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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn Analyzes The Democratic Debate

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The audio:


The transcript:

HH: Coming up in hours two and three, I’m going to be joined by none other than Ben Bernanke, Ben, of course, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve. He’s got what is actually a page-turning memoir, The Courage To Act: A Memoir Of A Crisis And Its Aftermath that I have spent the last three days glued to. I mean, it’s not like reading Mark Steyn, and if you want to read Mark Steyn, you ought to go get the new book on, his climate change book, Climate Change: The Facts, as well as Steyn V. the Stick. It’s all over at A Disgrace To The Profession is the brand new book. Mark, welcome, how are you?

MS: Hey, I’m good. Don’t knock these page-turners about the Federal Reserve. Ron Paul brought thousands cheering to their feet when he gave 40 minute speeches about the Federal Reserve. It’s a hit topic.

HH: No, it is, it’s actually a fascinating memoir, because there is this very anti-democratic need to be secret when you’re in the Federal Reserve. And there’s a scarcity of words, so there’s an excess, an abundance of conspiracy attached to them. But it’s a well-written book. But I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t want to serve in that job. Everyone thinks, you know, you go to the Bilderburger castle and then you go to the World Affairs Council, and then you run the world.

MS: No, no, I know. Actually, while we’re talking about page-turners, Brad Thor, whom you know well, he actually wrote a thriller about the Federal Reserve.

HH: Yup.

MS: You know, most of his thrillers are about Islamic jihadists plotting to blow things up. He actually, he actually wrote a thrilling thriller about the Federal Reserve. So it can be done.

HH: It can be done, and Ben and Brad, maybe if your first name is B. Mark Steyn, the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt is in Jerusalem at this hour, and she assures me she’s fine. But I do think we’re on an interesting cycle in the Middle East, which includes the appearance of a Cuban general in Syria now. Back to the 70s with Barack Obama.

MS: Yeah, he said the 1980s are asking for their foreign policy back. He taunted Mitt Romney with that line. We now have Cuban troops in the Middle East in the way they were once all over Africa during various coups during the Cold War. They served as the Soviet Union’s proxies. And clearly, you know, they’re not the most efficient military in the world, and they can’t mobilize on a dime, so clearly, Putin and the Castro brothers have been planning this for some time. In other words, he stitched Obama up even while he was at the United Nations. And what I find interesting about this is running around Syria right now, you have the Russians, who were the beneficiaries of Hillary Clinton’s famous reset button. And then you also have troops from the two nations that Obama just in the last couple of weeks have made historic rapprochements with ancient American enemies with whom our relations have been frozen for decades. That’s to say Iran and Cuba. And barely is the ink dry on those agreements than the troops from those two nations, plus Russia, are now running around Syria killing American-trained allies there. It’s quite extraordinary.

HH: It is. It’s really unfortunate at the debate this week with the Democrats did not spend the entire time on the collapse of Middle Eastern policy. I thought the former Secretary of State was allowed to skate on this, Mark Steyn. What did you think?

MS: Well, I thought Kirsten Powers, actually, on Fox News, I think it was just yesterday, put it very well when she said that this is something that the Democrat base is just not interested in. They’re not interested in ISIS. They’re not interested in Iran. The trick with foreign policy, as everybody from Lincoln Chafee to Bernie Sanders demonstrated, foreign policy as a subject is something that a successful Democrat candidate wants to steer as far clear of as he can. And in a way, that’s for the best. I mean, if you look at where the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt is at the moment in Jerusalem, where they have this epidemic of random stabbings, and the United States government has had absolutely nothing useful to say about that. Democrats essentially have withdrawn from the world. Everybody, whether it’s Iran or Cuba or Russia, everybody else has seized their opportunity in that vacuum of power. And I always quote this line Bernard Lewis said to me, the great Bernard Lewis said to me many years ago. I’ve quoted it before on your show, that America risks being seen as impotent as an enemy, and treacherous as a friend. And I think that is what is happening.

HH: It doesn’t risk it. That’s the reality. Now I’ve got to say as well that the incoherence of the economic debate on Tuesday night was striking to me. Two things stood out, actually – the irony of Hillary Clinton condemning Edward Snowden for allowing information to fall into the wrong hands, having now got an FBI investigation into her server, and Bernie Sanders. You know, where was he in 1973 when I needed him to say we don’t want to hear about the damn tapes anymore. Where was he, Mark?

