Duncan Hunter Interview : Terrorist Trials In NY, Amnesty, Sarah Palin and More !
Duncan Hunter Interview 11-17-09: Terrorist Trials in NY, Amnesty, Sarah Palin and More!
Thanks to Pissant at Free Republic for hosting these great conference call interviews, hope you enjoy them.- red
This interview is the fifth installment of an on going series of conversations with the former Congressman and 2008 presidential candidate. It appears that the extended
AUTOMATRON: Someone has joined the conference.
DH: Hello, Duncan Hunter here.
AJM: Hello Mr. Hunter. This is Jim. We’ve got
DH: Hello Don.
DF: Hi Congressman Hunter, good to talk to you again.
AJM: And we might have a few stragglers joining in later. I’ll just tell them to keep quiet when they come on.
DH: OK. Now I’m steaming down highway 15. If I go out it’s because we got to a canyon area, but we should be clear for awhile.
AJM: OK. We’ll see how well those Mormons build cellular systems.
DH: We’ll find out.
AJM: Can we complain to Romney if it falls apart? (laughs). Before I get to any questions I just have a couple of things I wanted to inform you about. One, is that after we talked last time, and you mentioned Gunny Pop Popaditch, I went ahead and posted a news article from the local papers down there talking about your guys’ event and it got massive numbers of views. People were excited, and I saw it popping up all over the blogosphere. So you guys are making hay just in your first week.
DH: Great. Way to go Jim.
AJM. Yeah, there was really a sense of excitement on
DH: He’s a solid guy. He’s a great speaker too. Very inspirational.
AJM: The funny thing is, I watched a little newscast from the TV that someone put up on Youtube. And it had you in it, you were interviewed as well! But he said that you are the one that inspired him to run.
DH: Oh oh (laughs)
AJM: So hats off to you!
DH: OK. He’s a good guy. We’ve got several more marines who are running too. We hope we bring them home. When I say bring them home, I don’t mean bring them home from
AJM: You mean bring them home into the party and into the Congress…
AJM: The other piece of news that I wanted to mention was that there was an article in some local paper, I have it linked but I don’t remember which paper it was. But there was a guy calling out for your son, Duncan D., to be the Vice Presidential nominee this next go ‘round.
DH: Really?? Did you recognize
AJM: Actually, I was suspected you more than him.
DH: (laughing) No. I’m a good spear carrier for him now. I’m looking forward to having an appointment with him sometime in the next two months. I’m just another constituent now.
AJM: OK. I’m going to start off with a question. The first one that has been all over the news the last few days is Mr. Obama’s “deep bow” to the emperor of
DH: No, I didn’t see his bow.
AJM: Did you hear about it?
DH: No, tell me about it.
AJM: Well, he was over in
DH: Well, I like MacArthur’s model. I think MacArthur had the right model for dealing with the Japanese royalty when he basically reconstituted the country. That was to treat them politely but firmly and not in some subservient manner. I thought MacArthur had the right professional approach.
I didn’t see the news flash on Mr. Obama’s greeting to the emperor. Maybe he’s getting some bad protocol advice. But I like the MacArthur style. He certainly didn’t do any bowing. He wasn’t cruel. He was statesman-like. In fact, one of the great models of this country for all time, for occupying militaries, was the occupation of
AJM: So do you think Obama’s bow is just being overly polite, ignorant, or he just wants to apologize to some degree for…
DH: (laughs) I don’t know if you noticed or not, Jim, but I’m not in his inner circle, so I don’t know!
DH: But from a positive point of view, I like the MacArthur approach. He was professional, firm, non-subservient to the emperor of
AJM: Very good. You’re probably aware of this one. It’s been announced in the news with several stories coming out of the Pelosi camp and the Obama administration that they are going to revisit amnesty in the next few weeks. They are working diligently on the next amnesty plan and I’m sure they’ll have some of the same republicans involved with this – namely Lindsey Graham and McCain and some of the other same cast of characters. So this thing actually has a lot of support when you toss in those republicans. What is your opinion on this and what should we do to fight it?
DH: I think there will be a large backlash against this. Especially among rank and file democrats during this high unemployment period. I’ll never forget a construction worker, an American citizen coming up to me one time, a member of the Hispanic community, and said “please don’t let”–what was known in those days as Kennedy/McCain- “this thing pass”. This guy explained that it had taken him years to get to the point where he was making $35/hr. And he said “if you open the floodgates, I’ll go down to $15 an hour, and my ability to take care of my family will diminish”. He said that in so many words.
