HH: I leave it to Mark Steyn of Mark Steyn World to tell us what just happened in Cleveland, because that may have been the most incoherent hour of questions I’ve ever seen. It continues to go on as we speak. Hello, Mark.
MS: Hi, Hugh. Well, that is the mission impossible to sum that up. All I know is that I actually, I did want to self-destruct by the time I’d heard the first five questions. I, don’t get me wrong. Bill Hemmer is like the nicest guy there is.
HH: He is.
MS: He’s always been very nice and very sweet to me. But that, the extraordinary condescension of those questions, you know, that first round of questions, George Pataki, nobody’s heard a peep from you since 1998, why don’t you just crawl away and die, the whole assumption of those first round of question, I thought, was pitiful. And it actually nailed, I think, the most obvious lie that people were saying about this so-called kids’ table debate, was that without the presence of Donald Trump, these other fellows would be able to have a much more substantive and rewarding and mature and adult debate. I thought the questions were mostly terrible, and the candidates didn’t engage with each other. And whatever happens tonight, you know, if Donald Trump wants to stomp up to the moderators and call them out as losers, actually, given the condescension of those questions from Bill and Martha, it would have been, I would have quite liked to see Carly Fiorina or Lindsey Graham do a little bit of that earlier.
HH: You know, Mark Steyn, I’m taking lessons from this, and Bill Hemmer is a terrific guy. He’s a Miami Red Hawk, and I don’t know Martha from Adam, but I know this. It’s not their job to context questions – do you want to give nuclear arms to the Saudi Arabians. It’s the job to inform the Republican primary voter about what these people think. You ask what do you think of the Iran deal, what do you think of the Planned Parenthood videos. It’s not hard.
MS: No, it shouldn’t be hard, but it’s interesting the way even in a so-called Republican debate on a so-called right leaning channel, so many of these questions were essentially framed in the conventional Democrat perspective. The business about Roe V. Wade being settled law?
HH: Settled law.
MS: What do you way to the sweet, little child of an illegal immigrant who only knows America to live in? Now how are you going to be a big heartless meanie and tell her to clear off? The framing of the questions made the answers far less useful than they could have been.
HH: Martha McCallum actually said somehow, I don’t know how she did it. It would be like a ten in the Olympics for a triple somersault dip from the high board. She got from the Planned Parenthood videos to the war on women somehow.
MS: Yes, and the war on women, I mean, good for Lindsey Graham in a way, for saying that the war on women is actually being, going on in Iraq and Afghanistan and West Africa, and Syria and all kinds of other places right now where ISIS is selling nine year old girls as sex slaves for $165 dollars. I mean, at some, people wonder why Donald Trump is in the lead. Donald Trump is in the lead, because like Newt Gingrich last time around, he doesn’t accept the assumptions of the questions. And somebody at that point, they’re all talented people. Carly Fiorina is an accomplished person, Rick Santorum is an accomplished person. But I would have loved it if one of them had said what the hell is with these questions. One of the things, the most important thing that the Republicans need to do in order to win is to challenge Democrat liberal assumptions as the default lever in which political discourse in this country is conducted. So if you’re not flinging back war on women in their face, if you’re not flinging back Roe V. Wade in their face, when we’re not talking about women’s rights here, we’re talking about the industrial scale selling of baby parts, which only America does. You can’t do it in France, you can’t do it in Germany, you can’t do it in Sweden, you can’t do it in Norway, because they have basically first trimester abortion. So what are they? Are they a part of the war on women, too, because they don’t like selling baby parts? At some point, one of these guys has to be man enough to fling the assumptions of these questions back in these guys’ faces, because it was dispiriting and demoralizing to watch.
HH: It was also, the one point Bill attempted to provoke criticism of John Kasich on expanding Medicaid, legitimate question. But not once did Hillary Clinton pass their lips. This is all about who can beat Hillary Clinton. The server didn’t come up, Mark Steyn.
