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Benjamin Shapiro & Brian Whitman: The Donkey vs The Elephant (October 3, 2012)01:07:32

In a discussion immediately following the broadcast of the first election debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, Ben Shapiro and Brian Whitman of the KRLA-AM Heidi Harris political talk show respond to questions posed by Eric Owen Moss. To a question about political gridlock, Ben Shapiro responds that it's probably a good thing, if it defends individuals from government intrusion. Regarding U.S. foreign policy, Shapiro argues that Obama represents a reduction of America's role in the world, while Romney advocates an enhancement of its role. Whitman argues that extensive foreign interventions are economically unsustainable. Asked if the U.S. is providing a model for other countries to emulate, Shapiro distinguishes between liberalism, which the U.S. should try to export, and democracy, which is not necessarily in America's interest. Whitman argues that "We've stopped being America" in many ways. Citing past U.S. support for Saddam Hussein, the Shah, and the Mujahideen, Moss asks whether a frank discussion of past U.S. policy isn't overdue. Shapiro argues that the context, setting and audience are crucial factors: what's appropriate in an academic context might be inappropriate on the world stage. Whitman counters that the complaints about Obama apologizing for past U.S. policies really amount to an equation of dialogue with weakness. Moss asks if marketing presidential candidates like hamburgers is the best way of airing the issues. Shapiro counters that this is the way that elections have been in the U.S. since Jefferson versus Adams in 1800. Whitman observes that Romney's main problem is that he resists easy packaging, as opposed to successful politicians like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Regarding the Supreme Court's 2010 elimination of restrictions on independent political expenditures by corporations and unions, Shapiro argues that any attempt to impose an artificial equity would be oppressive. Whitman observes that the current Super-Political Action Committee ads have weakened the credibility of candidates, by permitting campaigns to disseminate messages without taking full responsibility for them. Asked about declining support of infrastructure in the U.S., Shapiro argues that what promotes business is business, "not the niceness of the airport." Whitman, "as an FDR Democrat," counters that bridges and roads are necessary in themselves, and also provide jobs. Summarizing their political philosophies, Shapiro argues that what makes America great is not massive collective federal projects but individuals being free to make their own choices; it isn't positive rights that matter but negative rights. Whitman counters that government, though sometimes misused, can be a force for good. Asked who won the presidential debate that evening, Shapiro argues that Romney had a better night, Whitman regretted that Obama seemed to have adopted "a George W. Bush scowl," and Moss observed that Romney seemed better prepared.

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