Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska joined Glenn on radio Wednesday to discuss the outrageous idea he had of putting a complete outsider into position as Speaker of the House.
The "outsider" - Arthur Brooks - joined the call as well.
"I don't think anybody is a better storyteller about the meaning of America right now than Arthur Brooks. I said, why wouldn't the House consider him?" Sasse said.
Listen to the conversation or read the transcript below.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
GLENN: Senator Ben Sasse took to Twitter. And he said, I've been thinking about the House Speaker race, Boner -- Boner.
GLENN: Yeah, Boehner quitting prompted some remarkably boring and lazy analysis on where we are as a nation.
He said, imagine how much -- amazing how much conventional wisdom gets wrong.
Throughout our campaign, we heard from the DC press, but not from Nebraska voters.
This was the dynamic. Media. Everything is Tea Party versus establishment. Leader versus outsiders. Voters yawn.
No real question about vision. Who has it. Who doesn't.
Press obsesses over bickering. Student council races. Who slighted whom. The voters barely care.
Media framing the Speaker's race is reductionalist choice. Small-ball establishment versus wild-eyed Visigoths who want to burn the government to the ground.
It's a 24-hour news cycle of this junk, and it never ends. He goes on -- and he goes page after page after page of tweets.
And he says, I have an idea, let's elect an outsider. I'm going to let the senator speak, and then the outsider is also on the phone as well. Senator Ben Sasse, how are you, sir?
BEN: I'm doing well, Glenn. Thanks for having me on. When you read someone's tweet after the fact, you know, without all the iconographic ways to get it 140 characters, it makes it sound like I can't even type.
GLENN: You haven't read a lot of other people's tweets. So, Ben, tell us what you were thinking here.
BEN: Well, I mean, I think your audience gets this, right? The media is obsessed with the Tea Party versus establishment narrative. But the fact is that this is really a question of vision. I mean, you listen to the DC press Corp write about anything that's happening on Capitol Hill, and we constantly get this choice between small-ball procedural process-obsessed establishment insiders versus supposedly crazy people who want to just burn down the capitol. And I don't think that's the real choice. And it's not what I hear when I travel Nebraska.
You know, there's a reason that Congress' approval rating is at 11 percent. And Nebraskans are sick of the idea that the only way you should talk about politics is as if politics and DC are the center of the world. I think what the people in my state are worried about is whether or not the people are going to be vital and whether or not civil society will be dynamic and whether or not families are strong and their regulatory environment allows small business people to get a foot in the door and build the American dream. The things that the people of America are worried about and obsessed about are big and important questions. And DC tends to get wrapped around the axle around student council race squabbling. And we can do better than that. And we should.
GLENN: Ben, I tell you, you're one of my favorite senators. You really, truly are. You get it. And every time I talk to you, I'm struck with how in touch with the American people you really are. And that's hard to do in your position. Really hard.
BEN: Well, it helps if you live in a place that isn't dominated by the professions and the professionalization of politics. So we -- my wife and I are blessed to have three little kids. Girls are 14 and 11. Son is four. And we live in Nebraska, and we're raising them because we don't know where they would detassel corn and walk beans in DC. So we fly home every weekend. We're doing a family commute. And so our neighbors are actually real people, who if I talked about process of insider DC baseball all the time, anybody at a high school game or at the grocery store is going to look at me like I have two heads. And that's healthy. It keeps you grounded.
GLENN: Okay. So what is your solution? Because honestly I've talked to a few of the people running for the House Speaker. And I'm kind of yawning. I mean, there's nothing -- I don't see anything that I'm excited about.
BEN: When I read the US Constitution, the first position that's referenced is Speaker of the House. It's the most democratic body because it's closest to the people, and every 24 months you have to get reelected or tossed out. The people can fire the politicians because the people are in charge and the politicians are supposed to work for us. And it's a good thing that the people have the power to fire us. And that Speaker of the House should be a voice, not just for one party, but a representation of the will of the American people in our Madisonian, separation of powers system. So I would love to see a conversation in DC be about something bigger than who is caucused with whom and what professional issue people have been fighting about last week. So it seems to me, if you want to think about the direction of the country, which the people in Nebraska and beyond do, if you want to think about the direction of conservatism. If you want to think about the challenges we face five and ten and 15 years in the future, we should think, who is a happy warrior? Who knows how to celebrate earned success? Who knows how to talk about fighting for people, not just against bad programs? How do we cut through, you know, a lazy media portrayal that the fight is between ostensibly a number of obsessed Republicans versus genuinely compassionate Democrats. That's not the right way to frame the problem. And the guy that kept coming to my mind as I was watching Sunday Night Football is Arthur Brooks, the head of AEI. And so I think that the House Republicans should think about going outside the box. There's nothing in the Constitution that requires you to have a Speaker who is an elected member of Congress. And I don't think anybody is a better storyteller about the meaning of America right now than Arthur Brooks. I said, why wouldn't the House consider him?
