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Sean Hannity’s Time for Choosing

The conservative primer for 2010.

By From the June 2010 issue

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Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama's Radical Agenda
By Sean Hannity
(Harper, 256 pages, $14.99 paper)

Sean Hannity scores again.

Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama's Radical Agenda is not simply one more book from a talk radio or television star. There are plenty of those in today's world, most deservedly disappearing with a speed one can only wish were true with the Obama era.

What Hannity has written is a modern, book-length version of Ronald Reagan's famous 1964 televised speech for Barry Goldwater, "A Time for Choosing." Just as Reagan's speech served as an alarm bell in the day, if the Republican National Committee really wanted some bang for its buck in 2010 it would buy Conservative Victory in bulk and distribute it to every GOP candidate and campaign manager across the land.

In three succinct sections, the Fox and talk radio host has taken the time in carefully considered detail to do three important things. First, lay out the case against President Obama's radical agenda and why victory in 2010 is so critical. Second, remind of the classic conservative principles Ronald Reagan used to win elections and successfully govern, in addition to discussing the 1994 Gingrich Contract for America. Third, apply those Reaganite principles to the political world of 2010 -- and beyond. With a warning against the folly of a third party thrown in.

For Hannity, the first clue of the coming Obama nightmare was provided by columnist Erik Rush. It was Rush whose piece on a Chicago pastor named Jeremiah Wright had attracted Hannity's attention, the journalist appearing on Hannity's February 28, 2007, show to share his disturbing findings. Hannity, way ahead of the curve, grasped instantly what Obama's presence in the Wright church portended -- and in his usual forthright style was quick to spread the news.

Except, of course, the mainstream media didn't see it as news at all. Instead, blowing by the candidate's chosen connections to the likes of Wright and, as Hannity famously describes him, quote; "the unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers," it presented a different reality altogether: Obama the centrist Democrat who speaks in measured tones and wishes only to bring Americans together.

As Americans have ruefully discovered, none of this was so. Which gives Hannity the ability to unpack with precision to a belatedly attentive audience the political mindset of the Obama White House. The mindset that has given rise to repeated charges the president is a socialist, a charge Hannity believes and documents. With detailed discussions of everything from the black liberation theology taught at Wright's church (described accurately by the American Thinker's Kyle -- Anne Shiver as "Marxism dressed up to look like Christianity") to his parents to various Obama allies from Wright, Ayers, and others, Hannity makes the case. One of the lesser known is Ron Bloom, the ex-SEIU negotiator and now the administration's "manufacturing czar." Bloom has made himself a poster boy for the socialism charge with his statements that "free market is nonsense" and "we kind of agree with Mao that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun."

Alrighty, then. Message received.

Suffice to say, millions of Americans have now caught up with Hannity's curve. Just plain frightened out of their wits by the president's penchant for indebting the country to the tune of un-sustainable trillions of dollars, the anger at government takeovers of everything from car companies to health care to financial institutions is long since hell and gone from the mere palpable. Appalled at presidential apologies for America in foreign venues around the world (sometimes preceded with a subservient bow) -- even as a virulent anti-Semite and apocalypse-admiring nut-job at the head of Iran is allowed to plow on undisturbed in his quest for nuclear weapons -- Americans were agog at the sight of a professed Communist and "truther" (Van Jones) and Mao-admirer (Anita Dunn) serving as White House aides.

Yet as disturbing as all of this is, Hannity understands exactly that wringing one's political hands is not the way out of this nightmare. Correcting the mistake of electing Obama by taking back control of Congress -- and hence the purse -- is the first step.

Which is why Hannity makes a point of devoting a full third of Conservative Victory to both Reagan and the Contract for America. A Reaganite in full, Hannity understands in his bones what some conservatives seem to have forgotten. Which is to say that Reagan's success was built on a thorough understanding of classic principles. Principles that applied not just when Reagan first gave national voice to them in his speech for Goldwater, or when Reagan himself was in the White House -- or for that matter when the Founding Fathers crafted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution -- but then, now, tomorrow, and on into political eternity.

Those Reaganite principles, the "three-legged stool" of "a strong defense, a strong economy, and strong social values," are explained by Hannity precisely as Reagan made them clear for an earlier generation. Importantly he does more than just highlight the reasoning behind low taxes, budget cutting, a strong military, and standing up to be counted on social issues like abortion or same-sex marriage.

Hannity meets head on the seemingly eternal whine from faint-hearted conservatives that if only conservatives would "moderate their approach in order to appeal to centrists and independents" victory would be in hand. This in fact is an old whine in a continuously recycled bottle that dates at the least to the initial Republican response to the New Deal. Hannity gets it right in saying this kind of approach is how Republicans lose their way. From twice-losing GOP presidential nominee Thomas E. Dewey to commentators such as today's "conservatives" David Frum and David Brooks, the idea is always the same. If Republicans just run as some sort of Democrat-lite, they will carry the day. It didn't work for Dewey, not to mention later GOP nominees with names like Ford, Dole, and McCain. Hannity takes the time to peel back the modern incarnation of this argument in sections titled the "Big Tent," "Country Club Republicans," and, amusingly, "Fee Fi Fo Frum." In deft strokes he dismantles the idea that acquiescing to the idea of big government, abortion, and same-sex-marriage is some sort of political winner for conservatives.

What is particularly important in this section is that Hannity doesn't content himself with the all too easy rebuttal to Frum and the others. He takes the time to analyze their arguments, illustrating the stark differences in approach. Not coincidentally, this was the way Reagan himself approached the GOP liberal establishment of his own time. Taking on the likes of Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, and New York senator Jacob Javits, among others, Reagan eventually carried the day, remaking the GOP into a winning party of "bold colors" and not "pale pastels" -- a Reagan phrase that is a Hannity favorite.

A book of this nature would be incomplete if Hannity didn't apply the Reagan principles to the issues of the moment. Poll after poll, not to mention elections in supposedly blue states like New Jersey and Massachusetts, shows Americans are fiercely opposed to the growth of government. Which means candidates are going to be called on to supply ideas for dealing with economic growth, national security, health care, energy independence, and much more. Hannity expands an idea from his website at hannity.com, focusing on a dozen issues of the day and directly applying what he terms "first principles."

In writing Conservative Victory Sean Hannity has written the conservative primer for 2010. It couldn't come at a better moment.

The time for choosing has arrived. Again.

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.