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Congressman John Duncan on Iraq War Vote and Conservatism

Interview

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Mike Church Show Transcript

Mike: Congressman John Duncan, Jr. is on the Dude Maker Hotline with us. Congressman Duncan, isn't it also true that one of the things, if you're going to talk demographics and the future of the Republican Party, isn't one of the things you can find that maybe we ought to get to the business of conserving is the old Republican Party used to not, as John Quincy Adams said, go in search of monsters to destroy? The conservative position was always one that we were just another humble resident or humble nation-state in the world, and that we should mind our own affairs and not meddle in other peoples. It seems to me that young people today, you can't go anywhere without finding young people wearing peace symbols around their necks and are not doing the peace sign when they're photographed. The word peace is on their tongue, yet I don't seem to find the word peace very much in Republican literature or propaganda. Do you think that's a mistake and something that's got to be addressed?

Congressman Duncan: I sure do. In fact, when I was a teenager, or maybe in college, I remember reading something from the Republican National Committee. They said Democrats start wars and Republicans end them. When they found out I was leaning against voting for this war in Iraq, they called me and three other members down to the White House and put us in a little secure room with no windows and all with Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, who was head of the CIA, and John McLaughlin, who was his second in command. They told us all this stuff they had. I said to them, if you can get past the traditional conservative position of being against massive foreign aid, and if you can get past the traditional conservative position of being against huge deficit spending, and if you can get past the traditional conservative position of being against world government, the traditional conservative position of being the biggest critics of the UN -- and this would be a war to enforce UN resolutions -- I said if you can get past all traditional conservative positions, do you have any evidence of any imminent threat? They didn't.

George Tenet confirmed that in his first speech at Georgetown University the day after he resigned as the head of the CIA. This foreign policy has gone against every traditional conservative, traditional republican position that I've ever known. It's really a shame. In fact, about 80 percent of the Republicans in the House oppose the bombings in Bosnia. I'm convinced that many Republicans would have opposed the war in Iraq if it had been started by President Gore instead of a President Bush.

Mike: Alas, it was not and now we're stuck with it. Congressman John Duncan is on the Dude Maker Hotline with us. Let me delve a little deeper into the upcoming Congress. You're going to have, I believe, 234 seats?

Congressman Duncan: Right.

Mike: You're going to substantially outnumber the Democrat Party. By the way, there are other good guys that join you. In addition to Congressman Jones, there's Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan.

Congressman Duncan: He's great. He's got a great future ahead of him. In fact, a lot of people say that he will be the next Ron Paul and he certainly could be.

Mike: He could be. I've met him and he is a very tempered, mild-mannered, very gentlemanly young man. He's very impressive in everything I've ever seen him do. He's very thoughtful. He's very statesman-like, as are you, sir. Let's go down the list a little further. My buddy, and someone I'm privileged to call a dear friend, Congressman Gohmert of Texas.

Congressman Duncan: Yes, he's another good friend of mine. Louie Gohmert is great. I was a criminal court judge for seven and a half years trying the felony criminal cases here in Knoxville before I came to Congress. He was also a judge doing the same thing.

Mike: Congressman Massie is incoming. You have a nice nucleus there of what I would call traditional conservatism and old-school Republicanism. Talk for a moment, if you will, about what it is that if you guys were in the leadership or you could convince the leadership -- which I doubt you can but know you're going to try -- what would you do to try to stop the president, to try to stop the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, to try to stop any future bailouts, stop the Energy Department from giving money away it has no legal authority to do? What would you gentleman do?

Congressman Duncan: Well, the main thing is not to fund all those departments and not passing that legislation. In fact, that's really our main tool if we would use it. As I said a few moments ago, I'm afraid we may cave in on some of those things. I'm really impressed that you're up on some of these names. Congressman Massie is brand-new from Kentucky. He called me Saturday afternoon and I had a nice conversation with him. Let me just mention a couple other things. I got my undergraduate degree in journalism before I went to law school. I took almost all my electives in history. I really admire your passion for history and the things you cover in that regard. When I was driving in a few minutes ago, you were talking about religious and moral people. You made me think of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan several years ago. He said we've been "defining deviancy down," accepting as a part of life what we once found repugnant. That's a great quote if you think about it. I also thought, when I was listening to you a few minutes ago, you talked about what we've lost. I was not alive in 1939, but they said the nation was shocked when Clark Gable said, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." It's sad, but we've almost lost the ability to be shocked.

Mike: Watching what we watch on television today, what some people watch, we have lost the ability. This is a race to extreme vulgarities. There used to be ordinances in almost all the states against vulgar behavior. They would lock you up. This is in the land of the free and the mobile home of the brave, congressman. There were laws against indecency.

Congressman Duncan: My wife has told me for years that I still live in Andy in Mayberry days. About three or four years ago, I saw in the paper that I had the same birthday as Don Knotts. Barney Fife and I have the same birthday. Then I thought maybe she's been right all these years.


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