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Mark Steyn On America, Independence Day 2014, And The Left’s Foment Of Ignorance

Friday, July 4, 2014

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HH: I am joined by Mark Steyn on this 4th of July eve. Mark, how are you, and a happy 4th of July in advance to you.

MS: Yeah, happy Independence Day to you, too, Hugh. I’m looking forward to it.

HH: Now you celebrated Canada Day last week, right? Are you like just in a fury of celebrations for a whole week?

MS: Well, I do, I still call it Dominion Day.

HH: That’s it.

MS: They changed the name sneakily in the 80s, the Liberal government. I refuse to recognize that. I still call Canada Day Dominion Day, and I enjoy that, and I enjoy the 4th of July. I’m rather promiscuous about it. It’s like…

HH: It is. It is, and you’ve got English ties as well, so there’s probably a day that you get off for that, too.

MS: Well, no, there isn’t, actually, there’s no English public holiday. St. George’s Day isn’t really celebrated. England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales each have a national saint. So they’ve got St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland, St. Patrick’s in Ireland, St. David’s in Wales, and St. George’s in England. And St. George’s Day isn’t actually an official public holiday, because it’s regarded as provocative, because the flag of St. George is the crusader flag, which is now multiculturally sensitive. So nobody gets to celebrate that.

HH: I don’t think that’s flying in Western Iraq these days. I don’t think that’s happening. And by the way, do you think those days would hold up under Hobby Lobby? The left seems to have understood Hobby Lobby to have created a theocracy, and so those days should be celebrated here as well.

MS: Yeah, they basically, well, I think wasn’t it our designated official president-in-waiting, Senator/Secretary Rodham, Senator Clinton Secretary, who in fact compared the Hobby Lobby decision to Shariah law?

HH: Yes.

MS: So I’m sure she’s been fitted for her burka on this holiday weekend even as we speak.

HH: Yeah, not a touch of overreaction among our friends on the left there, Mark Steyn, was there?

MS: Well, what was fascinating to me was I wasn’t terribly, you know, I’m a pessimist, Hugh.

HH: Yes.

MS: You wrote a book on happiness, I write more and more apocalyptically miserable books every time. So I looked, and I mean, I’m a classic, you know, when I had this decision, I may, you know, the glass is 4/9ths empty kind of guy when I heard this Supreme Court decision, and I didn’t think it was that encouraging. But the left went bananas over it without actually betraying a clue as to anything that’s actually in the decision.

HH: No.

MS: And I thought that was fantastic. And I’ve got to believe that’s conscious, that the whole strategy of the left, in a way, this gets back to what Victor Davis Hanson was saying on your show a day or two back, that the left’s whole strategy, I think, depends on keeping its base in a sort of foment of ignorance, and Hobby Lobby is certainly a very good example of that.

HH: You know, I don’t recommend this lightly, but you might want to read the interview I did with Zach D. Carter, the “senior political economy reporter for the Huffington Post”, because it will supply with all the evidence you need for After America. The senior political economy reporter for the Huffington Post did not know that Bill Clinton had bombed Iraq in 1998, did not know that Libya had WMD until after the Iraq war, did not know who AQ Khan was, and of course, did not know who Alger Hiss was. I mean, it was epic, actually, Mark, what you cannot know and be the senior political economy reporter for the Huffington Post.

MS: But that’s, you know what’s fascinating is that that’s the level at which so much of it operates. I mean, that guy, I mean, you pretty much ruined his week. You know, he’s going to be wanting to barbeque himself tomorrow. And that guy, you pretty much wrecked his entire week, and I would bet what he feels is so unjust about it is that practically every single person he knows garlanded with degrees from the most expensive universities on the planet actually is as ignorant as he is.

HH: Well, what’s coming up next hour, Sam Tanenhaus, used to be the editor of the New York Times Book Review, and the official biographer of William F. Buckley, has a Sunday Times story coming out, Can The GOP Be A Party Of Ideas. And I think my first question’s going to be compared to what, like the ideas on the Democratic Side? And Mark, here’s a bit of good news that I wish I had yesterday for VDH, and so I’ll try it out on you. You two are my alpha and omega of bad news bears. This Quinnipiac poll, 1,446 registered voters and a plurality, 33%, tagged Barack Obama as the worst president since World War II. And a head to head comparison with Bush, Obama wins as the worst president. Now narrowly, but that’s quite a change, Mark. That’s a sign of a useful regret dawning on people that it’s all been tried, and it’s all nonsense.

