HH: We conclude our year’s broadcasting with none other than Mark Steyn. He has been our absolute anchorman throughout the year. So Mark, Columnist To the World, welcome, and to everyone, www.steynonline.com. Happy New Year in advance, Mark, to you.
MS: Yeah, and happy post-Christmas bank holiday Wednesday, as they say in Europe, to you, Hugh.
HH: What I want to do to close out the year, Mark, is to run through the events, persons and headlines of the last year, and get your sort of 30 second commentary on them to wrap up the entire year in ten minutes.
MS: (laughing) Okay.
HH: Number one, Gulf oil disaster.
MS: It exposed the massive disconnect between Barack Obama and the people. Suddenly, all the stuff that people like Maureen Dowd liked about him, he was no drama Obama, he was Spock at the bridge. Suddenly, he was disconnected, Mr. I-Don’t-Feel-Your-Pain.
HH: Obamacare passes.
MS: I think that is a huge, transformative event, unless it’s rolled back. If we let that stay in position, it will be the, we will have crossed a line, transforming freeborn American citizens into subjects. And I would have preferred it if that question had been settled in 1776.
HH: Bristol Palin dances.
MS: Oh, absolutely terrific. She wasn’t the most graceful mover. When she was in the other guy’s arms, about a graceful as the last patdown I got from a TSA agent. But she was the fan favorite, and unlike the TSA agent, her clumsy moves aren’t on the public payroll.
HH: Elections 2010.
MS: The great repudiation, as the cover of the Claremont Review of Books says. And it marks what is still the distinguishing feature between the United States and other Western democracies. Unlike what’s happening in Iceland, Bulgaria and Latvia and Greece, and France, and the United Kingdom, this was the only country where people took to the streets to say we could do just fine if the government did less for us. And that was what that vote on November the 2nd was about.
HH: The earthquake and its aftermath in Haiti?
MS: I think it demonstrated, actually, that some states are in a sense beyond aid. Perhaps when you the aftermath, perhaps what is interesting about that is U.N. peacekeepers then moved onto Haiti and introduced a cholera epidemic to the island. So I think Haiti shows that events, Hal McMillan’s famous line about politics being determined by events? No. Events are determined by the political conditions on the ground. An earthquake in Haiti is different from an earthquake in Barbados.
HH: Justin Bieber as cultural colossus.
MS: Well, you know, I must say, I think I’ll pass on this one, because I am outraged that the idea that a guy like Justin Bieber outsells my disco version of Marshmallow World. There’s no justice.
HH: Not if we have anything to do about it. Afghanistan – progress or peril?
MS: Afghanistan, I think, we have lost our war aims. And without…you cannot win a war unless you have war aims. And simply passing out Viagra so that the warlords can pleasure themselves with their child brides, and turning a blind eye to the grotesque pederasty of Pushtuns in the Kandahar area, the United States is getting sucked into a very dark place in Afghanistan.
HH: David Cameron and the new coalition in the United Kingdom.
MS: I think David Cameron is, does not understand the connection between fiscal responsibility and its moral underpinnings. So while I like a lot of what he’s done, for example, insisting that everyone except the prime minister, home secretary, chancellor of the exchequer, and foreign secretary have to travel by public transport, taking all the cars and drivers away, I like that gesture politics. But I’m not convinced he’s gone beyond gestures.
HH: Scott Brown’s triumph in Massachusetts.
MS: I think Scott Brown showed the depth of disillusionment with Barack Obama. This is a 70/30 nation. 70% of people actually believe in small government, and in liberating the economic potential of the freeborn citizens. And fortunately, enough of the ones who were suckered by Obama came around, even in Massachusetts, and realized they had been suckered. They should be ashamed of their original vote, but at least they woke up pretty quickly.
HH: Confirmation of Elena Kagan.
MS: I think she is an utter judicial mediocrity, but I have no doubt that when it comes to passing lots of legislation such as the eat your vegetables act, that was posed as a hypothetical, I think Elena Kagan will have no problem voting for an eat your vegetables act by the federal government.
HH: The Tea Party movement.
