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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn On The Nuclear Option And Obamacare, The Greatest Act Of Punitive Liberalism

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HH: Why am I playing the theme song from Camelot? Because it is the subject of Mark Steyn’s meditation at www.steynonline.com this morning, and Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn, joins me now. Fascinating column today, Mark, especially the vignette that Camelot was playing at the Chicago Opera House fifty years tomorrow when Jack Kennedy was shot and killed, and the impact that the merger of the two strands had.

MS: Yeah, that’s true. Camelot was on the road, and the famous issue of Life Magazine in which Mrs. Kennedy had claimed that Jack used to sit at the end of each night listening to the original Broadcast cast album of Camelot, and that story hit the newsstand, and that night, Camelot was playing at the Chicago Opera House. And the show actually came to a halt when the whole audience was sort of convulsed in a great kind of heaving sob of collective tears. Alan J. Lerner, who wrote Camelot, told me that story. The fascinating thing to me about that, though, is that by all accounts, there’s absolutely no evidence that Jack Kennedy, who was somewhat higher brow than his wife in these matters, ever actually listened to Camelot or particularly liked Camelot. He was at school with Alan J. Lerner. They were classmates, he and Alan J. Lerner. And Mrs. Kennedy effectively invented the Camelot myth out of whole cloth for no apparent reason.

HH: People have got to read the whole piece, but I’ve got to say that’s of a piece with today. You could invent things out of whole cloth. And the President, today, invented outrage at the filibuster. I want to play for you, Mark Steyn, two clips of President Obama in 2005, cut number 8:

BO: But if the right of free and open debate is taken away from the minority party, and the millions of Americans who ask us to be their voice, I fear that the already partisan atmosphere in Washington will be poisoned to the point where no one will be able to agree on anything.

HH: And here’s a second cut from 2005.

BO: Again, I urge my Republican colleagues not to go through with changing these rules. In the long run, it is not a good result for either party. One day, Democrats will be in the majority again. And this rule change will be no fairer to a Republican minority than it is to a Democratic minority.

HH: Mark Steyn, how soon we forget.

MS: Yeah, and that pretty much applies to anything that Barack Obama says. If you recall in 2008, he was saying President Bush seems to think that he can just make up the law as he goes along. I am a Constitutional lawyer, and when I am president, I will uphold the Constitution of the United States, and then as he did, I think exactly a week ago, he basically passed a new law all by himself at his press conference. I mean, what I would say is interesting about this, Hugh, and I say this because I think it’s one of the differences between the American view of things and the Westminster view of things, is that there are supposed to be, there are supposed to be checks and balances in the United States system of government. In the British system, almost nothing is written down. The term prime minister was never actually used officially in any legislation until the 1920s. The Australian Constitution doesn’t even mention the office of prime minister. The Jamaican Constitution just says executive power shall be invested in her majesty. That’s what the Canadian Constitution says. And then it says there shall be a Queen’s privy council for Canada that may advise her majesty on such subjects from time to time. And all the rest, nothing is written down, all the rest is codes and conventions. America is the land that wrote it all down. And there’s something very odd when people talk about fair and honest debate, there’s no debate in the United States Senate. I don’t believe in the filibuster. But I would have liked, in a real legislative chamber, they would have had a debate on it with all 100 senators in a room together debating the merits of it. And instead, like every other thing the United States Senate does, and believe me, it pains me to say this as the next senator from New Hampshire, it’s all done in the dark. And there are 100 guys who are never in the room together. It’s a completely phony baloney Potemkin chamber. And if it’s going to pretend to be the world’s greatest deliberative body, it ought to deliberate from time to time.

HH: Oh, that’s asking far too much. This is the chamber of Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Robert Taft, Arthur Vandenberg, even an old racist like Sam Ervin could get marbled up occasionally But it’s led by Harry Reid now, Mark Steyn. This is not, I mean, 100 years from now, what will they say of Harry Reid if anything?

MS: Well, they will say what he is, that his thing is getting to 51. And a lot of, you know, and that seems cute, because we admire political operators. So the guy who can get to 51, we think he’s a smart guy. So all the people who like naked power plays will think this is a pretty cute thing he did today. And everyone will reverse their position on a dime like Obama did. But in the end, it’s, you can be too clever for your own good This is how Obamacare became law because of procedural trickery because Ted Kennedy had died, so it means there was a vacancy in the Senate, you couldn’t go back and correct and amend the Senate version of the bill because they were a senator short. They were going to, do you remember when they were talking about deeming it to have passed?

HH: Yup.

MS: Deeming it. You know, and because of that procedural trickery, millions and millions of people across America have lost their health insurance, and thousands of other suckers who think they’ve enrolled in Obamacare, and think they have some new form of health insurance, because it doesn’t accept any payment processing on the stupid website, are going to go to the pharmacy or the emergency room on January 7th or 8th, and discover that in fact, they don’t have medical insurance.

HH: This is, I’m not a fan of the filibuster, never have been, though it’s been extra-Constitutional forever. But I do know that long periods of escalating procedural trickery and innovation, such as marked the Roman revolution for 60 years in the ancient days, always end badly. And you brought up Obamacare. I want to read you a story that just came over the wires, Mark Steyn. California health insurance exchange, which is called Covered California, has declined a presidential invitation permitting insurers to grant extensions to more than one million California customers with policies set to terminate at year’s end. Covered California officials said they were leery of giving insurance companies more time. Chairwoman Diana Dooley said she was troubled by the impact of the cancellations, “but fundamental mitigation is not possible.” 600,000 people, Mark Steyn, the commission announced, will be paying more and there’s nothing they can do about it, if they can pay anything at all. It’s a nightmare out here.

MS: Yeah, and the fact is that the President is a man of low cunning. So when he said I’ve waved my magic and all the policies I cancelled are now uncancelled, he well knew, he well understood that in the end, that was a call that was going to be made by state commissioners and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and all the rest of them. And having had, having given them three years to bring the policies they offered into compliance with the health commissar’s bureau of compliance, they then switch on the TV and discover that Obama is now giving them ten minutes to decomply all those plans. I mean, realistically, what we’re talking about here is January 1st, January 1st, which means that under most, under the usual paperwork processing of American life, people have got to have checks in the mail for these plans on December 15th. And what this means is that there’s going to be chaos. I mean, this is Obama, the bringer of chaos. And as I said, it goes back to ramming, I said at the time he was basically hammering this law through the teeth of the American people and down their throat against what all the polls said and through procedural trickery. And it has brought chaos. He is the bringer of chaos.

HH: And that brings me back to where I began. Your column over at www.steynonline.com, “Lerner said the assassination opened up the horrors that were the 60s.” And those led to all sorts of crazy stuff, Mark Steyn, and we’re still, you know, Pandora’s box is open, and we continue to rumble on unguided, the guard rails are down, and I think January is going to be bumpy indeed.

MS: Yeah, I think that’s right. And if you look at, Jim Pearson wrote a great book on Camelot, by the way, that in effect, transformed the Democratic Party, I’m not a believer in Kennedy myths or anything, but the biggest victim of Kennedy mythology was the Democratic Party. They were transformed from a reasonably sane party into believers in punitive liberalism. And Obamacare is the greatest act of punitive liberalism the Democratic Party has forced on the American People.

HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure to talk to you. www.steynonline.com, America, for the latest. I didn’t even play the terrible trick on him that they played on the poor Harvard kids this week asking him what the capital of Canada was. I assume he knew it was Ottawa, but I let him off the hook.

End of interview.

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