Hugh Hewitt is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, blogger, and author of the new book If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It. He e-mailed with NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez from the Fleet Center on the final night of the Democratic convention about the Democrats, the Internet, and the November election.
National Review Online:You’ve spent the week in the Fleet Center, among bloggers. How did that work? Was there enough for people to be blogging on? Was it your sense it was an opportunity well used by the blogosphere?
HUGH HEWITT: My radio show airs from 6 to 9 pm EST, so I blogged from the blogger WiFi area on the 7th floor from the morning until late afternoon. It wasn’t crowded during that period, but those bloggers that showed up during those early hours–Command Post, CampaignDesk, The Librarian, Opinions You Should Have, and Technorati–made for great company and excellent conversation. Facilities were inadequate, and the television signal kept covering the WiFi and dropping the connection as a result. Blogging from the radio set was much easier as I had a direct connection.
Bloggers acquitted themselves well because they are a very smart group. In fact, I think it is hard to overstate how much better informed Matt Yglesias, Matt Welch, Mickey Kaus, and Tim Blair–all of whom I interviewed on air–are than every elected official I interviewed. These are serious thinkers though with good humor mixed in, and the blogosphere is simply the democratization of punditry, with the result that talent wins.
The arrival of the bloggers is a big deal. They’ll never not be here in the future, and now the question is who gets to blog the debates? That’s a very big credential, and I think the Bush and Kerry campaigns ought to give some serious thought to whom they want in the front row, providing the instant spin from the room. I nominate myself, Lileks, Tim Blair, Insty, and, of course, a Corner representative. That would allow for five Lefties, making it a sort of Olympics of blogging.
The election cycle is not far off when a candidate debate is moderated by bloggers. Does anyone doubt that any of the bloggers I list would ask far more interesting, provocative, and revealing questions than the debate questioners of the past?
NRO:There’s a lot of dishonesty at these conventions. It’s a marketing show. What is the point of any of us covering it?
HEWITT: As Virginia Postrel might say: look and feel. It is all about look and feel. The podium speakers are acting the part of Penelope in the Odyssey–unraveling all that has been woven by the delegates during the day, or in this case, by Michael Moore during the day. It is a hard-Left group of delegates, and Moore’s their crown prince even if Kerry’s king for a day. Moore’s speech on Tuesday was remarkable–I have transcribed and posted it at HughHewitt.com. Folks should read it, and do so with the shot of Moore and Carter together in mind. So being here gives you a very good sense of the nature and scale of the deception and an opportunity to report it.
NRO:Who was the worst speaker of the week, in your estimation, and why?
HEWITT: Pass. I was on the air too much of the primetime to see many of the nominees in this category.
NRO:Who was the best speaker of the week, and why?
HEWITT: As noted above, I missed a lot. The reflected glow of the Barack Obama debut is pretty hard to escape, of course, but Bill Clinton is fully rehabbed after his disbarment and pardons scandal. I wouldn’t have been surprised to run into Marc Rich on the 6th floor.
NRO: What does Bush need to do to win this election?
HEWITT: Speak clearly and repeatedly about the central issue of the campaign: Which candidate will better lead the nation in the war on terror? It is a war–not as Kerry’s senior foreign-policy adviser Rand Beers said yesterday, a struggle–and it will go on for a very long time. On any given day, the U.S. might find itself devastated by an attack the Dems seem to spend a lot of time trying not to imagine. The views of Bush and Kerry are so radically different on how the war ought to be conducted–indeed, on the question of whether it really is a war or a law enforcement matter–that the campaign needs to remind Americans again and again that hundreds of thousands if not millions of Islamists would gladly kill as many Americans as come within range of their knife, gun, bomb or WMD.
NRO:What’s the most interesting conversation you’ve had this week?
HEWITT: Gray Davis sat down and talked on air with me about Michael Moore. He likes Michael Moore, respects him, and thinks there is a lot of truth in F911.
It is astonishing to me that Democrat after Democrat, many of whom have held senior positions–from Presidents Carter and Clinton, to Davis and of course Senator Kerry–have embraced this bald-faced liar whose propaganda is virulently anti-American and whose paranoia and hate are so palpable. I have been saying all week that Moore is to this convention what Buchanan was to the GOP gathering of 1992, but that really understates the damage he is doing to a once great party. The Democrats have opened the door to a radical of breath-taking duplicity. It will not be rid of him for a very long time, and until it is, it will not be qualified to lead the country.
NRO:Anyone’s reception surprise you?
HEWITT: Moore’s. He’s a nut. Obviously and repeatedly demonstrated to be a liar. And he’s John Kerry’s unofficial running mate. When Kerry took his shot at the Saudi Royal family, he blew a kiss to Moore.
NRO:You write a lot about communication in your new book. Have the Democrats communicated their message this week?
HEWITT: They tried to communicate a message of reliability on national security. They failed.
NRO:Specifically, how did Kerry do? How much did that speech matter?
HEWITT:I cannot imagine it will change many minds or inspire those who are not already committed to working on his behalf. “To all who serve in our armed forces today, I say, help is on the way.” What an astonishing demand to make on the faith of the troops whose resupply he voted against last fall, and whose weapon systems he voted against time and time again over two decades.
But he didn’t bore people, which was a real concern. His timing was often off, but not fatally so. So he gets a B. Not a home run, but a solid single. He needed a home run.
NRO: What’s your impression of the GOP truthsquading this week?
HEWITT: I didn’t see much of it. I think it was understated, and that was wise tactically, as the time to rebut the Dems is at the GOP convention, not through piecemeal shots. Rudy’s powerful statements on Thursday were excellent though. He’s the biggest gun outside of the president and vice president, bigger than McCain and Rumsfeld. More Rudy. Lots more Rudy.
NRO: Did the Dems cheat last time? Aren’t they even more determined to win because they think we did?
HEWITT: The attempt to suppress the lawfully cast ballots of military serving overseas was organized and implemented by Gore-Lieberman. It was the lowest moment in a long history of low, dishonest tactics by the Dems. They will do whatever they can and not look back. Sometimes it will be dressed up in absurd legal claims made to willing party hacks in robes–think St. Louis. Sometimes it will be free smokes and booze as turnout incentives. Sometimes it will be non-citizens voting. And sometimes it will be claims about voting machines made to Ninth Circuit judges some of whom were willing to suspend a recall election in California in 2003 in order to try and save Gray Davis. Cheating is in the genes of the Democratic Party –from Tammany, to Pendergast, to Daley to New Jersey’s Senate race of 2002. It isn’t going to stop in 2004.
NRO: Why does my life depend on W. winning?
HEWITT: Because hundreds of thousands of Islamists are trying to kill you. George W. Bush isn’t going to try and stop them on the cheap or pray that we get lucky. He’s committed to preemption when he believes it is necessary.
John Kerry is not so committed. In his acceptance speech he said “[a]ny attack will be met with a swift and certain response.” This is not the question, and by refusing explicitly to answer the question of when if ever he would act preemptively, we can only conclude that Kerry will not move preemptively against gathering threats. Like Clinton, he will judge the intelligence too vague, the country insufficiently prepared for battle, or the undeniable costs in the lives of Americans and American dollars too great.
George Bush is trying to kill the terrorists before they kill more Americans. He will not always succeed. But I think fewer Americans will die from such attacks if Bush wins reelection, far fewer in fact.