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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn on Newt Gingrich as Marvin the Martian

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HH: I begin with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read everything Mark writes at, plus, for your last minute Christmas shopping, an assortment of various packages. I went there today, Mark Steyn, and discovered you’ve done a great job of sort of mixing and matching the various Steyn paraphernalia from over the years.

MS: Yeah, that’s right. We’ve got like the items that people like, like my book, After America, and then we’ve subtly paired them with a lot of old junk inventory we’ve been trying to get rid of for years. And that plan seems to be working.

HH: It seems to be working. Well, I would encourage people to go there, because I did some Christmas shopping, and people will find that there’s remarkable number of smiles to be had. Mark, I want to go in reverse order from absurd to serious. If you moved from New Hampshire to California, you know, it will cost you 11% of your money.

MS: Right.

HH: But you will have an endless supply of material, beginning with this story today from the Los Angeles Times, three paragraphs. “Organizers of Santa Monica’s well-known Christmas nativity scene at the Palisades Park are accusing atheists of hijacking the tradition. Atheists groups objected to the use of the park by churches to espouse a religious message, and applied to the city of Santa Monica for their own spaces. Officials used a lottery to dole out the prime location along Ocean Avenue. The atheists turned out to be the lucky ones. Of the 21 plots in the park open for displays, they won 18, Mark Steyn.

MS: Yeah, you know, I landed at Shannon Airport on the west coast of Ireland a couple of Christmases ago after one of these stories. It was whatever it was, December 18th or whatever. There was one of these stories. I flew from Boston to Shannon, landed at Shannon, Ireland, and there was a nativity scene in the airport, and they said we wanted to wish everybody a Merry Christmas. And all these American troops who land at Shannon before going to Iraq, all passing through, nobody thought anything of it. There’s something rather sad, I think, about how Christmas is the only holiday that has to become a universal whatever you want holiday. Nobody tries to sort of do this to Eid or Ramadan or whatever. But it’s just that now, you cannot have any public expression of Christmas unless there is also a public expression of whatever anyone else does. When the President hosts a Ramadan banquet, no atheist group says well, hang on a minute, we don’t go along with Ramadan, so we want to have a big old, we want to have a banquet for people who believe that at this time of year, you should eat as much food as you like. It’s only Christmas this is applied to, and I detest that, because it’s just part of the pathetic civilizational self-loathing. We’ve heard it all, and there’s nothing new about any of this stuff. And it’s got nothing to do with the separation of church and state, because anyone who, if anyone spent the trouble to study ten minutes of history, it would be perfectly plain what that meant.

HH: And you know, I got a very wonderful card this week from one of America’s greatest playwrights, David Mamet, and he signed it, “Your cousin,” because he’s a very devout Jew.

MS: Right.

HH: And that is exactly the kind of American toleration for different religious traditions. But Santa Monica, the spineless bureaucrats at Santa Monica, could not stand up for it.

MS: No, no. And that’s why I don’t think, it’s interesting. Up on my website on Christmas week, we’ve got a little conversation between me and Irving Berlin’s daughter. And she says that one of the things he always remembered, Irving Berlin is a Jew who happened to write White Christmas, among other songs. And one of the things she talks about is how on Christmas Day, her father would always tell the story of when he was growing up as a Jew on the lower east side, a Russian-Jewish immigrant family. He would always, at some point in the day, they would always go on Christmas Day, they would always go over the street to the Irish Catholic family. And the Irish Catholic family would welcome them in and share the Christmas celebration with them. It doesn’t mean they’re an insipient theocracy that’s going to hammer Jesus Christ down their throats and force you into believing it. And all this stuff is just nonsense.

HH: Well, a second California story which plays into After America, the California Department of, I’ve got to get it right here, the Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery has launched a campaign called Check Your Number. Our survey data found that nearly half of California drivers are still changing their oil at 3,000 miles or sooner. Improvement in oil’s friction-proofing in car engines have lengthened the oil change interval typically to 7,500 to 10,000 miles. And they think they can bring down motor oil demand in California by about ten million gallons a year. Mark Steyn, California is 100% broke, and we (laughing)…

MS: Yeah, and actually, they are in fact bringing down motor oil demand, because increasing numbers of motorists in the state of California are driving one way – out across the border. Go East, old man, before these crazed, Californian bureaucrats, who’ve regulated everything now, there’s nothing left to regulate. They’re regulating, they want to regulate bed sheets so you only have elasticated bed sheets. They want to regulate pornographic movie shoots to bring them up to the same standard of hygiene as hospitals (laughing), which actually I rather like, because I think it might create a whole new kinky fetish, which would prevent California from going bankrupt for another two weeks or so. But they’ve regulated everything. And what they’ve got to show for it is, what’s left of the productive class is fleeing the state.

