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Mark Steyn on AIG Freddie’s Congressional nightmare on Elm Street

Friday, March 20, 2009
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HH: We begin this Thursday as we do those Thursdays when we are lucky with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read all of Mark’s material at www.steynonline.com. Mark, as a self-confessed demographics bore, I’m sure you read the USA Today story yesterday that American births hit their highest level ever this year in 2007. What did you make of that?

MS: Yeah, well I’m pleased to hear it, because I think what matters in any society is human capital. And I think the wish to maintain generational solidarity is actually part of the survival instinct for societies. My enthusiasm for the birthrate is modified to some degree by the fact that those kids and grandkids as yet unborn are going to be stuck with a hell of a tab for the mess this administration is getting us into. So in a sense, I think the generation being born right now are going to, if things carry on in the present way, are going to be living in smaller homes and driving smaller cars, if not in basement flats and getting on the bus every morning. But I would hope that by the time they reach majority, things will be a little better for them.

HH: They are in essence our credit card, and we are spending freely on the limit that they’ve given us.

MS: Well, there are no limits. You know, it’s basically, we look on our children and grandchildren as a credit card without limit, and we all come pre-approved. That’s the essence of it, and I think that’s disgusting, and I think it’s disgraceful. I think these unprecedented levels of deficit unseen, depending on how you calculate it, unseen since either World War II or the Civil War, are a moral outrage. And if people had any sense, they’d be far more annoyed about that than the comparative nickel and dime bonuses of some no-name vice president at AIG.

HH: Today, it’s come to our attention that Barack Obama’s teleprompter has a blog and a Twitter feed. Now given the fact that ten years ago no one would have recognized the name of the candidate, much less blog or Twitter feed, it maybe overstating it somewhat, but the mockery is becoming rather intense, Mark Steyn.

MS: Yes, I gave a speech the other day, and I got up and went to the stage and the podium was all in darkness, so I couldn’t actually see my speech. And I said to the crowd, boy, I feel like the President without his teleprompter. And they all fell around laughing, and I did, so I did like ten minutes of, you know, President Barack Oprompter shtick, and the crowd loved it.

HH: (laughing)

MS: It’s become the joke that everybody gets about him. And I think this is in danger of making him look like a rather sad and pitiful fellow. I mean, I basically was dusting off, I once heard Frank Sinatra do jokes about Bob Hopes dependence on cue cards. And I basically just repeated all these, told these 20 old Bob Hope cue card jokes as Obama teleprompter jokes.

HH: (laughing)

MS: You know, does he wake up in the morning and the teleprompter’s behind Michelle’s head, and he’s going Good Morning, Darling. Did you sleep well? And it’s become, you know, it’s not good for him, that it’s become so instantly the Obama joke.

HH: Well, here’s what happens when he goes off prompter. Today, in Costa Mesa, he’s talking about AIG, cut number one:

BHO: Even though it makes you angry because you’re thinking I was responsible, and these folks are irresponsible, and somehow I’m paying for them, it was the right thing to do to step in. The same is true with AIG. It was the right thing to do to step in. Here is the problem. It’s almost like they’ve got, they’ve got a bomb strapped to them and they’ve got their hand on the trigger. You don’t want them to blow up, but you’ve got to kind of talk them, ease that finger off the trigger.

MS: (laughing)

BHO: We’ve got to, over the next several months…

MS: (laughing)

BH: …come up with a plan that separates out the bad assets, the loans that shouldn’t have been made, these credit default swaps, et cetera. We’ve got to separate out some of those from the good assets, because there are a lot of very healthy banks, the vast majority of banks are healthy…

MS: (laughing)

HH: Mark Steyn?

MS: Well, I see now there was a reason why he’s decided he’s not calling people at Gitmo enemy combatants.

HH: (laughing) He’d call them bankers.