Especially when you have a massive unemployment rate, the idea that we are going to open the floodgates is insane. That’s what you do when you entertain amnesty. We’ve seen the number of crossings, illegal border crossings increase when the President even TALKS about it, talks about amnesty. It’s human nature. The people that came over in the 80s, when we gave amnesty to some 3 million people – and we incidentally at that point, we said ‘now THIS IS IT, this time we really mean it and we are gonna enforce our borders’. And people knew we didn’t really mean it; so about 12 million more came pouring in subsequent to that admonishment that we were now going to enforce the borders in a serious way, and that there would be no more amnesty.
So when you announce an amnesty there will always be a new wave people coming over illegally, human nature being what it is, anticipating that they – the new wave- will catch the next amnesty. So at a time when jobs are very, very difficult to find, especially blue collar jobs, the idea that we are opening the floodgates again is something the American people will not accept.
And I know the democrat strategists are looking to… thinking they are going to pickup a new, huge voting constituency. I don’t think so. Last hired is often first fired. And there are lots of folks in the Hispanic community like the guy who approached me, the construction worker, who are worried about their jobs and the rate of pay.
AJM: So you think the backlash will stop it once again?
DH: I think so.
AJM: Because the last one we weren’t in a recession, the economy was booming and we still managed to stop it. But it took a lot of vocal leadership, people like you congressman, frankly, being probably the premier spokesman against it. It definitely rallied the troops. Talk radio finally got on it, and even a lot of democrats opposed it.
DH: I think we’ll get more now. I think the economic dimension will play out strongly at this point.
AJM: I sure hope so. Even the Reagan model, which you voted against by the way, the 1986 amnesty, there was the promise of border enforcement. I can’t imagine that these democrats writing this next bill will…..they’ve already gutted your Secure Fence Act several times over. What’s your take on getting some real border enforcement? Are we going to have to wait for the next Republican in office?
DH: I think it is clear that this administration does not want a secure border. And it is always difficult to understand their point of view. But it is clear from their initiatives, and the lack of interest in completing the border fence. The way most of the amnesty initiatives have been framed, proponents always promise that enforcement will go hand in hand with the amnesty. But I think at this point all the political proponents of amnesty have lost their credibility.
We had a Secure Fence Act, which was watered down massively. We got some fence up, some 100s of miles of some barrier, which has been good. Incidentally, we sealed up Smugglers Gulch in
The point is that fences do work. And another point is that the then governor of Arizona, Governor Napolitano, swung back and forth between saying “fences don’t work” – saying “if you show me a 12 foot fence, I’ll show you a 13 foot ladder”, and in the next sentence she would lament the fact that we (California) were sealing our border so the illegal aliens were now going to her state of Arizona and crossing.
DH: She not only tried to have it both ways, but literally she tried to have it both ways in almost the same sentence (laughing).
In fact, in
AJM: That’s amazing. But you know the problem with Napolitano, don’t you? She got a promotion, a promotion from governor; she’s the head of Homeland Security. What a disaster.
DH: Yeah. I’m aware of that. The same person who discounted the fence, and resented the fact that we had one. So no, she’s not going to lead with a construction program.
AJM: That’s for sure. But do you have any words for your own party? My recollection is that the Secure Fence Act, the watering down of that, actually took place in the hands of Kay Bailey Hutchinson and John Cornyn.
DH: Yeah. We had the two
I think they were all talking to the landowners who probably liked the idea of having a fairly large pool of people coming across the border to work inexpensively.
My point to the President, and to the Senators during the conference on this fence, was that a landowner on the border, or a rancher on the border, does not have the right to determine unilaterally what the immigration policy of this country is going to be. And just because that means that he gets some inexpensive people, he’s NOT the guy to be sorting out the people who may at one point be terrorists, or who may be the drug people, and determining who comes into the United States. The policy of the
AJM: I’ll agree with that. I want to reiterate the fact that they’ve been catching a lot of non-mexicans, what do they call them, OTMs – Other Than Mexicans. A lot of Chinese coming…
DH: That’s always been the case. Everybody in the world knows if you want to get into
And I think that’s possible. The swings, the nature of politics is to surprise. And I think we can have a surprising resurgence in the House races in this next election.
