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George Will on "Hannity & Colmes"

Hannity & Colmes

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And welcome to HANNITY & COLMES. We get right to our "Top Story" tonight and the outrageous attack ads against Senator McCain from the fringe left wing of the Democratic Party have begun.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, John McCain. This is Alex. And he's my first. So far his talents include trying any new food and chasing after our dog. That and making my heart pound every time I look at him.

So John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for a hundred years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can't have him.


HANNITY: And joining us now with the -- very latest on the newest smear campaign is columnist, great author, great baseball fan, George Will, author of the brand new book, by the way, "One Man's America."

George, always good to see you.


HANNITY: I wish you could help my Yankees.

WILL: They need pitching, not me.

HANNITY: Well, you know -- you might actually be able to do better, but we'll save that for another day.

Let's respond to this ad, and more importantly, the association that the Democratic Party has with

WILL: Well, there's always a problem with the tail who wag the dog here and that the tail is an extreme left wing tail, and it may be off- putting to the people.

I must say I think that's an effective ad. It shouldn't be. It is scandalous, and it is a misrepresentation of what Mr. McCain has said.

What he has said is that as long as Americans are not being killed, we should no -- no more resent American troops being in Iraq for a long time than we do having them in Italy, Germany, and Japan, but that part gets lost, of course, in translation.

HANNITY: Yes, you know, George, I think for the benefit of our audience, you and I, great minds, although I'm not on your level, not comparing myself, but great minds think alike, and I thought about that and here's what Senator McCain did say exactly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years.

MCCAIN: Maybe a hundred.


MCCAIN: How long we've been in South Korea -- we've been in Japan for 60 years, we've been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That'd be fine with me as long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that's your policy.

MCCAIN: As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed.


HANNITY: Injured, harmed, wounded, killed. There's a big caveat there. And historically what he's saying is true. So this is purposely distorted. How should Republicans combat this now that this has become the mantra of the left, you think, George?

WILL: Well, the problem is you don't want to get into a position of playing defense because as long as you're playing defense, you're, by definition, not on offense. And you can't go through a campaign saying no, no, I didn't say that.

A, he has to be more careful in the future about the ammunition he gives to enemies in the way of distortable phrasing. But he does have to say that the logic of their position is that we should withdraw not just from Iraq, but from Korea, Germany, Japan, and elsewhere.

And that would make it very clear that what we're talking about here is not an argument about Iraq, but an argument about whether or not the United States should be engaged in the world at all.

HANNITY: Yes. You know one of the things -- George, I've been watching you for years, I've been reading your columns for years. I think it would be very beneficial for our audience if you can analyze from your perspective how -- what would be the best way to run against Senator Barack Obama, his experience, radical associations, his radical agenda on international affairs, economic affairs.

How would you advise Senator McCain?

WILL: I don't think the senator can or from his position should keep harping on the questionable associations, the Reverend Wright and all the rest, that Obama's had. That should be left to 527 and other groups, independent expenditures who can do that, although Senator McCain has said he doesn't like those groups.

He's just going to have to hold his nose and let them do their work on his behalf.

I think he has to run partly on national security, but the country doesn't feel afraid right now, and it's much more afraid to fill up its tank than it is to -- of terrorists at the moment. So he does have to find a way to say, I not only have ideas about the economy, but I'm interested on the subject.

I think up until now he's given the impression that it doesn't really hold his attention. He has to change that.

COLMES: Hey, George. It's Alan Colmes. Good to have you back on our show. Welcome back to HANNITY & COLMES.

WILL: Thank you.

COLMES: You know you talk about let the 527 groups do the dirty work for John McCain, he can stay above the fray. Isn't that the same thing as doing what the candidate himself won't do?

So if you want to criticize Barack Obama or mainstream Democrats, what a 527 group does is the same thing, isn't it?

WILL: I'm not criticizing 527s, I'm not criticizing the existence of, or its attempt to enter the conflict.

Indeed, I descent vigorously from John McCain's attempt to narrow the range of political speech.

I think you then have to take what each group actually says, and I think in this case it's quite clear that is distorting what the senator said.

