Mark Steyn analyzing politics and problems on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.
HH: We start with Columnist to the World, Mark Steyn. Merry Christmas, Mark. I won’t have a chance to say that before next week, so Merry Christmas to you and yours.
MS: Yeah, Merry Christmas to you. I don’t think Mike Huckabee’s copyrighted it yet.
MS: But Merry Christmas, I’m not Mike Huckabee, but I approved this message.
HH: Thank you. I’ve got to start, I want to talk politics with you, but I’ve got to start first to alert the audience. I thought it was a joke, these Muslim radicals bringing complaints against you in Canada. But I’m close to boycotting Canada, because their Human Rights Commission hasn’t thrown this stuff out in the back with the trash.
MS: Well, the Human Rights Commission up there is, you know, almost the textbook definition of a kangaroo court, in the sense that of the complaints that have been brought under this section, since it was introduced almost thirty years ago now, no defendant has ever won.
MS: So I may buck the odds, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
HH: Well, tell people what the process is, what you’re accused of, and I assume this is a pain in the neck.
MS: Well, it is a pain in the neck. It also has, you know, serious implications, I think, because the Muslim lobby groups have had quite good luck using courts outside the U.S. to block particular books and other ideas that they’re not partial to. And eventually, that does ripple through to New York publishers and so on who don’t want to take a flyer on a book if you won’t be able to sell it in Canada, or get an overseas sale. So it does have implications. But what this is, basically, is a special commission that’s set up, it’s like, think of the most politically correct professors at Berkeley, put them on a commission. The plaintiff, the guys who make the complaints, their legal expenses are paid for by the Canadian taxpayer. The defense has to fund his or her own…essentially, there’s no rules of due process or evidence. And you know, they levy things that would be extraordinary. A woman posted some content on a Christian website in the United States, she’s opposed to homosexuality, she quotes some relevant Biblical passages. The Human Rights Commission banned her from ever publishing in any public forum again those Biblical passages for life, even though they were published on a U.S. website. And if she breaches that order, she’ll go to jail.
HH: That’s incredible. Now Mark, how can the audience help you? I don’t know how to help you, other than boycott Canada.
MS: Well, you can boycott Canada.
HH: Well, I am. I’m not buying any Canadian goods this season because of this.
MS: People have been saying can we contribute to a legal defense fund. I don’t really like to take people’s money for things like that. The people to support here are MacLeans, the magazine in Canada, because the pressure point is always the publishers. Publishers need to be encouraged when they’re publishing this material, otherwise you can’t complain that the papers are full of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. If anything else, you get sued over. So anyone who wants to, who’s got a Canadian friend, and they’d like to buy them a subscription to MacLeans, they’re more than welcome to do that.
HH: That is a great idea, a MacLeans subscription drive is part of my Christmas list now. You betcha.
MS: Yeah, boycott everything in Canada except my lonely, beleaguered publisher there.
HH: All right, and we will follow this story in detail. We might have to devote an hour to it next week. Mark, before we lose time here, because I’ve got Marines to talk with all day long, so I want to make sure I cover this, we had an interesting development, actually five or six on the campaign trail today, starting with Tom Tancredo’s exit, stage way right. Here’s who he endorsed on the way out.
TT: If I knew I could not win the upcoming Caucuses here in Iowa, and I certainly could not have won, then you wonder about where your votes would go? And the possibility that they would go to somebody like Governor Huckabee or even McCain…
Neil Cavuto: Yeah, I know you’re not a fan of Huckabee or his stance on illegal immigration.
NC: Who are you backing?
TT: I supported Romney, and I mean during this…when I announced the fact that I was dropping out, I supported Governor Romney. I had an interesting and lengthy discussion with him this morning about his plan, and I believe that it is viable, I believe he’ll stick with it, and he’s got the best shot.
HH: All right, what do you think, Mark Steyn? Does this matter?
MS: Well, I think in a sense, Tom Tancredo’s task is accomplished. He was never going to be a presidential runner, but he got his issue in the game, which I think is a critical issue for the base. The base doesn’t want a McCainite policy on immigration. It doesn’t want this, you know, whatever Huckabee claims his position is as of the moment. It wants a reliable border enforcement, and it wants respect. It wants the same respect that the American people have for American citizenship laws, and doesn’t want citizenship corrupted. Tom Tancredo, it’s, you know, it’s cruel, it’s a cruel world, but he was never going to be a presidential contender, but he did his job, and he got his issue there, and if he’s concluded that Mitt Romney is the best person to advance that issue for him, I think that is quite a big deal.
