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Mark Steyn on Obama, Holder, Giuliani and eggnog

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HH: And that is Running On Eggnog by none other than our first guest, as we are on every Thursday when we are lucky, Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn, who along with Jessica Martin has just released Running On Eggnog as part of an extended play Steyn and Martin CD. Hello, Mark, how are you?

MS: Great to be with you, Hugh.

HH: I want to talk about the serious stuff, but I want to start with your CD. This was very ambitious. This was six songs this year.

MS: Yeah, we had, for whatever reason, Marshmallow World did well enough that we were prevailed upon to do something to follow it. And we had quite a hard time narrowing down the number of songs we wanted to do, so we wound up doing an even half dozen or whatever, and we even had a few more that we didn’t quite get to. So we’re going to probably do those next year.

HH: Now I’ve got to ask you, when it’s recorded in the London studios at Angel Studios, how long did this take?

MS: Well, it doesn’t take, the band are really good. I mean, they’re actually, they’re worth the price of admission alone, because they’re some of London’s best session musicians. Jessica is great, and me? I tend to, like my first take, everything…the low notes aren’t low enough, and the high notes aren’t high enough. And then the second take, I’m kind of roughly in the ballpark. And Jessica usually sort of gives me a nudge in the ribs and says oh, come on, Mark, we sound like session singers, meaning we’re getting it right, but there’s no life in it. And then by the third take, I’m basically about as good as I get. So you wouldn’t have the problems of perfectionism with my performance that you’d have if you were working with Sting or Barbra Streisand.

HH: Well, the perfect Christmas present is this new CD. It’s available at Mark, I want to know, though, when you go live. When will Southern California audiences be able to roll into the Hollywood Bowl and see Mark Steyn and Jessica Martin performing together, or some other venue?

MS: Well, actually, we were talking about that, oddly enough, because I would quite like to do it, because apart from anything else, I mean, I’m always very careful with these arrangements. I don’t like anything that you shouldn’t be able to do live, because there’s so much trickery in pop music. So I’m always very fussy about things that you could do in a studio, but you wouldn’t be able to replicate on stage. There’s a great, big, long note at the end of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town that I wasn’t sure I could do. I was driving along in New Hampshire singing along with a piano guide, and I couldn’t do the long note at the end, and I was worried about it. And then I took my seat belt off, and I could do the long note, so I was kind of reassured. Fortunately, New Hampshire is one of the remaining jurisdictions in the Western world where you can take your seat belt off. So I was able to do the long note, and then of course, I careened across the median and into the logging truck, but at least I got the final note right.

HH: Well, I am coming to wherever you open this thing up, so I can be in the front row. But I think you ought to open at Gitmo for the troops. I really do think that that is where the Christmas show ought to go.

MS: Yeah, you’re right. Maybe that’s true. We’d be the Bob Hope and Jill St. John for the Afghan campaign.

HH: Or actually, you won’t have to go to Gitmo, given the decision of the Attorney General, segue alert, to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to New York. Next time you sit in for Rush, you could just hold the concert there.

MS: No, I think actually give the musicians, the number of musicians who’ve complained about their music being used to torture Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at Gitmo, that in fact now my Christmas CD is the only record that American troops are allowed by law under Obama’s executive order, to torture Khalid Sheikh Mohammed with. So he’s probably getting more of that than he wants to, as he prepares for his New York trial.

HH: Did you watch the Eric Holder “testimony” yesterday?

MS: Yes, I did. I think, you know, you said something…to be really serious for a moment, Hugh, you said something last week that I didn’t pay too much attention to on air, but I think thinking about it afterwards, I think it’s absolutely right. You said Obama doesn’t know how to be president. And I thought that was just like a cute line. But when you actually listen to their public statements on this ludicrous Khalid Sheikh Mohammed thing, I mean, this is a guy who was already in the military tribunal process who was actually pleaded guilty and was ready for his martyrdom now, Mr. DeMille. And what happened when you listened to Obama talking about oh, he’s going to be convicted and we’re going to execute him, so much for the presumption of innocence and all that. You realize that you were right. They don’t, he doesn’t have a clue how to be president, and Holder doesn’t have a clue how to be attorney general.

