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George Will on the JFK Assassination and the Advent of Punitive Liberalism

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  We've got Greg on the phone from Louisville.  Greg, great to have you.  Hi.

CALLER:  Hi, Rush.  Great show.  Enjoy your show.

RUSH:  Thank you very much.  Appreciate that.

CALLER:  I'm calling about these journalists that President Obama invited to the White House a couple of days ago, and they're conservative journalists, and I guess they were all conservative journalists who had criticized Senator Cruz and Senator Lee and Senator Paul who've been fighting to defund Obamacare.  It's interesting, it seems like it's a strategy to try to drive a wedge in the Republican Party and try to ostracize Senator Cruz and his supporters, and I just think it's an interesting situation and you've got the surrender caucus of journalists that were called in, the Byron Yorks and --

RUSH:  Well, who were these people? I know that Krauthammer was one.  Who are some of the others?

CALLER:  Byron York and Krauthammer and people who --

RUSH:  Well, have you read anything they've written or heard anything they've said since that visit?  Do you think that Obama got to 'em?

CALLER:  Yeah, I think he did, absolutely.

RUSH:  You do?

CALLER:  I think Byron York especially, absolutely.  Yes.  I think it's just a strategy to divide the opposition by Obama.

RUSH:  Well, no doubt about that.  I haven't studied it the way you apparently have. 

CALLER:  I think it's exciting we have a leader like Cruz doing something. They're standing up and bringing attention to this issue, and I think that's an inspirational thing, and we need to support it.

RUSH:  Well, I agree. I mean, it's one of the themes of the program today.  I'm curious that you think that you're detecting Byron York having changed the way he reports and writes since the --

CALLER:  Well, I've heard him speak on the radio, and I don't know what he's written.  I haven't read what he's written today, but he seems to be indicating a little bit of a hesitancy to criticize the president.  And these are the people who were always complaining about the Republicans and the debt ceiling and the sequester, kind of counseling, give in, don't make a scene, don't --

RUSH:  Okay.  Here's the list.  It was Dr. Krauthammer, it was Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal, Robert Costa, National Review, Kathleen Parker, and Byron York.

CALLER:  All of these people, I believe every single one of them, has been on the anti-Cruz side in the Republican debate in this country.

RUSH:  Well, you may have a point there, but I think they were anti-Cruz before Obama called 'em up.

CALLER:  Right, that's why he called them. That's what I'm saying, that's why he called them.

RUSH:  Oh.  He called 'em up to give 'em attaboys.

CALLER:  Yeah, exactly, and to encourage the division.

RUSH:  Right.  Have you read anything that Robert Costa has either blogged or written, posted at National Review?

CALLER:  Not since the little powwow, no.

RUSH:  David Brooks' feelings are gonna be hurt, 'cause he wasn't invited, and he's the guy -- I mean, he was all in.

CALLER:  Absolutely.

RUSH:  -- crease in the slacks and so forth the first time around.  That's puzzling.

CALLER:  Maybe there will be a round two.  Who knows.

RUSH:  Yeah.  Brooks wasn't invited.  Hm-hm.  Well, you know, I knew it had happened, and I would think, if it were me, I'd come out of there hell-bent on making everybody know that I wasn't pliable. I'd come out, I'd be firing double barrels at Obama after something like that.

CALLER:  Exactly.

RUSH:  Rather than go soft on him 'cause I wouldn't want my readers to think I was that easily neutered, as it were.

CALLER:  Maybe he chose his subjects well.  I hope not, but maybe so.  We'll see.

RUSH:  Byron York, I don't know.  The only guy on that list who really is consistently pro-Republican establishment is Costa from National Review.  Now, the other guys have their moments.

CALLER:  Yeah.

RUSH:  They go back and forth.  They all do good work now and then.

CALLER:  Now and then.  Ha-ha-ha.

RUSH:  Now, there was something on the tip of my tongue I want to say here, it's slipping my mind, and if I don't concentrate on it, it might -- ah, it'll come to me at some point.  There's something else I wanted to add.  But, look, Greg I appreciate the call.  Thanks much.  It isn't gonna matter anything.  It's not a big deal one way or the other.  Oh!  I know what it was.  George Will's column today.  George Will was in the first group invited back in 2009, but he wasn't in this group, and George Will has a column today.  It's based on a book that's just been written, and I don't have the name of the book in front of me. 

