(Well I can honestly say this hasn’t happened before. We had a wonderful day at the FDL Book Salon yesterday with John Dean, in which he took the time to methodically go through and try to answer everyone’s questions. Of course he could only get so far given the time limitation and the number of people anxious to chat with him, but today he emailed me another installment of answers. If you didn’t get the chance to visit the comment section from yesterday’s thread it’s right here, and it continues now — JH)
Comments by John Dean:
At 107: David, you and I may only be separated by our analogies. When you we could only be a generation away from fascism it is not much different from my saying we have not gotten on the bus yet. (Needless to say, we hope the next generation does not travel that road – or get on the bus.)
At 108: “Given Dick Cheney’s penchant for expanded presidential power, why, in your opinion, has he never run for president?” Response: He has and could not get his campaign off the ground.
At 113: “But, something I’ve been thinking about for a few days is that the Framers themselves, at the time both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were adopted, had terrorists on their very doorstep! I refer to the American Indians. Families anywhere near the frontier daily faced the possibility of what Publius called “depredations” by “savages,” (Fed. #24) and we would call a terrorist attack.” Response: That is a really good point, Stuart Eugene Thiel!
At 119: “My question would be a variation of TRex, in that the pushback will come but is there a historical trend to look for as the act of pushing back once Dems regain a balance in Congress. In other words, who will these figures and their attacks morph into?” Response: The best thing that could happen would be a repeat of what occurred in 1925 following the Scopes Trial, when the fundamentalist simply withdrew from the public square. They would be happier if they did just that, and the political system would work better if they did not insist on mixing their religion with politics.
At 120: “How much of what is being discussed is a direct product of 9/11? . . . In other words, has this been a steady arc since Goldwater’s defeat, or an unpleasant but relatively recent shift (possibly beginning at the end of the Cold War)?” Response: As I explain in some detail in CWC, there has been a progression that proceeded 9/11, and 9/11 added to the legitimacy of conservative authoritarianism.
At 123: “Mr. Dean – do you believe there are enough new media outlets to counter the mind numbing propaganda they are spewing and will flood our airwaves with in the next 2 months?” Response: It is going to get very negative, for this (along with their carefully redrawn district lines for House seats, the get-out-the-vote army being mobilized by the RNC and the religious right organizations, and their money) is their only hope. Most House of the contested races it appears that the GOP candidate has substantially more money than his/her opponent, and they will spend it on negative ads. The growing equalizer – which we must all watch to see what works – is the Internet.
At 124: “I doubt that Bush/Cheney Team has done a serious risk assessment of anything…” Response: With all due respect, you are wrong. This sort of work is s.o.p. at DOD, OMB, and throughout the executive branch. I have seen conservative think tank studies which have not been publicly released making such assessments (although this information may well be publicly available now, for I have not looked). The problem is that this information is pushed aside or trumped by political judgments being made at the top. Cheney and Rumsfeld believe they know best, and the president doesn’t know what to think (and he sure as hell is not going to read risk assessments made by some mid-level bureaucrat.)
At 126: “Would you care to comment on possible impeachment hearings for any reason in connection with any actions or decisions that President Bush may have taken?” Response: I have little doubt that if the Democrats take control of the House that the Judiciary Committee under John Conyers will open an impeachment inquiry. It is not, however, realistic to believe that 2/3rds of the U.S. Senate would ever vote to remove this president, vice president, secretary of state, secretary of defense, or attorney general – regardless of what evidence the House might uncover. Impeachment is a purely political undertaking, and while a simple majority of the House can impeach, it takes a super-majority in the Senate that does not exist. But if the House did uncover unusually damning evidence – beyond the damning evidence already well known – it could make life very difficult for GOP Senators.
At 128: Thank you, Joe Wilson, for your kind words. I wish you well with your civil lawsuit. (Be patient, they take a very very long time.) I also look forward to your wife’s book, for all we really know about her is that she is beautiful, and she can handle young twin boys — and an AK-47 as well.
At 129: “One of the most interesting premises that you offer in the book is about Dick Cheney rising to the level of his incompetence. I don’t know that I have heard, seen or read anything anywhere else that talks about that. It was stunning to me.” Response: I don’t use the word “incompetence” rather I call attention to his consistent bad judgment from the beginning of his career to the present. Incompetence connotes to me lacking skills or the wherewithal to do a job, and that is not the case with Cheney. He is extremely competent (i.e., able, smart, savvy, experienced, knowledgeable, etc.) but he has terrible judgment (by which I mean the ability to make a sound decision or even a reliable guesstimate based on the information he is given.) This is not my opinion, rather it is based on a review of the facts relating to his career. I assume that his biographer(s) one day will be struck with the same things I have noticed in looking at his record.
