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Mark Steyn on Rabbits, Weiners and Bananas, and the National Debt

Thursday, June 2, 2011

HH: Pleased to welcome Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn, back to the program. You can read all of Mark’s many columns at But Mark, I’ve got be begin by saying with the backdrop of an e-coli outbreak in Europe, I was a little shocked by your indifference when you filled in on Rush yesterday to the unlicensed use of bunnies.

MS: (laughing) Well, if you want to, I think I had another e-coli story on Rush, because all these ones that have been given the grade A rating, restaurants have been given the grade A rating from Nanny Bloomberg in New York, turned out to have e-coli all over the counter. I’m not, I think you take your chances on things like e-coli. And I don’t think federal licensing of bunny rabbits is going to help lessen the risk of e-coli stalking the land or not. In fact, this country simply can’t afford to license bunny rabbits. You know, as I always say every time I’m on your show now, Hugh, this is the brokest country in history.

HH: Yes.

MS: And when you’re the brokest country in history, you’ve got to be able to prioritize. And licensing bunny rabbits should not be a federal priority.

HH: You know, I thought you were making that up. So I went online and discovered that in fact the USDA does track down the unlicensed use of bunnies, and in fact, magicians are asked to turn in other magicians, sort of like not the House Un-American Activities Committee, but the House Un-American Rabbits Committee.

MS: (laughing) Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. You know, and the whole idea, and of course, of course, you know, I understand that there may be health risks if you produce a rabbit out of a magician’s hat, and then someone then wears the hat, and the hat might have, because anyone who’s kept rabbits knows they’re not the most hygienic animals. And if you then wear the hat after the rabbit has been cooped up in it for the first 20 minutes of the magic show, you could be at risk of all kinds of germs. But this country’s broke, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture should not be engaging in make work activities. It’s doing a grand enough job destroying the taste of American milk, which is one of the great disgraces in this country, I would say. And it should concentrate on its core activity in removing the taste with the federal homogenization of American food, and leave magicians and their bunnies alone.

HH: It is a remarkable illustration of how vast the federal government is, Mark Steyn, and it’s not alone. I’ll bet you in every agency, every corner, every rabbit warren of the federal government, there are departments and bureaus and bureaucrats who are laboring away, licensing this or that. I know about the Endangered Species Act, and all those people at the Fish & Wildlife Service. But that really did bring a tear to my eye. Hey, the candidates are headed your way. Romney’s in New Hampshire, Palin is headed there. It’s like the swallows going to Capistrano. Do they ever trudge up your driveway?

MS: Well, if they want to win, they get this far north, because if you look at successful campaigns, Pat Buchanan, for example, when he beat Bob Dole in ’96, won with all the small northern town that the slick-moneyed candidates don’t feel they have to get to. And the reality is, if you take New Hampshire’s three northern counties, the candidates, because they like to be able to fly into Manchester Airport, do something in Concord, do something in Nashua, do something at Portsmouth on the sea coast, and they get very complacent about getting anywhere north of Dartmouth College. And Pat Buchanan showed that in fact you can win the New Hampshire primary with small towns. And I hope the smart guys in the field remember that.

HH: Now I did CNN early this morning with Carol Costello, who is a pretty smart anchor, actually. But here’s what I ran into, Mark, and I wonder if you see this. I was asked to come on and talk about the launch of Romney’s campaign and the GOP presidential campaign. But instead, I wasn’t asked that. I was asked what I thought about Donald Trump saying this, what I thought about Romneycare, and what I thought about the Mormon issue. And it seems to me that with every single candidate, there’s a meme out there that the media attempts to, you know, Sarah Palin is going rogue, and Sarah Palin is not telling…

MS: Right.

HH: And it’s as though the candidates never actually get heard. Do you think the public has begun to recognize this is a constructed dialogue that’s being managed by the Manhattan-Beltway elite?

MS: Well, I think after what happened last time, that Republican voters, Republican primary voters, don’t want to have their candidate chosen for them by CNN and the New York Times and the rest of the gang. I mean basically, last time round, Republican, the Republican Party followed the media’s advice, and they got the bipartisan maverick, and it was a disaster. So I think this season, there’s a special resistance to being told what the narrative is by the media. And I think also, the Republican primary voters are ahead of the Beltway bores on this particular, in this particular season. I mean, the IMF has said that China will be the world’s dominant economic power in the year 2015. Moody’s is talking about downgrading the U.S. credit rating from the triple A rating right now, so that that means the president elected in 2012 will be the last president of the United States to preside over the world’s number one economy. I mean, these are serious times. And the idea that it’s all to do with Donald, what Donald Trump says about this or that birth certificate or whatever, I mean, this is crazy stuff. And I think Republican primary voters are ahead of the Beltway bores on this stuff.