GLENN: Arthur Brooks is on the phone. Arthur responded, quote, normally I trust Ben Sasse's ideas, but is America ready for a bald Speaker? I think not.
Arthur, welcome to the program. Arthur, are you there? We've lost Arthur. He's down. We've got a man down.
BEN: I think we know what he thinks about the nomination.
ARTHUR: Hey, can you hear me?
GLENN: Yeah, we can hear you now. Hi, Arthur, how are you?
ARTHUR: Hi, I'm doing great. How are you doing, my friend?
GLENN: Good. So tell me, how do you take this? Do you take this seriously?
ARTHUR: Well, look, I mean, it's clear that Ben is drinking too much beer when he watches Sunday night football. I think that much is known at this point. But, look, we love Ben Sasse. Because he's -- look, if he decides to stay in politics, he's the future of the Republican Party. He's not an anger guy. He's not an envy guy. He's an aspiration guy. He's somebody who truly understands what it means to be a happy warrior. He gets into this business because he wants to fight for people.
Look, this is what you've been talking about now for more than ten years, Glenn. You got to fight for people, you don't just fight against things. And, you know, Ben lives that out every day, and his frustration is palpable.
I mean, I saw the tweet stream coming because I look at my Twitter too. And I'm thinking, "What is he getting at? What is he getting at?" Then in the end, "Are you kidding me, man?" But, still, I get the basic idea that what he's after, it's boring the kinds of things we're talking about in DC right now. Right?
GLENN: Oh, we had -- we had one of the candidates on for Speaker of the House yesterday. And he's a friend of ours. And we've known him forever. We hung up the phone, we were like -- I'm not. I don't care. I mean, there was no -- there was nothing there.
STU: He didn't seem like he was really totally into running.
GLENN: Right. It was the same kind of stuff.
STU: And the other guy we talked to was basically -- it was a, he's not super conservative, but there will be a lot of procedural things you won't understand that he'll change and he'll be right on.
GLENN: That he'll get right.
STU: Which is not exciting.
GLENN: And then the third guy is a guy who you're like, you have to be kidding me, right?
STU: He's like, we did the Benghazi thing just to screw Hillary Clinton. Elect me.
GLENN: It's just small thinking. There's nobody -- I'm looking for a candidate that is -- on all fronts, that says, you know what, we're not going to play this game anymore. We're just not going to play it. We don't have to play it anymore. The world is changing. The times are changing. The thinking has changed. We'll think way out of the box. And, quite honestly, Ben, that's what I like about this idea.
BEN: Arthur, we could comment a lot about Arthur's hair and the potential if he had some grafting and a combover.
ARTHUR: That would be interesting, wouldn't it?
BEN: It's amazing the stuff -- when you're on Twitter, and you're maybe a little bit promiscuous with your tweeting for a time. The things people send back to me.
Arthur, I got to show you some of the photos after you talked about being bald.
GLENN: Oh, I want to see.
BEN: People Photoshopping everybody else's hair onto you and sending it to me.
GLENN: Arthur, I want to see you with Donald Trump's hair.
BEN: Oh, yeah.
ARTHUR: That's the secret. That's what America needs. But here's why --
GLENN: Let's talk about this -- let's talk about this seriously.
GLENN: Senator, you have bought the domain DraftArthurBrooks.com. Are you serious about this?
BEN: Well, something tells me that Mrs. Brooks isn't too thrilled that I've nominated her husband for the most thankless job in all of Washington.
ARTHUR: Look, Ben, I'll tell you what Mrs. Brooks said. I took it to her on Sunday night. I said, "What do you think, honey?" And she said, "Well, as you know, as Catholics, we don't believe in divorce."
GLENN: That sounds like a yes to me.
PAT: So there's a chance then?
BEN: In all seriousness, I genuinely think that Arthur would be an incredible Speaker of the House because the Speaker of the House should be Congress' chief storyteller. I know that seems provocative to folks because around the Hill, I've heard over the course of the last day and a half, well, that's ridiculous. It isn't the job of the Speaker of the House to cast a grand vision for the American people.
GLENN: Yes, it is.
BEN: The Speaker is supposed to recatalyze (phonetic) us and remind us who we are. The Speaker's job is to sit atop the sausage factory, was a direct quote someone gave me. The Speaker's job is to sit atop the sausage factory, and that's an ugly process. You can't cast a vision from there. Ben, you're confused. You articulated the job of the president.
Well, a couple of things. First of all, in a Madisonian construction of three separate, but equal branches, the article one branch, the legislature is the place that policy is supposed to remain. And that policy should be aligned with a long-term directional sense of where the country is headed. Number two, historically, the founders, a lot of them wanted to conscript Washington and make him into a king even though he didn't want to do it because they weren't sure that a republic would really work.
