R. Emmett Tyrell of ‘The American Spectator’ on Liberalism, Obama, Wisconsin

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R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: the Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn’t Work: Social Democracy’s Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery.

DWIGHT L. SCHWAB, JR.: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me sir. We seem to have more in common than I first thought.

R. EMMETT TYRRELL, JR.: Oh?

SCHWAB: We’re both Sagittarius.

r emmett tyrell
R. Emmett Tyrell speaking at the 2011 Robert L. Bartley Gala Dinner

TYRRELL: (Laughing) We do pretty well with the women.

SCHWAB: Maybe at the bars, but at the University of Oregon Journalism School 35-years-ago, I was the lone conservative among a sea of liberals. It is one of the reasons I admire your work so much. You didn’t come to the party when it was full of conservatives. You were basically one of the lone wolves who made the movement what it is today.

TYRRELL: Well, it is my opinion that liberalism is dead. I wrote my latest book, “The Death of Liberalism,” around that premise.

SCHWAB: Let’s talk about the Wisconsin recall last week and it’s aftermath.

TYRRELL: I have been saying Obama was dead three-and-a-half years ago. I said he was going to implode. The Wisconsin recall came along and I said to the world through my column that Scott Walker was going to win – and if he wins, it will be a big win. And if he wins big, Obama will lose in the fall for sure.

SCHWAB: Do you think the recall was truly a reflection on national politics?

TYRRELL: Wisconsin is a wonderful state, but in terms of politics it’s a bit repressive. They’re the home of the progressive magazine and the progressive movement. The home of Bob LaFollett and Bob LaFollett senior.

SCHWAB: The fighting La Folletts from the early part of the 20th Century. Legendary liberals.

TYRRELL: Yeah. Now Wisconsin is one of the proving grounds for the next stage of conservatism. Scott Walker and a whole array of conservatives including Paul Ryan and others. If they can do it in Wisconsin, they can do it anywhere. They are beating the progressives at their own game with organization and common sense.

SCHWAB: In your opinion, what are other states ripe for union reform?

TYRRELL: Well, Ohio and Michigan. Michigan has gone big for Romney in the most recent polls. Public service unions are in big trouble all over the country. Ordinary Americans think it’s a raw deal that we should have to pay for the posh health care and retirement programs of people who are commonly thought of as not working very hard. I think the average American is correct.

SCHWAB: How does the Wisconsin recall affect the presidential election? Does it, or will it be forgotten as a major issue? Will the unions lessen their support for Obama? The president didn’t even put his feet on the ground in Wisconsin during the recall effort.

TYRRELL: His candidate was going to lose in Wisconsin. That’s why he didn’t go. Wisconsin is important because it’s a signal of the future. Liberalism has been on a downhill trajectory for 30 years. Now it’s down to 20 percent of the people while conservatism is up to 42 percent of the American people. Liberals are about as rare in this country as bird watchers or nudists – or nude bird watchers. They are much like the American Prohibition Party of the 1920’s and 30’s. They’ll be considered very quiet and obsolete in a generation. I might become one of them just to tell the next generation that knows little about them that I was one way back then.

SCHWAB: I thought you were going to say you would become a nude bird watcher.

TYRRELL: (Laughter) No, that’s too much – those guys are weird.

SCHWAB: What can Romney take from this union disaster and apply to his message with America?

TYRRELL: It’s not the union disaster, it’s the economic disaster. He already has it figured out. In 2010 the conservatives found themselves in alliance with the independent vote. That vote is about 35 percent of the vote – combined with the conservatives, they swept the country. They took over state legislatures, governor mansions and the House of Representatives. But for the grace of God they would have swept the Senate.

SCHWAB: You mean losing Nevada and Delaware with inferior Tea Party candidates.

TYRRELL: Yeah, but they screwed Ted Stevens of Alaska out of his Senate seat. The thing I stress in this book is that the old liberals had a sense of fair play. Hubert Humphrey, Pat Moynihan, Joe Lieberman who is retiring – they had a sense of fair play. But they are now retiring or dead. The present regime has no sense of fair play. They’re bullies. Good people don’t like bullies and these people have an authoritarian streak. From Obama on down, they want to regulate as much of the economy as they can and they’re taking over one-sixth with their health care policies. That’s why I say liberalism is dead and their new direction is socialism. The American people don’t like socialism.

SCHWAB: What have the president and his minions learned from this? Where do they go from here?

TYRRELL: I don’t think he’s going to learn anything from it. It is very apparent that Obama doesn’t learn from experience. Bill Clinton, an old-fashioned liberal as I say in the book (“The Death of Liberalism”) – he’s an infantile part of the left. That part of the party came to power in 1972. They’ve been in power ever since, but now replaced by Obama. Remember that Bill Clinton could learn from experience. He’s the guy who said the era of big government is over. Hillary could learn from experience. But she was beaten by Obama. Obama is almost prouder he beat her waving his hands while showing us he didn’t learn a thing from that experience.

SCHWAB: Since you bring up Hillary Clinton, do you think she’ll run for president in 2016?

TYRRELL: I like to stick to hard facts. I see nothing to indicate that about Hillary.

SCHWAB: What do you think about the public sector unions and their future efforts to attract new members willingly?

TYRELL: The future is in Cuba (laughing) and I don’t see their future there as terribly sound either.

SCHWAB: Do you see any downside to the Wisconsin recall election?

TYRRELL: Certainly no downside for the conservatives. I certainly do for the liberals, or as I call them these days – socialists.

Dwight L. Schwab Jr. is a moderate conservative who looks at all sides of a story, then speaks his mind. His BS in journalism from University of Oregon, with minors in political science and American history stands him in good stead for his writing.

Dwight has 30 years in the publishing industry, including ABC/Cap Cities and International Thomson. A native of Portland, Oregon, and now a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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