MS: No, it was, it’s very interesting, and even when topical subjects did come up, they came up in this, as with the Planned Parenthood thing, they came up in a sort of cobwebbed, antiquated, liberal default way. And I don’t, you know, I don’t know why this happened, considering the preparation that goes into these events. But all I can say is I hope what’s going to be happening in three hours doesn’t go this way, because this is terrible. This is terrible for the process, it’s terrible for the energy, but I think it’s also terrible for politics in general. This is not the way politics should be conducted.
HH: Let me play you the question just asked in real time right now, because it sort of sums up what’s wrong with the way that journalists go about talked to elected.
BW: Two word answer to the following query – In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama described Hillary Clinton as “likable enough”. What two words would you use to describe the Democratic front runner. George Pataki?
HH: Now Mark Steyn, that is so convoluted.
MS: Right, right.
HH: And beside the point, the question is can you beat Hillary and why should people vote for you, isn’t it?
MS: Right, right, but everyone likes, everyone, when they’re given the opportunity to host these debates, likes the opportunity to be cute. We saw it last time around where people who have no business even attempting it, like that fellow at CNN, what’s he called, John King, trying to come up with these sort of labored, stilted, circuitous ways, whereas you say, a straightforward, head-on question to the nub of the matter is actually what’s needed. And this was a disaster. I mean, this was an absolute disaster, but it was a disaster not so much because the candidates all defaulted to their stilted talking points, but because the questions were so appallingly and long-windedly conceived.
HH: All right, now I’ve got to play for you something from yesterday, Mark Steyn, because they’re still talking, by the way, at the Fox News debate, and Rick Perry is looking very strong. But I’ve got to play this for you and get your reaction. This is Barack Obama yesterday.
BO: It’s those hardliners chanting death to America who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.
HH: I actually don’t think I’ve ever heard anything more despicable from a president, Mark Steyn.
MS: No, because actually, what he’s saying would make the Republican Party treasonous if it was true.
MS: And in fact, the reality is that the death to America crowd are all behind this deal, because in a sense, they’re being given $150 billion dollars and death to America. So it’s not, in a sane world, it would be either/or. You can stand in the street and shout death to America, or you can have the $150 billion dollars. But in this case, Barack Obama says no problem, it’s a both of the above deal. We’ll give you $150 billion dollars to carry on shouting death to America. And again, at some point, people, when everyone falls back on this lame cliché, Washington is broken, Washington isn’t broken for Democrats and liberals. It delivers the world they want relatively effectively. The Republicans do not push back against this stuff in primal terms. He’s just told, he’s just told what we would call in Canada Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, that they’re not loyal at all, but they’re in the same bed as the nation’s enemies. And they just, what are they going to do? Just stand there and answer coy, cutesy, little questions from Bill and Martha for another couple of hours?
HH: I got an email from my friend, Tim, today. Hugh, I now believe when it comes to, down to with Trump is non-establishment Republicans are desperate for an alpha male, and Trump is clearly the only alpha male in the campaign. They are tired of having sand kicked in their faces by Obama, ISIS, Mexico, Russia, China, etc. And Trump won’t let them kick sand in our faces. At least that’s the belief. That’s why I think he has staying power, and it doesn’t really matter what he says in this or any other debate, although I think he’ll do surprisingly well tonight. As long as he projects an alpha male appearance, he’ll continue to lead in the primary. What do you think about that, a minute, Mark.
MS: Yeah, I think that’s absolutely right, and that’s why all this thing about oh, why hasn’t he laid out his policies about whether the rate of corporate tax should be 13.8 or 27.2%, he’s saying, the alpha male business is the policy, that once you buy him as that, you know he’s not going to be curled up in the fetal position like one of these Planned Parenthood baby parts special offers. He’s not going to be curled up in the fetal position letting Barack Obama compare him to the Ayatollahs and the death to America guys. And that’s what, that is his policy platform. That’s what he’s running on, and that’s why it’s working. And having sand kicked in your face by Bill Hemmer and Martha McCallum is not working for these seven guys.
HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, www.steynonline.com, America.
End of interview.