AJM: I sure hope so. And the guys you’ve been promoting are also, all of them, are strong border hawks. In the Hunter mold, as opposed to the McCain mold of wanting to grant amnesty. So keep up that work, Congressman. In the primaries, we need people that are going to do it right, and not waffle once they office.
DH: Yep. We need to do just that. We also need to – you know I’m looking forward to a lot more guys getting out of the service, and running for office across the country. That’s an important dimension to representation, especially when you have the wars in
AJM: Well, that would be great. So what is your opinion on the RNC, the national party, picking sides in a primary? I think I told you when Charlie Crist of Florida came out – he’s kind of a liberal, so-so guy but a fairly popular governor – as soon as he announced the, Senatorial committee, the NRSC, immediately endorsed him even though there were already guys running in that race. This has been repeated a number of times. What is your opinion of the National party endorsing candidates in a primary?
DH: Well, I think there needs to be a balance. Sometimes they need to go out and recruit candidates to run. Especially when you have great candidates you think should run for office. For example, Eisenhower was actively recruited by the national party – I’m probably using the best example of recruitment – but Eisenhower was recruited by the national Republicans to run on the GOP ticket. And I think when they initially talked with him, they weren’t sure if he was a Democrat or Republican. And as I recall, the Democrats had an interest in trying to get Eisenhower to run also. So that’s probably the best example of a national recruitment.
In a number of races you do want to go out – for example I went out and asked old Gunny Pop. I think he was inclined to run, but I told him he’d make a great Congressman and I encouraged him to run. I think that’s important. If you do that, you do need to endorse them when they run. But in terms of simply going with the….if somebody is already predisposed to run and they are running and there are other good candidates out there running, the idea that you try to anoint someone, I think, is a mistake.
Incidentally, I like Bob Smith who is the former
AJM: Yeah, he’s running too, but he’s not getting much…
DH: Yeah, I know he’s not. But he’s a friend of mine. But beyond that he knows National Defense in depth, especially missile defense. He has a much better handle on national security issues than the other candidates.
AJM: That’s for sure. OK. That answers that. Somebody had asked me, who could not attend this conference, to ask you a question regarding Sarah Palin. I don’t know if you’ve turned on a TV lately, but she’s everywhere. She’s got a new book just released today – number 1 bestseller. She’s on Oprah and Barbara Walters and basically it is her re-introduction after she quit her governorship. So what do you think about Sarah Palin and her future in the Republican Party?
DH: You know, I don’t know Governor Palin well. And I’m not close to their campaign. So I don’t know her well enough to comment on what her strategy may be for the next couple of years. But I think she provided some energy to the Republican Party. And I think she has provided a strong role model for conservative women who want to get involved in politics, and to take the fight back to the liberal feminist side which has dominated Democratic politics.
So I think Sarah Palin was a refreshing contrast to the model that the liberal media was shoving at us as to what women in politics should be. She represented independence, individualism. I don’t know, I’m not familiar with all of her activities as a governor in
But I think, generally speaking, she’s a refreshing new presence on the political scene and I wish her well.
AJM: Very good. The suggestion was that we’d send her up to
DH: (Laughs) Well, of course. Listen; there are lots of people that have information, that have good backgrounds in national security who could brief up Sarah Palin.
I thought in the debates and interviews that she needed to have three or four positions that are classic republican, conservative positions, like Peace through Strength, and she needed to assert those. And remember Charlie Gibson, I think, was the first major interview that Sarah Palin did. I think she needed to assert those strongly, and stake out conservative positions, rather than kind of trying to handle the volleys that the media was throwing at her. I would have had a little different strategy going in to that.
But you know, I think Sarah Palin did a good job in the campaign. And certainly the campaign was in tough shape when Sarah Palin came onto the ticket. I think she was value added. Absolutely.
AJM: No doubt about that. The reason I’m pushing a date, a pairing with you whether it ever happens or not – who knows. The feeling is amongst the people that know your work, Congressman, is that you differentiate yourself from the vast, vast majority of Republicans, as well as from the conservative pundits by your actual, intimate knowledge, and your Reaganesque views on US sovereignty, weapons systems, and military matters – and that does not even include the border where sometimes you were the ONLY one, maybe along with Tancredo lately, fighting for us. So those are the things that attracted real conservatives to you. So obviously, we want to see the next – whoever is going to run for president – get closer to the Reagan/Hunter model. What we don’t need is another McCain/Giuliani model coming up.
