I had the pleasure recently of interviewing Larry Greenfield.
Larry currently works as a fellow in American Studies at the Claremont Institute. Before that he served for five years as the California Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Larry Greenfield is considered a rising star in politics and media, and is a popular speaker on public affairs issues.
Larry hails from the West, and has been called a young Ronald Reagan. In fact, he has just been tapped as the first Executive Director of the Reagan Legacy Foundation, working with the notable Michael Reagan on such projects as the Reagan Exhibit at the Checkpoint Charlie Museum for the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Larry grew up in Southern California, and attended high school with Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter murdered by Jihadists.
He earned his BA in political science from UC Berkeley, graduating in 3 years as Class Speaker. He received his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.
Larry also served in the Armed Forces of the United States in Naval Intelligence Reserves, and he lectures widely on American foreign policy and such issues as Missile Defense.
He has traveled to some 75 countries, and was in Poland this summer in part to help analyze President Obama’s resetting of relations with Russia, which has caused concern among American allies in New Europe.
He is also a dear friend of mine, who I view as a mentor and an older brother.
We have been friends for so long that it only occurred to me recently that I never formally interviewed him. While I know him best as a friend, he is also a very accomplished individual in politics, law, and business. He worked on the arrest warrant for Yassir Arafat. A skilled debater, he did so well in 2008 town hall debates that the Obama campaign formally boycotted him. In addition, he likes football, as any great American would.
With that, I present my email with Larry Greenfield.
1) What is the Larry Greenfield story? What made you decide to enter the political arena?
1) Good to be with you and your readers, Eric. I am a citizen who studies American history, and the American Founding, and what I call the American Way. I am a westerner, who loves our country, our land, and our legacy of liberty. I am a modern Reaganite, politically — asserting smaller government, individual responsibility, economic growth through technology not taxes, and peace through strength.
My concern is that the bureaucratic state and the welfare state, and a weakening national moral fiber, all harm our freedom, prosperity and security and our national soul.
I am a big tent conservative…with shades of libertarianism and a spirit of collaboration towards all from the center to the right. President Reagan suggested that if someone agrees with you 80 percent of the time, they are your 80 percent ally, not your 20 percent opponent. I follow the 11th Commandment : if you join the tent to point out, against the left, and not point inward, against your fellow travelers on the center/right, then you are a friend. I get along with all branches of the GOP.
Having said that, I think the momentum is with the principled, not with the sunshine-sometimes ambiguous.
I support positive solutions to our national challenges, and modern conservative proposals to break up the monopolies in healthcare and education. Liberals have trapped parents and students in underperforming schools and they oppose choice and competition.
The elderly now see Obamacare as a direct attack on their health options.
Younger worker now realize Democrat absolute rejection of entitlement reform and long term personal savings accounts will leave them without retirement savings or a growing economy with good jobs to create their own wealth.
I am a green conservative — but answers to energy independence and arctic climate concerns lie in innovation not government cap and tax schemes which actually prevent American technological leadership to create jobs, reduce pollution, and grow our energy economy.
I am basically anti-leftist, anti- communist, anti-Jihadist, and anti-socialist. I am pro human rights, and religious, economic and political liberty.
I seek to be a good teammate to average Americans who are battling back for our nation.
My story is simple. If government leaves us alone, we will leave it alone. But we can no longer leave government to the leftists to destroy our liberties.
2) What political issues are most important to you?
2) My focus is on national security, and my concern is that we live in an age of proliferating missile technology, weapons of mass destruction, and rogue regimes and terror groups, including elements apparently not deterrable by American power.
I work on policy and politics on defense issues, and also care about small business growth and religious affairs issues, among others.
3) What can ordinary citizens do, besides donating money and voting for strong candidates, to help win the War on Terror? What obligations do we have, and how can we help?
3) We are in a great age for the empowerment of individual citizens.
Study up, read everything, get active. The sky is the limit to influence policy, or connect with other citizens. Politicians are and should be aware that we the people hold the title deed to this country. Public servants work for us. Many have been in office so long they are corrupt and arrogant. Let’s show them who is boss.
Regarding the war on terror, demand of the liberal incumbents in Congress some answers for their weak leadership and ignorance over decades. The votes to defund human intelligence, against missile defense, and against military technologies are stunning. What were these supposedly bright congressmen thinking? Many Democrats were asleep regarding rising Jihad, or worse, they were pro Jimmy Carter (and now support the repeatedly anti-Israel Barack Obama) and were hostile to Ronald Reagan and other pro-defense conservatives. History will judge these aging leftist leaders very harshly as having been wrong all along on confronting the evils of communism and Jihadism.
I also think we all have obligations to confront the Jihadist genocide in Darfur, another Obama promise unfulfilled, by the way.
Where is the Obama commitment to human rights? In China, Iran, Darfur, nothing.
Obama’s lack of resolve regarding Iranian citizens seeking liberty will be remembered as just one of his many shameful moments. I think the American people began turning on him that moment.
4) It is one thing to ask people to have faith in God. It is much tougher to ask people to have faith in Government. What does our government do right, and what does it need to do better so people can start believing in their government again?
