RUSH: I’d like to welcome to the program Jim Geraghty from National Review Online. He has a blog called The Kerry Spot, TKS. It’s just a brilliant body of work. During the campaign of 2004 it was cited often by me — not stolen by me, but cited often by me — on this program. Jim has a book out called Voting to Kill. It’s been out since September 19th. He went out and interviewed a number of Americans about the issues on their minds as the midterm elections come up in November. Jim, welcome, it’s great to have you with us.GERAGHTY: Rush, some very long-awaited mega dittos. Thanks so much for having me on.
RUSH: You bet. Jim, I’m going to start off by telling you a little story — and let me ask. I don’t want to be wrong in my presumption, but the focal point of the book is that the people you’ve talked to do take seriously the threat posed by terrorists around the world — whatever you want to call them, Islamofascists. The war on terror, it’s a serious thing to them, correct?
GERAGHTY: Oh, absolutely. It hits them deep in their bones.
RUSH: Okay. So I’m up in New York over the weekend and I went to a dinner party Saturday night at a friend’s house which is in plain view of West Point, and a bunch of people were looking out across the Hudson River at West Point, and one of them made mention, ‘You know, this is the birthplace of the American Revolution, and I wonder how many people today even think about the American Revolution. How many people are taught the American Revolution. It wasn’t until Dolly Madison had to run out of a burning White House with a picture of George Washington that the American people back then got serious about the threat posed by the continual presence of the British.’ The British had burned down the White House, and that finally got the American people all upset. History textbooks today say the American Revolution began when Bill Clinton was elected.
RUSH: So the question came up at dinner, ‘Is America finished? Do you think enough people care?’ and one of the guests said, ‘I believe in the total resiliency of the American people. The American people are fully aware of the threat that we face, and they will respond to leadership when that leadership tells them in a convincing way the threat that we face,’ and I raised my hand and said, ‘Well, when? When are going to respond? See, what was 9/11 if it was not a wake-up call?’ So what’s your take on this after having spoken to a number of Americans? Is there, do you think, a majority of them that are going to vote that are well aware and prepared to vote on this as an issue?
GERAGHTY: Rush, we used to hear about the ‘silent majority,’ and I think what I’d call these folks are the ‘not-vocal plurality.’ There are a lot of, folks, who, yeah, day by day they don’t necessarily think of these things. You hear about high gas prices or some other issue in the news — and then you hear about that foiled plot to bomb the London airliners or the bombing plots that were in Denmark and Germany and all these other places around the world and all of a sudden people wake up to it and they realize, ‘Oh, my goodness, we are in a life-and-death struggle.’ Do I have time to share the anecdote of the security moms in my book?
GERAGHTY: Basically the timing of the attacks on the morning of 9/11 for many parents came after they had dropped their children off to school, and either they’re on their way home and they just arrived home. They turn on the TV; they see something is terribly wrong, and then they realize: ‘I’ve gotta get to my kids! I’ve gotta make sure that they’re safe,’ and they face this sudden terrible decision of having more than one child at more than one school, and many of them describe it as feeling like a gun had been put to their heads saying, ‘Which child do you pick up first? Which child do you make sure is safe first?’ And this to them was, probably for many of them, the most traumatic moment of their lives, something absolutely horrific. All they want in a leader is someone who will make sure they never face that moment again, that sort of choice again.
RUSH: Well, I guess that’s the question. Does that sentiment still prevail? I saw a Washington Post story by Jim VandeHei. The headline says, ‘Republicans Losing the ‘Security Moms’,’ and it was about a poll. If you read the whole story, it did indicate that Republicans were losing the support and trust of security moms but that the Democrats weren’t picking up it up — and that was a problem for the Washington Post. But is the emotion of the security moms you just described the same today as it was in the days after 9/11?
GERAGHTY: I think so. If you remember The Kerry Spot coverage I had a mentor named ‘Obi-Wan Kanobi.’ I used that because he didn’t want his name out there, but he basically says that once you go into the voting booth all of the attack ads, all of the screaming headlines, all of the shouting back and forth goes away. It’s almost like the whole room goes silent and it’s just you and your ballot and he described it as an almost sacred experience. All of a sudden it takes away all of the riffraff, all of the other distracting messages out there and you look seriously at the two names on the ballot in front of you, and you begin to think more seriously about what that choice signifies — and, you know, what it is, is a pretty rare experience in human history to get the right to choose your leaders. So Americans do take that seriously. They may not have the same seriousness when they’re talking to a pollster on the phone or even talking to Jim VandeHei, but I think Americans do basically take this extraordinarily serious once you get all the distractions out of the way — sort of like, say, Congressman Foley.
