MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: a preview of The Olasky Interview podcast.
This week, a conversation with conservative author and commentator William Bennett.
Bennett served as secretary of Education during the Reagan administration. He also worked under President George H. W. Bush with U.S. drug policy.
NICK EICHER, HOST: But he’s probably best known for his 1993 publication: The Book of Virtues—which, as we’ll hear in this excerpt, sometimes got him in a little bit of trouble. Here is WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky.
MARVIN OLASKY, HOST: Politics. There were times when people talked about you running for president and you never did. Why?
BILL BENNETT, GUEST: First of all disqualifications. Personal disqualify. I never had the passion for. I never really wanted to. I was asked by Bob Dole if I would be his running mate. We were in California. We had written a speech for him about Hollywood, and about the corrosive effects of the popular culture. And he asked me to ride in a car with him back to the hotel. And he said, who do you think I should have from? Like, what do you think I should have the vice president? And I said, Kemp. He said, no, that not that guy. That guy’s crazy. He was the eventual choice. I said, well, who are you thinking? He said, how about you? I said, me, why me? He said, academic, Eastern, Catholic, intellectual. I said, I’m so moved. It’s so personal. Marriage proposal. And I thought about it. I just didn’t have the, I just didn’t have the heart for it.
And then George Bush, George W. Bush talk to me about it. And um, he said, how about you? And I said, no, I can’t do it. He said, why? I said, because I wrote The Book of Virtues. He said, well, that’s a great thing. I said, not if you’ve lived as big and fully as I have.
There’s country music song called looking for love in all the wrong places. I was doing some of that. Nothing illegal, nothing felonious but you could get away with it if you were, if you hadn’t written The Book of Virtues. But when you’ve written The Book of Virtues, you set the standard up here. And so I would’ve never been able to meet that bar. Shortly after the publication of The Book of Virtues, I was at The Palm Restaurant in Washington, where I’ve been twice. You want to laugh? Okay. And I was drinking a Martini and having a steak. And someone came in and said, is that virtuous? And I said, if it’s perfectly mixed and perfectly cooked it is. Sorry, I’m being long winded here.
OLASKY: No, the stories are great. This is what journalistically you always want to do. Just listen to stories.
BENNETT: Get ‘em talking. Let him get himself in trouble. You’re a good one too. It’s always the nice guys who get you in the most trouble.