4) Americans have faith in our Republic, and should always renew our faith in our Founding. We created government to protect our natural rights — we should demand responsive and limited government whose purpose is to protect our liberties, not rule over us as our master. The arrogance of our government is beyond shameful. Does everyone understand that President Obama works for us ?
The progressive idea believes elites know best and can create new man and an ever perfected state. Our Founders knew better and sought to separate powers and limit government intrusion into our lives.
The role of government has grown far beyond any acceptable line for a free people meant for self rule, private property rights, and liberty of conscience.
At a minimum, we must devolve power to the government that is most local.
Government governs best that governs least. The rise of group, not individual rights, and the idea of the Living Constitution — with biased results based on personal opinion made up by unelected judges — are two clear examples of the triumph of elitist progressivism gone wild.
Our founders supported a safety net but not a welfare state.
The Federal government does best national defense; our military is our national pride and has done far more for liberty than all the effete leftists on campuses combined.
5) With regards to foreign policy, what have we done right, and what have we gotten wrong, in the last 8 years, and what steps need to be taken to improve the situations that require improvement?
5) Removing Al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan and defeating Saddam and sons plus Zarqawi in Iraq, and rolling up much of the Al Qaeda network and funding base has been effective. We correctly went on offense after 911.
We needed to do more with public diplomacy and winning the war of ideas.
Our allies have actually been there with us — Obama lied when he castigated America for having lost all her friends. Australia, Japan, India, New Europe (Poland et al.), Italy, Germany, France, Tony Blair’s England, Canada, Mexico, Columbia, on and on, all these governments are center/right and/or supported the United States in confronting the terror war against the West.
Obama was wrong about Gitmo, it is actually a professional and effective detention center. Obama has been wrong to pander to Arab autocracy and tyranny. His Cairo speech was just awful — parroting the Arab narrative that Israel is simply a western outpost due to guilt after the Holocaust. Jerusalem has been in the Jewish soul and covenant for 3000 years. Obama also let down dissidents and reformers and seems just fine bowing to Saudi dictators.
We need to reject the entire Carter-Obama approach to national security and foreign policy.
22 friends of the USA wrote an open letter of concern about Obama’s resetting tilt toward the Russians, ignoring our friends in new Europe. Obama’s apologizing around the world for the USA was despicable, and got us nothing, by the way. Not help in Afghanistan, not Chinese commitments on climate change, not Russian help regarding Iran.
The Obama foreign policy is 180 degrees off the mark.
We need to stand with allies, and show strength and leadership for human rights. Obama may be the worst appeaser since Chamberlain, certainly since Jimmy Carter.
6) The American dollar seems to be in free fall, and government bailouts are coming at taxpayer expense. Should government get involved, and is this even a problem at all? If so, what needs to be done?
6) The spending by government is unconstitutional and wildly imprudent. But it is the Democrat plan to
create a dependent class that votes for more goodies from the government and punishes the productive tax payers. Obama is stealing from our children, no question about it. The state will have to tax us or create inflation, which is also a huge tax, to pay the bills. The Bailouts were not temporary, targeted, or in other ways effective.
The Cash for Clunkers is destroying the ability to purchase used cars, not a small market, by the way, and there is always an unintended consequence to the blunt and ineffective hand of government in the economy.
The bailouts rewarded Obama’s leftist friends and campaign donors.
7) What would be the main qualities and criteria you would look for with regards to potential Supreme Court justices? Could they disagree with you on major issues, and still be qualified? How do you feel about how they ruled on the DC second amendment case?
7) Regarding the courts, we should expect prudence and humility. Now Justice Sotomayor apparently has been a decent judge, although I hear quite a bully on the bench. It was her political statements that upset everyone –classic identity politics. That stuff may go over well at some elite universities, but the average American cares not for leftist ideological pronouncements. Look, elections have consequences, so Obama gets to pick his appointees. His choices will often not agree with me, but if they are qualified, I cannot quarrel with his right to make judicial nominations.
I do note the Republicans did not filibuster or destroy Sotomayor, an Hispanic, like the Democrats did with conservative Hispanic appointee Miguel Estrada. I ask Hispanic voters to remember this.
Regarding the DC Gun Ban: The 2nd Amendment is not optional….it is 2nd but not 2nd rate.
In the Heller case, the operative clause of the Second Amendment — “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”—is controlling and refers to a preexisting right of individuals to possess and carry personal weapons for self-defense and intrinsically for defense against tyranny.
The Court will allow for some regulations, against felons, for example, but basically, the Court correctly asserted the natural and fundamental and constitutional right not to have a jurisdiction like DC ban all individual rights to handguns. The Court got this right.
8.) Do you support the Bush Doctrine of preemptive action? Do you feel that it may be necessary to take preemptive action against Iran?
8.) The Bush Doctrine, in my interpretation, is that if you support terrorism, you are at risk of our confrontation. One aspect is the preemption doctrine, announced at West Point, by President Bush, and applied to Iraq, which had violated UN sanctions, Gulf War 1 stipulations, no fly zones, human rights, and had funded terrorists, like the suicide bombers against Israelis. Saddam used Arabic translations of Mein Kampf to train his Baathists. The argument against overthrowing this regime has no moral merit.