RUSH: Well, let me bring that up. By the way, if you’re just joining us, we’re talking with Jim Geraghty. His book is Voting to Kill, and he is a blogger at The Kerry Spot at National Review Online, which is one of this program’s favorite websites and blog sites. The Foley episode has now had full-throated treatment ever since Foley resigned on Thursday. Well, actually since the e-mails were leaked and their existence known since I guess Thursday, Friday morning, what have you. The impression is that this is the issue now. Republican corruption, ‘culture of corruption’ is back: George Allen, Tom DeLay, Jeanine Pirro up in New York is a nationally known story, and now this Foley business. It does appear the Democrats have, once again, lost their footing on their opposition for the war on terror and Iraq and now they’re rallying around this Foley thing — and I wondered how you felt about it since your book is basically supporting the premise that the war on terror and the threat America faces is the issue on which people are going to vote. Does this change that?
GERAGHTY: These types of issues come along every now and then. You know, scandals. We saw them believing that the Abramoff scandal was going to absolutely be the issue that decided this year’s elections.
RUSH: Yeah, where is that?
RUSH: It’s nowhere.
GERAGHTY: My first instinct is that this might be the second coming of the Wellstone funeral, which I’m sure you remember from 2002. It was, you know, an event that Republicans attended, everyone wanted to — whether they agreed with Paul Wellstone or not — pay their respects and, you know, pay tribute to a guy who even if they didn’t agree with him seemed like a decent guy. And it turned into a partisan pep rally, and I think that eagerness to score political points, we’re seeing it a bit in the coverage so far, and I could see this, if the Democrats are not careful, they will echo that exact same sentiment of politicizing what is, at its heart, a tragedy that, you know, knows no partisan lines. I mean, this is just a terrible thing to happen in this poor kid’s life, and now they’re going to, you know, refocus the entire Democratic campaign for 2006 over this? You know, I mean honestly —
RUSH: Well, no, I think there’s going to be more of this kind of stuff. I think the Clinton war room is in full speed, and I think there’s a whole host of these things they’re holding to release in a timely fashion, i.e., press leaks or bombshell stories, not just about sex scandals and so forth. But, you know, Jim, the one thing about this. When you compare it to the Wellstone memorial, I understand it in the sense the Democrats really overplayed it. Wellstone’s death was a tragedy, but this is pedophilia. There are a lot of people who just, they have no patience or tolerance. They don’t want to be made to try to understand anything about it. They don’t want to be bought off with trips to rehab. This is pedophilia, and there are some people who fear it’s going to have legs because of that.
GERAGHTY: Oh, it is. Every Republican should be saying that they would like to beat this guy with their own bare hands. You know, there’s no doubt. No one should make any effort to defend this guy. But, you know, to say that this is some sort of issue that — I have my doubts that people, when they look at their congressman and the challenger in front of them and their Senate race, their governor’s race, I have my doubts that this is what’s going to be on their minds, because ultimately this is one guy and, as far as we know, one page — maybe there are some others — but this is not necessarily the grand issue of the republic that’s going to affect every single person on the level that terrorism is.
RUSH: So I would assume that you would then believe that the Democrats are making a mistake by not giving voters something about them to vote for? On whatever the issue is, they still are not doing that, they’re still trying to run on the basis that Republicans are scum and, “You can’t trust them,” and, “Put us back in power because it’s ours and we deserve it.” But in terms of the issue of terrorism, I would assume if your theory is correct that you would have to believe that they’re actually hurting themselves with their position on Iraq and Jack Murtha, cut-and-run. The president is fighting back on it. You think this will prevail on Election Day
GERAGHTY: Absolutely, and what’s interesting… Well, we will see, but we saw a very similar dynamic in 2004 where Kerry was polling on certain issues very well. Everyone liked his plans to give us all “free” health care and, you know, “I’m going to spend more money on this, going to spend more money on that,” really across the board was doing fine except for this big glaring weakness on the issue of terrorism that, you know, Bush was beating him like a drum on this. And the lesson of 2004, even to a certain extent 2002 is, if voters don’t think you can handle protecting the country, they don’t care what you have to say about prescription drugs or health care or any of these other issues. You know, they can be important. But no issue is more important than who’s going to keep me safe, who’s going to make sure that, you know, somebody doesn’t plow an airliner into my skyscraper?
