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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn On Mandela’s Passing, Advice For Senate Republicans, And Obamacare Happy Hours

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JC: Now, as we always have in this segment at this moment during the week, we have Mark Steyn from www.steynonline.com with us. Hi, Mark.

MS: Hey, good to talk with you, John.

JC: Good to talk to you. Now the news, the big news that just broke actually within the last hour was the passing of Nelson Mandela at age 95. We know he’d been ill for some time, but he passed away earlier today and we got that news just a little over an hour ago. I believe that you, Mark Steyn, at one point, wrote obituaries or something for The Atlantic, did you not?

MS: Yeah, I was the Atlantic Monthly’s obituarist for a few years, yeah.

JC: Well, why don’t you give a verbal one here on Nelson Mandela, or any thoughts you have on his life and work and passing.

MS: Well, he was a man of enormous grace and dignity. He spent three decades in jail for his political beliefs, and it would have been very easy, particularly once he’d become the champion of a global moment. There were hit pop songs called Free Nelson Mandela, there was a huge all-star rock gala at Wembley Stadium. He was, he became a poster child for the anti-Apartheid cause. And it would have been easy for him once he’d come out of jail to have been a bitter and a partisan and divisive figure. And he wasn’t. He was enormously generous in spirit given what the South African Apartheid state had done to him for the most productive decades of his life. And whatever the problems of South Africa currently, that period when he and F.W. De Klerk, his predecessor, the last Apartheid leader of South Africa, when they basically agreed to a genuine reconciliation, such as one rarely sees in Africa, I think that is his towering achievement.

JC: Well, very good. His, there will be a lot written and a lot said about him today and tomorrow, and in the weeks ahead as we look back at the life and work of Nelson Mandela. But bringing things a little bit closer to home, Mark Steyn, I know that Hugh Hewitt, whose microphone he has lent to me for today, is a big fan of the Mark Steyn for Senator in New Hampshire movement. But…and here, when I guest host for this show, quite often, I do these things where we’re pretend Congressmen or pretend Senators or one thing or another. And we’ll be doing that later on the show today. But right now, I am making you, there’s no reason to bother with this election right now. I’m making you pretend Senator from New Hampshire, Senator Steyn. So it’s a pleasure to have pretend Senator Steyn on the show. So I want to ask you this, pretend Senator Steyn, when we look at things closer to home here. The Senate is out this week, but they’ll come back into session on Monday. This is really the beginning of the period in the post-nuclear option. The Senate will have been out for two weeks, and it was about three weeks or so ago when Harry Reid pulled the trigger on the nuclear option, and now we will have judges and other things confirmed on 50 votes in the Senate instead of 60. So now you, as a Republican Senator from New Hampshire in the Senate, how do the Republicans respond now? What do you do the same or do differently as a result of the existence of the nuclear option

JC: Well, I think you have to, well, let me back up a minute there. I mean, for a start, I think under the Constitutional order here, a president is entitled to a wide degree of discretion when it comes to his judges. But, but, that said, the problem here is that we have an increasingly a hyper-regulatory state where in effect the lawfulness of what citizens are being burdened with eventually is decided by judges. And that’s true of Obamacare and all kinds of other stuff. And so the Senate, the Republicans in the Senate, have to, I believe, honor the function of the upper chamber, which is basically to slow things down. Basically, Harry Reid says nuts to that, I don’t care what the founders had in mind, I don’t care about the traditional role of the upper house in a bicameral legislature. I’m going to floor it, I’m going to put my foot on the gas. And the Republicans have to honor not just the Constitution, but in fact, a broader degree of precedence going back centuries, and say that the job of the upper house is to slow, is to temper, is essentially to temper democracy and prevent it from becoming simply a majoritarian tyranny. And that’s what Harry Reid wants to bulldoze his way past, and that’s what senators should be standing against.

JC: But, okay, standing against, but it has occurred. So what do senators do now? Now there are still a number of things that require 60 votes in the Senate.

MS: Yeah.

JC: They didn’t do the full nuclear option. They still, they can still delay things, they can still muck up the works a little bit. What sort of protest, other than say this is terrible, this is an outrage, what should they do? Or is there anything they should be doing on the Senate floor about it?

MS: No, I think they should, with the remaining 60 vote things, and by the way, I don’t honestly think that those 60 vote requirements are long for this world. I think once you’ve basically established, I mean, Harry Reid right now is saying he’s a little bit pregnant, but he reserves the right to get a little bit more pregnant down the road. So I think you know, once you’ve breached the wall and the 60 vote thing is, the idea that for example, the 60 vote thing could stay on for Supreme Court nominations doesn’t make sense once you’ve got rid of it for judges all the way down. But basically, he’s making the rules up as he goes along. And for that reason, the job of the minority in the Senate is to actually insist, to hold him to what rules that remain, and require that he stick to those rules. I mean, one reason why millions of people have had their health insurance cancelled is because of all the legislative sleight of hand that was going on with Harry Reid’s Senate three years ago. So these things have real world consequences, and that’s why simply to maintain your status as a respectable bastion of representative government, the minority has to insist that the rules be followed.

JC: Yeah, okay. Switching gears again now, the President gave a speech yesterday in which he talked a lot about income equality. And he began, went back into his campaign mode, talked about the increasing income inequality in the United States and actually around the world, acting like he hadn’t been president for five years, as though somehow the fact that some of this happened under his watch had nothing to do with him. But your reaction and thoughts about the President’s income redistribution efforts here?

MS: Well, I think you’re right to make the point that you know, it’s been his world for five years. It’s like opening up Variety and finding a guy complaining about what a lousy night he had on Broadway when he’s the playwright. I mean, this is Obama’s world. He is a, he believes genuinely in redistribution. And I think what’s actually, what’s so silly about that is if you look at what he actually does, other than just talk about it, I mean, for example, one of the worst things for income inequality in this country is a massive level of illegal immigration from Latin America that he supports, and which he now wants to legalize. All that does is basically put people who are already in the country at the bottom of the economic ladder at an incredible disadvantage. And basically, his party, his party is wedded to the idea, as much as the Saudis are, is wedded to the idea of a permanent servant class that is just continuously replenished. So in a sense, there’s no consistency about this. The best thing to do, the best thing for income inequality is a competitive job market. And the best thing for a competitive job market is not to import tens of millions of low-skilled people from outside the country.

JC: And in our last minute that we have with you, Mark Steyn, the President yesterday also called on bartenders. We’re going to play this clip later in case listeners haven’t heard it, but he called on bartenders to have happy hours, to bring people in to support Obamacare.

MS: Well, I thought it was bad enough when he was issuing Obamacare talking points for Thanksgiving dinner, his Obamacare turkey points for your cranky uncle who listens to right wing talk radio. I thought that was insane enough. The idea of, I mean, I can’t think of anything less than a happy hour than you know, going into a bar. I’d be face down in the beer nuts and paralytic if some guy started talking to me about Obamacare in the bar. That’s definitely the last place for it.

JC: Thank you, Mark Steyn. www.steynonline.com, and it’s ironic that the President should have done that yesterday, because today is the 80th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition. It took 13 years to repeal prohibition. How long will it take to repeal Obamacare?

End of interview.

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