Now, one can discuss the prudential question of our preparedness, the intelligence, the political case, and the long struggle to stabilize a democracy in the Arab world. Many successes, many mistakes. Our military has been brilliant, and the will of the American people, and our sacrifice, has been noble. The Democrat political campaign against the Iraq War was unique in American history for its violation of the patriotic contract that politics ends at the water’s edge. Senator Durbin claimed our troops are like Nazis, Stalinists, and the Khmer Rouge. The Democrat attacks on the Iraq War were beyond disgusting.
It looks like President Obama blew our chance to avoid preemptive military action against Iran. We might have been able to tip the regime over, or at least organize international pressure on it. But Obama did not want to take sides against the Revolutionary Republic of Iran, thugs and dictators who shoot their own people and threaten genocide of the Jews, and support terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas and seek a world without America. Unbelievable.
9) What Americans call 9/11, Israel refers to as every day life. Israel is then asked to show restraint. What is your view on Israel taking preemptive action, including a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities if necessary? What about with regards to the disputed territories such as Gaza? What about against Damascus, who funds Hezbollah?
9) Thoughtful military and political leaders will have to examine the ability of Iran to marry delivery systems to weapons of mass destruction. I believe they can start and stop this process when they like and already have achieved a status of capability.
Sanctions have failed, because they are often full of leaks due to greed, and the cleverness of regimes to stay in power. Iran could be blockaded, an act of war, but if the regime is not changed, I assume the US and Israel will not forever live under Iranian nuclear blackmail and threat, which will also spark a regional proliferation race. The Sunni Arab states appear closer to the Israeli position of preempting this threat than the Obama administration does.
Israelis have to make their own decisions. I suggest that the failure to respond to Iraqi scud attacks on
Israel in 1991, and the unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon, Gaza, and threatened from the West Bank,
all reduced Israeli deterrence and only incentivized the Arabs to smell weakness.
Israel will have peace when the Arabs have democracy and rule of law. Tyrants funnel the misery of
their populations into hatred of the other, the enemy. Israel’s response to intifada should have been
massive retaliation, and the liberation of innocent Palestinians from their dictators. All they have done
is kick the can down the road, to the final showdown. In the meantime, terror groups funded by Iran have improved their rockets, mortars and missiles, and the noose around Israel has tightened.
Israel needs defensible borders, and in an age of missiles, missile defense. But it cannot assume it will outlast Arab tyranny. Only if Arab society joins in the 21st century for human rights and trade and economic development and political liberty and responsibility and ending the Jihad can Israeli survival be assured.
10) What are your main concerns, if any, with the current process regarding health care reform?
10) The Democrats, particularly Obama, have completely over-reached. They want to ration healthcare
for the elderly ? They want to create yet another Government system to go broke, like medicare ?
Is enough not enough with the radical, rushed agenda of the most leftist group ever to occupy the White House and the Speaker’s chair in Congress?
You know they are in trouble when they resort to campaign style smears of average Americans showing up
to town hall meetings. I think we have seen the crumbling of the facade of the Democrat majority.
2010 is going to be fun.
On the merits, ObamaCare takes us exactly in the wrong direction. We need more supply of healthcare,
not more taxes and more regulation to deter the creation of ways to care for our citizens. Ask doctors
about Obama’s plans to create boards to decide who gets what treatment. It goes on and on.
11) Who are your three political heroes, American or worldwide?
11) My heroes are the Founders, especially Washington and Patrick Henry, and Churchill, and Reagan.
I also admire the Armed Forces of the United States. Other heroes are Lincoln, Sharansky, and all those
who fought or fight for freedom.
12) Without delving too deeply into your personal life, what would you want Americans to know about Larry Greenfield the person? 100 years from now, what would you want people to remember about you, and what would you hope the history books say about you?
12) I am loyal and try to be kind to everyone. I enjoy old friends and making new ones. I enjoy my hobbies, and am fairly down to earth. I have enjoyed seeing much of the world, but always return to the West.
I start off with a warm smile to everyone. If someone hits me first, I will get in the last punch, however.
Don’t tread on me, a motto of our early Patriots, seems to be in my blood. I have a bit of cowboy in me.
Gentle on the outside, pretty determined inside. I am not sure why when I speak in public, it is so much fun. I guess all the learning over all these years comes pouring out. I try to be bravely honest in my public speech.
It is easy for the liberals to pander with the idea they will bring heaven on earth. Intelligent people
can tell this is the worst of politics, however. The problem with socialism is you run out of other people’s money before you fulfill all your dreamy promises to the people.
100 years from now, no one will remember any of us, except the rare few. But if my epitaph said: Patriot for America, Fighter for Freedom…..well, I could rest in peace.
I would like to thank Larry for the time and dedication and thoughfulness he put into this interview. He is a great guy to know, and a great spokesperson for issues that matter in this world. He is a great politico, but an even better friend.