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Mark Steyn laughing response to Michelle Obama’s attempt to turn the page

Thursday, May 1, 2008

HH: Thanks to Mark Steyn, Columnist to the World, who joins us as he does every Thursday when we’re lucky. You can read all of Mark’s work at, and of course, you can get America Alone, now out in paperback. Mark Steyn, I saw you on Hannity & Colmes last night. You’re having far too much fun with the meltdown on the Democratic side.

MS: Yeah, I was, because I think it is terrific fun, and I think actually, that last Obama-Clinton debate was the best debate we’ve had on either side of the aisle since this thing got going. So I think actually, the more these two knuckle down toward this 50/50 bitter, bitter fight, actually, the better it is for…and I think certainly on Hillary’s side, she will be a better candidate for it by the time this thing’s over.

HH: You know, it’s interesting when she went on the O’Reilly Factor. She did something that I think politicians always profit by, which is to go in harm’s way on the media side. And they don’t do it very often, because they’re so afraid of gaffes, and yet she emerged from that with, I think, her dignity and honor intact, and she didn’t make any mistakes, and I think as opposed to Obama hiding out from her, that stands her in good stead. Did you see the O’Reilly Factor?

MS: Yes, and I agree with you. I think the trouble is if you do the softball thing, where you’re Hillary and you go and get given a sort of nice, warm tongue bath by Katie Couric on the CBS News, it’s boring for viewers and it’s boring for you. It’s boring for the candidate. The candidate generally underperforms in those circumstances. Hillary was clearly on her toes with Bill O’Reilly, but actually, I think she pitched it kind of just about right. There’s something slightly nutty that’s going on here when she was pledging, you know, she was going to take down OPEC, she said at one point.

HH: Right.

MS: You know, Hillary, simply because Obama is now the candidate of the insane left, is kind of reinventing herself as a sort of Scoop Jackson Democrat. It’s bizarre to watch this going on.

HH: And here are the Obamas this morning on the Today Show, trying to get, turn the page, as they say. Cut number 7:

MV: Well, do you feel that the Reverend, Reverend Wright betrayed your husband?

MO: You know, I think that Barack has spoken so clearly and eloquently about this…

MV: But do you personally feel that the Reverend betrayed your husband?

MO: I believe that we’ve got, you know what I think, Meredith? We’ve got to move forward. You know, this conversation doesn’t help my kids. You know, it doesn’t help kids out there who are looking for us to make decisions and choices about how we’re going to better fund education.

HH: Mark Steyn, it’s not helping the children now.

MS: (laughing) Well, actually, she couldn’t even get that line right.

HH: (laughing)

MS: She was supposed to say, you’re supposed to say it’s about the future of all our children, not it’s about the future of my children.

HH: Yup.

MS: I mean, there’s a sort of narcissism about Mrs. Obama that I’m more and more aware of, having listened carefully to a few of her speeches repeat a couple of weeks ago. And she doesn’t seem to be able to get beyond that. But that goes back to what we were talking about. You know, when you go on a show with a sympathetic interviewer, they sit there with that sort of anguished look like Meredith Vieira did, and go well, how did you feel about this, and how did you feel about that, and let’s talk about your feelings, and it’s all fluffy, fluffy, fluffy, and boring, boring, boring. And you actually come off much better when Bill O’Reilly’s sitting there saying ah, come off it, you know this and I know that. And if you can respond to those questions, it’s better than all this how do you feel, as if, you know, this presidential candidate is like some widow whose farmhouse just burned down before the bank decided to come in and repossess it. It’s pathetic.

HH: Let me play for you a couple of cuts from a Michelle Obama speech from Friday night. Before I do that, though, and we get that lined up, it’ll be cuts five and six, did you…Obama’s going on with Tim Russert on Sunday for an hour.

MS: Right.

HH: Do you expect that Russert will be hard on him, soft on him, or just about right, Goldilocks style?

MS: I would imagine that that will be a relatively soft interview. And the thing about Obama is he has this, he’s a very articulate guy when it comes to saying nothing. That’s why he got those rave reviews for that speech he did after the Reverend Wright thing blew up at first, where he amplified the issue. He said it’s not about my crummy pastor, it’s about race, it’s about race in America, it’s about civil rights, it’s about slavery, it’s about everything except what it was actually about. And he was persuasive in the moment, which is why he got those rave reviews for the speech. And then it’s like seeing a movie that seems terrific at the time, but by the time you get to the restaurant twenty minutes later, you can’t remember a thing about it. And that’s like a lot of Obama’s rhetoric.