MS: The Tea Party movement is absolutely critical to the United States, because I think we are in a very perilous place where we are sliding off a cliff. We’re not talking about mid-century. We’re talking about the next two to five years. And without the Tea Party, the urgency of what’s going on would never have made itself known to the broader electorate.
HH: The collapse of the global warming consensus, and the failure to pass cap and tax.
MS: I think that shows that actually you can overreach, even on the most absurd big government proposals. This was really the ultimate bubble, where people…the Western world had decided to hurl itself off a cliff, because it was concerned about a one degree increase in temperature over the last century. This is a form of insanity. And if it hadn’t been for the Chinese, the Indians and the Brazilians saving the developed world from suicide in Copenhagen last year, we would have gone off the cliff. The Chinese, it might not be in their interest to prevent us from throwing ourselves off the cliff next time. We should thank them, but we should be grateful that this insanity is finally drawing to a close.
HH: Jeff Bridges triumphant on the big screen, both at the beginning and the end of the year.
MS: I think Jeff Bridges is one of the great actors. I’ve thought so since I saw him in the Last Picture Show, which is like forty years ago now. And I’m always happy to see Jeff Bridges on screen.
HH: Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
MS: I think this is the triumph of the elite’s moral vanity over any sense of priority. You think what they think of the United States in the capitols of the world. We’ve got 10% unemployment, but we’re talking about gays in the military. This is a classic Western narcissism in the late twilight of the West, where we solve bogus problems, and congratulate ourselves for them, rather than addressing real issues.
HH: Elections in Iraq, and transition to a new government still headed by Maliki.
MS: I think it’s amazing, I think it is amazing that the democratic settlement really has held in Iraq, given that the United States has not indulged in nation building. Whatever one feels about Iraq, this government has more legitimacy than any other government in the Middle East.
HH: The triumph of Modern Family as the new Seinfeld, the new colossus on television.
MS: I’m wary about that. I think what we are seeing in U.S. pop culture is really a kind of very dangerous social engineering. Hollywood celebrities didn’t live like the rest of America in the 1920’s. But they understood in a way that you cannot have an entire society living like Hollywood celebrities. The amount of human wreckage caused by the destruction of the non-modern family, the boring, prosaic family, is a tragedy for the United States.
HH: Rescue of the Chilean miners.
MS: Impressive, and shows that the United States, whose technology rescued those miners, that we are still technological leaders in the world. How long that will hold once we slide off the fiscal cliff, I think, is a very interesting question.
HH: Wikileaks and Assange.
MS: Wikileaks, I think, essentially confirmed the Don Rumsfeld-Dick Cheney view of the world. I’m staggered by it. I’m even more staggered by the laziness of the press, which has been reporting certain Wikileaks stories as if they’re brand new, when in fact they actually appeared in newspapers two, three, four years ago, and nobody picked up on them, simply because they didn’t fit the Democrat narrative. Wikileaks, I think, poses all kinds of interesting questions, including the conflict between the inviolability of feminist accusations of rape, and left wing heroism. But the actual core information does nothing other than confirm, essentially, a Dick Cheney-Don Rumsfeld view of the world. There’s nothing for the left in these actual leaks.
HH: Israel and the peace process.
MS: Israel, I think Israel was the first nation to come to understand that under this president, they were in a post-American world. And they’re resisting being maneuvered into a very dangerous place by this feckless, irresponsible administration. And I wish them good luck with that, because this is the worse friend to Israel of any U.S. administration in half a century.
HH: Farewell to Oprah.
MS: She has her place in broadcast history. So did a lot of other people, including huge stars like Johnny Carson. What’s interesting is how quickly they fade. I will be interested to see just how Oprah retains her luster when she’s not actually a presence on TV every day.
HH: Last 30 seconds, Barack Obama.
MS: Barack Obama, I think, still remains an unknown quantity. I tend to regard him as a man with no talent for anything other than a remarkable skill at self-promotion. He got himself wafted up from community organizer to state senate, United States Senate to president. Now he has to govern, and he is incapable of doing that.
HH: Mark Steyn, happy new year. www.steynonline.com, America, you ought to read it every day for the reason you just heard.
End of interview.