HH: Now talk to me about what’s going on in New Hampshire, because of course, McCain’s got a little boomlet there, and now we’ve got this New York Times sitting on a story story, which I’m not sure is a story. McCain has denounced it, but he admitted his staff’s been ruffling, working the Times to keep this story out. And then Politico discovers that contrary to what McCain said today, he actually has called Bill Keller at the New York Times. Tempest in a teapot or significant?
MS: Well, I don’t know whether it will change the dynamic in New Hampshire. I mean, I certainly think at some point, the story has to come out. You can’t have, you know, you can’t have the story about the story being talked about without the actual story being, coming out. But I think there is a McCain boomlet in New Hampshire. And even more interestingly, there’s an odd kind of stirrings in Iowa. And I read it this way. I think, you know, clearly, New Hampshire wants to identity the anyone but Huckabee candidate. And that, to date, has been Governor Romney. But I think there is also a market for an anyone but Huckabee or Romney candidate. And Rudy Giuliani assumed all along that he would be that man, he would be the alternative to Romney. And I think, you know, McCain, in a sense, is benefiting from the fact that Giuliani is in freefall.
HH: Now Mark Steyn, we’ve talked many times, John McCain is a great American, a lousy Senator and a terrible Republican. He was anti-tax cuts, he was pro-Gang of 14, he was McCain-Kennedy on immigration. He cannot possibly carry the base. So who is supporting him in New Hampshire?
MS: Well, the Union Leader, the state newspaper in New Hampshire, thinks that…independents can vote in either the Democratic or the Republican primary. And to date, a lot of it has shown that most, the independents were breaking and planning on voting in the Democratic primary, where supposedly, they’d be voting for Obama, I guess, and, or even John Edwards as some suggestion he has some independent support. And just in the last few weeks, some of them have been moving back and saying they’re thinking of voting in the Republican primary. And I would assume they have got to be McCain voters. You know, last time around in 2000, he lost very badly in primaries that were confined purely to Republican voters. It was independents who generally provided his margin of victory.
HH: Now if Romney finishes second in Iowa and New Hampshire, does he have a campaign to continue?
MS: I think he does. I think the interesting thing about this campaign season is that there are so many variables, a lot’s going to depend on how things shake out in Iowa and New Hampshire. But if you’re, say, second in Iowa and second in New Hampshire, I think that gives you the ability, and he’s certainly got the money, to stick it out. The problem for someone like Giuliani, who basically had this kind of 1-800 candidacy, he was going to be, he was going to fight a national primary, and ignored ground campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire, I think all the momentum has developed, all the talk, all the buzz has developed about everybody else, and he isn’t even part of that conversation anymore.
HH: You know, Mark Steyn, George Will just clobbered Mike Huckabee today, and I’m not a big Huckabee fan, but it was unfair to say he represents the complete repudiation of Reaganism, because Reagan was pro-life and pro-marriage like Mike Huckabee, and very much enamored of the religious right. But it’s really getting brutal out there. I try and keep to the issues, but this has become quite the slash and burn campaign.
MS: Well, it’s a slash and burn campaign on the issues, which I don’t think, you don’t see that on the Democrat side.
MS: I mean, who really knows Edwards-Obama-Hillary? What difference does it make? It’s just a question of putting the prettiest face on the same old same old. I mean, what I have a problem with, in a sense, I can understand someone like Ron Paul, who has a radical but philosophically grounded view of things. What bothers me about Huckabee, and to a certain extent, McCain, is that there seems to be no breaks on any of their inclinations, other than how they happen, personally, to feel about it. So to me, they seem philosophically unmoored. But I thought the Will piece, you know, in presupposing that somehow being pro-life is an optional extra on the Republican side, whereas, you know, a commitment to free trade isn’t, I’m not, that smelled like a bogus argument to me.
HH: I thought it was a cheap shot at Mike Huckabee, because it is part of the Reagan coalition to be Evangelical and be pro-life. 20 seconds, Mark Steyn, I want to get a prediction. Who’s going to win in Iowa and New Hampshire?
MS: I think unless something terrible happens, Huck is pretty much a shoe-in there. I think Romney can still hold on in New Hampshire. The question is, actually, I think whether there’s going to be a little Huckabee boomlet that will put him into third place. But McCain could still pull it off in New Hampshire.
HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, www.steynonline.com, and your defense fund is a subscription to MacLeans Magazine.
End of interview.