COLMES: The issue of being in Iraq for a hundred years, and I'm fully aware that he never said we should be in combat for a hundred years, we should not have Americans in harm's way for a hundred years, but the Iraq war was sold to the American people by a president and defense secretary who said we think it will be a few months, maybe six months and out.

It was never supposed to be a long war, and isn't that truly the issue? This was sold in a certain way to the American people. It's not been that?

WILL: Alan, you're absolutely right. Civilians who went over with the early wave of the civilian -- of the coalition provisional authority were told in April 2003 to bring two suits because they would be home by September. We'd be down to 30,000 or at most 60,000 troops by September of 2003.

Let's stipulate that everyone was wrong. That's not the point. The point now is going forward what do we do. And McCain has to turn around to Obama and say we've been in Germany for 63 years. Is that a bad thing?

If so, are you telling the Germans that you intend to pull out of Germany as well?


WILL: He has to get on the offense.

COLMES: You got to wonder, though -- I mean, look, we pulled out of Somalia, we pulled out of Haiti, we pulled out of Vietnam, we didn't spent a hundred years in any of those places where there was conflict, and, you know, it could go on for decades more with Sunnis and Shiites and who knows what other factions fighting with each other, and if Americans are there, they, by default, would be in harm's way.

And I don't know how you would avoid them being in such dire straits if we stay in that part of the -- of the world.

WILL: That's an empirical question on it -- if indeed they are in harm's way and continuing to take casualties, then what McCain says doesn't obtain.

But if, indeed, the point of Obama is that casualties or not we should leave that region, then we have to know whether his position is casualties or not, all-American troops should come home from the world.

COLMES: We're going to take a quick break. More with George Will after the break.

Still to come tonight, will ANWR finally be open for drilling? John McCain looks to be changing his mind about oil exploration here at home, and now there's word the president will appeal to Congress to start the process.

I'm going to play you Barack Obama's reaction to that plan. Coming up.


MCCAIN: I asked for 10, I'm blocking out days and will fly any place, I hope, with Senator Obama. I promise not to try to pilot the airplane.




MCCAIN: As for offshore drilling, it's safe enough these days, and not even hurricanes Katrina and Rita could cause significant spillage from the battered rigs off the coast of New Orleans and Houston.

Yet for reasons that become less convincing with every rise in the price of foreign oil the federal government discourages offshore production.


COLMES: That was John McCain switching -- I think they call it flip- flopping -- his position on exploration for oil in the United States. We're also getting word tonight that President Bush will call on Congress to pass legislation lifting a ban on offshore oil drilling, and meanwhile McCain's rival, Barack Obama, claims it's not a viable solution.

Let's listen.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESUMPTIVE PRES. CANDIDATE: There's no way that allowing offshore drilling would lower gas prices right now. At best you're looking at five years or more down the road.

And even the most optimistic assumptions indicate that offshore drilling might reduce the overall world price of oil by a few cents.


COLMES: George Will, I'm trying to understand where John McCain is coming from. Just a couple of weeks ago he said, I wouldn't drill in the Grand Canyon. I wouldn't drill on the Everglades, (INAUDIBLE) in 2001 and 2006. He voted in favor of offshore oil drilling in Florida in 2003.

He voted against it, now he says he wants to lift it but -- I'm dizzy just trying to understand the varying, ever-changing position here.

WILL: Well, his position started the day unfortunate, now it's incoherent and untenable. He said, as you said, that he desires no more drill in ANWR than I would the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon is visited by 5 million people a year. It's an American treasure and tourist destination. No one goes to ANWR where it is 70 degrees below zero not counting the windchill, and it is dark 58 days of the year.

HANNITY: Well, we.

WILL: ANWR is about the size of South Carolina. The drilling footprint would be about the size of Boston's airport. It is absurd to protect ANWR on the grounds that it's a pristine refuge, and the senator says -- his speech is being advertised, which I've got here, as saying he would drill offshore.

That's not true. He says he would drill in states that choose to permit exploration.


WILL: So he's giving Florida and California a veto. He's made no progress at all towards solving the energy.

