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Mark Steyn On India’s Election, Shinseki’s Indifference, McDonough’s Tin Ear, And The Metastasizing Lies Of This Government

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HH: I’ve got a lot to cover today with my first guest, and we are always lucky to have Mark Steyn of with us, Columnist To the World. Hello, Mark.

MS: Hi, Hugh.

HH: I have a lot to cover with you, including General Shinseki and Chuck Todd, but I want to start with the world’s biggest news story that no one in America knows about, which is India is voting, they’re probably already voting, and it will be done by this weekend, and Modi’s going to win. And this is a big deal in India, and I’ll bet that you actually know something about India and what this portends for the subcontinent.

MS: I wouldn’t, I couldn’t honestly pretend to be an expert on the ins and outs of Indian politics. All I’d say about it is this, that I think this election marks the, I would say, the continuation of what’s happened, really, since the end of the Cold War. India made a strategic miscalculation in the first years after independence, in the early 1950s, and aligned itself with the Soviet Union. And then, of course, when the Soviet Union went belly up, it had to reorient itself, and it reoriented itself toward the West with great success. And I don’t think any of that is going to change with the election tonight.

HH: I think what we’re going to find is in fact a very pro-American government, that we had better be in a willing position to embrace.

MS: Well, but that’s the thing. If you talk to Indian political insiders, they got far more attention from George W. Bush than they did from Barack Obama.

HH: Yup.

MS: And the great story, I mean, at the end of his, in 2008, George W. Bush had higher approval ratings in India than he did in the United States. And it was one of those great untold stories. India is an emerging power. India is, you know, obviously, they’re commonwealth cousins to me, but India in the broader sense is a part of the Anglosphere, and as it reoriented itself to become a growing economic power in the 90s and 00s, The Bush administration saw that and were great friends to India, reoriented, you may remember going back a few years, America’s buddy in that neck of the woods was always Pakistan. And George W. Bush was the guy who said no, India is the fellows who represent our values, and we should be with them, the world’s biggest democracy. I mean, it’s an amazing thing. A billion people, a nation of a billion people, and they’re having a democratic election actually entirely similar in every particular to an election in Canada or the United Kingdom or Australia. And George W. Bush did, cementing the American-Indian friendship. Obama has largely squandered it, but not in any way that’s going to make any difference.

HH: Now let’s move on to the story of the day, General Shinseki defending the conduct of the VA, and it’s impossible to defend. And Jake Tapper grilled him, and did a fine job doing so. Jake’s coming up after the break, but something that the Chief of Staff of the White House said to Jake Tapper when being pressed. Jake said you know, how many dead veterans do you need? And a little bit later, the Chief of Staff, McDonough, says this.

DM: Rick Shinseki, well the fact of these deaths is an outrage to the President, and he’s made that clear. You heard what General Shinseki said today. He’s as mad as hell about this. Nobody’s more mad than the President, and I have the scars to show it given his reaction to this as he and I have talked about.

HH: Now I am going to push Jake a little bit on not having the same level of outrage about all of the Obama scandals, and I’ll ask him about this, but if George Bush or his chief of staff had referred to the political scars they bore when talking about veterans with real scars, Mark Steyn, what would the talking heads on TV be doing?

MS: Yeah, it’s completely insensitive. The funny thing about Washington is that it’s so disconnected from the real world, is that all language becomes metaphorical. You know, they say someone’s head is going to be on the block for this. And this guy said you know, I have the scars to show it. He doesn’t have any scars. The veterans who are dying, and by the way, America, since we’re talking comparatively with commonwealth countries, India and others, America, I think, treats its veterans absolutely appallingly, and has turned them essentially into a victim class, going around with these sob sister ribbons saying we support our troops. The Veterans Administration is one of the most disgraceful units of the federal government. So to go around when people have real scars, real wounds from these ineffectually waged wars, and you’re comparing them to your metaphorical scars, I don’t even know what that means. The President stood up, holding a piece of cardboard with hashtag you’re a loser on it. What scars is he talking about?

