As you may have seen in a subtle advertisement around these parts of Al Gore’s Internet, radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt has a new book out called The Brief Against Obama: The Rise, Fall & Epic Fail of the Hope & Change Presidency. He answers some of my questions about the the president’s failures and what he’d hope to see from a President Romney.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Be honest: You’ve been writing the brief against Obama since before he was president?
Hugh HEWITT: I have been taking notes on his promises and predictions since he began running, but I never imagined I’d have this much material.
LOPEZ: What’s the most succinct brief against Obama?
HEWITT: What he promised he couldn’t deliver. What he delivered disappointed. He has no argument for a second term.
LOPEZ: Shouldn’t it be “President Obama”?
HEWITT: In chapters and in an op-ed, yes, but not on a book cover invoking a legal brief in which the shorthand caption is always just the last name. The book is very respectful of the presidency. It’s just very honest about the record of President Obama’s “epic fail.”
LOPEZ: Do you see this book as a voter’s guide?
HEWITT: It is an argument for both the undecideds and those who want to persuade them. The president’s entire campaign will be about diverting attention from what he brought about, and this book is about keeping the spotlight on that performance as well as the promises and predictions he made throughout his initial campaign and first term.
LOPEZ: Your contention that the president has some kind of “anti-Catholic agenda” doesn’t pass the laugh test, does it, given his secretary of Health and Human Services is Catholic, as is his vice president (and the list does go on)?
HEWITT: When dozens of Catholic institutions and all of the Catholic bishops join in an unprecedented and uniform denunciation of the president’s policy it doesn’t matter how few or how many Catholics attempt to provide the president cover. The fact is that the HHS mandate strikes at the core of Catholic belief and makes obedience to the government impossible. The anti-Catholic animus has to be assumed because there is no other rational explanation for so sweeping an assault on religious freedom.
LOPEZ: Has this White House really attacked religious liberty gravely or is that story line an example of hyper partisanship?
HEWITT: No one forced the president to issue these regulations and Obamacare didn’t require them. Cardinal Dolan met with the president and other Catholic leadership provided input throughout. The attack on the Church was premeditated and a surprise to the Church. Its reaction is proportionate and not in the least partisan as the same regulations coming from a Republican president would trigger the same response.
LOPEZ: Can you give him a bit of a break on the economy he inherited?
HEWITT: It was a bad situation. He made it worse. Having made it worse he has refused to admit his complicity in that result and urges more of his very bad medicine. Imagine a doctor taking charge of an accident victim and proceeding to misdiagnose the injuries and then applying all the wrong and indeed toxic “cures.” Do we give that doctor “a break?”
LOPEZ: You accuse the president of abuses of office worse than any other president. Is he really worse than Nixon? Clinton?
HEWITT: Nixon turned over the tapes. Clinton agreed to the deposition and the disbarment. President Obama’s assault on the Constitution via his unilateralism is still unchecked and unrepented. And the leaks about national security in an age of terror are astonishing and deeply troubling. Former CIA director Michael Hayden has referred to why these leaks are so damaging, and they make the “crimes” of Watergate and Monicagate seem minor-league by comparison.
LOPEZ: Why is Fast and Furious so important?
HEWITT: There is a body count, and it includes an American law-enforcement agent, Brian Terry.
LOPEZ: What is the significance of Guantanamo Bay still being open?
HEWITT: It reminds us of the president’s naïveté upon assuming office, a naïveté that led to the release of the interrogation memo and the attempted trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City. The president couldn’t close Gitmo but in a second term he will continue to try to do so no matter the cost.
LOPEZ: What worries you most about his foreign policy?
HEWITT: Would he stand by Israel in a confrontation with Iran?
LOPEZ: Ignoring North Korea is a big moral deal isn’t it? And not only the president is to blame here. A lot of us are looking away, aren’t we?
HEWITT: Yes we are, and yes it is. There is a limit to what we can do about North Korea, but no limit to what can be said about the regime, and the president needs to be the one saying it.
LOPEZ: Is “Standing By As Iranians Die” really fair?
HEWITT: Yes. I put the record into The Brief to remind people of what the president didn’t do during the aborted “Green Revolution.” The sequel is now unfolding in Syria.
LOPEZ: What was he supposed to do about Iraq and Afghanistan?
HEWITT: Negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement with the former and remain in Afghanistan until the Afghanistan security forces can preserve the peace and our ability to keep watch on the ungovernable territories in which al-Qaeda continues to thrive.
LOPEZ: Was the Iraq War a mistake in retrospect?
HEWITT: No. I think Robert Kaplan is right that everyone underestimated how nightmarish a regime Saddam had created; removing it will be of lasting credit to George W. Bush.
LOPEZ: Why bring up things like Obama’s saying are 57 states when there is so much substance on record?
HEWITT: Chapter 24 counsels opponents of the president not to focus on such things as “57 states” and 100 rounds of golf, but they have to be named in order to be avoided.
LOPEZ: Where would you have a President Romney start on immigration?
HEWITT: With Marco Rubio introducing the first of a series of measures aimed at dealing with the complicated issue one step at a time. Most Americans agree on most of the steps, but there has to be a diligent and open process towards resolution that doesn’t sow the seeds of a subsequent controversy, and which takes seriously border security in an age of terror.
LOPEZ: Where would you have him start on health care?
HEWITT: Tort reform and the creation of a national market in health-insurance policies.
LOPEZ: Do you feel some satisfaction that he is the nominee, by the way, having been an early booster?
HEWITT: He has proven to be a very good candidate and is running a very disciplined campaign. My 2007 bookpredicted that he would, just as it predicted most of the attacks against him. It also predicted he would make a very good president, so I hope my delayed prognostications continue to come true.
LOPEZ: If readers learn only one thing from your brief, what do you hope it is?
HEWITT: The president deserves to be judged by his own promises and predictions as well as by the polemics he issued against others.