Mark Steyn on beer, Chita Rivera, & Vermontophobia
HH: The Beer Summit is on, and who better to speak with about it than Columnist To the World (Dos Equis Most Interesting Man In The World Commercial), and the most interesting man in the world as far as we’re concerned, Mark Steyn. Hello, Mark, how are you?
MS: Hey, good to be with you, Hugh.
HH: Do you drink either Red Stripe, Blue Moon or Bud Light?
MS: I don’t drink Bud Light. I don’t find you can drink enough of that fast enough to get a buzz from it before the chronic incontinence kicks in. It’s so watery. And I think it’s only responsible these days, I’m not worried about alcoholism, but I’m worried about getting incontinence treatment under Obamacare, so I don’t want to risk drinking Bud Light.
HH: So when you drink beer, what do you drink?
MS: Well I do, I must admit, I hate to sound like the unassimilated immigrant, but I have to say I do have a preference for outsourcing my beverage options overseas. I do like, I do prefer European beers, I regret to say. And I have to say that even on this great continent, I have a mild preference for Canadian beer over the U.S. ones. I do like, occasionally if I’m, I was over in Vermont a couple of weeks ago, and they had a nice India pale ale, as they used to call it in Britain, and I do like that from some of these microbreweries. But they’re a very mixed bunch, too.
HH: You know, when I was in Dublin a couple of weeks ago, Mark Steyn, I took the Guinness tour. And I must confess, I do not care for Guinness. Are you a Guinness drinker? It was a fantastic and interesting place with a 900 year lease.
HH: But I still didn’t, I don’t like Guinness.
MS: No, well Guinness is like those nice, dark stouts and porters, and they’re heavy to drink. But I do think if you’re in Dublin, you should be able to drink a beer. I do think that the low point of the Clinton presidency, because if you look back at it now, Bill and Hillary claimed they brought peace to the whole of Ireland. But if you actually look at that footage of Bill in an Irish pub with some of the local politicians, I think the Taoiseach, as they call the prime minister over there, and Bill nurses the sort of froth of his Guinness through the whole evening. Meantime, the Taoiseach, the prime minister, drinks about fourteen pints of the stuff while Bill’s still sort of nursing the head of his one. So I do think in Dublin, one ought to be able to at least get through a pint of the stuff.
HH: Now let’s get to the substance of the Beer Summit. Henry Louis Gates, Sgt. Crowley and the President of the United States having a few frothy ones, what do you make of this charade?
MS: Well, I must say if I was Sgt. Crowley, I wouldn’t have gone along with it, because I think the idea is, that basically Obama made a very foolish decision. He decided to go along with Professor Gates’ racial characterization of what happened to him. Now actually, if Gates had decided to object on the grounds that if a freeborn citizen in this democratic republic wants to insult a police officer in his own home, he’s free to do so. I would have accepted that. I mean, I do think one can make the case that there’s no reason to drag a lame professor walking with a cane into custody. But by making it a race thing, he bored the pants off the 90% of normal people who have had it up to here with the whole lame, Yawnsville, teachable moment, national conversation on race. It’s got nothing to do with race. And I think by the sergeant agreeing to go along for this thing, I don’t think I would have done that in his shoes.
HH: All right, let’s turn to other stories of the day. This shocker just in from Reuters, Organic food has no nutritional or health benefits over conventionally-produced food according to a major study published on Wednesday. This will surprise you, conclusions were challenged by organic food campaigners.
MS: (laughing) Well, I must say, my…as I mentioned earlier, I live relatively near Vermont, where a lot of the women folk are wholly organic. And I’m not sure it agrees with them.
MS: I think, again, I don’t want to…at the risk of being holed up the next time I’m driving in Vermont for hate crimes for my Vermontophobia, I think the women in Vermont would benefit from eating less organic food. I was down in your part of the world last year, and I must say, the California women look great on it. But I think if you are on all that sort of organic vegetables and all the rest of it, but I think if you eat organic in the winter climate, you start to actually take on the character of the organic vegetables after a while.
HH: Well, I think it’s the In ‘N Out Burgers that make the California girls have that bright sheen. Let’s turn to the Medal of Freedom recipients today. Have you seen this list yet?
MS: No, I haven’t.
HH: Well, first of all, I think you’re going to be pleased to know that Chita Rivera has received an American Medal of Freedom from President Obama.
MS: (laughing) Well, good for Chita.