DH: (laughing) Well listen, I think you are going to have some new blood in this next race.
AJM: I think so too.
LD: Better be good blood!
DH: If we can just get
DH: People are going to start to recognize his writing style. (laughs) No , I’m just kidding. He’s actually a very modest guy. He’s a great guy and is working really hard right now on the IED issue which is really damaging our troops in
AJM: Yeah, he’s following in your footsteps on that, thank goodness.
Another issue that is current news is that apparently Mr. Holder and Mr. Obama decided to bring Khalid Sheik Mohammed to
DH: I think we had, we put together the terrorist tribunal, and I participated in putting that law together as the chairman of the Armed Services Committee on the House side. And I think we did it right. The defendants have lots of rights, the right to cross examine, the right against self-incrimination, and the right -except where classified evidence might be compromised – to confront their accusers. They had lots of rights. If you look at the Rwandan model and the
Now when you bring people to
In the first place, war is a confusing thing. You don’t go back and recreate crime scenes when you get your Humvee blown up, or you have shots taken at you in the remote areas of
We now live in this age of terrorism, and we’ve got to find our way between the desire to give people massive rights when we are prosecuting them or else free them. Between that extreme and rights you afford somebody when they are wearing a uniform and engaging you in a direct fight. It is unusual that we are actually giving more rights to the guys who blew up women and children in a very cowardly way than are given to uniformed troops who march out to the battlefield and fight for their country in the open. But that is essentially what we are doing.
And we ought to keep
The point is that they were very well taken care of. And the idea that we somehow acquiesce to this very fuzzy “world opinion” – a world opinion made up of foreign leaders who like the idea of the Americans always doing the heavy lifting when it comes to fighting terrorism – they want to offer up all these objections to Guantanamo.
The interesting thing about
The question is “what are we doing?”.
And the answer is that we are satisfying a perception. And it’s a perception that really isn’t held genuinely by the people that utter that perception. That is leftist foreign leaders who complain about
AJM: Well listen, the world leaders might not be true believers in this social justice therapy and extra rights for terrorists, but I tell you what, President Obama and Eric Holder sure are. They are moving farther and faster than the world criticism and it was part of his campaign. I think it’s an overall ‘tearing down’ of structures that have been wisely built up over the years, starting with the Geneva Conventions for warfare, and precedent in US military affairs. Everything he touches he tears down. I think its part of his agenda.
DH: Yeah. Well with respect to
We’ve had tons of delegations visting
AJM: Yep. And when you say “we”, it’s people like Dick Durbin and some of the more liberal democrats in addition to the Obama administration. They are going against the grain of American wisdom.
DH: Dick Durbin has had scores of murders in his prisons, and I don’t think he recommends closing them down! You know, and these people that say you shouldn’t use dogs – shouldn’t have dogs present – If you ask them if they are going to recommend closing down their K9 units in their own police departments in the states they represent, the answer would be an absolute NO. And if you don’t think a 110 pound German Shepherd – they say it’s torture to intimidate people with the presence of a dog – having a massive German Shepherd snapping at you six inches from your face, I think it tends to make you want to talk.
DH: I think lots of people have made lots of confessions with that 110 pound German Shepherd snapping away while the police officer of
AJM: Absolutely. Hey, Lynn or Don, do either of you guys have a quick question. We’ve got to let Congressman Hunter go here in just a second.
LD: (laughs) You don’t want to know. I must say that I was aware of you even though I lived in
DH: Now I did what now?
LD: You were on CSPAN talking about how you had just returned from Gitmo….
DH: (laughs) Oh yeah, we had the menu. And we had the House of Representatives cooks prepare the
DH: and I think it was honey glazed chicken and rice pilaf (laughs)
LD: Yes it was (laughing)
DH: Another bread and water meal for those terrorists! Yeah, that helped put the damper on that particular little surge of support for closing
AJM: That “surge” was led by your buddy John McCain, by the way…
LD: That was my point.
