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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn On Being Dick Cheney’s Body Double

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HH: Joined by Mark Steyn, Columnist To the World. You can read everything Mark writes at And now we know he has yet another line on his resume, which is body double to Dick Cheney. Mark Steyn, welcome. It’s great to have you with us.

MS: (laughing) Yes, that’s…I think that’s a compliment, Hugh, given the state of Dick Cheney’s heart and his various stents and all the rest of the work he’s had done there, I’m not sure…

HH: Well, he was here in the studio, and he was quite spry and happy, and full of energy, but unwilling to travel to Canada, it appears.

MS: Yeah, he’s heard all these rumors about crazed, obscure members of the Michael Buble’ family, and roaming around in packs, and seizing you and forcing you to eat maple cream donuts and things, and he’s concluded it’s not safe to go to Toronto, so I’m pinch-hitting for him on April 24th. And if any of your listeners are within a convenient twelve hour drive of Toronto, I’ll be happy to see them there.

HH: I’m curious, are you going to have to take some sort of sinister syrup before you do this appearance in order to sort of equal the Cheney melodrama?

MS: Yeah, I kind of feel a bit like, you know, Mini-Me to his Dr. Evil.

HH: (laughing)

MS: And to the extent that I may well do the show in a Nehru jacket, and I think I’ve got a tentative offer that people who buy the expensive tickets for the first three rows of seats, I will do a personal complimentary waterboarding in the spirit of things.

HH: (laughing)

MS: So…

HH: All right, Mark. Mark, in terms of the general reception you receive when you’re back on your home soil, is it still, any hangover from your persecution at the hands of the Human Rights authorities a few years back?

MS: Yeah, you know, it’s a strange business. I have a lot of people who are very hostile towards me. And then the funny thing, but the funny thing about it is that being put on trial for crimes against humanity in English Canada actually raised by stock in French Canada for the first time ever.

HH: (laughing)

MS: They’d always loathed me. And just after I was, I believe this was just after I was acquitted at the federal Human Rights Commission, I went to a gig at the Montreal Jazz Festival, and I had very indifferent tickets. And as I walked in, the usher said to me, ah, Masseur Steyn, we can’t possibly have you sitting back there. Congratulations on your victory over L’anglais, and he moved me to a much better seat. The traffic guard at Dorval Airport in Montreal, I was running late for a flight to Heathrow or somewhere, he held up the traffic and said ah, congratulations on sticking it to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. So it did wonders for me in French Canada, but I still have lots of people who think, or put me, as I said, you know, they think I’m a natural fit with Dick Cheney, and they’d like to see us both on trial at the Hague.

HH: You know, that’s a pretty extravagant strategy for getting better seats at the Jazz Festival. I don’t know that I could hold that out to people as a good strategy for life.

MS: Yeah, well no, it’s good. Just run up a couple of million dollars in legal bills…

HH: Exactly.

MS: And you’ll get one of the good $60 dollars seats at the jazz show.

HH: How was your reception down under? We haven’t spoken since you were down in Australia.

MS: Oh, I had a great, I had a terrific time down there. It was a sellout tour from Melbourne to Perth to Adelaide, and I had the great opportunity of being introduced by the deputy leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition down there at one speech, and then having a, sharing a stage with the leader of the opposition himself, a guy called Tony Abbott, who John O’Sullivan has been writing about at National Review this week, and who is a, I think, he’s going to be the next Australian prime minister, and I think he’s a very impressive figure. So I was glad to get to know him a little better.

HH: Well, today is sort of current or former subjects of the crown day. I’ll be talking with Toby Harnden of the Daily Mail, and John Burns of the New York Times, their London Bureau Chief, because David Cameron’s of course been here sharing hot dogs in Dayton with the President. How was your reaction to the prime minister’s visit?