HH: No, the Attorney General’s exchanges, especially with Lindsey Graham, Jon Kyl and others, Jeff Sessions, are very astonishing. I was a special assistant to two attorneys general. They were never not prepared to at least stonewall well. This was bad stonewalling.

MS: Yeah, and I think again, that gets back to not knowing what to do. I mean, that they hadn’t anticipated the kind of questions that would arise with this, and then you look at Pat Leahy’s comeback to…look, I’m no fan of Lindsey Graham, but I thought Lindsey Graham actually made a good point today. Are we going to read Osama bin Laden his Miranda rights? And Pat Leahy goes, oh, well, there’s no need for that. We don’t need to interrogate him. If we find him, we’re done with him, it’s over, we don’t need to ask him any questions. And you realize that the lack of seriousness on this issue, it’s not, we’re not back to September 10th. We’re going back like way beyond that to something like primitive, even pre-basic law enforcement approach to the war on terror. They’re really not thinking about this at all in any coherent fashion.

HH: And Pat Leahy has never been coherent. But to say we don’t need to interrogate Osama bin Laden, who holds the keys to the intelligence kingdom here…

MS: Right.

HH: …is beyond the pale. Mark, before we run out of time, I want to talk about the Obamacare 7.0. This is, we’ve had three versions plus the one that passed in the House, two versions in the Senate, now we have the Harry Reid version. And Duane is very upset because it has a botox tax in it, among other things. What do you think of the Obamacare 7.0?

MS: Well, you know, the thing about these things is they’re never about health care. This isn’t about health care. When you look at it, it’s about taxing and regulating. The word taxes comes up 127 times in the bill. If you wanted to improve health care, it would be relatively easy to do. You’d have maximum portability, maximum deductibility, and you’d restore as much as you could market choices and market mechanisms in health care, and that would make it much more affordable. This is about the opportunity to governmentalize a sixth of the economy. And Harry Reid, I think, is playing actually quite a shrewd game here. The idea is to tempt the ladies from Maine and the other reach across the aisle types into enough of a duet on this thing that we can have some kind of getting into talking about the weeds rather than the big thing. I agree with my colleague, Ramesh Ponnuru, who said that for once, the Republican Party as a whole ought to commit itself to repealing whatever is passed, instantly repealing. That would be the first clause in a new contract with America. Let’s not accept this. Let’s say, because apart from anything else, we’d be making it less likely that it would pass if we were to take a stand now and say whatever passes will be repealed.

HH: I think that’s excellent, and we’ll talk to Ramesh after the break. Last subject of the day, today the New York Daily News, Mark Steyn, has a front internet page story saying Rudy Giuliani is going to run for Senate in New York. What do you think about this?

MS: Well you know, Rudy, I mean, Rudy has many fine qualities, but stick-to-it-tiveness, or whatever it’s called, is not one of them. We saw his desultory attempt at a Senate race in 2000, where he actually, in many ways, was responsible for Hillary Clinton getting a Senate seat by the way he had that kind of meltdown in public. Then he fought the world’s most inept presidential campaign. He was way ahead in all the polls, decided not to campaign in the first nine states or whatever, and got wiped out. And I think Rudy Giuliani is in many ways a smart man and a great man, but he is not one of nature’s politicians. He’s a great executive, and he was a terrific mayor. But he is not one of nature’s politicians, and being Senator is not a job that I think would particularly suit his talents.

HH: You know, he did lose the first race for mayor, and came back and learned how to be a better mayoral candidate.

MS: Right.

HH: Do you think that would help him in a statewide campaign in New York if he decides to go against Gillibrand?

MS: No, I think he could win if he actually put himself into it. But you know, I saw what passed for the Giuliani campaign in New Hampshire, because this is the kind of state it is, I bought my turkey from a woman whose sister’s brother-in-law was Giuliani’s bus driver in New Hampshire. So I’m plugged into the absolute heart of the Giuliani campaign.

HH: Yes, you are (laughing)

MS: And he just blows hot and cold. If you get him on a good day, he’s great, but then he might have three weeks where he just sort of sits at home and doesn’t do much.

HH: Did you get a new turkey from the same bus driver?

MS: (laughing) They always supply our Thanksgiving turkeys, and I’m glad to say the quality of their turkeys has not been affected by their support for the Giuliani campaign.

HH: Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Mark Steyn. My audience awaits your live debut. You can get the new CD at

End of interview.


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