well, in, as i say in the book, in the '06 and '08 and before that george bush had spent a lot of money. and we were suffering a real hangover. but it's interesting that in, as i i point out in the book, liberals from about '94 until '0 6, liberals were accused of being finished and accused of being in terrible trouble. and in '02 and in '03 and '04 it was the liberals who were all washed up.
so i think it's kind of interesting in that respect to talk about politics in that way. >> host: sharon e e-mails in, i am wondering why so many conservative organizations, including "the american spectator," are participating in the c pack meetings this month, thus showing support for the or goproud, hasan family foundation and muslims for america which do not seem to be favored in your columns. thus, why are you participating in cpac? >> guest: i'm not participating in it this month, but this' only because i'm not going to be -- but that's only because i'm not going to be around. look, i think the conservatives have got to be big tent people. in "after the hangover" i point out conservatives have steadily picked up new groups. we picked up the neoconservatives, and "the american spectator" was one of the first publications to
publish irving crystal and jean kirkpatrick, my loved friend -- beloved friend. and be then we picked up the reagan democrats, and then we picked up the christian right. and now we've picked up the tea party movement, this wonderful movement of civic responsibility in which people are taking, they're taking government into their own hands again and, hopefully, they're going to do something about this terrible debt that faces this country. so i think that over the long run we conservatives should be big tent people, and whatever little squabbles we have over the short run, i think we should work with people who want to be conservatives and bring them in and let them work with us. >> host: from houston, texas, trey. thanks for holding, you're on with r. emmett tyrrell jr. >> caller: i appreciate it. i'm just very interested in the way liberalism and
conservativism is being recast as a political movement when really it's a, it's just a -- they're just two philosophies as to how you approach the constitution, whether you try to conserve the word of it, or whether you take the word of it, and you add or embellish it. i was also looking at as far as the nudist magazines, they're still popular in my neighborhood. i thought i'd have to drop that in. [laughter] i was wondering in particular about conservatives and liberals. this week, i mean, well, first of all, you're recasting fascism as socialism. i mean, this merger of corporate and political power, that's not socialism. obamacare or not obamacare, however you look at it, that merger is a classic, classic fascism. but let's talk about -- >> guest: wait a minute, hold on. very good point there. that's a very good point you make. and i think that's where liberalism is heading.
i think -- i say they're heading towards friendly fascism, and i think that's a very astute point that you made, so pardon me for interrupting, but i want to congratulate you. >> host: and we have moved on to george in bloomington, illinois. hi, george. >> caller: good afternoon. because mr. tyrrell whom i have followed for years, have very much enjoyed following his career, because he has chronicled the clintons so thoroughly over the several years, over many years and written several books concerning the clintons, i would like to ask him two questions. first, related to the clintons. and that is concerning an article that appeared approximately four years ago in a national newspaper. it was in "the wall street journal," actually, and it was at about this time of year. a full-page article concerning president clinton's pardon of the convicted puerto rican
terrorists at approximately the same time mrs. clinton was running for the u.s. senate from state of new york for the first time. and the fbi made a strong written recommendation against the pardon of those convicted terrorists and, nevertheless, the pardon was granted by president clinton. >> host: so, george, what's your question, where do you want to wrap this to? >> caller: my question has to do with the current attorney general eric holder's involvement. if mr. tyrrell is familiar at all to that article to which i just alluded, he was heavily involved in the justice department decision or the president's decision to grant the pardon. i believe he recommended it. >> host: all right. thank you. >> guest: well, there was more than one pardon, if i recall, at the end of the presidency. in "the clinton crack-up," i have bill absconding from the white house. clinton didn't so much leave the
white house as absconded from it. and they were found, you know, they were accused of stealing flat ware, and they had to pay back some of the money on the flatpair and silverware and sofas. they were criticized for "the new york times" and the new york observer for stealing as they left the white house and for pardons that they, that they gave not just puerto puerto ricans, but a whole lot of people. in fact, "the new york times" or, no, the new york observer said if we knew now what the clintons were like, what was it, if hillary had any shame, she's retire from public office. that was said in '01 as the clintons left the white house. the end sodic -- end sodic
apologists as i call them had once again turned their back on the clintons, and they were in high dungeon over the misbehavior of the clintons. in a very short period of time, the new york observer and new york times were calling for hillary to stay in office and run for president, as a matter of fact. so the fortunes change repeatedly. as for eric holder, he's moved on and become attorney general. who knows what waits him next. but it could be investigated and perhaps it should be. >> host: an e-mail, i have enjoyed ben stein's diary in the american spectator for decades, could you tell us how ben stein came to be a writer for your magazine? is. >> guest: yes. he was a speech writer for richard nixon, and i admired him
immensely. i admired him for representing the values and the views of the middle class. and by that i meant that as high regard. and he wrote thoughtful but also down home pieces, pieces that were in touch with the american people. and i invited him into our pages. eventually, he joined in our pages, and he's been with me through thick and thin. he and seth lip sky, people like that are the highest complement i can give them is they're the guys i'd want with me in the foxhole. >> host: this is booktv's "in depth" program. our guest, r. emmett tyrrell jr. 202 is the area code, 737-0001 in the east and central time zones, 737-0002 in the mountain and pacific. send us an e-mail or send a tweet, twitter.com/booktv is
the twitter address. we are live today on the 100th anniversary of ronald reagan's birth, and this is kind of our pregame show on super bowl sunday. nancy e-mails in, why would liberals or even centrists read the spectator or similar position writings with the coming of ad hominem conservative superstars like rush limbaugh and newt gingrich from whom when one tries to find balance in their discourse, it becomes impossible? the claim that liberals polarize the political scene is simply not true. >> guest: well, it is true. and i think that woman is an example of it. i think rush limbaugh half the time i should think a liberal could laugh at him. he's very funny. and he's making a lot of good sense and a lot of good jokes. and though inasmuch as