Mark Steyn and Dean Barnett talk toilets, thanks to Senator Larry Craig
DB: As we do every Thursday night when I am fortunate to sit in for Hugh, we are able to present another segment of all-accent radio. Let us welcome Mark Steyn of www.steynonline.com, Columnist to the World. Good evening, Mark, good afternoon.
MS: Good to talk with you, Dean. I don’t know what Hugh’s doing to avoid me. I’ve got more chance of running into him in the men’s room in Minneapolis airport than on the air these days.
DB: (laughing) Funny you should bring that up, Mr. Steyn, because I have a question, and this is going to be the most personal question I’ve ever asked you. And I’ll start by revealing something of myself. I am a short man. I am five feet, eight inches. I understand from reputable sources that you are a gigantic man, six-five, six…
MS: That’s right. I’m seven foot four.
DB: (laughing) That’s right. That’s what I understand. Have you ever had what has to be a relatively wide bathroom stance misconstrued as a romantic overture?
MS: (laughing) Well, I tell you, I went to a very primitive boys school where I would say one of the features was it was, I think they went for the all-time record of male toilets crammed into as short a space as possible. Whatever building codes were applying in those days, they disregarded every one of them. So I would say in that respect, you have to have a very narrow stance to get past that. I mean, I think that is the most ridiculous excuse anyone has ever heard. I think it’s one for the ages. I think guys will be going into bars and clubs and saying to each other, you wouldn’t happen to have a wide stance, would you, for years to come now. He’s put that phrase in the language.
DB: (laughing) Yes, it is his lasting contribution to our body politick and our culture, the wide stance.
MS: That’s right, that’s right.
DB: Now Mark, I don’t know if you watch Seinfeld. Do you watch the Seinfeld show? Or did you used to watch the Seinfeld show?
MS: Yeah, years ago, I mean, whenever it went off in 1958 or however long ago it is.
MS: (laughing) I didn’t realize we were having a history quiz.
DB: Well, I have a point to make, and George Castanza, the dufus character…
DB: He had an idea that restroom stalls should all extend down to the ground. If we had listened to George Castanza, none of this would have happened.
MS: Well you know, I found…I mean, again, speaking as a foreigner, and I don’t want to become the unassimilated Muslim on the show…
MS: But one of the things I found very odd about America, and I’ll never forget this the first time I visited it as a teenager, and for the first and last time, I went into the men’s room at Grand Central Station. And in London, England, for example, if you go into the men’s room at Victoria Station, say, the door to the stall will be a door. That’s to say it starts at the ground and goes up approximately to six feet whatever. The door at Grand Central Station seem to start just below the navel, and extend about a foot and a half above the knees. The door basically was in the same position to the body that Brittany Spears’ miniskirt would be. And I don’t know whether this was introduced to prevent what Larry Craig was allegedly attempting in that men’s room, or whether it is an aid to getting up to what Larry Craig was allegedly attempting in that men’s room. But certainly, it is not what any reputable carpenter would recognize as a door.
DB: Now I’m assuming you believe that Larry Craig, for the sake of his own image, for the sake of the cloud he has put over the people of Idaho, that he should resign?
MS: Well, it’s not even any…we talk about this as if it’s the usual sex scandals. You know, someone makes an accusation, and the politician is then put in the position of having to decide whether he’s going to remain as the foreign affairs minister at the time this scandal is distracting him. This isn’t what’s happened here. He’s pleaded guilty to something. He’s pleaded guilty to some kind of inappropriate action in a Minnesota bathroom. And I think the fact that the guilty plea is there, it’s on the record, it’s a fact, this isn’t the usual kind of sex scandal where you’re talking about something that’s alleged. He’s pleaded guilty to something, and he should be gone.
DB: Yeah, well, I agree completely, although I don’t know if you’d view this as a mitigating factor, but the arresting police officer seemed to be a very handsome man.
MS: (laughing) I would imagine that one of the qualifications for getting on that detail is that you have to be a relatively handsome guy. I mean, I don’t know anything. I can’t claim to be the police chief of Minneapolis or anything, but if I was going to pick a guy for that detail, it would not be the big, fat slob whose been chowing down at Dunkin’ Donuts four times a day during his shift for the last fifteen years. I would go for someone who looks like he’s doing the cop role in karaoke night for the Village People.