 I'll find it during the break.  But the theory espoused in the book is that the modern liberalism that we know can be traced to the Kennedy assassination.  This guy's theory is that faced with the choice that a communist, a little communist had killed Kennedy or America's defects had killed Kennedy, the liberals chose America's defects.  And from that point to today they glommed on -- he gives quotes from Scotty Reston and New York Times writers blaming conservatives, blaming American culture, blaming all sorts of rotten American characteristics for killing Kennedy.  And it begot the modern era of liberalism that America is to blame for everything.  And I've heard that theory espoused, not quite that way before.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: George Will and his column published today in the New York Post.  Who the heck knows when it really first ran.  It's within a day or two, obviously.  Now, before I share with you the details of it, I found this little blurb on George Will.  Apparently he was on NPR yesterday, National Public Radio.  "George Will compared Obamacare to segregation and the Fugitive Slave Act in an interview with NPR on Wednesday, noting that just because it’s a law doesn’t mean that it should continue to be one."  Gee, you know, one of George Will's best friends is Dr. Krauthammer.  They used to play chess together at George Will's house many, many, many man's ago. 

The Republican Party establishment would never say this.  George Will "also criticized what he called the 'untidy, utterly Democratic' process of changing laws. When [he was asked] what he thought about President Obama’s argument that Republicans are short-circuiting the system, rather than appealing the law, Will replied that Republicans are doing no such thing.  'How does this short-circuit the system?' Will said. 'I hear Democrats say, 'The Affordable Care Act is the law,' as though we're supposed to genuflect at that sunburst of insight and move on.'

"Will added that the Fugitive Slave Act had once been law, but that lots of things are the law until the American people decide to change them. While he appears to support Republican efforts to dismantle Obamacare, Will noted that using the debt ceiling as leverage is 'not novel', and that it is unlikely to work."

Again, that's not the point to me, but my gosh, if you did things because they wouldn't work, nobody would do half of what they've done or more.  But I don't want to re-prosecute that.  I want to move on here.  I'm not trying to leave you hanging.  George Will's piece today is on a book written by James Piereson of the Manhattan Institute.  His book was published in 2007, and it's called "Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism."

It begins with a quote from Jackie Kennedy on the day her husband was murdered, November 22nd, 1963.  She's quoted as saying, "He didn’t even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights. It’s -- it had to be some silly little Communist."

Jackie Kennedy thought that her husband's death had been robbed of any meaning because he was killed by some silly little communist, Lee Harvey Oswald.  This reminds me of the Democrats being jealous that 911 didn't happen on Clinton's watch. He was robbed of a chance for greatness.  They really said that, folks, if you doubt me.  Not Clinton, but his friends, associates, people in his administration actually lamented that if that was gonna happen, why couldn't it have happened when Clinton was president?  Why does Bush get the chance for greatness?  So Jackie Kennedy, I did not know that, by the way.  I didn't know that she had said, "He didn't even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights.  It had to be some silly little communist." 

"Jackie Kennedy thought [her husband being murdered by Oswald] robbed his death of any meaning. But a meaning would be quickly manufactured to serve a new politics. First, however, an inconvenient fact -- Oswald -- had to be expunged from the story. So, just 24 months after the assassination," two years, just two years after the assassination, "Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., the Kennedys’ kept historian --" I love that phrase, kept historian, like kept woman, meaning Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., the guy we're paying to write the history we want.  He-he-he-he. "-- published a 1,000-page history of the 1,000-day presidency without mentioning the assassin.

"The transformation of a murder by a marginal man into a killing by a sick culture began instantly -- before Kennedy was buried. The afternoon of the assassination, Chief Justice Earl Warren ascribed Kennedy’s 'martyrdom' to 'the hatred and bitterness that has been injected into the life of our nation by bigots.' The next day, James Reston, the New York Times luminary, wrote in a front-page story that JFK was a victim of a 'streak of violence in the American character,' especially of 'the violence of the extremists on the right.'"

The day after.  Folks, this is exactly right.  I think this analysis is dead on.  The Kennedy media machine moved immediately to expunge Oswald from having had anything to do with this, and Kennedy was shot, and you've probably remembered growing up hearing not long after the assassination what a bunch of rabid, conspiratorial nutcase conservatives had taken over Texas and Dallas and that that's why Kennedy even had to go there, because he was in danger of losing the electoral votes of Texas. He had to go down there because it was taken over by a bunch of right-wing kooks and before long the Kennedy media machine had moved into action to make everybody think that Oswald, he didn't even exist anymore.  It was mean extremist right-wingers who had created the atmosphere, the culture in which Oswald was able and inspired to act. 

Now, adjacent to James Reston's article in the New York Times, again, front-page story, the day after the assassination that JFK was a victim of a streak of violence in the American character, especially of the violence of the extremists on the right.

"Never mind that adjacent to Reston’s article was a Times report on Oswald’s communist convictions and associations."  Folks, this theory is really dead-on right, and we've talked about this on the program before, although not quite in this detail.  I forget who did it.  It might have been a caller, but somebody I spoke to postulated that the left, somebody had the theory that modern liberalism could be explained by the Kennedy assassination. It was that they could not possibly allow for it to stand that he'd be killed by communists, because the Democrat Party even then was sympathetic to communists.