DH: Well, the media really liked to use John McCain. I think it’s a little unfair to ask a guy who has been a POW how he wants people to be treated; to account for what our policy should be. It’s almost like going to a mother who has lost her son in a war, and asking “do you think we should still be there?” It’s almost unfair to ask him that question.
I always felt that John was, in my opinion, on the wrong side of that answer. And I’ve always though it’s a little bit phony for the media to ask him.
AJM: Well they (media) loved him up until the time he won the nomination, then they turned on him.
DH: That’s what happens to Republicans. You know, they also love us after we are dead.
DH: Barry Goldwater was absolutely treated in a despicable way, fashioned by the media. I mean there should have been a massive backlash when they had that commercial there during the Johnson race where it showed the little girl picking the flowers and a nuclear cloud erupts behind her; with the implication that Barry Goldwater was gonna nuke the world. I mean they just hammered him and called him dangerous and all kinds of names. But once he was retired, and after he died he became a ‘conservative statesman’. The media loved to issue these very ‘late in career’ statements of his – and we’re not sure if his nurse wrote them or he wrote ‘em (laughs) – he now had a liberal point of view on everything. So they loved Barry Goldwater after he left.
AJM: Yeah, he got old and started losing his marbles and all the sudden they quote him…
DH: I don’t know if Barry even made those statements. I mean I didn’t ever hear him make statements like those.
AJM: Same with Reagan. Now they love Reagan. But boy did they hate him. They hated him more than they hated George W. Bush.
DH: Yeah, they did…
LD: Oh, I don’t think anyone has been more hated than George W. Bush.
AJM: I don’t know. What do you think?
DH: (laughs) Isn’t it sad that we as conservatives have to sit around and decide which one of us was hated the most??
DF: Yes, which one is more hated.
LD: Yes, it is! And I just want to say one more thing about the whole John McCain and the media thing. No one loved manipulating him more than he did himself. He was a willing participant. And I will not excuse what he did. I mean a ‘terrorist bill of rights’?? And the ‘screw you President Bush’ law he got passed. Please people. I’m not very politically correct, congressman.
DH: The terrorist tribunal thing we put in place, was put in place by the House and the Senate. We did a lot of that stuff. I thought it was tough, fair…
LD: No, no! That’s not what the one I’m talking about.
DH: …and had a process for a speedy prosecution of these guys…
LD: That’s not the one I’m talking about.
DH: Oh, OK. Well listen, if there’s one thing us politicians do, is we always want to spend our dime talking about ourselves rather than the other guys. (laughs)
I like John McCain personally. I’ve served with him for a long time. I don’t agree with him, obviously, on many, many issues. But he’s a guy I got to know and was a good guy when he was in the House of Representatives. A good guy, personally. But my sense is John’s not going to be running for office in this next presidential campaign.
DF: I sure hope not.
DH: I think you are going to have a new crop. So beating up on John McCain is probably not going to do much. I believe in getting after John and his policies when I was running against him. But I’m not running against him now and I don’t think you are going to see him run for national office again. Could be wrong. (laughs)
AJM: Oh no no no no. We are knocking on wood right now!
DF: Can I sneak one in on you Congressman Hunter – Don in
DH: Yeah, go ahead Don.
DF: Continuing on the same line, give us some hope for the future for change. Let’s assume for a moment, let’s play ‘what if’. I think the pendulum is swinging back the other way. I see more and more resistance to the destruction of our country that is currently underway. Assume for a minute we get some control in 2010 –we being Republicans. Then in 2012 Obama is a one term president, much like his hero Jimmy Carter, and his successor is a true conservative, like a Reagan, or for this conversation even you. What would be your hopeful message to us out here that indeed, no matter what the destruction is right now, this country can be rebuilt? It’s the greatest country in the world I believe, and some of these things can be rolled back, that we can push that pendulum back the other way.
DH: The pendulum is coming back. It always does. And we all know about the statistics of off year elections, and the fact that the party not in the Whitehouse usually grabs a few seats back, picks up a few seats. The key is to turn a victory, to turn the tide into an overwhelming victory that allows you to take back control of the House. That’s what you need.
We need to maximize our gains and our strengths in this next election cycle. The democrats think they’ll lose a few seats, but they want to keep it at a few. Sometimes a ‘victory is keeping your losses at 10 seats or 12 seats, or 15 seats. We need to make sure that we have the best candidates. We have to make sure we don’t have a lot of interparty warfare.
