HH: We are pleased to begin, this week, with the return of Mark Steyn, who we can find in London tonight. Hello, Mark, welcome back.
MS: Hey, great to be with you, Hugh.
HH: And I hope your travels have gone well?
MS: Yes, yes they have. I only travel to countries where they don’t carry live relays of Obama speeches. And fortunately, there are a few lightly inhabited dustbowls around the world you can still find for that.
HH: Well, let’s start with that speech. I was today at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas, Mark, and then I went to LBJ’s ranch, because I’d never been there before.
HH: And I drove that around. And I was looking at a lot of stuff about FDR and about LBJ. And you know, both of them had their bad points, but what do you think those two guys would have thought of that speech on Tuesday night?
MS: Well, I think they would have thought of it as amateur hour. You know, I’m mildly sympathetic to Obama, because this speech, I thought, was actually no worse than any of the speeches that he was extravagantly praised for by the likes of Anderson Cooper and Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post. Yet all his cheerleaders, all the schoolgirls have suddenly turned on him. He’s last year’s boy band. And like, and if you’ve ever been in the position of being last year’s boy band, they’re, he’s sitting around saying well, why don’t they like it anymore? I did exactly what I did six months, a year, a year and a half ago, but they don’t like it anymore. And I think the reason is because it’s simply not a mature response to the situation at hand. I wrote about Obama’s style in my column last week, and I regret that the White House doesn’t read my columns, because if they had, they wouldn’t have given this disastrous address with the usual platitudinous generalities. This is a man who needs to show he’s grown up, and he’s digested some technical reports, and he understands what’s going on 5,000 feet under the sea. Now it’s all a bit boring and technical, but if he’s not interested in it, he shouldn’t really be president of the United States. But instead, he just fell back on the same platitudinous claptrap that he’s been shoving, you know, the same unstoppable gush of BP proportions that he’s been doing in every speech for a year and a half.
HH: Mark Steyn, I actually have said before, I’ll say it again. It was as though the speech writing shop used Mad Libs to come up with this, and just dropped in clichés. If I had bet you before the speech that he would work in winterizing your windows, would you have taken the bet?
MS: Oh, no. No, this is a joke, because nobody…you know, you can make criticisms of American education and you know, the short attention span of democratic societies and all the rest of it. But nobody watching that is so stupid that they think that what’s going on 5,000 feet below the sea in the Gulf of Mexico has anything to do with winterizing your windows. So he just makes himself look a fool. Jay Leno had the best line when he said something, I forget what it was now, something like the president said last night we could use the Gulf spill as a great opportunity to pass the cap and trade bill. Well, why not try using the Gulf spill as a great opportunity to end the Gulf spill?
MS: I mean, when Jay Leno, when Jay Leno has got the president’s number, then I think this is real peril, because the danger of this great man, supposedly the smartest guy ever to sit in the Oval Office, is that he’s becoming a joke.
MS: He’s a one-trick pony.
MS: And I think this increases the danger that he’ll be seen as the sort of Milli Vanilli of politics, that he’s got one song he can come out and lip synch to, and it doesn’t, as you say, it’s Mad Libs. It doesn’t even matter what order he cites the vapid clichés of his speech in, because they’re all the same anyway. But he can’t do anything else. And at that point, he’s Milli Vanilli.
HH: Mark Steyn, Lileks came on after the speech, and went through the trope about the ‘if we can get to the Moon’, Podhoretz did it as well. But I am more concerned with this war trope. Having been to this amazing museum, and I recommend you get to it sometime if you haven’t had a…who knows why it’s in Fredericksburg, other than it’s the birthplace of Nimitz, of course.
HH: But how it ended up there, lavishly funded as it is, it’s a gorgeous depiction of the sacrifice and heroism of a real war. This isn’t a war. This is a two-month drilling expedition with a lot of terrible costs associated with it. But don’t you think the country is tired of this kind of moral equivalence when we’ve got real wars with real heroes fighting real enemies?