HH: Amen. It is, I don’t know how it got past Jake, but I’ll ask him about it. Now also coming up is Mike Pompeo, who’s on the Benghazi Select Committee. And I’m going to ask him if he thinks the media will give them a fair shake. But here’s what Chuck Todd had to say this morning on Morning Joe, and I like Chuck. He’s been a guest on the show. I think he’s center-left. He’s not crazy liberal, but nevertheless, this took me aback. Here’s Chuck Todd this morning.

CT: It certainly looks more partisan than it looks like an inquiry, because, a serious inquiry, because to go to Richard Clarke’s point, they’ve done a ton of these inquiries already. The House has, there’s been a Senate Intelligence investigation. Forget just the State Department, just the outside investigation that the State Department asked for. You know, I think that you could argue that yes, Congress should have done what it did, which is go through some of these committees. But as for the need for the select committee, there just, I, you know, I’ll hear from Republicans that say but there are unanswered questions. Well, no, all the questions have been answered. There’s just some people that don’t like the answers, that wishes the answers were somehow more conspiratorial, I guess. What I don’t understand is their focus seems to be off. Have a conversation about the policy. Have a debate and an investigation of whether the policy is working, to whether the response on the Arab Spring, whether we did the right thing with the light footprint in Libya. But to sit here and investigate talking points seems to be totally missing the larger point here. It’s like investigating who cut down a tree, one tree in a forest that’s been burned down.

HH: Mark Steyn, my colleague at Townhall, Guy Benson, has listed in response to this, and it’s at, ten categories of questions which have not been answered. But how in the world if Chuck Todd can honestly believe that, that all of the questions have been answered, how can anyone take themselves seriously as journalists in that town?

MS: Well no, and it’s interesting, because Eleanor Clift, cranking up the Democratic talking points another notch, attempted to argue that Ambassador Stevens was not murdered in Benghazi, that he died of natural causes from smoke inhalation or whatever it was she said, and she reminds us, by the way, in doing that, that we don’t even know. He’s the first ambassador murdered in the course of his duties in a third of a century, and we actually don’t know what he died of. There are contradictory stories out there. The truth about what happened that night has not been told. And if you’re really interested in preventing it happening again, then this is important. And it’s not, and as I’ve said before on your show, Hugh, when people say it’s partisan about this, actually everybody in this story are either Democrats or career civil servants. There are no Republicans involved in these stories. The competing narratives are competing narratives between the professional diplomats in Benghazi and in Tripoli and their political masters in Washington. There are no Republicans involved in these competing narratives, and Chuck Todd should know that.

HH: He should. I’m going to list for Jake Tapper in response to his how many dead veterans do you need, I’m going to list the Shinseki VA, the IRS and Lois Lerner, the Benghazi, sitting on the Rhodes memo and everything else we don’t know, what was the President doing, what was the Secretary of State doing, Jay Carney just telling Jon Karl a Benghazi memo isn’t about Benghazi, Eric Holder on Fast & Furious, the DOJ spying on journalists, the NSA’s failure to notice that Snowden was leaving the building with everything. I’m going to list them all for him. What’s it going to take, do you think, for anyone in the mainstream media to say oh, my God, this is making Nixon look like a tulip farm?

MS: Well, they don’t seem to mind being lied to. The thing about white lying is political in politics, is because if you start and you get away with it, it spreads to everything. I mean, if you can get away with lying on Benghazi, you can get away with lying on the IRS. And at that point, why would anyone think it’s a big deal when the President goes out on the road and says if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. He’s gotten away with lies. And by the way, if you’re a citizen of this republic, and you say well, I don’t mind him lying on Benghazi because it’s some screwy town on the other side of the planet, what do I care, and I don’t mind him lying about the IRS, because I don’t make any political donations, so it’s not really my ballpark, and I don’t mind him lying about Fast & Furious, because I’m not some Mexican who’s been shot dead by some drug gang that got its guns from the United States Government, you’re not in a position to complain, then, when he lies about your health insurance, because you went along with all the other lies. And that’s why you have to stop this stuff at the first lie, because otherwise, they lie about everything, which is pretty much the state this government is in.

HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure., America, the passing parade of Mark’s commentary is refreshed every single day. You can read this and every other comment and commentary he provides at

End of interview.


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