For example, one thing that bothered me, let me give you some congressional dynamics. When I ran against a guy named Lionel Van Deerlin in 1980, I sold my house to run because I couldn’t raise any money. And this is a guy who won fairly handily over his 18 year career. In the seat I ran for, which was only 29 percent Republican, you had to draw straws to see who HAD to run as a Republican. The district next door was a good Republican district. It had good numbers and the Republican who won the primary would probably win. So you had Republicans spending millions fighting for the seat which was a sure thing in terms of being an ‘R’. And in the seat which we needed to take, which is the one that I took from Lionel Van Deerlin, we had no help from the party. So that’s a problem we’ve always had. We end up spending a ton of money and resources going after safe Republican seats. I know it’s always going to happen, because we are all independent contractors, and everybody’s got a right to run. But being able to spend resources, to reserve resources for those take-able seats is very, very important. Because you really do have to run the equivalent of a 50 state strategy in congressional districts if you want to take back the House, where you win seats that you didn’t anticipate winning. We have got to take some of those marginal seats back!
DF: Let’s say we do those back and get back control like you’re talking about and the pendulum pushes the other way and a good conservative is in power. Where to you begin to rebuild and restore this country, to what we, you and I, the people on this phone I know, love and want and that is our vision of this country. Can it be pushed back? Can the destruction be repaired?
DH: Well certainly. Congress can pass a law, and repeal a law with a vote, and the president can sign that law. So the answer to how far we’re going to have to roll this thing back is a function to some degree with what happens to things like this Health Bill that’s going forward right now. Let’s fight and hope they don’t get it. But they may have a lot of things that we’ll have to roll back. But I would say let’s roll back all the inhibitors to economic growth.
One thing that I think we should do though is that….the post ’73 Republicans broke away from the party and broke away from our traditions. I think this blind adherence to this concept of so-called ‘free trade’ has been a disaster for the
Our industrial base is being exported to
So I think trade is a place where we can work on. You know, I told the President when he wanted me to vote on the South American ‘free trade’ agreement, I said “you know, I like the Bush policy on trade, but it is the policy of Senator Prescott Bush, who in 1962 stood with Barry Goldwater against the Kennedy Trade Liberalization Act”.
And in this country, if you look at the two Republicans on
DH: And they never did have a vote on it.
DF: As I recall, you were virtually the lone voice in the last campaign talking about the trade deficit and the issues with
DH: Well, our problem is we need to make sure the Republicans remember their roots. We haven’t traditionally been the free traders. If you go to the cellar of the Capital Hill Club and you look at the old cartoons from the 1890s and early 1900s, you’ll see the one with Teddy Roosevelt standing over a prostrate Grover Cleveland type – I don’t know if it was Grover himself – but Grover Cleveland has “free trade” on his boxing gloves and he’s being knocked out by the Republican, who has got “protection”. And you know now ‘protection’ is used in a pejorative way. But what a national government is with respect to trade is the one time when they are essentially a business representative. Because an individual businessman can’t leave
AJM: Just to add to this and top it off, Congressman, Ronald Reagan said “we’ll trade with anyone, but we’ll never be anyone’s ‘trade patsy’”. And that’s what we’ve become.
DH: Yeah. Ronald Reagan also said, “when one side is cheating, there is no free trade”. The other sides treat like crazy! We’ve allowed this one VAT, this value added tax rebate, where every other country in the world rebates value added taxes from 10 to 20 percent. We’ve got 122 trading partners that do that. Yet we don’t get to rebate our income tax to our guys that export. Big, big disparity.
AJM: A big, big disparity, and brought on by this creation of this supra-national entity called the WTO, and we give them the power which is supposed by the US Congress’ constitutional duty!
DH: Yeah, I agree with that. And incidentally guys, we’re pulling into St. George and we are going to enter the Cracker Barrel in just a few minutes here. It’s going to be great. So I need to say adios to everybody, but it’s been great talking to you.
AJM: Well thank you very much and we’ll try again next week sometime at your convenience and we have lots of questions to get through. You’ve been very generous.
DH: Hey listen. Great to talk to everybody.
AJM: Say hi to your wife and tell her thank you for being so patient with us (laughs)
DH: OK. I will!