At 144: “Now that your latest book is finished do you have a Web site, or any plans on starting a blog and joining us in the blogoverse to continue the much needed thorough dialog on these important subjects as they continue to unfold?” Response: I do not have a website, because I have not had time. I have been writing online for FindLaw for almost six years (which is from the pre-blogosphere era), and plan to continue doing so. Those columns, which run 1500 to 2000 words, take varying degrees of time to prepare, and often relate to subjects incidentally related to a book I may be working on. My publisher (Viking, which is part of the Penguin Group) liked my proposal so well that they asked me to turn in the manuscript next spring. (I think it bad taste, if not unwise, to discuss a non-fiction political book that is still a work-in-progress, so I will say no more, other than it will be my 8th book, and they don’t get easier as you progress, but one does gain confidence in proceeding.)
At 145: “Kinda wild-hare idea, but how ’bout delivering a copy of CWC to every sitting and incoming Democrat after the November elections.” Response: I would be delighted to sign them and get a discount from my publisher (they do give authors a discount on their own books but I still have to purchase them) if someone wishes to organize such an undertaking. But the people who need to read this book as well are the GOP members – not that it will likely change the mind of any who survive the ’06 election.
At 151: “I don’t understand why they [the Democrats] don’t fight back harder?” Response: Many Democrats fought hard in 2004 to get voters to the polls, to become aware of the issues, etc. – and they are doing the same now. The problem relates back many years when Democrats became complacent and woke up one day to discover conservative Republicans had taken control of the GOP, that conservatives had left the ranks of the Democratic Party, and they no longer had political control or party dominance. It appears to this observer that Democrats are acutely aware of their problems, and we will all be better able to assess how they are dealing with them in a few months.
At 185: In Glenn’s initial review of your book he said: A healthy skepticism is warranted with regard to the ability of social science data to reveal truths about political movements. His sentiment seemed to echo the “hard science – soft science” debate. My impression from your book was that the synthesis of the scholarship, soft science though it be, coupled with your singular personal experience constituted a case where the whole far exceeded the sum of the parts. It seemed to me that the work of Altemeyer helped you see the extent and truth of your experiences. Was Glenn a little too quick to skepticism about the social science in his review? Response: Nice question. I worried about the very point that Glenn made, and spoke with several other social scientists about taking the work done by Bob Altemeyer and others and relating it to various political players. All assured me this could be done, and that I was in a somewhat unique position to do it. I discovered the eminent social scientist Alan Wolfe, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, doing exactly what I was doing as I worked on my book. He suggested using the Adorno et al work The Authoritarian Personality, apparently unaware that the science had moved well beyond that work. So Glenn is correct in calling for caution, and hopefully I employed it. (The book was published on July 11, 2006 and so far not one of the conservatives I have described as an authoritarian has objected to my analysis of them.)
At 201: “Do you feel she [Hillary Clinton] has any of those [Goldwater] principals breathing in her yet? Or have they been triangularized to death a la Clinton?” Response: When working on CWC I went over to Phoenix to visit the Goldwater papers (as I mention in the book), and discovered to my surprise that Senator Goldwater and the Clintons had become good friends. It appears the friendship started when Senator Goldwater blasted conservatives for taking cheap shots at President Clinton, and his early policies. Senator Goldwater publicly opposed these efforts to destroy the Clinton Presidency with endless and senseless investigations. Apparently, President Clinton called Senator Goldwater to thank him for his unsolicited defense (or support) and with that call their friendship began. Senator Goldwater took part in a surprise birthday party for Hillary – which Bill arranged because Hillary had been a “Goldwater Girl” in 1964, but had never met the man who had first attracted her into politics. President Clinton was one of the last people to visit with Senator Goldwater when he was in the hospital as his life drew to a close. (It is not easy for Presidents to just drop by like that but Clinton went out of his way to say goodbye to a man he clearly held in high esteem.) More recently, Hillary participated in a documentary on Senator Goldwater that will be shown on HBO in mid-September. (Yours truly took part as well.) Finally, let me tell you what the Senator told me about Hillary Clinton: “She’s a great lady, I truly admire her.” To which he added, never thinking she would become a U.S. Senator: “He’s lucky [referring to President Clinton] that she didn’t run for office before he did, because she could have made it to the White House on her own.” In short, there is no doubt in my mind that Senator Goldwater thought Hillary Clinton was presidential timber.
HAVING GONE THOUGH ANOTHER HUNDRED POSTINGS I AM GOING TO SIGN OFF AGAIN, AND WILL LOOK FOR ANOTHER HOLE IN MY SCHDULE WHEN I MIGHT ADDRESS A FEW MORE. DELIGHTED WITH THE PLAY ON MY TYPO FOR THE “SLIMMY/SLIMY” MR. RUMSELF.
THANK YOU AGAIN FOR YOUR FINE QUESTIONS AND THOUGHTFUL COMMENTS. THEY ARE TRULY APPRECIATED.