MS: Yes, but I think, you know, this is why it’s really rather delicious, what’s happening to him. People use the line about being hoisted on your own petard too easily, because it never, it rarely happens quite so exquisitely as it’s happened here. Barack Obama was one of many opportunist politicians who berated George W. Bush during Katrina, because he seemed to think then, he used the opportunity to imply that the president of the United States should be the first responder-in-chief. I don’t happen to think he is. And I happen to think that whatever happens in the Gulf would happen a lot quicker if he just said BP, get on with it, and some of these various foreign experts that the United States has given the brush-off to, like the Dutch, who had various equipment that they thought might be useful, and he gave them the cold shoulder. But as I said, this sort of, this cheesy opportunism that the Democrats used a couple of years ago has now come back to bite them. I don’t even believe that except for those on the Gulf Coast, that that many Americans are actually bothered about it. But they’re demagoguing the issue precisely because Obama demagogued Katrina a couple of years ago. And again, it creates the impression. He cancelled his trip to Australia again.
MS: Again. He postponed the first trip to Australia because of health care, and now he’s postponed it again because of [the oil spill]. This is like Jimmy Carter on steroids. This is like Jimmy Carter tiptoeing out in the Rose Garden every couple of weeks, and then getting scared back in not by the Iranian hostage crisis, but by something different every two or three weeks. He makes himself look the captive creature of events.
HH: Let me ask you about Republicans now, and let’s dish out some criticism. Today, Joe Barton, ranking Republican on House Energy, said an obvious thing, which is due process ought not to be suspended, even when the bad guy’s an oil company. And a lot of Republicans have round heels, and they are assaulting him for being indifferent, which he isn’t, to the devastation on the Gulf. What he’s saying is we have laws here, and we don’t let presidents berate and destroy companies, Mark Steyn. But I’m concerned Republicans are unwilling to fight on this idea that the rule of law is the rule of law, even for oil companies.
MS: No, this isn’t difficult, by the way. I mean, if there are legitimate claims against British Petroleum, there’s a mechanism for that, and it’s called the justice system.
MS: And I trust the courts. I don’t trust a government escrow fund, because I think it’s highly likely that what will happen is what happened with the stimulus money, which was supposed to go and help stimulate the economy, and instead went into a lot of various seedy rackets benefiting Democrat client groups. So the idea that this money is safer for the so-called victims of BP by being in the Obama-SEIU-ACORN escrow account, or whatever it is, than if it was being, than if it was being adjudicated under the courts, I think this is terrible. The United States, when I left that great land a few weeks ago to start my travels, at that point, it was not technically a banana republic. The fact that it can simply, that Obama’s enforcers can simply lean on BP and demand they stick $20 billion dollars in an Obama-controlled bank account, I think it is pretty close to banana republic status.
HH: I think we’re going to find out that much to my surprise, Chicago’s been deeply injured by the Gulf spill. Somehow, that money’s coming up to Illinois.
MS: Yeah, it’s going to be (laughing), it’s going to be washing up on Michigan Avenue, I think, or whatever.
HH: Yeah, they’re going to find it there. Well, what about Great Britain? That’s where we find you tonight in London. They are, you know, there are a lot of pensioners sitting in the park there along Hyde Park who depend upon their BP checks, which aren’t going to be coming this quarter, Mark Steyn.
MS: Yeah, no, and clearly, it’s not…the idea that somehow, BP did this deliberately to Obama, that as British newspapers are beginning to complain, this pathetic president sees this as some sort of oil slick version of the War of 1812-II, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…
MS: I mean, this is beginning to exasperate people here. BP has paid an enormous price with, in effect, the government of the world’s superpower talking down its share price. The idea that BP did this deliberately, and is not trying to fix it as quickly as possible, is absurd. But what Obama is doing now is basically confiscating British pensions. And at some point, you know, at some point, there’s not much left of the so-called special relationship as it is. Obama is rapidly becoming the most loathed man in the United Kingdom. But that situation is going to deteriorate beyond repair if he carries on like this.
HH: A minute left, Mark Steyn. Do we get you back stateside fairly soon? Or are you afraid they’re going to revoke your status in the United States as a legal resident and would-be citizen, whatever, I don’t know.
MS: No, no. I think after my recent remarks, actually, my house in New Hampshire has just been added to the Obama-BP escrow account.
HH: (laughing) You never know, Mark Steyn. You never know.
MS: I’m confident that my green card will still be valid when I get back, but you do never know. I spoke, incidentally, to a couple of serious Obama critics over here who claim that mysterious things have begun to happen to them since they criticized Obama, so you do never know.
HH: You never know. www.steynonline.com to check in, America, to see if he gets back, Columnist To the World that he is. We need him back stateside. www.steynonline.com. Thank you, Mark, good to have you back.
End of interview.