MS: Yes, I think that’s true, and I think it also in a sense vindicates what he was overheard saying to Mr. Medvedev in the election year. Mr. Medvedev was, if you recall, Vladimir Putin’s sock puppet as the nominal leader in Russia. And Obama was overheard saying well, this’ll be my last election, and afterwards, I’ll have a lot more flexibility. And we’re now actually seeing what that flexibility means. We’re seeing it in the retreat of American power not just across the globe, but actually the vanishing, the evaporation of American sovereignty even at the Southern border. We’re seeing it in, classic banana republic stuff, in the IRS. I mean, the very definition of banana stuff, where even the king’s tax collector is simply a crooked stooge on his boss’ behalf. And I think that is actually the flexibility that he was discussing with Medvedev. That’s the flexibility applied on the domestic scene that he’s actually quite open about. When he gave that speech, what was the speech he gave yesterday or the day before saying you know, who needs this separation of powers business, just clear it out of the way, I’m going to go ahead and do what I want.

HH: I’m going to borrow some of the power that I need. Now that does bring me, though, to one development that my guests have been split on. Michael O’Hanlon thought it was a good idea. It makes VDH a little bit nervous, which is that our friends in Japan have reinterpreted their constitution vis-à-vis the amount of military power that they can deploy, use in support of other allies, et cetera, abroad, away from Japan. Mike O’Hanlon said this is common sense. Victor Davis Hanson said this reflects the evaporation of American power in the world, and it’s not going to be just Japan. It’s going to be everybody running to get their own guns. What do you think, Mark Steyn?

MS: Yes, I tend to agree with that, and Victor is a believer in the American umbrella, which is the situation that’s prevailed since the Second World War, where some of the wealthiest countries in the world like Japan or like Germany were able to not, in a sense, put up the money for their own defense, because America, the American umbrella was over them. Obama, if you learn anything from the last six years, it’s that we are entering the post-American world. And whether you’re an enemy of the United States or an ally of the United States, you’ve got to adjust to that. And I entirely understand why the Japanese would conclude, as the Polish foreign minister concluded a couple of weeks ago, that when it comes to it, the Americans are not going to be there for them. The Royal Australian Navy a couple of years ago held exercises with the Chinese, joint exercises. And I said to a naval officer down there that I know, I said well, didn’t you guys all find that a bit odd? And he said well, this is the reality. When America withdraws from the Pacific, Japan and Indonesia and Australia and China are all still going to be there, and we’re going to have to deal with the new reality as best we can. Japan is dealing with the post-American world. Poland is. Australia is. Singapore is. That is simply a reality of five years of Obama foreign policy.

HH: Well then, Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie, America: Imagine The World Without It, is not so much a dire projection, it’s reality. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, yet, by the way. It’s a terrific movie, and it’s not really apocalyptic. It simply presents what the left has been about, believes, and what Hillary’s about. I think it’s going to do very well as the box office, but I don’t know if the great turn is upon us. We’ll know in five months, Mark Steyn. What do you think?

MS: Well, again, I think that’s the great question. You know, when you go back and look at some of the things Mitt Romney was saying, for example, about the economy in 2012, it made a lot of sense. The economy’s a disaster, the economy’s a bust, Obama hasn’t been able to jump start the economy. And I think the response of a big sliver of the American people was that’s all the more reason to vote for more permanent, multigenerational government dependency, which is a very sad thought for the eve of Independence Day. But a lot of Americans, particularly the ones who supplied his margin of victory, voted for a kind of big government nanny, because Obama has so flat-lined the economy, that they don’t want to take their risks out there in the new normal, and they’ll cling to nanny’s apron strings in the service of government dependence, a very sad thought.

HH: But Mark, we’ve seen that. We saw that in Great Britain in the 50s and the 60s. Do people not remember that?

MS: Well, I think that’s what’s so interesting. There’s nothing new. There’s nothing new about Obama, what Obama’s doing. It’s ancient stuff that was applied in the rest of the Western world between the 1940s and the 1970s, in which they all gradually pulled away from, not just in Britain, not just in New Zealand, but even Sweden. And he has not, and so there’s nothing new about it. All that’s different is nobody’s ever tried to do it to a nation of 300 million people on the scale that this guy’s doing it.

HH: What a sobering thought on the eve of the 4th of July. Have a great Independence Day tomorrow anyway, Mark Steyn.

End of interview.

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