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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn On Jesus And The Buffett Rule

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HH: So much to cover today between the Donald in Las Vegas, the Florida affect, and many other issues. To do that, we are lucky as we always are on Thursday when he shows up, Mark Steyn joins us, Columnist To the World. And we begin with the obvious topic, Mark Steyn, which is which character would you be on Downton Abbey, the new Masterpiece Theater blockbuster, if you were to take the quiz?

MS: (laughing) I’m not a regular viewer of Downton Abbey, Hugh, although I’m a fan of Julian Fellowes. But I did in fact take the quiz, and I’m absolutely astonished at whatever it is, the PBS website, to discover that I was told that my character would be Lord Grantham himself, which is, I think, that’s a sign that the test is all wrong.

HH: Well…

MS: Because the last time I did anything for the…I was on this BBC show years ago where the whole premise of the show was rough, lower class, common yobbish blokes, and high class, posh, English totty. And I was one of the yobbo, common, oykie blokes. So how I wound up as Lord Grantham, I’ll never know.

HH: Well, I encourage people to take the test for themselves, which is linked over at To the second important subject of the day, Las Vegas has invaded politics. So Mark Steyn, I’d like Mark Steyn to invade Vegas. I’m thinking that we ought to promote a Steyn act at a lounge in Vegas. And I’m curious, you know, Elton John’s going back with the million dollar piano.

MS: Right.

HH: Has anyone ever offered to take your crooning talents made available on CD and combine them with political commentary in a cabaret-style extravaganza?

MS: (laughing) No, the nearest I got was in London, Ontario, a little over a year ago. We had to upgrade to a bigger hall, because the space we’d had was too small, so in the venue where all the touring rock stars play. So I though I ought to oomph my game a little. So I did my usual apocalyptic end of the world speech, and then I closed the evening by singing the disco version of Marshmallow World. And one of these politically correct ninny students at the University of Western Ontario newspaper reviewing it said I felt by the end it had turned into a hate rally. Steyn concluded the evening by singing his Christmas song, A Marshmallow World, which of course, is usually a sign of a hate rally.

HH: Imminent violence.

MS: It’s the Nationalist song of the 21st Century.

HH: Let me ask you, Mark. President Obama got some cred for singing Al Green this week, and Mitt Romney got widely panned for his rendition of America The Beautiful, I believe, or whatever it was that he sang.

MS: Yeah, Mitt would have been better off with It’s A Marshmallow World. It suits him, actually.

HH: Well, I’m just curious. If you were to do this act, who would you fashion your approach after?

MS: (laughing) Well look, Vegas-wise, I’m hopelessly old-fashioned. I prefer, I’d prefer the sort of Vegas in its heyday in the 50s and 60s. And I’m a little horrified at what it’s become in the last few years. But I mean, I think I’m happy for politicians to get in the game and actually start singing. So if it doesn’t work for Obama, and there is no second term, I think he’s got a credible second career as an Al Green impersonator.

HH: Well, I think that would be a wonderful thing. But I’m not giving up on my new…I think conservatives from across the country would flock to a Steyn act in Vegas. I think they would drop in. But they’ve got to have a sense of how you would approach it.

MS: No, no, no. I actually like, you know, I like those old style acts where guys just come out in a tux. And I don’t like, by the way, one thing I don’t like about, which I think is phony Vegas, is when they untie the bowtie to make it look as if they’re you know, wow, I’m really working up a sweat here. Real class Vegas acts keep the bowtie tied.

HH: Dean Martin would always untie it, though.

MS: No, no, Deano didn’t. Sammy Davis did, and that’s why I think Sammy Davis in the end…but Frank and Dean, you don’t find them untying it until they’re back in the dressing room.

HH: Well, a little Sammy Davis playing in the background. I guess not. Tony Bennett. Let me ask you about the Elvis approach. Would you cape up? Would you put on the cape?

MS: I’m not averse to a rhinestone-studded cat suit. I mean, we’re getting, now you’re…(laughing)

HH: (laughing)

MS: You’re just trying to make me happy. If anyone wants to buy me a birthday present, a rhinestone-studded cat suit.