HH: Now yesterday, the Republicans in the House went down to the White House and they had this dialogue with the President, led by the Speaker, and Jeb Hensarling, the GOP Conference Chair, came on and said the President is just basically passive. He won’t do anything. And I’m wondering, is he playing rope-a-dope with us? Or is he just a dope who knows tropes? What is it?

MS: Well, I think the Democrats have concluded, because it’s part of a strategy. It’s all a piece with Harry Reid saying no, the Senate doesn’t need to pass a budget. Basically, Obama’s on board with that strategy. He thinks the best Medicare plan is not to have a plan, because he thinks that simply by talking about this issue, that the Republicans are in effect talking down their own numbers. And I don’t think that’s the case. New York 26, it’s certainly a problem if New York 26 were to be nationalized. But I think that the Democrat passivity is not going to work for them. I mean, in the end, whether you like the Ryan plan or not, it’s a plan. Obama’s plan is just to stand up and talk in abstract nouns for 20 minutes, boring the pants off everyone, hope, change, and all the general gaseous uplift. And people understand that isn’t enough. Gaseous uplift isn’t going to pay your mortgage at the end of the month. It’s not going to put gas in your tank, and it’s not going to buy food from the supermarket.

HH: Now I had Adam Hasner on yesterday, one of the many Republicans running for the Senate seat that Bill Nelson currently sits in. And Hasner embraced the Ryan proposal. He said look, my mom is a senior citizen, I’m in Florida which has got lots of senior citizens. But people understand not to do anything about Medicare is to doom it in rather quick order. That’s a big bet. Is it one you expect Republicans to make? I’m sure you agree with me it’s one they should make. But do you expect the backbone to be there to do what Hasner did, I think earning great credit yesterday.

MS: Yeah, because I think if you look at this debt ceiling thing, for example, the House, including half the Democratic Party, voted, declined to raise the debt ceiling the other day. Now we were told the sky would fall in. If we didn’t raise the debt ceiling, the sky would fall in. Well, the sky hasn’t fallen in, and again, on this issue, the public is ahead of the political class and the conventional wisdom. Now I think, I think if you cannot say to people what the Ryan plan does, don’t worry. If you’re 55 and over, this won’t affect you. In a country where life expectancy is pushing 80, I think that’s the very least that one expects from a reasonable position for reform on this thing. And I think if we can’t get the urgency of that message across, then really, it doesn’t matter who’s elected in November, because we’re just electing who’s going to be sitting at the front of the canoe as we go over Niagara Falls.

HH: Let’s conclude, I’m not going to ask you about The Donald, but I am going to ask you about Sarah Palin. And I sense that the fear and the disdain for Palin has now morphed into loathing. I don’t understand it. It’s on the media, but she gets inside their head like nobody else, Mark Steyn.

MS: Yeah.

HH: Why do they hate her so much?

MS: Well, I think they hate her because she’s everything they’re not. What I used to love about the media, in Fleet Street, for example, the media used to be a blend of upscale toffs who were on the way down, and then scrappy types from working class neighborhoods, for whom it was the kind of equivalent of boxing. It was a way to bust out. And we have this kind of elite, desiccated, over-credentialed, insular, incestuous media, and she is really the opposite of that. She’s out there, she’s authentic, the enthusiasm for her is real, and they can’t handle the fact that the public won’t buy what they’re saying about her.

HH: Last question, I haven’t asked you about Anthony Weiner, but I must. Do you believe him?

MS: (laughing) No, I don’t. And I think this is rather sad and ridiculous. And the coincidence of his name is almost too much. It’s rather like when Canaan Banana in Zimbabwe was brought up on sodomy charges by Robert Mugabe, leading to such great headlines as, when he fled to South Africa, Hand Over Banana, Mandela Told.

HH: (laughing)

MS: So the Weiner, a sexually overactive Weiner is the best thing to come along since the sexually overactive Banana. But other than that, I don’t have much use for this story.

HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure,, America.

End of interview.

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