MS: He obviously wants to reserve that for bankers and chief executives, and that’s presumably why he’s decided to keep on with the George W. Bush rendition procedures. You know, basically I guess if these AIG suicide bombers, as he sees them, are all going to find themselves shanghaied to some jail in Sudan or Saudi Arabia, and have the electrodes clamped to them. I mean, this guy is…I thought that was a teleprompter mistake. I thought the teleprompter was like messing with his head…

HH: Oh no…(laughing)

MS: And they put in his terrorism speech.

HH: Okay, now he’s also got trouble today, because he was going to be super cool and do the NCAA basketball bracket. And then Coach K of Duke comes out and here’s what Coach K has to say, cut number two:

MK: Somebody said that we’re not in President Obama’s final four, you know? And as much as I respect what he’s doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on probably more than the brackets. And so why would I care about that? I love the guy and I think he’s going to be great, but I love the fact that so many people are filling them out, because the game is growing so much. But until I quit coaching, or retire from coaching, I’m never going to fill one out.

HH: Coach K not liking the fact the president of the United States is filling out a bracket, Mark Steyn.

MS: No, he feels that the President should be concentrating on the economy. The reality is that the President seems to have all the time in the world…he doesn’t seem to have much time in the world for the economy or foreign policy, but he’s got all the time in the world for going on the Jay Leno show, in effect holding campaign style town meetings, indulging in other stunts. There is something, he is sending, I think, dangerous signals even to his own supporters here.

HH: Now let’s talk a little bit about AIG, because it is a pitchfork moment. Pete Wehner just wrote a great piece over at Commentary about the Mob on The Hill. And I did not like the bonuses, I thought you ought to be able to shut that off in the course of negotiating for $30 billion dollars of taxpayer money. But it has been rather delicious to see Chris Dodd go both ways in the same day, and then to watch just the fever spread, and it’s a fever now.

MS: Yeah, and actually it’s very disturbing to me what some of these legislators are saying. Any self-respecting, free-born citizen who allows himself to fall for this kabuki outrage frankly deserves the vaporization of his assets that these hack legislators are lining up for him. I mean, it is a ludicrous, piffling, trivial matter with huge implications, which is to say that these Senators and Congressmen who are effectively demanding these bonuses be returned, and have passed what is, I regard, as an unconstitutional bill of attainder, they are making it less likely that we will ever recover a normal business environment, because they’re saying effectively that America is now a banana republic, that we’re a land where contract means nothing, even if the contract clause is one that Dodd and these other buffoons have specifically voted for just a couple of weeks ago. They’re saying oh, we don’t care. We don’t care, we’re still going to pass a bill taking all your money away. Well, who the hell in their right mind would want to invest in a jurisdiction like that? They’re playing a very dangerous game here. You can’t have a business environment unless things like the law of contract are allowed to stand. Otherwise, you might as well just be some banana republic in the middle of some dustbowl basket case somewhere.

HH: Can you imagine, Mark Steyn, who wants to go to work for AIG right now? Or any TARP-funded entity? Don’t you want to run as fast as you can away from such businesses?

MS: Exactly, and what you want to do when you listen to these…I mean, if people don’t understand this, what matters at the moment is that the national legislative class of this country is a joke. And if you take Chris Dodd and Barney Frank seriously, you are a fool and you deserve to lose your money, because they’re making it impossible for the economy ever to recover, because they’re essentially saying we don’t care what kind of contract you have. We don’t care how nailed down it is. We will actually target you, yes, you, Fred Schmuck of 27 Elm Street in Nowheresville, vice president of whatever AIG subsidiary, and we’ll take away all your money. That is unbecoming to any serious nation, but especially one in this economic situation.

HH: Mark Steyn, well said, I argued that point about bill of attainder yesterday, and you know what’s funny is that the lefties will never say that the genuine civil liberties for which we were supposed to be protected are still civil liberties, even as they go out and invent new ones for terrorists.

MS: Exactly.

HH: We can’t claim our own ones. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, www.steynonline.come, America.

End of interview.

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