Dennis Prager: I'm So Disappointed By My Favorite Talk-Show Host
by Larry Perrault on January 19, 2012 at 9:09 AM
I wrote this to conservative commentator and talk show host Dennis Prager:
To begin with, relative to what you are currently discussing and so often do: You are absolutely right in your thoughts about assessing people by their values, not their theology. I am an evangelical Christian and Mitt Romney’s Mormonism matters not at all to me, relative to voting for him. I know many Mormons who are fine people. There is a particularly personal point to me about Mitt Romney. He has been 100% loyal to a spouse with multiple sclerosis. I have multiple sclerosis. And when I could no longer drive as a salesman, my wife went to work and left me at home (as a poor substitute) with two young daughters. That was in 1995, and she has since been loyal and has performed extraordinarily for the family. By the way, one daughter graduates from college this year, and the other is a freshman at the college in NYC, where Dinesh D’Souza is the president.
I have listened to you and Michael Medved for years, and Michael has begun to irritate me with his disparagement and dismissal of every challenger to Romney that has arisen. And I have been disconsolate recently, to hear you, by far my favorite talk-show host, essentially board the Romney bandwagon. I have followed you for many years. We had a discussion group in the late 80s, for which we used topics in your “Ultimate Issues” journal as a departure point. And today, your slogans define much of the reason that I appreciate listening to you. “I prefer clarity to agreement,” and “I judge people by their morals, not their opinions.” Perfect. I also appreciate your summation of the American ideal, from its coinage: “Liberty, e pluribus unum and In God We Trust.” Some politically myopic people dismiss your 3 weekly non-political specialty hours. I love every one of them. I love what you are doing with Prager University and have broadcast it in email and on Facebook. You approach questions from an angle similar to what I do, like no other public figure.
However returning to Romney, I have a great deal of problem with him POLITICALLY! I studied philosophy in undergraduate and graduate school. I look at and apply ideas in a systematic fashion. Discounting Ron Paul, Romney and Huntsman competed for my most disfavored candidate. I expect he was more consistent than Romney (it would be hard not to be), but Huntsman’s embrace of a shallow and uninformed popular culture narrative on some things like “climate change” was grating. But I’ve watched Romney’s history and his politicizing postures from the early 90s. I saw him personally at my state’s (TX) Republican convention in 2008. I apologize if it’s considered immodest, but I consider myself an excellent judge of a man’s trust in and application of a systematic understanding of truth and values. As I’ve said, I have great respect for Romney’s personal and family life. But I watch the man, and I see no such understanding and application of social values and ideas. However it might be explained in his background, he doesn’t “get it.”
Now I’m sure you know of his notorious pliability on the issues. You think he’s come around and happens to have landed in the right place. With no identification of a principled roadmap, I have my questions about that. But anyway, America is in the most legal and administrative disrepair that it has ever been in, with unimaginable debt and entitlement debt/liability inequity that is at last, upon us NOW. Neither Romney or Bain has anything approaching the money to buy this venture and rework it. His management of Massachusetts was undistinguished, to be polite. A man campaigns to lead the country with these problems with no proposal for tax OR entitlement reform? I don’t take that man seriously. I frankly don’t believe he’s as stark and ruthless about illegal immigration as he says he is. I’m not. But I would say so. It’s a problem, no doubt. But the problem is caused by our construction and maintenance of the law as much as by immigrants. We INVITE disrespect of our law.
But I don’t think Romney’s as defiant of his own principles as I would be if I struck his posture. He doesn’t have as clear a system of principle to defy as I do. Now, quite differently, Newt Gingrich has been personally irresponsible to his wives and his family, which is certainly a serious matter. But, he has confessed that, has committed to a Catholic faith (which I don’t exactly follow, but understand), and is a 68 year old grandfather whose children are reconciled to his new course. But most importantly, Gingrich does have a systematic sense of social ideas and works out their implications in applying them. You intended to, but never did play his response to Juan Williams at Monday night’s debate. It is included in this collection of his responses. None of the other candidates could contrive or articulate these things, least of all Mitt Romney. It’s not malice. He just doesn’t understand. I think you look at things from a framework of principle, too. Though I don’t think he technically crossed it, Newt impolitically touched on a track he should have been explicitly more careful with or avoided, with respect to Bain Capital. But I have to wonder if, perhaps in aggravation at this or fatigue with the process, you may not have looked closely at he thought processes and presentation of the two men, closely enough?