MS: Well (laughing), I’m glad they enjoyed all their lame shtick about boy, the last time they were at the White House, they really lit up the joint, or whatever Obama says. I regard David Cameron as one of the least impressive of Her Majesty’s prime ministers at the moment, and I think, I get rattled when people, when American conservatives, say, commend David Cameron as a model for the Republican Party. I’d much rather that Stephen Harper or Tony Abbott, and all kinds of other people were taken, if the Republican Party wants to learn from British commonwealth countries, I’d much rather they learned from a fellow like Tony Abbott than from David Cameron, who represents to me, I have to say, what happens when conservatism becomes unmoored from first principles, and just sort of floats around on one modish bit of twaddle to the next. And so I worry a bit when I read about American conservatives who claim to see an inspiring figure in Mr. Cameron.

HH: Well, the most disturbing thing, I’ll ask Burns about this, because he wrote the story two days ago, is the fact that the President and the prime minister agree that Israel should do nothing at this moment, regardless of what Israel thinks is in Israel’s best interest. And I find that it’s shocking for an American president, but given Great Britain’s historical, both present at the founding of Israel through the Balfour declaration and just recent history, I’m actually very surprised that Cameron would say anything on this subject, Mark Steyn.

MS: Well, there are two traditions in Britain. As you say, there is the Britain of the Balfour declaration, the very Judeophile strain in the British Conservative Party. Churchill was a great friend of the Jews, obviously. But then there is the kind of Arabist strain, which is now wholly dominant in the British Foreign Office. And it’s fascinating. If you read about colonial administrators in Mandate For Palestine in the 20s, they all went out from London to govern this little stretch of turf in the Middle East. And they found that the Jews had no use for them, because the Jews were busy tilling the soil, irrigating the land, growing crops, and getting on with stuff. The Jews made the world’s worst colonial subjects. And the British administrators could never get the hang of it, whereas the Arabs, who were sort of passive and fatalistic, and happy to have the fellows in the pith helmets swan in from London and do stuff for them, made perfect colonial subjects. And if you pitch is on now a couple of generations, that’s what’s happened. Those, the Jews are more reviled than ever by the British and the Europeans for their independence, for the fact that they made a go of it in this unpromising part of the world. And the Palestinians have become the world’s eternal colonial children. They’re maintained in these pseudo refugee camps by the U.N. They’re the only people who have a specific department of the U.N. to look after them. And we’ve now got third, fourth, fifth generations of them being raised…what kind of family stays for five generations in a so-called refugee camp? It’s absurd.

HH: Let me test out, Mark, my own theory about British hostility to Israel is that Israel is the living, breathing repudiation of the theory of inevitable national decline that Great Britain has clung to for the last 50 years. Well heck, if you look at 1945, Israel’s in a lot worse position than Great Britain was at the time.

MS: Oh yeah. No, I think that’s absolutely true. And I think it’s the fact that they bucked the odds. I mean, we should be cautious here, because you get a lot of, what I always like is when you’ll find Arabists, particularly among the intelligence community, among MI6, who express, you know, who are basically borderline anti-Semitic, but they’re in love with the Mossad, and would love to be in the Mossad. And but at heart, there’s something very sad going on in Britain. I mean, so much Jewish social life now, whether we’re talking about Jewish community centers or synagogues, or cemeteries, takes place under armed security. And it’s a great tragedy that a country that within the rather sort of, to damn with feint praise, had a better record than almost any of the Continental European countries on the subject of anti-Semitism, is in danger of getting sucked into this hideous resurgence of anti-Semitism that on the Continent, which is really the worst that it’s been since the 1930s. I mean, Jews are fleeing Malmo in Sweden. Jews are fleeing Swedish towns. It’s very unattractive what’s going on in Europe.

HH: It is the definition of feint praise. But we remember, and from 1948 forward, Israel has not had to rely on Great Britain. I doubt they will now. But David Cameron and Barack Obama sure do want them to. Mark Steyn, thank you for being here as always.

End of interview.


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