RUSH: Well, a lot of people comforted by this. I’m one of them. I have to tell you that I’m not as confident as you are, 9/11 was five years ago. We don’t even show videotape of it anymore. We never are allowed to see the suicide jumps from either of the two towers. Those are suppressed. “It’s too soon. We can’t deal with it emotionally.” The Democrats have tried to paint a picture that it was, you know, just an episodic event, not part of any systematic effort on the part of the people that want to kill us, not just a battle in a war. It was just, “Ah, we kind of screwed up, but these things happen now and then and not much we can do about it. We need to go back to having our normal lifestyle.” They’re trying to do their best to erase from people’s memory that it happened. In the meantime we have not been hit since. Madrid has. London has. They foiled a plot of the airliners, as you pointed out. We haven’t been hit, and the theory that some people have is that we’re just sort of getting a false sense of complacency about our security — and if this transfers into people voting differently on security, it’ll have a negative outcome. So people are going to be comforted to hear your theory on this, I think.
GERAGHTY: Well, you know it’s one of those things where even if they don’t have the images on the television screen, they don’t go out of our heads. That’s something that, even if I never saw a picture of it or a video of it for the rest of my life, I’m never going to forget it. I think a lot of voters are that same way. Plus we saw the ratings for that Path 9/11 movie. It actually won it’s time slot one of the nights and did very well the other night. There’s an interest in this, and the more the Democrats and certain elites in the media say, “Oh, we shouldn’t talk about this. This is something that’s too emotional; it stirs up too many bad memories. It’s too soon,” people notice that, and I think people kind of resent it. They resent being treated like children, and they resent being talked down to of what they can and can’t handle. Certainly they didn’t have that problem with pictures of Abu Ghraib or, you know, the pictures of the Virgin Mary with dung on it and all these other horrific images, but we’re not allowed to see the one that will make us as Americans angry? I mean, people know the score on this.
RUSH: It’s safe to assume that your opinion or your thoughts on the (what I call) the Drive-By Media’s effort to shift public opinion on all this is ultimately going to fail: Abu Ghraib, Club Gitmo, all these things designed to portray America at its worst — the Al-Qaeda Bill of Rights: we’ve gotta give these people lawyers and trials — that that’s actually infuriating more people than anybody gives credit to?
GERAGHTY: If I were in charge of the RNC — and sadly, I am not — I would be running the footage of Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, comparing US troops in Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, 24/7. Just reminding these people what they think of our Armed Forces, what do they think of our efforts on the war on terror and how they see us as the bad guys. Because, you know, every American, even a whole lot of conservative Democrats, a lot of Joe Lieberman Democrats out there, know we’re not the bad guys in this. Their attitude towards our guys in Guantanamo Bay and our guys fighting the war on terror around the world is, ‘Do what you gotta do. We trust you. We know you’re not bad guys. You know, life requires you to make some difficult choices and do some tough things, and, you know, we’re fine with that.’ Do what you have to to keep us safe, I think, is the overwhelming mentality of so many Americans.
RUSH: Jim, you know something? I’m inclined to adopt your belief and be confident about it for a host of reasons, but one main one, and that is: You’ve got a book coming out — it’s out; it’s election time — on the premise of how people are going to vote. If you’re wrong, you’re going to have a lot of trouble selling your next book. (Laughing)
GERAGHTY: Absolutely. Yup.
GERAGHTY: Hopefully I will not be in the remainder bin by mid-November, so…
RUSH: Well, best of luck with it, and thanks for your time today. I’m glad that you had some time, because I don’t think the American people can hear enough, especially in these times, positive thinking and confidence about themselves. You’ve obviously talked to them, researched it enough to write a book. You’re ultimately expressing confidence in the seriousness of the American people, and I think they need to hear that about themselves. So I appreciate that. Thank you so much, Jim.
GERAGHTY: Rush, any time.
RUSH: You bet. Jim Geraghty. The book is Voting to Kill, and it’s by a man who has got a great blog — it survived the 2004 election, by the way — The Kerry Spot, TKS. As I say, this blog was just a fount of information, humor and serious combined, about the absolute foibles of the Kerry campaign and the man. So this is a good read. It’s a good book. I’m happy to recommend it to you.