“The Southern Avenger” Jack Hunter interviews Ron Paul. They discuss the Tea Party movement, GOP and neoconservative attempts to co-opt it, National Review’s Daniel Pipes suggestion that President Obama should “bomb Iran” to boost poll numbers, and the importance of addressing foreign policy when discussing spending and limited government.
Show: The Southern Avenger
Host: Jack Hunter
Station: 1250 AM WTMA, Charleston, South Carolina
Jack Hunter: Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who’s now joining us and we’re going to talk about the Tea Parties and more. How are you doing today, Dr. Paul?
Ron Paul: I’m doing fine, thank you.
Jack Hunter: I appreciate you joining us today. One of the main reasons I wanted to speak to you today is you’ve been making the rounds on some of the networks. I saw you on everything from Rachel Maddow’s show, to Andrew Napolitano on Fox News. And there has been a lot of discussion about the Tea Parties. Now, just before we even get into where they might be heading, what’s your general take on what’s happening out there at the grassroots with the Tea Parties right now?
Ron Paul: Well, I think like you said in your introduction, people are very, very angry. I think they’re recognizing that at least the federal government has failed in its efforts to fulfill any of their promises, and they’ve come to this realization. I think a lot of people have been talking about this for decades – you know, we spend too much, there is too much debt and finally they’ve come to this realization. I think it was the financial crisis that we got into a year and a half, 2 years ago that has brought it to attention. And since then people have been very upset.
And I think it is this combination of this realization that the government really is bankrupt and can’t fulfill their promises, then they come up with this scheme and say, “Well, there are 30 million people that don’t have healthcare. So we’re going to give it to them, and it won’t cost anything and it will actually lower the deficit”. That was so outlandish, I think the people just threw up their hands and that led to even some significant changes up at Massachusetts.
The big problem is that the people who are unhappy are pretty unified on where the trouble is, but they’re not unified on exactly how we got here, what we should do about it, what our priorities are. Some people say, “Yes, we should have a balanced budget, all we need are higher taxes”. Other people say, “No, all we have to do is cut welfare spending for children’s food care. That will solve the problem.” Then others want to talk about foreign policy and those are the kind of things I like to talk about. I like to talk about the whole thing: the tax system, the spending at home and the spending abroad.
Jack Hunter: Well, that’s one of the main reasons I wanted to speak to you today. You’re talking about people having a sort of different idea where the Tea Party issue goes. The Tea Partiers themselves.. what I’m seeing, standing back, looking from the outside – I am a Tea Partier, but just sort of as somebody who’s observed these things for a long time, as have you. The Republican Party who, by and large, have helped get us into this mess. The spending with George W. Bush, whether it was foreign spending or domestic spending – expanding No Child Left Behind, expanding Medicare – had gotten us into this problem that we’re in today, this overwhelming problem. It’s not just Obama, people want to say that. It’s the last administration, it’s the Republican Party. What I’m seeing with the Tea Partiers, and what we call neoconservatives – that sort of old guard where every once in a while they might say something about limited government, but really what they want to do is start more foreign wars or expand the wars we’re fighting, expand the domestic state, they don’t have a problem with that. George W. Bush was a neo-conservative president. You’re sort of seeing those old Republican hucksters sort of trying to co-op the Tea Party Movement in many ways. But I don’t think the Tea Partiers themselves, I don’t know if they’re solid enough yet philosophically. In other words, I don’t know if all of them are where we are, saying, “Well, these guys are the enemy just as much as the Democrats. And we need to stay away from them.” Do you see that happening in the grassroots as well?
Ron Paul: Yeah, I think so. And I think political parties are more or less a façade, then the people who are really upset have to go outside the party and this Tea Party Movement occurred. But I see things more in philosophical terms than partisan terms. Because if the neoconservatives are significant and have an influence then they’d like the positions that it is our moral obligation to make the world safer for democracy and we are the policeman of the world… they’re not just Republicans. They’re shrewd enough to maybe be noisier with the Dick Cheneys and all their Republican Party. But then when you put Obama in, I mean, the neoconservatives still have a great deal of influence overseas. But that same group who can influence both Republicans and Democrats, all of a sudden they find out that “there’s a significant number of people and we want to harness them and we want to make sure they’re not opposed to our foreign policy”. So all of a sudden you find a lot of these international interventionist within the Tea Party Movement. So those of us who don’t agree with that have a job to do to make sure the people who are joining understand the difference.
