In search of DNC chairman Mcauliffe

Posted: Jan 17, 2002 12:00 AM
"Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe wants to appear on your show," my producer excitedly told me. A staffer of the DNC chairman called -- not once, but three times -- to arrange the chairman's appearance on my radio show during a swing through Southern California. "Book him," I said, "but don't hold your breath." My past experience made me skeptical. Years ago, an aide of then-Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, called. Mr. Reich intends to visit Southern California, said the aide, and wishes to appear on a number of radio shows. Could we schedule an interview? "Well, well," I recall telling Mr. Reich's scheduler, "I disagree with virtually everything the secretary stands for. He wants minimum wage hikes. I don't. He wants mandatory family leave. I don't. He wants paid family leave. I don't. He wants to establish a German-like federal apprenticeship system. I don't. I am going to disagree with virtually everything he says. Are you sure he wishes to appear?" "Yes," insisted the staffer, "I know him to be smart, combative, and he enjoys debate." He promised to call me back within a few minutes to finalize the arrangements, and, within minutes, the aide called back to say, "Mr. Elder, well, you see, the secretary has scheduled a lot of people, and he doesn't think that ... " And so it went. So, when the DNC chairman's office called, I could just smell the deja vu. Sure enough, McAuliffe's aide called to explain, that, well, no, the chairman really has arranged a number of interviews, and, uh, you see, he can't, he'd like to, but maybe some other time, and, uh ... So, since I nevertheless prepared an interview for the secretary, let's proceed: Question: Thank you very much, Mr. McAuliffe, for appearing on the program. Mr. McAuliffe, many high school students read and study Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America." Tocqueville also wrote "Memoir on Pauperism," where he warned against the dependency-inducing nature of welfare. He said, "Any measure that establishes legal charity on a permanent basis and gives it an administrative form thereby creates an idle and lazy class, living at the expense of the industrial and working class. This, at least, is its inevitable consequence, if not the immediate result." Was he wrong? McAuliffe: ... Question: Your party supports minimum wage laws, arguing the unfairness of low, non-livable wages. But President Abraham Lincoln once said, "There is not, of necessity, any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life. The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself; then labors on his own account for awhile, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just, and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way to all -- gives hope to all, and ... energy, and progress, and improvement of conditions to all." Was he wrong? McAuliffe: ... Question: Mr. McAuliffe, C.S. Lewis, the atheist-turned-believer, criticized well-intentioned but wrong-headed government intrusion into our personal lives. He said, "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." Was he wrong? McAuliffe: ... Question: And, Mr. McAuliffe, James Madison, the father of the Constitution, said the general welfare clause restricted the power of government. He said, "With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers (enumerated in the Constitution) connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators." Was he wrong? McAuliffe: ... Question: Mr. McAuliffe, in 1962, President John F. Kennedy stated, "It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low -- and the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut rates now." Was he wrong? McAuliffe: ... Question: And finally, Mr. McAuliffe, we hear references to the "Bush recession." Yet the National Bureau of Economic Research says the recession began March 2001, which means that President Bush wrecked the economy in less than two months. Was the National Bureau of Economic Research wrong? McAuliffe: ... Elder: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for standing up and defending the principles of your party. Let's do this again some time.