HH: But we will flee the state, but not change our oil that much. All right, let’s get to the serious stuff. National Review, for which you have been writing for years, has a cover out which I think is going to go down in the most memorable covers list ever of Newt Gingrich as Marvin the Martian.

MS: Yeah.

HH: And it includes a column evidently by you, which is not yet released. What did you think about this?

MS: Yeah, that’s my cover story.

HH: Is it?

MS: And I certainly hope the piece can live up to the cover, because it’s a beautiful cover. I mean, if you’re like me, and you think your idea of a conservative president is Calvin Coolidge, Newt is actually the antithesis of that. Newt, what’s his website called? or whatever it is, Americansolutions? He’s got solutions for stuff that most of us didn’t even know were problems, like this is his thing to have giant mirrors in space to light America’s highways by night and reduce the carbon footprint, which ought to commend itself to California, whatever it is that goes up the West Coast, it’s freeway number 1 or whatever it is?

HH: Yes.

MS: If you live on freeway number 1, once Newt’s giant space mirror’s in place, you may need to buy heavy blackout curtains. So that should stimulate the blackout curtain industry in California. I mean, this is the problem for me, that people have deluded themselves that Newt is a conservative. He’s not. He’s a kind of big government, in a benign sense, I’m not comparing him with Mussolini, but he is a totalitarian in the sense that he believes in interconnected government solutions for everything. And what I find, that’s why the Freddie Mac thing, by the way, is not a small point.

HH: Right

MS: And his response to Mitt Romney, which you’ve talked about on your show, where he compared, essentially, pedaling influence to a quasi-governmental entity, which is what he did, to Mitt’s thing, which is investing private equity, private capital and private businesses, he compared those two things as if they were equivalent evils. And they’re not. The first thing is actually what is most, I mean, it makes me physically nauseous the way a guy can be Speaker of the House for four years, then take a big office on K Street and be given what, $1.8 million dollars by Freddie Mac for doing nothing. Newt embodies, in that sense, perhaps the worst aspect of American public service.

HH: And many people have said it. I will play a little bit later a clip of Dennis Miller on O’Reilly last night that I think sealed the deal for many voters, and took Newt off their dance card. But I would be remiss if in the last two minutes I didn’t not ask you about two stories, Mark Steyn. Today is the last day for the American military presence in Iraq. And it is the second week of the downed stealth drone, which represents a potential significant technological loss on a par with the Rosenberg’s treason, not that we intended to give it to them, but it’s that kind of a technology transfer if the self-destruct button didn’t work. Your thoughts on both of those events as the curtain comes down on 2011?

MS: Yes, I have a small section in my book in which I talk about, I posit the idea that in the future, we’re going to be seeing a lot of drones dropping from the skies. We’ve become very dependant on these unmanned drones. They solve a lot of political problems about waging distant warfare. But I think there’s no doubt that hostile powers have been waging a kind of technological espionage against America’s superiority in this field, and that the minute one lands anywhere where they can get a piece of it, they’re going to be getting a piece of it. And I think this is a very serious thing, and I think if you look at China, Russia, the Iranians, they don’t agree on everything, but they agree that America is their principal opponent, and that’s where you make your mischief. And I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of this in the years ahead.

HH: And do you think you’ll be going back to Fallujah like you drove there a month after the invasion anytime soon, 30 seconds?

MS: I think this is a wrong and precipitous withdrawal. I don’t like the idea of exit strategies and all the rest of that. The exit strategy that matters is victory. And if you win, you have a staged withdrawal that wouldn’t have people having to congratulatory ceremonies the President’s held this week.

HH: Mark Steyn from, Merry Christmas.

End of interview.


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