HH: As we get ready for the Memorial Day weekend which begins tomorrow, we do so with Columnist to the World, Mark Steyn. You can read everything Mark writes eventually, and pretty quickly, most often, at www.steynonline.com. Mark, a preemptive Memorial Day good wishes to you.
MS: Yeah, and happy Memorial Day weekend to you. In fact, my town in New Hampshire, Hugh, has a tradition going back, I think, to Decoration Day, of actually celebrating Memorial Day a week ahead of the rest of the country. So in fact, it’s a kind of retrospective Memorial Day greeting as far as I’m concerned.
HH: Wonderful. Does Canada and England, do they have commemorations along the same line at the same time of the year?
MS: Well, America’s Veterans Day is, November 11th, is Remembrance Day in Britain and Canada, and other Commonwealth countries. And that’s when we honor the war dead in Canada and Britain. And usually, the Queen goes and lays a wreath at the Cenotaph for the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. That’s…Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth is kind of Veterans Day and Memorial Day combined in a way.
HH: On that note, well, have a great one in New Hampshire, or wherever, America. Now I want to get to some politics, Mark Steyn. Let me play you Barack Obama in Oregon last Saturday night. Here it is, cut number twelve:
BO: We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times, whether we’re living in a desert, or living in the tundra, and then just expect that every other country’s going to say okay, you guys just go ahead and keep on using 25% of the world’s energy, even though you only account for 3% of the population.
HH: Mark Steyn, I think this line is going to be very significant over the next six months. What do you think he’s saying here? How important is it what he says?
MS: Well, he’s using…the very next line he said was that’s not leadership. In other words, Barack Obama’s definition of American leadership is you should find out what the European Union prime ministers want, and then you go ahead and do it. So he’ll go and ask them, he’ll go and ask these foreign countries what temperature would you like America’s thermostat to be set to. You can’t eat as much food as you want. We’re going to ask the foreigners how much food you think you ought to be eating. So he’s ceding McDonalds drive-thru sovereignty to the European Union. And what it cumulatively comes across as is basically the 21st Century version of Jimmy Carter malaise, that it’s the opposite of what America is – optimism, progress, and more and more bountiful good for the country and for the planet. He’s saying no, the good times are over, we’ve got to tighten our belts, even though you fat layabouts can’t actually do that.
HH: There’s also a rebuke in there that 3% of the world’s population using 25% of the world’s resources, that’s the oldest canard of the left, intended to shame, intended to mock, but at the same time, completely ignoring the amazing productivity to which those resources are put.
MS: Yes, America generates the…is the principal driving force behind the global economy. That’s why if we’re going to be, you know, if we’re going to talk about this in hard terms, the fact that America only has 3% of the world’s population, there are more significant 300 million in terms of the good they do the rest of the planet than, for example, Indonesia, which is the world’s most populist Muslim country. I love Indonesia, I love Indonesians, but the fact is, the do not drive the global economy that provides not just the economy on which everybody depends, but also a lot of the innovation on which everybody depends, a lot of the security on which everybody depends. This is essentially an anti-American, Michelle Obama, Chicago faculty room view of American inequity.
HH: By the way, we’re not allowed to talk about Michelle Obama. Did you not get the note from the Obama campaign?
MS: Yeah, I gather basically, pretty much anything you say about any Obama policy is now a bitter personal attack on him, and simply has no place in politics. Well, he better get used to it. The fact is, he’s got Michelle Obama on the road more nights than Motorhead, and she’s given all these speeches, and those speeches are fair game for political commentators. And if he doesn’t agree with that, he should have her sitting at home the way Howard Dean, Howard Dean’s wife never showed up in the campaign. Nobody said a word about Howard’s wife, because she was sitting back at the farm in Vermont. He can do that with Michelle Obama anytime he wants.
HH: All right, let’s go to cut number eight. This is again from Portland on Sunday night, with Barack Obama talking about Iran at this point. Cut number eight.
BO: Strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries. That’s what…that’s what…that’s…that’s what Kennedy did with Kruschev, that’s what Reagan did with Gorbachev, that’s what Nixon did with Mao. I mean, think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us…
HH: Okay, now let’s go to today, Barack Obama in Florida giving a speech at a synagogue in Boca Raton, cut number seven.
BO: The gravest threat to Israel today, obviously, comes from Iran. They’re a radical regime, continues to pursue the ability to build a nuclear weapon, and continues to support terrorism across the region. President Ahmadinejad continues his offensive denials of the Holocaust in his disturbing denunciations of Israel.
HH: So Mark Steyn, do we believe Sunday night Obama or Thursday afternoon Obama?
MS: I would reckon that Sunday night Obama is the one to bet on. I don’t think he…I think the synagogue thing was just a little bit of identity group pandering. He really does believe that he can launch a personal charm offensive with Ahmadinejad, and that Iran is a pipsqueak country of no consequence. I tend to think that Alan Dershowitz’ piece today, Alan Dershowitz is a big Democrat, but he talks about Iran as a potential suicide nation. When you’ve got essentially a millennarial cult that’s going nuclear, that’s a serious threat. But Obama has got absolutely no stick to bring to bear, only the carrot of his photo opportunity with Ahmadinejad.
HH: Here’s Barack Obama in the synagogue today again. Cut number five, talking about Hamas and Hezbollah, cut number five.
BO: I want to just repeat this, because I know that there’s a lot of rumormongering going around. People have been getting e-mails non-stop. I have said throughout this campaign that we should not negotiate with Hamas or Hezbollah, and that’s why I reject the attempts by some of my opponents in this campaign to distort my position. They are counting on fear, because they know they haven’t told the truth. As president, I will do everything in my power to help Israel protect itself from these and other threats. I will make sure that Israel can defend itself from any attack, whether it comes from as close as Gaza, or as far as Tehran.
HH: All right, let’s go, then, to cut number two. He mentioned Tehran. This is from the YouTube debate last summer.
Q: Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?
Anderson Cooper: Senator Obama?
BO: I would.
HH: Mark Steyn, he appears to believe there’s a difference between meeting with Ahmadinejad and other mullahs in Tehran, and meeting with Nasrallah and Hezbollah. There might be on paper, but there isn’t in reality.
MS: No, these are Iranian proxies. It’s like saying you’re not going to meet with General Electric, but then meeting with the Norwegian subsidiary of General Electric. Essentially, these are proxies, controlled, financed, and supplied by Iran, and his apparent inability to distinguish that gets to the heart of this. He keeps citing this Kennedy-Kruschev Vienna summit as a great success. By all agreed historical accounts, it wasn’t. Kruschev thought he won, and it emboldened him, and it led in part to the situation we’re still dealing with in Cuba forty years later. And Obama seems…is bandying historical analogies he hasn’t even taken the trouble to look at.
HH: So does it matter, Mark Steyn? Have you sensed that we can begin to use the L word, as in lightweight with regards to Barack Obama?
MS: Yes, I think we can. I think he is someone who is out of his depth. You wouldn’t be surprised about this when you look at the resume he’s running on. He’s running as a kind of man who is untainted by all the complications of Washington. But the fact is he’s a community organizer, he was a state elected official. There is a sense that he’s wading in on issues in a sort of glib way that does not withstand much scrutiny. And that’s…it’s compounded by the fact that he’s personally chippy, that you mention, you attack him on these things, and he gets all defensive. I think he’s actually a very vulnerable opponent for John McCain.
HH: I agree with that, untainted by experience or reading. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, www.steynonline.com, America.
End of interview.