It just didn't work, so they had to come up with a substitute. They had to come up with some other reason why Oswald did it, why he was able to do it, how he was able to get away with it. So they came up with this extremist radical, right-wing, bigot culture in Texas.  "Three days after the assassination, a Times editorial, 'Spiral of Hate,' identified JFK's killer as a 'spirit': The Times deplored 'the shame all America must bear for the spirit of madness and hate that struck down' Kennedy.

"The editorialists were, presumably, immune to this spirit. The new liberalism-as-paternalism would be about correcting other people's defects." So the modern era of liberalism was born because America's imperfections had risen to the surface, and they were so great, the imperfections were so profound that they had led to the assassination of the most beloved president ever, and therefore liberalism must begin to immediately correct the "defects" of this country. 

That's how it began.  "Hitherto a doctrine of American celebration and optimism, liberalism would become a scowling indictment: Kennedy was killed by America's social climate whose sickness required 'punitive liberalism,'" and so they expunge Oswald.  Now, not from the historical record.  Everybody knows Oswald did it.  But the successful thing they did was create this mythical, bigot, racist, hateful culture that gave birth to a guy like Oswald. 

Not communism. 

Oswald came back from the Soviet Union to do this!  "That phrase," punitive liberalism, "is from James Piereson of the Manhattan Institute, whose 2007 book 'Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism' is a profound meditation on the reverberations of the rifle shots in Dealey Plaza. The bullets of Nov. 22, 1963, altered the nation's trajectory less by killing a president than by giving birth to a destructive narrative about America.

"Fittingly, the narrative was most injurious to the narrators. Their recasting of the tragedy to validate their curdled conception of the nation marked a ruinous turn for liberalism." Now, some of you might be asking, "What ruinous?  They're running the show! Obama's the president; liberals are running everything."  Yeah, but in the classical sense, classic liberalism, they used to be pretty good.  It is a despicable, corrupted mess, and we're living it. 

"Punitive liberalism preached the necessity of national repentance for a history of crimes and misdeeds that had produced a present so poisonous that it murdered a president," and that's what they created.  Punitive liberalism.  Punish.  We're going to punish people.  We need, as a nation, to repent for our sordid history of crimes and misdeeds that had been so bad and so noxious that they created an aura and a universe and an atmosphere and a culture capable of killing the most popular beloved president ever. 

"To be a liberal would mean being a scold. Liberalism would become the doctrine of grievance groups owed redress for cumulative inherited injuries inflicted by the nation's tawdry history, toxic present and ominous future," and, lo and behold, that's exactly what it's become. Now, I believe that while this is true, I think people like Obama, their opinion of America predates the Kennedy assassination.  I think his roots go all the way back to the founding. 

But essentially so does this, too.  I mean, if you're gonna take the Kennedy assassination and claim that the founding of the country gave us this noxious and offensive, poisonous country capable of killing the most beloved popular president ever, then something was wrong with it from the start.  "To reread Robert Frost's banal poem written for JFK's inauguration ('A golden age of poetry and power of which this noonday's the beginning hour') is to wince at its clunky attempt to conjure an Augustan age from the melding of politics and celebrity that the Kennedys used to pioneer the presidency-as-entertainment. 

"Under Kennedy, liberalism began to become more stylistic than programmatic. After him -- especially after his successor, Lyndon Johnson, drove to enactment the Civil Rights Acts, Medicare and Medicaid -- liberalism became less concerned with material well-being than with lifestyle, and cultural issues such as feminism, abortion and sexual freedom.  The bullets fired on Nov. 22, 1963, could shatter the social consensus that characterized the 1950s only because powerful new forces of an adversarial culture were about to erupt through society's crust.

"Foremost among these forces was the college-bound population bulge -- baby boomers with their sense of entitlement and moral superiority, vanities encouraged by an intelligentsia bored by peace and prosperity and hungry for heroic politics.  Liberalism's disarray during the late 1960s, combined with Americans' recoil from liberal hectoring, catalyzed the revival of conservatism in the 1970s. As Piereson writes, the retreat of liberalism from a doctrine of American affirmation left a void that would be filled by Ronald Reagan 17 years after the assassination. 

"The moral of liberalism's explanation of Kennedy's murder is that there is a human instinct to reject the fact that large events can have small, squalid causes; there is an intellectual itch to discern large hidden meanings in events. And political opportunism is perennial."  That's just it.  It's a long way around claiming that people at the moment of Kennedy's assassination realized they had an opportunity to blame America for it, and specifically the right.  They had to expunge Oswald; had to explain Oswald's existence by virtue of a corrupt, polluted American culture, traceable to our founding.  And liberals then gave themselves the power and the excuse to fix it all with punitive liberalism. 

Folks, what we have in the government shutdown is punitive liberalism. 

In fact, the entire Obama administration could be called that. 

Gotta take a break.  Back after this. 

END TRANSCRIPT

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