HH: What’s driving me crazy about this, Mark Steyn, is that my lawyering past and present come to play, and people aren’t asking the obvious questions you would ask of any witness in any deposition about the relationship between Wright and Obama. Okay, let’s go back to first steps. How often did you go to Church, how often did you see each other, did you travel together to the Million Man March, and that sort of accumulation of details by which the relationship can be judged. And the media, Tim Russert probably won’t ask even that basic question, did you see each other at the Million Man March. And it’s maddening.

MS: Yeah, but those guys won’t ask those questions, because they know they’re going to not like the answers. That’s the question you’d be asked on cross-examination. It’s not what your own lawyer would want to ask you, because he knows the answers. So Tim Russert knows the answers, and Katie Couric knows the answers, and Meredith Vieira knows the answers. And we all know the reality. Jeremiah Wright, to his credit, has more integrity than Barack Obama. He says sure, sure I said God damn America, and sure I talked about the AIDS conspiracy, and sure I went to see Colonel Qaddafi. I’m not ashamed about it. You want me to tell you more about that? I’ll do you another forty minute riff on it. In his own perverse way, he has a kind of integrity. The man who doesn’t is the man who spent twenty years in this man’s company, and now claims to be stunned, stunned that he didn’t know this guy at all.

HH: Now I want to play for you Michelle Obama from Friday night, cut number 5:

MO: Like many young people coming out of college, with their MA’s and BA’s and PhD’s and MPh’s coming out so mired in debt that they have to forego the careers of their dreams, see, because when you’re mired in debt, you can’t afford to be a teacher or a nurse or social worker, or a pastor of a Church, or to run a small non-profit organization, or to do research for a small community group, or to be a community organizer…

MS: (laughing)

MO: …because the salaries that you’ll earn in those jobs won’t cover the cost of the degree that it took to get the job.

HH: We’ve got to stop, because I heard you laughing, Mark Steyn.

MS: (laughing) I know. I have never heard anything…I mean, if the premise is that too many people in America go to college and saddle themselves with gazillions of dollars in debt for no good reason, I would agree with that. But the idea that oh, my God, you know, I wanted to run this small non-profit, but I made the mistake of going to Harvard and Princeton, and I got hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, so I had to become a big corporate CEO, I had to found a multi-national company when all I really wanted to do was just be a nice, little grade school teacher, this is ridiculous.

HH: Here’s more Michelle from today, cut number 5 from today:

MO: I’m the cynic in the family. I am the one, right, this is the hope guy. I’ve seen it. I’m like, you really do believe this stuff, don’t you? And it’s a good thing, because he has always said, because I’ve spent my life trying to convince him not to be a politician. It’s like teach, write, sing, dance, I don’t care what you do. Just don’t do this. These people are mean.

HH: Go back to Cut number six from Friday night, and contrast it with this. Here’s cut…Michelle from Friday night:

MO: Barack could have made millions as a lawyer. What choice did he make in the dark when no one was looking, when it didn’t count for anything? He went straight into working for a small civil rights firm in Chicago, became a Constitutional law scholar. Why? Because to whom much is given, much is expected. And when you’re given the gift of advocacy as he was, his view was you don’t sell it to the highest bidder.

HH: All right, Mark Steyn, you get a sense of this, too. There’s an odd mixture here of resentment, cynicism, anger, and envy.

MS: Yes, and the thing about it is she somehow taught herself to be bitter about the terrific opportunities she’s had. How do you say…let’s say you’re a single mom, minimum wage waitress, working for tips in some diner. You’re listening to Michelle Obama talking about her problems. You would think this woman is nuts, that this woman has no understanding of what real misfortune and real tough choices are. And incidentally, I don’t think it’s tough to turn your back on hard jobs, and become a so-called community organizer. I don’t even know what a community organizer is. My own community manages to do without community organizers. I think it’s a rubbish profession, and it wouldn’t make any difference if they all went away tomorrow.

HH: So we’ve got about forty seconds left, Mark Steyn. What do you think happens in Indiana and North Carolina next week?

MS: Well, it’s interesting to me that at the moment, it seems to look as if Obama’s numbers are weakening. And I think the problem for him is that the more you link the Obama campaign with stories about AIDS conspiracy theories, and Jeremiah Wright being, talking about being in chains, it just becomes to seem like a sort of, as if the whole campaign’s going down a racial cul-de-sac that is not what most people want to think about for the next four years.

HH: I agree, but I don’t know how they can get, I don’t know how they can separate from the Obama triumph thus far. Mark Steyn, a pleasure,

End of interview.

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