Mark Steyn on Inuits, Good King Barack, and feisty women
HH: I begin as I do on Thursdays when we are blessed with Mark Steyn, Columnist to the World. You can read everything he writes and says at www.steynonline.com. Mark, my hat is off to you and the ricochet team. I think the idea of Mitch Daniels and you and Peter Robinson and Rob Long getting together, and Richard Epstein, that’s brilliant. How did it go?
MS: Well, it’s actually quite a fun thing to do. It’s basically Rob and Peter’s idea, and we all just get together and chew things over in a very relaxed manner. And Rob has his enthusiasms. As you know, he’s, after speaking to Mitch Daniels for ten minutes, he’s now, as he put it, has a man crush on Mitch Daniels for president. But you know, Rob can be a bit fickle on that, so it could be some entirely different governor that tickles his fancy next week.
HH: A great podcast available at www.steynonline.com. Now Mark, how do you feel about the Canadian Olympics? Are you watching them?
MS: Well, I do like, I mean, I do like the winter Olympics in an entirely non-nationalistic way. I mean, I like, I like these sort of strange sports. I like the two man luge. I can’t think why anyone would invent a two man luge. I have no idea how it originated, but I can’t think, you know, presumably on top of an Alp one day in the 19th Century, two guys thought hey, this would be more fun if we went down the hill together. I have no idea how the thing got started, but I just like the idea of the two man luge, and same with the ice dancing. I love the ice dancing, because the chicks are generally hot, and then the guys in those stupid, little bolero jackets all sort of twirling about like some camp waiter after John Kerry’s decided to send back the Belgian endive, I mean, I just find the whole idea of the winter Olympics, and I especially love curling, of course, which is fantastic, because curling is, the most unfit guys at the winter Olympics are guys in their sort of late 40s, early 50s, chain-smoking guys who look they’ve been sleeping in a dumpster all week…
HH: They’re our favorites, too.
MS: …which turn out to be the curling team.
HH: They are favorites. Now what I want to get at, though, the opening of any Olympics is always some expression of national character. You know how the Chinese scared the whole world when they did their thing in Beijing…
MS: Right, right.
HH: Well, you guys had the flying circus guy over the yellow paint that was all over the floor of the thing. What was that all about?
MS: Oh, don’t blame me for the Canadian Olympic opening ceremony. The great thing that the Commies did in Beijing was they downplayed their national ideology. You know, it wasn’t sort of, they didn’t shove the hammer and sickle down your throat, or whatever it is, I can’t remember, the hammer and sickle’s the other guys. Whatever the thing the Chinese got, the big star. But the Canadian ceremony shoves its national ideology of so-called diversity down your throat every minute of the day. To watch, it was ridiculous. To watch it, you’d think that Canada was a land of worshippers of the great tree spirit on the one hand, plus bizarre Newfoundland tap dancers on the other. I mean, it was embarrassing from beginning to end, I thought.
HH: Well, I was expecting you on the…Steve Nash, they brought up from Phoenix because he can shoot a basketball. Where was Mark Steyn? I mean, you could have embodied the anti-free speech movement.
MS: Oh, no, no, it’s worse, though. They had a group of Inuit interpretative dancers at one point, interpreting my trial before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. You didn’t see that?
HH: No, I missed it.
MS: Oh, no, you missed it. I was ceremoniously staked to the totem pole, and then it was wafted up to the great tree spirit in the sky. It was a very moving Inuit reenactment of my trial. It was a tremendous part of the ceremony.
HH: I’m going to have to go back and get the Tivo to go over that. All right, let’s turn to matters important. Lee Smith has written a new book called The Strong Horse. It’s the most bracing since America Alone. Have you had a chance to read it, yet?
MS: No, no I haven’t, although I’m slightly envious of him, because that was one of those titles that I’d sort of kept on the back burner hoping to get to. And as old songwriters always say, you should never hit on your hit titles too long, because some other guy will stumble across it.
HH: All right, I will postpone it until you’ve had a chance to read it, and I’ll come back to it. Next, the big news of the day comes out of Larry King from Bill Maher a couple of nights ago. Here’s Bill Maher on Larry King.