COLMES: Well, either Charlie Crist of Florida or Arnold Schwarzenegger in California want to drill off their states, and by the way, the joint economic committee of the Senate says it would take 10 years, as we know, reduce gas prices if we drill in ANWR maybe by a penny a gallon by 2018.

By 2025 less than 1 percent of the world's production is all it would produce, so it would be a negligible impact on both gas prices and in terms of dependence on foreign oil.

So what are we really accomplishing there?

WILL: Well, Alan, your side, Senator Schumer said not long ago that if only the Saudis would increase their production by a million barrels a day, we would knock 25 cents off the cost of a gallon of gas immediately.

If Bill Clinton had not vetoed drilling in ANWR, which, of course, the veto that McCain supports, we would have, guess what, a million extra barrels of oil right now.

You have -- I mean Obama says it wouldn't it -- it would lower prices immediately. Fine. Let's get started.

HANNITY: Very well said, George, but -- I want to put emphasis on the point if Clinton didn't veto that in `95, a million barrels a day. And the same arguments were made back then and oil was only $19 a barrel.

WILL: And Sean -- Sean, the same people who are saying this is negligible are also saying but we think it's terribly important to stop filling strategic petroleum reserve.


WILL: They can't have it both ways.

HANNITY: Well, you know, and I say this in due deference to my partner Alan here -- by the way, George, he takes the subway to work.

COLMES: Wait a minute.

HANNITY: He's not filling up his gas tank like-- you know, I mean if want to talk about a real negative impact on.

COLLINS: Public transportation, yes.

HANNITY: . on the middle class, lower middle -- you know, people that are struggling with incomes in this family, $4.50 a gallon, I don't think the American people are going to care that John McCain adjusted his position in light of the current circumstances and the high price of oil.

That seems to me that he's being smart, if only he would do what you're saying, not have an incoherent policy, but go all the way.

WILL: Yes -- well, I salute Alan for his itty bitty tiny carbon footprint.

COLMES: Thank you so much, George.

WILL: But that's not really going to help.

COLMES: That's very nice of you.

HANNITY: No, but, in all seriousness, he does take -- I have in front of me, and I know you do a lot of reading about this. It's an issue I've carried about for many, many years.

"Investors Business Daily," George, did a piece, and they concluded the untapped oil reserves in America, if we drill off the Gulf, drill off the coast of Florida and California, the oil shale in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, if we drill in ANWR, that the -- our U.S. oil reserves are larger than all Mideast oil countries combined.

We don't need another drop of imported oil in 10 years if we do the right thing. Why would people be against that?

WILL: Well, people are against that because I believe on the left in this country what they want is a manufactured scarcity so that government can have the rationale to ration which gives the government what the left wants, ever more minute supervision of our daily choices.

HANNITY: Do you think there's an anti-capitalist sentiment behind this, too?

WILL: Good heavens, yes, because there's a fear that someone somewhere may make a profit.

HANNITY: And isn't it an amazing thing about -- you know, Barack Obama, windfall profits tax, tax oil companies, coal companies. It doesn't support nuclear energy. How are we supposed to get our energy for the future?

I mean and windfall profit tax -- I don't understand liberals. They don't understand corporations don't pay taxes, do they, George Will?

WILL: No, of course not, they pass those taxes on to the customers who buy their products. But with the regard to the excess profits of Exxon, the fact is that in terms of profit relative to total income, Coca- Cola made more money so I want to hear first a windfall tax on Coca-Cola.

HANNITY: You always have a great way.

COLMES: By the way, there are a lot of Hannity fans on the subway. A lot of Hannity fans.

HANNITY: Now listen, George Will, I know you love -- I didn't hear one word he said. I know you love your Chicago Cubs, but do me a favor, you know, when you talk to those gods in heaven, those baseball gods, just remember the Yankees. They're killing me this year.

WILL: Well, one of us has to get C.C. Sabathia, and then we'll meet in the World Series.

HANNITY: All right. Well, you know, that's a deal that I'll take.

George Will, always a pleasure. Thank you for being with us.

WILL: Good to be with you.

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