Jack Hunter: And you brought up Dick Cheney and foreign policy. I’ve made the point time and again on this station and elsewhere, including my column, that you can’t address big government and spending in this country unless you go after foreign policy. We need to question why we’re fighting, how much it costs. It is the biggest part of our budget. We spend more money… what I fear is so many conservatives, and let’s face it; a lot of the Tea Partiers are former Republicans or disenchanted Republicans, people who would look at themselves as libertarians or conservatives, are still not there yet. The debate in this country right now is Obama’s not tough enough and Dick Cheney is tougher than Obama. That’s the wrong debate. How about all these guys are wrong. Obama’s continuing Bush’s foreign policy spending as much money. The Tea Parties, it seems to me, should be saying, “All of those guys are wrong. Dick Cheney is wrong, Barack Obama is wrong, the Republicans are wrong, the Democrats are wrong. They’re all spending money on these things overseas needlessly.”
Every poll you see, people are not in favor of what’s going on in Afghanistan. They soured on Iraq a long time ago. So it seems like the right leadership or the right people can sort of push the Tea Partiers in that direction to have a more comprehensive take on what it should take to stop government spending. But foreign policy is a big Achilles heel right now. Am I wrong?
Ron Paul: No, I think you are absolutely right. But we’re not making much headway. Republicans always have good rhetoric, saying, “We want to reduce the size of the government. We like personal liberties.” But what they don’t want to even think about is what Randolph Bourne told us about. He said, “War is the health of the State”. If you don’t want the state to be big, then you have to accept the idea that we have a different foreign policy.
Now it is true there is way, way too much spending domestically. But now it’s assumed that it takes us about a trillion dollars a year to manage our world empire. And there are a lot of reasons why I go after that first, mainly because it’s so terrible for us to go out and be on a position of preventive war. And that is so bad. But I still think that it is the best place to go politically. I think it’s much easier to attack overseas spending. Like you say, a lot of people aren’t happy with what’s going on in Afghanistan, but it continues. It seems like politically you can say, “Look, let’s just cut 100s of billions of dollars from overseas spending, and we don’t have to tomorrow morning cut aid to dependent children.” Even though that might not be part of our idealistic society. If some conservatives say, “We want to cut”, and they want to cut something at home and forget about the empire, almost distraction-like the litmus test is will you immediately cut such-and-such social programs here at home. And I think if we were able to work our way out, we should stop supporting the world empire.
Quite frankly, I don’t work on the assumption that all of a sudden we’re going to have a lot more people in Washington voting correctly and […] work through this gradual system of diminishing spending overseas and get back to a balanced budget. I think what we have to do is make the assumption that we are going to face a horrendous financial crisis because we just can’t keep creating new money out of thin air to bail out everybody.
Jack Hunter: You mentioned bombing Iran. We’re talking about the economy and no doubt the state of the economy is the primary reason Obama is unpopular right now. His poll numbers continue to plummet. That’s always what gets people upset the most, and rightfully so. Daniel Pipes, a neo-conservative writer for The National Review, who I’m sure you’re familiar with, wrote an article for National Review Online last week called, “How to Save the Obama Presidency: Bomb Iran“. And he was basically suggesting as Pat Buchanan put it, we play the war card. President Obama should play the war card. And in order to boost his popularity, if he went to war with Iran, bombed Iran, engaged Iran – whatever you want to call it – being a neoconservative, of course, that’s what they always want for no good reason most of the time. But somehow it would boost Obama’s popularity. What do you think about that kind of politics? I know what I think, but I’d love to hear your opinion on that.
Ron Paul: Well, first it’s very, very stupid economics, and it’s probably one of the most evil ideas conceivable that people think that going to war is morally justified because it might help our economy. People say this all a time: that the Depression ended with going into World War II. And there was no end of the Depression in World War II. I remember World War II and things were every bit as bad, if not slightly worse, during World War II. But they say “yep, but everybody was employed”. Everybody was employed because they were in the military getting shot at and getting killed. But the country didn’t get out of the Depression until after the war. So it’s very, very bad economics and it’s morally reprehensibly to think that you can justify going to war to try to try to improve your economy.
Jack Hunter: Dr. Paul, I appreciate you being with us here today. I’ve appreciated what you’ve done for the last the decades and just truly fighting the good fight up there on Capitol Hill and we got a long way to go.
Ron Paul: Thank you, good to be with you.
Jack Hunter: Take care. That’s Dr. Ron Paul.