Ben Stein is probably best known as a deadpan comic actor. He played the economics teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off who keeps calling “Bueller?” when taking roll, a lawyer helping Kramer prepare a living will on Seinfeld, and a sort of bureaucratic angel on The Drew Carey Show, among many other roles. He also hosted his own game show (Win Ben Stein’s Money). But he’s also a lawyer (valedictorian of the class of 1970 at Yale Law), was a speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford, has authored several books, both fiction and nonfiction, and is a newspaper columnist and conservative political pundit who fairly often appears on television, including CBS News and Fox.
I often disagree with Stein’s views (he still goes overboard in his defense of Richard Nixon, for example, and he’s surprisingly misinformed on scientific subjects), but he sometimes says things that are quite sensible, about economics, for example. (His undergraduate degree was in that field and his father was a well-known economist.) For example, back in 2012 in an appearance on the Fox News morning program Fox and Friends (see this previous post), he broke it to his hosts that dealing with the deficit required raising taxes on the rich: “I hate to say this on Fox — I hope I’ll be allowed to leave here alive — but I don’t think there is any way we can cut spending enough to make a meaningful difference. We’re going to have to raise taxes on very, very rich people.”
Stein also strongly opposes Donald Trump. As I mentioned last July, he’s compared Trump to George Wallace “but without George Wallace’s charm” and said, “I can’t see him doing anything but damage to the Republican Party.”
Just yesterday Stein told CNN that his preferred candidate would be Marco Rubio, though at the same time he stopped just short of calling him dishonest. He also likes Cruz, he said, while observing that Cruz has a poor grasp of economics. He said he likes Trump but considers him “dangerously misinformed” and he thinks Chris Christie “made a mistake getting on the Trump bandwagon, and I just hope that bandwagon does not drag the whole party out to sea and sink us like the Goldwater bandwagon did when I was a young man. I don’t want to see that happen again to the Republican Party, but I’m afraid that’s what’s coming down the road.”
Here’s a two-minute excerpt: