HH: At this hour, violence has erupted in 11 different spots across the Middle East, Yemen sees four people killed in anti-U.S. violence outside the embassy. A mob is outside the Cairo embassy and growing. Three arrests have been made in Libya. In fact, it’s going to hell everywhere, and right on cue, Mark Steyn returns with the paperback edition of After America. Welcome back, Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn.
MS: Hey, great to be back with you, Hugh.
HH: Now I’ve been talking with all the other journalists who are planning on interviewing you, and we have agreed that regardless of what the new edition of the book says, or what you want to talk about, or even what you answer, we want to know about your involvement with Harry in Vegas.
MS: (laughing) I am proud to say, I can’t remember how long ago it is that I’ve been to, since I’ve been in Vegas, because I’m like an old Vegas guy. I really don’t like new Vegas that much. I’m like a kind of Caesar’s Palace era Vegas guy. But I must say, just speaking about Vegas, I thought that thing last night with the President saying he had a tough day, and comparing the dead Americans in Libya to campaign supporters, which he did, I thought was one of the most disgraceful, inept and embarrassing performances by a head of state or government that I have ever seen. Every American should be ashamed of their president this morning.
HH: Well, you got where I was going with that. The President gets word that our ambassador is killed, three other Americans slaughtered in Libya, and he reacts by getting on a plane and going to Vegas to raise money. What would have happened to George W. Bush, Mark Steyn, if he had done that?
MS: Oh, I know, but you know what’s interesting? Sometimes, the schedule goes whacky. Everybody knows, everybody remembers the opening of the Michael Moore film, where he gleefully mocked President Bush getting the news of 9/11 while he’s in that grade school reading My Pet Goat to the 2nd graders, or whatever they were.
MS: And Michael Moore and the left ran with that to the point where Osama bin Laden in one of those videotapes he released was doing My Pet Goat jokes straight out of Michael Moore’s film. In this instance, the President actually has time. He can say okay, well maybe the Vegas thing is booked, I don’t want to disappoint people, we’re going to go ahead with that. Everything then depends on the tone. He didn’t script his remarks. I mean, this is a man, for example, who doesn’t have, I think, great empathetic qualities at the best of times. But to slough it off in that bloodless language, when he says, and I believe this is a direct quote, obviously our hearts are broken today. If you say obviously before it, your heart is not broken. He said oh, it’s a tough day. It’s not a tough day. It’s a tough day for the families of the four people who were killed. Why can’t you, you’re spending $4 trillion dollars a year, and you’ve got these 12 year old speechwriters you’re so proud of, why couldn’t…and you’re the king of the prompter, why couldn’t you on Air Force One, you’re the only head of state in any major country who has a plane to fly him around his own country in a 40 car motorcade. Why you’re on the stupid plane, why can’t you actually take the trouble to learn some words that would mean something and are appropriate to the occasion. If you think of Reagan after the Space Shuttle thing, if you think of what Mrs. Thatcher said after the Brighton bombing that killed cabinet colleagues of hers, it’s horrible, it’s disgraceful. Nobody, no novelist would attempt to do anything so crass after this man is dragged through the streets, he’s killed dragged through the streets of Libya. God knows what’s happened to him, if you believe some of the worst stories out there. And then the guy goes to Vegas. Why not just do it at Caesar’s Palace with a bunch of showgirls. An American who watches, and regardless of whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, if you’re not embarrassed by the buffoon who is serving as president of the United States after that performance last night, there’s something wrong with you.
HH: Well, let’s…also last night, Mark Steyn, he gave an interview to Telemundo, in which he said the following:
Telemundo: Would you consider the current Egyptian regime an ally of the United States?
BO: I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy. They are a new government that is trying to find its way.
HH: All right, Mark Steyn, they’re not really our friends, but the president of the United States can’t say that.
MS: No. I mean, to be honest, Hugh, I have a mild bit of sympathy for him on this, because ally is a kind of technical and legal term. And technically, the United States and Egypt are allies.
HH: Since 1989 and in an act of Congress, yeah.
MS: Yeah, yeah. It’s basically, it’s whatever it’s called, most favored ally or whatever. There’s a term for it, isn’t there? Major non-NATO ally. It’s like everything. It’s bureaucratized up the wazoo like everything in Washington.
MS: But there is a term for it. But the reality is you know, we’ve been bankrolling this country for 30 years and had nothing much to show for it except Mohammed Atta flying through the skyscraper window on a Tuesday morning in September. So the reality is that Egypt wasn’t much of an ally up to last year, and it’s been way less of an ally since. What’s interesting, if he wanted to make a useful contribution, he would say that a basic respect and protection for other nations’ embassies and missions is about the minimal level required for basic relations between sovereign states. In other words, it has nothing to do with being allies. If you can’t do that, you’re just not capable of international relations. Nobody worried about a mob storming the U.S. embassy in Moscow at the height of the Cold War and dragging the ambassador out and killing him.
HH: But Mark Steyn, last night, he had, again, Air Force One, all the time in the world to get ready for a television interview. He did not prepare. He did not prepare for Las Vegas, he did not prepare for Telemundo. He doesn’t prepare for anything, but he thumped his chest yesterday, and he said this about Mitt Romney to 60 Minutes:
BO: There’s a broader lesson to be learned here, and you know, Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later.
HH: This is, Mark, the world is exploding in the chaos that he has sewn, and he is actually taking a victory lap. It’s as though you didn’t make it to the Olympics, but you showed up and ran around the stadium.
MS: No, you made an interesting point there. He wings it every time. You remember when he was trying to get the Olympics, was it, for Chicago?
MS: And he had to fly into, I forget where it was…
HH: Stockholm or someplace, yeah. Up north.
MS: And he went there, and he sort of rambled on about his own personal background in Chicago, and bored the pants off all these international judges from Pyongyang, or wherever the hell they’re from. If you recall the weekend before the Scott Brown election in Massachusetts…
HH: Oh, yes.
MS: He flew in to do a big thing for Martha Coakley, the Democrat candidate. And I wrote that he went to the trouble of flying in to phone it in. That’s basically what he did in Vegas. He went to the trouble of flying in to phone it in last night. That’s what he does every time. He has that arrogance that I think most of us can remember from high school. There’s some guy who seems to have had a charmed life who gets wafted up from one thing to the other without making much effort. And eventually, he forgets that there are times when he has to make an effort. And what’s interesting here, by the way, to go back to the Mitt Romney thing, is that the media have decided that Mitt Romney’s statement is somehow the issue. Not the four dead Americans, not the unraveling of American influence in the Middle East, not the President. I mean, let’s take it as read that you and I in criticizing President Obama are being racist, that anything you say about Obama is racist. So what? Let’s take that as read. We’re all racists, and he’s still president. This is his job. Do the job. You’re not running for the job. You’ve got the job. Why can’t you do it?
HH: I’m looking as we speak, Mark, on the CNN feed from Cairo. It’s a mess. It is an absolute, utter mess. And Feinstein was on earlier, Senator Dianne Feinstein, saying this is going on all over the Middle East. She’s getting the Intelligence Committee reports. I don’t know what he’s doing, what he’s saying, but I know what Lee Smith wrote today. And these media people are simply not aware of the meltdown, or have you seen anyone covering the fact that he snubbed Netanyahu two days ago?
MS: No, there’s all…I mean, this is a totally postmodern approach to news coverage, even by the court eunuchs of the American media, because it’s as if Libya and Egypt and Yemen, and everywhere else, aren’t real places on a map where real people are being killed, and America as a nation-state has real interest. It’s just as if they’re some sort of off-stage pretext, what Alfred Hitchcock used to call the MacGuffin, that you can use to beat Mitt Romney around. You know, if Mitt Romney had said nothing, he’d be mocked as a naïve person out of his league on foreign affairs. If he says something, then people say well, politics should stop at the water’s edge. No, no, this is a humiliation. The United States is becoming a global joke around the world. And it’s becoming a global joke because of scenes like what happened in Benghazi, and reactions like we saw in Vegas. The United States is becoming a global joke.
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HH: A very carefully selected intro bump, as In The Year 2526 is part of the new forward to After America: Get Ready For Armageddon, Mark Steyn’s New York Times bestseller out in paperback this week. Mark, QE3 or QE4 or QEforever was launched today. I’m not worried. You worry too much about these things. We’re just going to print our way out of this.
MS: Yeah, yeah, the Federal Reserve now has more QE’s. It’s getting through them faster than the house of Windsor. The house of Windsor, one QE lasts you for 60 years. But the Federal Reserve needs two a year. That’s your problem right there. There is something kind of fascinating about this, because basically what it means is that there aren’t enough takers for American debt out there, and so to prevent the failure of Treasury auctions, and therefore the rise in interest rates, which would be devastating to the economy, in effect the left hand of the United States is buying the debt issued by the right hand of the United States. That, by the way, when people say oh, if we’re not careful, we’re going to end up as Greece, say what you like about Greece, but in Greece, because it doesn’t print its own currency, the Greeks can’t do that.
HH: They can’t do that. They’re actually more responsible than we are.
HH: But that brings me around to the fact that the market just soared today, Mark. And I am not, nor have I ever been a heroin addict, but it seems to me as though the markets have become addicted to this without looking at the underlying, absolutely desperate situation that this reveals.
MS: Yes, because I think this is, you know, the line from the Wizard Of Oz, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, there is no wizard behind the curtain. And in this case, it’s pay no attention to the currency behind the curtain. The status of the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency is what’s holding up the whole racket now. Now obviously, if you were having a meeting in the Year 2012 to pick out the global reserve currency, you would never give it to a national that had $16 trillion dollars worth of debt. But once you’ve given it to a nation, and the nation then goes out and acquires $16 trillion dollars worth of debt, you’re kind of stuck with it until the whole racket collapses. And I think the market, in a sense, the market in some subconscious way understands that the United States ability to issue debt denominated in its own currency is now the only thing that’s holding the whole joint up, and that the minute that goes, there is really nothing to prevent us sliding off the edge.
HH: Yeah, we are holding them hostage. I think that Apple stock, and I own some, is probably going to become the real reserve currency, because at least they make something. And that will be a soon to be fallback position. Now I’ve got to go back to our first segment conversation, Mark, when you were exercised, because I’m afraid General Martin Dempsey may be calling in and asking you to stop talking on the air pretty soon because of your ability to incite violence. I know you’re Mr. 1st Amendment and all, but don’t you understand that the American military is now monitoring these sorts of things?
MS: I know. I think that’s great, isn’t it? The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff is calling individual U.S. citizens asking them if they could just tone it down a bit.
HH: And lunatic U.S. citizens at that matter. I think Pastor whatever his name is, is not our best and brightest, and I don’t understand why we would ever have anyone, much less the military call him. It’s chilling.
MS: Well, I think, I mean, I think this is actually disgraceful.
HH: It is.
MS: I think for one thing, we’re talking here about what is nominally the most powerful government in the world. I know it doesn’t look that way on the streets of Yemen or the streets of Benghazi right now, but it is supposedly. And the fact that this guy is calling up some no name pastor in whatever it is, it’s absolutely disgraceful. I’ll tell you something, if I were president, and don’t worry about that, it would require a very bizarre coup for me to find myself in that position, the first thing I would do is fire General Dempsey. The senior most generals on the U.S. Defense staff have no business calling up private citizens and then announcing it to the newspaper.
MS: You know, this guy, he’s supposed to be sticking pins in a map, and figuring out where America’s enemies are on the other side of the world. This is something that in free societies with civilian control of the military, this is outrageous.
HH: Yeah, the malaise affecting the entire branch, executive branch, is pretty profound. But now I want to go to replacing it, because we only have three or four minutes left. I think Romney’s doing fine. The new polls out today say the bounce is all gone, and he’s going to be fine and he’s going to win. But the media, Mark Steyn, today, CNN’s Jim Acosta, and NBC’s guy, they all adopted the ‘Romney’s adopted a softer tone’ in order to validate their, I can’t use that word, their nonsensical narrative from yesterday.
MS: Right, right.
HH: They’re now saying that Romney is backing away. This is all, I think you said, postmodern. It is untethered to anything that happened. Romney ripped the President for the sequestration, but it doesn’t matter what people do and say. They just write and say what they want in the mainstream media.
MS: Yes, it’s…he’s basically not necessary, He doesn’t have to show up. He can go to Bermuda until election day, and they can just slot him into the narrative as they need him. He’s being too hot here, he’s toned it down there. In fact, Mitt is like pretty, whatever one feels about Mitt, he’s actually pretty constant. He’s Goldilocks and the Three Bears, he’s, generally speaking, he’s neither too hot nor too cold. He’s pretty much just the same always.
MS: And I think that that, I think this is a tragedy for the American media. Everyone, when they first ran into problems, whatever it is, 15 years ago now, people thought it was because of the introduction of the internet, and they just needed to do new technology, adjust to the new technology. It’s not that. It’s they’re humiliating themselves. That audio tape of whatever woman it was…
HH: Jan Crawford, who I’m told is actually a pretty good journalist. But she was orchestrating, she was leading the band yesterday.
MS: Yeah, and the sad thing as court eunuchs to the Obama administration, it’s embarrassing. It’s not something that any self-respecting reporter ought to be doing. These are fascinating times. Much of the world is in turmoil. This is a consequential election. The United States is broker than it’s ever been. There are all kinds of fascinating angles that one could take on the events of the last 48 hours. And when the media chose to pursue like some sort of deranged, drugged-up mob that you’ve thrown some carcass in front of, and they’re all chasing after it, what it chose to do yesterday said these guys aren’t even part, these guys aren’t even part of the story. They’re not part of the discussion. They’re playing some silly, stupid game of their own that’s got nothing to do with anything happening in the real world.
HH: A minute, Mark Steyn, you’re coming back next week for a longer conversation about the paperback edition of After America. But does this impact the election? Who’s winning this week? Can you imagine voters saying oh, that Obama guy, he’s really got my vote?
MS: Well, I think there’s a real issue here. I mean, there’s two views of this. One is that things are so bad, that if you want economic growth and restoration, you want an end to this sclerosis and the flat-line economy, you want a shot at the American dream at something approximating the better conditions that people have enjoyed for the last 75 years, you vote Romney. But there are people who just think you know, well, things are going to get worse, and this guy’s got my food stamps covered.
HH: Yeah, there’s no reality other than mine. Mark Steyn, great to have you back, www.steynonline.com. He’s back in the country, he’s back with his paperback edition of After America, and he’ll be back next week.
End of interview.