MS: Right, right. No, I know. It was a very curious debate. I mean, I think it was useful in that it made you understand quite how far to the left that the Democrat Party has gone. Jim Webb was basically 40 years too late for the position he wanted to hold, his whole Scoop Jackson routine. And nobody was interested in that. What, I found, I thought it was interesting, because I was in Denmark and Sweden just a few days ago, and Bernie Sanders was saying he wanted America to be more like Denmark and Sweden. Well, you can make the case that I think big government for European-style social democracy in small Scandinavian countries, but I’ll say this. They come by their big government honestly, in that they don’t just do it by piling up debt on your children and grandchildren. And the absolute dishonesty about how they’re going to pay for any of this stuff, how they’re going to pay for free college for illegal immigrants and all the other stuff they’re offering, whatever one feels about the Danes and the Swedes is they do figure out a way to pay for it. These guys just pile it up on our grandkids.

HH: You know what else was interesting, I will ask Ben Bernanke about this, because his memoir obviously was finished before Bernie Sanders got in here, because he doesn’t mock, but he certainly dismisses Bernie Sanders throughout this, but he also says quite bluntly on Page 439 of The Courage To Act, a Glass Steagall type of statute would have offered little benefit during the crisis, and in fact, would have prevented the acquisition of Bear Sterns by J.P. Morgan, and Merrill Lynch by Bank of America, steps that helped stabilize two endangered investment banks. In other words, the wizard, you know, Alan Greenspan’s the maestro, Ben Bernanke’s man of the year for stopping this thing, and he says Glass Steagall’s nuts. It’s just crazy.

MS: No, no, and I like the way Lincoln Chafee, who began the debate by saying that he was like a rock of granite when it came to his unshakable policies and positions, then basically said that he was, he didn’t know what he was doing when he voted against that in, I think it was 1999, because he said his father had died.

HH: Father had died.

MS: And he just inherited his seat in the House of Lords, and he was the idiot son who hadn’t yet got the hang of the place.

HH: It was amazing.

MS: And it was absolutely astonishing…

HH: It was amazing.

MS: …to hear a guy actually say that in front of 15 million people or however many people it was.

HH: Mark, let me ask, how much would a publisher have to pay you to write a biography of Martin O’Malley? I mean seriously, how much would they have to pay you to say, you’re going to have to spend a year and learn everything about Martin O’Malley and write a book about it?

MS: I know, well, it’s quite extraordinary, because I don’t really know anything about Martin O’Malley except that you know, he was mayor of Baltimore for years, and I don’t know anything about Baltimore, except that every time it’s mentioned on TV, you know, there’s footage of flames and riots and looting and everything.

HH: Or the Orioles.

MS: So you feel, you feel he is, you know, he’s clearly the Ivan the Terrible of Baltimore, and there must be a story there. But he’s got a very bland demeanor when it comes to presenting himself. It would take an awful lot, and you’d have to have a Hillary Clinton-sized advance before I’d consider that book.

HH: Oh, that’s very…okay, for that, I would do it, too, maybe with a Clinton Foundation grant. But that’s unfair to bland demeanor. It was like he’d been dart gunned, he was so dull. In fact, can you imagine watching five more of those? I’m now in favor of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz just calling the rest of them off.

MS: Yeah, no, I think that’s true. I mean, either these guys are running for something, or they’re not. But for the three nobody’s, and you have to, and this is, you know, clearly on the Republican side, there’s a big bunch of single digit losers, too. But one of the frightening features about this campaign, this debate the other night, was how the Democrat single digit losers, Webb, O’Malley and Chafeee, were so much less coherent and impressive than the Republican single digit losers, you know, your Lindsey Graham, your Bobby Jindal, your Rick Santorum, even your George Pataki. They had a substantive, serious debate in which even if you disagree with them, you can see Lindsey Graham’s rationale for running, even if you disagree with him and you think he’s a no hoper and a loser, What is O’Malley, you know, people say oh, well, they’re just, they’re just angling for ambassadorships in a Clinton administration. You don’t need, you can’t tell me that in order to become ambassador to Slovenia or Tuvalu, that it’s necessary to actually run a presidential campaign as soporific as Martin O’Malley’s, because that doesn’t make sense, either.

HH: If it is, I’m never going to be the ambassador. You couldn’t get me to be that dull. And I will say James Webb has a Navy Cross, so that at least lets him get on the stage and not dishonor it. But the other two? Mark Steyn, follow everything Mark writes at, America.

End of interview.


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