DB: (laughing) Now we are of course speaking with Mark Steyn, a man so courageous that he actually went into the public restrooms at Grand Central Station once.
MS: No, no. That was once, and I was 17. I looked like that cop. I was a dreamboat (laughing).
DB: (laughing) Well, we’re going to need photographic evidence of that, Mark Steyn. But now another thing on a completely different note, the United Nations is once again convening one of its stop racism conferences, and I believe they’ve chosen the perfect country to lead that conference. Can you fill us in on that?
MS: Yeah, Libya is going to chair this latest…well, they hold these world conferences against racism at the UN every couple of years. The last one was held the weekend before September 11th. And basically, it was an orgy. It was supposed to be a conference against racism. It was an orgy of racism. It was anti-American, it was anti-Zionist. The United States wound up pulling out entirely, and other countries, such as Canada and Britain and the European Union guys, so-called downgraded. And you know what I always find so pathetic about these things, they’re always the same. You know, somebody had claimed that the Holocaust had never existed, and so Israel was therefore an improper racist state. And Mary Robinson says oh, well, what we need to do, as the UN high commissioner at that time, says oh, we need to stay in, this proves we need to stay in the conference and discuss it. In other words, there’s no chance of persuading the Syrian foreign minister that six million Jews were killed, but perhaps we can, if we stay in there and we negotiate all night with him, he’ll concede that you know, maybe ten, fifteen thousand were killed, mostly troublemakers who were asking for it. I mean, I think this level, negotiating those kind of statements and pretending that the foreign ministers of these gangster states are like regular diplomats, I think is really disgraceful and repugnant, and I don’t know why we go through this charade every couple of years.
DB: Now as you mentioned, Libya is chairing this forthcoming conference against racism. And that’s coming up in 2009, something to put on your calendars immediately, that Libya isn’t exactly a Quaker-like state in terms of its view towards other races, is it?
MS: No, it’s not. It’s not at all. I mean, these are explicitly…Libya, like most Muslim states, is a state that explicitly discriminates against non-believers, and takes a very robustly nationalist view of the Arab world in general. And I think it’s very interesting that we supposedly had all these reforms…this comes under the UN Human Rights aegis. We supposedly had all these reforms to end the farce by which you have gangster states on the Human Rights Commission. For example, Sudan was a member at the time Sudan was killing all those people in Darfur. They’ve nearly killed everyone now, so the job’s almost done. But at the height of the killing frenzy, they were appointed to the UN Human Rights Commission. Can you imagine that? You’re trying to kill hundreds of thousands of people, and they’re trying to tie you up in UN meetings all day long. And we were told that the UN reforms would end the charade of countries like Sudan of being on the Human Rights Commission. It hasn’t. It’s always the same. The UN is dysfunctional in its very identity, and we should stop lending credibility to these kinds of circuses.
DB: Well put. Now Mark Steyn, we only have about 40 seconds left. I want to get your reaction to this. My rival for the most perky media figure going, Katie Couric, has announced that she is going to make a trip to Iraq to find out what things are like. First thoughts, what does that make you think?
MS: Well, I have some sympathy with Katie Couric, because she is the square peg in the round hole. There seems to be evidence that you know, Bob Schieffer, for example, who was Dan Rather’s Deputy Dog for thirty, forty years…he was one of the young whippersnappers in the CBS News division, because he’s only 87 or something. So he was one of the young up and comers there, and they give him the job after Dan leaves, and he actually has terrific ratings, because the CBS audience likes to get its news from a kind of guy who looks like a newsman. He’s got kind of white hair, grey hair, he’s rather stodgy, and he has gravitas.
DB: He does.
MS: You bring in Katie Couric, and basically her problem is that the CBS audience basically comes out of its coma and realizes it’s not Bob Schieffer anymore.
DB: It does. Mark, we’ve got to go. Thank you so much, Mark Steyn.
End of interview.