HH: All right, with that appropriate introduction, let’s turn to Trump. And you know, I always talk about Trump with Mark Steyn. And today’s endorsement of Mitt Romney was also accompanied by a poll showing that a Trump endorsement will make it more likely if 10% of the voting population in the GOP primaries to vote for the endorsee, and less likely for 27%, which is what I’ve always said, Mark Steyn, not exactly the best endorsement to get.

MS: No, and I’m with that 27% in a way. You know, one of the stories of this whole primary season is that there’s a segment out there that just wants attitude, and wants a big, swaggering attitude. And when Trump was pretending to run a few months ago, and he was saying I’m going to sit that Chinese politburo down across the table and I’m going to tell him now listen, you mothers…I mean, this was ridiculous. The Chinese politburo would laugh at him. He owes them, the United States owes them money. But yet just that sort of fake, phony, fraudulent swagger, that sort of hollow attitude, got him a long way for a few weeks.

HH: Well now, you know, Newt is trying to re-engage. He’s trying to pick a fight now with Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. He wants people to understand he’s still in the game. Can he accomplish a comeback, Mark Steyn?

MS: (laughing) Well, you know, again, I would say Newt started to believe his own publicity. He was actually very effective in those debates when there were, whatever it was, nine people on stage. And then as the field shriveled, he actually got worse. And he had two really bad debates in Florida, I think two really bad debates, where his rather limited bag of tricks didn’t work. I think it gets difficult for him from here on in. I’m not sure he’s someone who’s, the rationale for whom stands up through the longer exposure. But again, I think that reflects that Trump constituency, that there is a segment out there that thinks if we just have, if we just put on enough of a swagger and puff up our chests, that that in a sense is what we’re looking for. And I think it takes more than that.

HH: Now Mark Steyn, the dilemma that Romney is the presumptive nominee, or Santorum or Gingrich would face, is so illustrated in that yesterday, Mitt Romney said look, I’m not focused on the very poor, and that became the story of great, immense consequence for about a half a day. But the week before, and that was a flub, but the week before, the intentional policy of the Health & Human Services Department, almost certainly cleared off on by President Obama, and had to have been cleared off on by Cass Sunstein, to oblige Roman Catholic institutions of all sorts and shapes to provide contraception, sterilization and morning after pills. It got almost no attention. So the accidental dominated, and the intentional was overlooked.

MS: Yeah, I think that’s very interesting. The liberal media are all for religious freedom, for example, when it comes to putting up a mosque at Ground Zero or whatever. That’s a 1st Amendment issue. But religions conscience doesn’t apply, apparently, when it comes to forcing the Catholic Church to become a giant condom dispenser. And I think that’s where the Catholic Church has really got to do some serious thinking on this, because aside from abortion, they’ve signed onto the entire social justice, big government agenda. And big government, if you believe in big government, as much of the American Catholic Church largely does, then when it comes to things like health care, who’s going to be defining health care?

HH: Oh, Mark, you’re so old-fashioned. You’re not theologically up to speed. Here’s the President at the National Prayer Breakfast today reading you your theological rights.

BHO: I talk about shared responsibility. It’s because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone. And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up, as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense. But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’ teaching that for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.

HH: Jesus supports the Buffett Rule, Mark Steyn.

MS: Oh, give me a break. For a start, when he says I am my brother’s keeper, his brother is back in Kenya living on $12 dollars a year. That’s what he was living on at the time of the 2008 elections. All the President has to do, in terms of this shared responsibility, is put a $10 dollar bill in an envelope, and mail it to Nairobi or Mombasa or wherever, and he will double his brother’s salary. What he means, this version of shared responsibility means the state should be your brother’s keeper. And this is the point for the Catholic Church, that separation of Church and state is one thing, but big government means the state as Church, the sole, legitimate source of moral authority, whether it’s on contraception, or gay marriage, or abortion, or any of the rest. And that’s what you see in Europe. Big government drives out other sources of moral authority.

HH: Opening in Vegas soon, Mark Steyn at for previews.

End of interview.


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