BM: Democrats never understand is that Americans don’t really care what position you take. Just stick with one. Just be strong. They’re not bright enough to really understand the issues. But like an animal, they can sort of sense strength or weakness. They can smell it on you. So when you back off a situation like that, you just look weak.
HH: Mark Steyn, your reaction?
MS: Well, I don’t think he’s right, and I think these people, these are, David Frum like to mock you talk radio guys as the say it louder Republicans. David Frum’s thesis is that you guys think there’s nothing wrong with Republican Party politics in 2008, it’s just that you didn’t yell it loudly enough. And Bill Maher is advancing a kind of Democrat version of the same thesis. But it’s fundamentally flawed to this degree, which is that the country looked Democratic policy squarely in the eye, and decided it didn’t want them. And the idea that somehow if you only talk up the death panels with slightly more gusto, then people will admire you for your gumption and sticking with your death panels, and all will be well, I think is completely false. They, the American people do not want to head any further down the road the Democrats want to take them down. That’s the issue.
HH: I also think when he mouths the idea that the people are stupid, that he really is giving an expression to an essential attitude of the left that has been there for as long as the left has been the left. And I think that’s what’s gotten them into trouble. I do not believe conservatives believe that people are stupid, generally, Mark Steyn.
MS: No, I have great faith in popular democracy. And you know, just to go back to my trial in British Columbia last year, the whole argument against allowing me to publish America Alone in Canada is that it so-called “preys” on people’s “fears”. So once again, that’s a fundamentally undemocratic argument, that the people are stupid. The people are morons, and that demagogic opportunist types like extreme, strident right wingers, whether you’re talking about Scott Brown in Massachusetts, or Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, are managed to “prey” on people’s fears. And I find this bizarre, because it’s an argument for absolute monarchy. It’s an argument for saying that we should let Good King Barack and an elite Democratic nobility make the decisions for what’s best for us, because we’re too stupid to know our own best interest. It’s the argument underpinning that stupid book, What’s The Matter With Kansas. These Kansans, they’re too stupid to see all the great largesse that Good King Barack is showering upon them. And it’s completely the opposite. They’ve looked at where this leads, which is to eventually unsustainable entitlements, and the death of your society if you keep carrying on down this path. It’s quite the opposite. The people who are too stupid are the Democratic Party elites who keep shoving this thing down our throats.
HH: And the alarmist wing of America, which would include, I suppose, the conservatives and the talk radio hosts and the columnists out there, are justified today. The IAEA, Mark Steyn, in the This Just In Department, announces that Iran has actually been building a warhead, they suspect.
MS: Yes, and isn’t this odd, because America, which has the most expensive intelligence system on the planet, you know, other countries get it wrong for far fewer dollars. But America, with the most, what was it, the National Intelligence Estimate?
MS: Didn’t it just tell us a couple of years ago that in fact Iran abandoned its nuclear program in 2003? What the hell happened to that National Intelligence Estimate? Now, it turns out that the National Intelligence Estimate that there was nothing to worry about, turns out to be complete rubbish. And Joe Biden goes on, is it Joe Biden or one of the other geniuses in the upper ranks of the administration, goes out there and says oh, well, no, don’t worry about it. Yes, they are building a weapon, but we don’t think they’ve got enough to blow up the planet just yet.
HH: It was Biden, yup. Last question, CNN put out a new poll yesterday, and based on talking to 1,024 people, of whom 124 had been to a Tea Party, they announced that the Tea Parties were male, overwhelmingly conservative, upper class and rural. What do you think of basing an assessment of Tea Parties on 124 people, Mark Steyn?
MS: Yeah, that’s great polling.
MS: I don’t know why, I think CNN is just determined to destroy itself. And it’s really beyond salvation now. And I assume they’re just kind of staggering on until eventually Larry King decides he wants to hang up his hat. The fact is you see an awful lot of women at these Tea Parties.
MS: It’s amazing to me that you spend two minutes with those crowds, and the one thing you see tons of is feisty women. There’s a lot of feisty women in that movement.
HH: Mark Steyn, very quickly, so if Dick Cheney says today Barack Obama’s a one-term president, appropriate for the former Vice President to say?
MS: Yes, I think so. I like this plan that’s being mooted, that maybe he’d be better off as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. So he’s already planning his position.
HH: Mark Steyn, from www.steynonline.com, thank you, Mark.
End of interview.