But to the degree that they decided to make this gamble, they thought a couple of things. One, they didn't even call the guy president in some of their early drafts. Sometimes he was just this presiding officer term. Used to be called the administrator, in some people's terms, because the idea was, anybody who is elected to represent the people is absolutely supposed to have a fundamental sense of the American idea. And the American idea is about the fact that we as a people, we as a nation, are much bigger than the compulsory tools that are the powers of a distant federal government. And so the storytelling aspect a fundamental part of this job. And I just truly think, who could be better at this than Arthur? And if you got somebody, great, nominate them. But let's not start with a passive assumption that whoever has caucused best over the last four months to align themselves for this next career move, that that's the important question. The important question for the people in Nebraska is who has a vision for where the country is headed.
GLENN: So, Arthur, do you --
ARTHUR: I mean, let's think about in a big way of what Ben is really talking about here. Ben is not talking about being Arthur Brooks. Ben is talking about what the leadership should really look like that's a step away from the presidency of the United States.
The Speaker speaks for the American people. What do the American people care about? They care about four things. Faith, family, community, and work. Those are the four things that gives people's lives meaning. Those are the four things that government should be getting out of the way of. We need a Speaker. We need a Congress. By the way, Ben correctly points out that Congress' favorability is at 11 percent. And I will remind our listeners that Kim Jong-un is at 12 percent. 11 percent is not very high. And the reason for that is this whole concept that they're not fighting for me. That doesn't mean they want more free things. That doesn't mean they want more benefits.
They want somebody who says, "Yeah, this Congress, this Speaker, people who want to be president, are warriors for the things that I really about and that I want to pass on to my kids." And let me you, right on this call, if we spent an hour, which we won't, but if we wanted to, we could come up with ten ways that the government in the next year will get out of way of faith and religious freedom. That will make it easier to set up traditional families. That will stop fragmenting communities. And that is going to become warriors for meaningful work for Americans.
Look, just with those four things. If that's what the vision is for a better Congress -- if that's what the vision is for a better state, imagine the happiness of the people. Imagine what we could do. And that's Ben's point. It's not about me. It's about actual leadership.
GLENN: You know, you would think that actually the Republicans would kind of like this, except that they're all camera hogs. You would think they would actually like this because you could actually go outside and hire somebody who is just great at articulating a vision. That's not elected -- doesn't have to worry about being elected again. Doesn't have to worry about any of the game playing. Can just be somebody who is telling the vision of America and keeping -- and really -- I mean, it's almost like a PR guy. Is it not?
ARTHUR: Marketing is a lot of it, guys. Marketing is a lot of what the president does. And there's nothing wrong with that. See, the actual work of making America work -- that's not the government's job. That's the citizen's job when they take care of their kids, when they go to church, and they go to Little League, and especially when they go to work every day.
But the government's job is making sure that basic functions function, that we have a safety net for people, and that we get out of the way when they're trying to live their lives. That's the vision of what it's supposed to be. And that's exactly what we're not doing.
GLENN: So, Arthur, because you do what you do at the American Enterprise Institute, you're following this game. Is there somebody -- we have really been at a loss for telling people who they should get behind. Who should they get behind? Is there somebody that you see? Is there some plan that you see? I just see small vision after small vision after small vision, and it's killing me.
ARTHUR: Well, it's an iron cage is what it is. So it's a competition of relatively small visions. Because it's almost as if break out with something bigger, it gives you a competitive disadvantage.
And here's the good news, Glenn. The good news is the Republican Party is a better ecosystem than it's been in a long time. I know there's a lot of infighting. I know there's a lot of bad blood. I got that.
But if the Republican Party, if they can get somebody like Ben Sasse to run for Senate and win on a walk, I might add, and a few other guys like Cory Gardner and Tom Cotton and the new generation, James Lankford, the new generation of guys who are in the Senate, that's a Republican Party that's a pretty healthy ecosystem. What that means, the people who are running can be really good. We don't actually have to find the new bald think tank president guy. We need to urge the people who are really running to talk in terms of the bigger vision. To use the metaphor of Sunday night football, to throw a long ball.
GLENN: Ben, in your own -- in your own circle with the Senate, what do you say, you know, you slip a roofie of some sort with Mitch McConnell and --
STU: This is not a good direction.
BEN: I don't even know what that means. I'm sure I'm not -- I don't even know what that means.
GLENN: I have to wrap it up, so we'll leave it at the roofies you'll slip Mitch McConnell.
God bless you, both of you. Thank you very much for having the conversation. And, Ben, please hang on to your soul because you're really, truly the good guys, as are you Arthur Brooks. Appreciate it. Thank you. Buh-bye.