MS: I…she did sing that great “Everything’s great in America”. And if you can’t get a Medal of Freedom for singing that everything’s great in America in West Side Story as she did all those decades ago, I think that’s great. I hope it wasn’t that, it wasn’t one of these mistakes and they meant to give it to Rita Moreno, but they got Chita Rivera confused with Rita Moreno, as people used to do quite a lot.
HH: No, it’s Chita Rivera. Let me read you the whole list. Nancy Goodman Brinker, who founded the Susan G. Komen race for the cure, we’ve got Pedro Jose Grier, who founded a homeless clinic in Florida, we’ve got Stephen Hocking, Jack Kemp, Senator Edward Kennedy, Billie Jean King, the Reverent Joseph Lowery, Joe Medicine Crow High Bird, who is the last living Plains Indian war chief, Harvey Milk, Sandra Day O’Connor, Sydney Poitier, Chita Rivera, Mary Robinson, who is the first female president of Ireland, well, talk about closing up our circle, Janet Davidson Rowley, another medical professional, Desmond Tutu, and Muhammad Yunus.
MS: Well, Mary Robinson is the most tiresome, pseudo-human rights nag on the planet, so I entirely object to that. The rest of it, I would say the trick when you’re doing one of these kind of celebrate diversity finely calibrated, we want to get one of everybody lists, is not to make it too obvious. And I think when you’ve got Harvey Milk, Sydney Poitier and Chita Rivera on the same list, you’ve made it too obvious.
HH: (laughing) That’s exactly what…and don’t forget, Joe Medicine Crow High Bird.
MS: (laughing) That’s right, that’s right. But now in fairness, in fairness, that’s a bit obvious. He doesn’t just fall off the diversity truck. You’ve got to go and rummage around in the back to find him. That’s a little less obvious.
HH: Let me read you his bio, though, here. He’s the author of Seminal Works in Native American History and Culture, he’s the last person alive to have received direct oral testimony from a participant in the battle of Little Big Horn, his grandfather was a scout for Custer, a veteran of World War II, Medicine Crow accomplished during the war all four tasks required to become a war chief, including stealing 50 Nazi SS horses from a German camp. I mean, this sounds like a pretty interesting guy.
MS: Yeah, that is an interesting guy. He’s an interesting guy in how own right. That’s what I’m more and more convinced should be the important thing as life advances, that you’re interesting as an individual, not as the designated spokesperson of whichever fashionable identity group you happen to fall into. And that’s why, you know, frankly, just from the names you had out on that list, there’s something faintly absurd about this. What matters, what matters is individual achievement, not individual achievement as the designated representative of some group. And after the Henry Louis Gates thing, which is the most pathetic…a black President, a black governor and a black mayor all agreeing with a black Harvard professor that he was a victim of racial profiling. I mean, I think that is the absolute reductio ad absurdum of identity politics.
HH: All right, let’s close with a little health care update. Nancy Pelosi today said, “It’s almost immoral what the insurance companies are doing. Of course they’ve been immoral all along in how they’ve treated the people that they insure. They are the villains. They have been part of the problem in a major way. They’re doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening.” The villains, Mark Steyn.
MS: Yeah, I think that’s a bit crazy. The fact is, whatever it is, 77% of Americans are satisfied with their health care. I was reading the story today about a family from Winnipeg on a trip to Vegas, Las Vegas, and on the way back changing planes in, I think it was Denver, the boy gets taken ill. They want to fly him back to Winnipeg, but the province of Manitoba doesn’t have a hospital bed to put him in. So the mean, wicked, cruel, let’s see your credit card now before we give you any treatment American system found a hospital for this boy to die in. His parents couldn’t even take him back to Winnipeg to die at home, because there was no bed available in the hospital. So if Nancy Pelosi wants to talk morality on health care, I’m ready to have that debate. I don’t think she is.
HH: Finally, former CBS news anchor Dan Rather called on President Obama to form a White House commission to help save the press Tuesday in an impassioned speech at the Aspen Institute. “I personally encourage the President to establish a White House commission on public media,” said the legendary newsman. Your reaction, Mark Steyn?
MS: Yeah, we’re about to enter a phase, I think, where it will seem increasingly natural for the failing dinosaur media, of which Dan Rather is a near parodic example, for the failing dinosaur media such as the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Miami Herald, all these papers, to be taken into some kind of semi-public ownership, and in fact to become effectively Pravda, but under a nicer name. And I think that will be the final nail in the coffin of these institutions, and absolutely not the way to go.
HH: Mark Steyn, www.steynonline.com, thank you, Mark.
End of interview.