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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn and Victor Davis Hanson

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I am off to Colorado and then D.C. so posting will be light, but what better way to begin a pivotal weekend in the country’s history than by talking about the elections with columnist-to-the-world Mark Steyn (transcript here) and historian Victor Davis Hanson (transcript here).

Teasers from the transcripts:

Steyn on the president with Jon Stewart and the lefty bloggers:

HH: All right, we’ll keep an eye on that. Now let me ask you, we’ve talked about this many times about President Obama, and now I’m calling it the presidentialness gap between President Obama and everyone else who has ever been in the office. And it came back to me last night when he appeared on Comedy Central, and he was rebuked by a comedian who called him dude.

MS: Yeah.

HH: What did you make of that, Mark Steyn?

MS: Yes, I think finding the right balance…Walter Bagehot’s famous line on the British monarchy is that you shouldn’t let daylight in upon mystery. And that is not necessarily true for a president, but it’s true for a celebrity president, which is what Obama is. Obama ran with a certain sort of cool mystique in 2008. He has, aside from all his policy ineptitudes, and all the rest of it, he has damaged his mystique, perhaps because it’s not possible to be a celebrity president. I certainly hope not, because I don’t want the American people to repeat this mistake ever again. But I do not think it was at this stage, when his party is facing an historic defeat, when you’ve got 10% unemployment, as somebody said, I think it was over at the American Spectator today, in the old days, the jesters used to court kings. Today, an enfeebled king courted the jester. And that’s what it looked like. He’s just retreated to his base, which his base is sad, pathetic, hip, white, upper middle class college layabouts, which is basically the Jon Stewart audience. And I think if that’s what he’s reduced to, it’s not enough to be president of the United States.

HH: He also called in a group of left wing bloggers to talk to him in the Oval Office. I’ve got nothing against that. President Bush had talk radio hosts back on a couple of occasions. I have participated in that. But I read through the transcript, Mark Steyn, and these four or five anointed lefty bloggers, they asked about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, they asked about gay marriage, they asked about other stuff. Not one question about the war in which we find ourselves. The times I went in there with the talk show hosts, it was always all about the war. Are you surprised by this?

MS: No, because I think they have their priorities, and their priorities, they are a parochial and self-indulgent group of people living, in effect, on Cloud Cuckooland. What I found interesting about that was the winking that went on in Obama’s answer, where he said his position on gay marriage was evolving, evolving, and he said he wasn’t going to say any more than that, but that’s the most they could expect to get out of him at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon in the Roosevelt room. What he’s telling them is completely cynical. He’s saying in effect that he agrees with them on gay marriage, that his stated position is in fact just a fraud and a front, and as soon as the polls provide sufficient cover, it’ll move in the direction they want. This ought to be contemptible. This ought to signal to people that this is a man who at best is profoundly unserious, and at worst, is just the most pathetic and feeble kind of pandering opportunist. He doesn’t look good in that transcript at all.

Hanson on California’s choice:

HH: Now given that, let’s switch over to the Republican side. You were a farmer before you were a historian. And I’ve got to ask you, from the perspective of a farmer in California’s tortured Central Valley, can you imagine Jerry Brown as governor again?

VDH: No, I can’t, because the genesis of a lot of the things that we see now, public unions and cutting the water off, and small is beautiful by not investing in infrastructure, and enormous social services programs, that all started under Jerry Brown. It really did. It was an antithesis to what his father had done, who had invested in infrastructure and kept taxes low. So there was a time when California had an income tax rate of 4%, and we’ve got 10.1% that falls on people at $65,000. We’ve got 10% sales tax. We’ve got the highest gas taxes, and yet we have the highest deficits and the lowest reading scores. And why would anybody want to vote somebody in that was sort of shepherded that redistributive state in? I don’t understand that. Meg Whitman has not run a good campaign, though.

HH: I don’t believe these polls, and I just don’t, given that Andy Vidak’s ahead up in the Central Valley, and…

VDH: Yeah, he is.

HH: And Harmer’s ahead up in San Francisco, and Van Tran’s ahead down here in Orange County. So I just don’t believe these polls. But the consequences, Victor Hanson, of California going left, were those polls correct, with a hard left legislature and a left wing governor, looking at a Republican Congress, that Congress would simply say collapse.

VDH: Absolutely. That’s what I’m scared about. I think they’re going to say if you guys like high taxes and big deficits, and the lowest reading scores, 49th in the nation, then go ahead. Do what you want. We’re not going to bail you out. We’re not going to help you. And I’m worried about that.

HH: They won’t even give the authority to modify the contracts. Honestly, I think as a Californian, you and I probably have the same perspective. We’re on the cliff here.

VDH: Yeah.

HH: And if those polls are right, and I don’t believe they’re right, we’re going over.

VDH: I’m really worried about another factor, and that is Jerry Brown brought the idea that you do not utilize resources. We’ve got a billion barrels of oil offshore in Kern County. We’ve got the richest farmland in the world with a million acres idled. We’ve got timber, we’ve got all these wonderful resources, natural and manmade, that we’re not drawing on. We’re just sort of taking a finite pie and re-slicing the pieces. And boy, 3,500 people a week, almost 200,000 a year leaving with incomes estimated over $70,000? It’s scary, because I’m here at ground zero south of Fresno, and with a 17% unemployment rate. And it reminds me of the third world. It really does. We’re going backwards. It’s like 1945. All the things that I grew up with that we were battling, getting dogs licensed, getting mosquito abatement working, getting the roads in good shape, having crossing at railroads. All of that’s just starting to dry up

Read the whole thing. Both of them.

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