Monday, October 6, 2008

PunditFight interview: A conversation with Dean Barnett

Sam Seder, Interview
A conversation with Dean Barnett
Dean Barnett is a conservative pundit best known as Hugh Hewitt's fill-in host and staff writer for the Weekly Standard. Interestingly his rise as pundit mirrors the ascent of a rising star Vice Presidential nominee. A relative unknown, Dean was nationally introduced after being tapped by a silver-haired veteran to be his backup. Dean embodies the everyman made good, a regular "Joe six-pack abs" and Baseball dad.

Dean a lifelong Bostonian began as a businessman, running for State Representative at the age of 25. He operated a popular personal blog - SoxBlog, offering his thoughts on current affairs and his beloved Boston Red Sox. Conservative Radio Talker Hugh Hewitt would later invite Dean to be his co-blogger on When Dean saw that Hugh needed a guest host he matter-of-factly suggested "I'd like to try my hand at that" despite readily admitting he never "listened to a lot of Talk Radio". The rest as they say is history.

Our conversation is simply two regular guys talking politics, wrestling and punditry. We touch on Dean's segments with liberal blogger Glenn Greenwald and the state of partisanship, the success of John McCain and his hope for Mitt Romney.

Bonus game:
Hugh Hewitt listeners will be familiar with his patented "Barack Obama uhm counter". I've ingeniously incorporated a similar game in my conversation with Dean. A free Sarah Palin wallpaper to the person who correctly guesses the number of "uhms" uttered in our conversation. Hands on your buzzers.

Dean on the state of partisanship and why he welcomes liberals like blogger Glenn Greenwald on his show
I live in Boston which is a very liberal city. I’m pretty much a lifelong Bostonian which means that my politics is out of step with most of my neighbours, most of my friends and whatnot. I get along with people who’s politics I don’t like and don’t like my politics. So I don’t see why that can’t be the same on the Radio. Glenn Greenwald and I don’t agree with a lot politically, but I think he’s a good guy. I enjoy talking to him, I think he’s a pretty thoughtful guy. There’s no reason why we have to dislike each other even though we don’t particularly care about each other’s politics.

I’m not exactly sure how it started. It may have started when I invited him onto the show out of the clear blue sky. I’m not sure if we had exchanged any emails before then. Relatively speaking I like his blog. He’s obviously a very thoughtful, a very honest and smart guy.
I have no problem inviting guests on the show I disagree with.
Dean on the role personality and likability play in politics
To use your wrestling analogy, on the one hand you’re born with what you’re born with. On the other hand there’s a craft of getting through to people. You look at some wrestlers who get so much better – look at Hulk Hogan in his initial incarnation didn’t go over at all. But in his latest incarnation after Rocky III he was the biggest thing since sliced bread. They can develop their craft to become better and better. I think the same is true of politicians. They can learn what works, they can learn what doesn’t work they stay away from their weaknesses, they can emphasize their strengths. As you point out there is no substitute for - if you’ve got someone who can deliver a speech like Barack Obama, if you’ve got someone with the charisma and personal appeal of Sarah Palin. That’s being born on third base in a political sense with that kind of talent.

You look at a guy like John McCain who’s gone as far as he has, which is very far without any of those talents. But there’s a huge advantage for someone like Obama or Palin actually having those gifts.
Read full transcript here

- Listen to Dean Barnett endorsing this blog's contention that Bill Kristol is a wrestling-style villain (heel)
- View Dean Barnett's Pundit Profile

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