HH: We begin today as we do when we are lucky on Thursday with Mark Steyn, Columnist To the World, and I believe, in his bedroom slippers as speak in New Hampshire. Are you a bedroom slipper wearer, Mark Steyn?
MS: I do like good slippers, and I find, I hate to sound picky and snooty about that, but I find the decline in the quality of bedroom slippers to be absolutely deplorable. I assume that’s since they were outsourced to whatever sweatshop in Fareast Asia is now making them. But I like, I’ve got some plaid slippers that match my plaid dressing gown and plaid pajamas.
HH: I knew it, and I think the President was talking about you, Mark Steyn, when he said this on Saturday night.
BHO: Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining. Stop grumbling. Stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC. God bless you.
HH: I think he just forgot to add CBC and Mark Steyn, because of your grumbling and complaining, Mark Steyn.
MS: (laughing) Hugh, I think the President is sounding more and more…this is not a…he was elected as supposedly No Drama Obama. And he was elected as cool. So when he’s standing up there, he’s got two things. The first thing he killed was when he kept saying how frustrated he was. Do you remember that?
MS: That was the word of a couple weeks ago. Every other speech, he was frustrated by this, frustrated by that. And he’s the President. He’s the President. It sounds pathetic to say, you know, I am frustrated. He was elected as president. Nobody asked him to be president. He ran for president. He chose to be president. Now that he’s standing up there ranting and roaring, and telling us to kick off our slippers and put on our dancing shoes…what footwear is he recommending? I didn’t catch that.
HH: (laughing) Marching shoes. You’ve got to put on your marching shoes.
MS: Oh, marching shoes. I was thinking what’s the president of the United States telling me to put on my dancing shoes for? He wants me to do a patadura with Chas Bono on Dancing With The Stars? Nuts to him. I’m not going to take that kind of stuff from the President.
HH: Well, neither did Tavis Smiley from the left on PBS on Monday night, talking to Sheila Jackson Lee. Tavis Smiley’s upset that he was being cheered by the Congressional Black Caucus. And our favorite PBS lefty said this.
TS: Let me just start by saying there were people cheering, and jumping up and down when they crucified Jesus. So the fact that people are jumping up and down cheering don’t mean that what’s going down is right. They cheered when they crucified our Savior, number one. Number two, would the President, I want to ask you direct, would the President ever say to an audience of our Jewish brothers and sisters, concerned about the plight, the crisis in the Middle East, stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying? Would this President ever say to Wall Street, publicly, stop grumbling, stop complaining, stop crying? Would he ever say to our Hispanic brothers and sisters on immigration and their concerns, stop grumbling, stop crying, stop complaining? Did he say to gays and lesbians, stop grumbling, stop complaining, stop crying? How does he get away with saying this to black folk when he would never form his lips to ever say that to any other constituency?
HH: Mark Steyn, it’s a fair question.
MS: Actually, I’m not sure about the Jews on that.
MS: (laughing) Other than that, it is a fair question.
HH: (laughing) You’re right.
MS: And you know, I feel that when it gets to the identity group politics of the Democratic Party, the thing the rest of us need to do is, like, stand well back and enjoy it. The fact of the matter is, actually, black Americans have a right to be annoyed with this president. If you look at what the black unemployment rate is, it’s outrageous. They’re right, that he was elected on gaseous, abstract nouns, and more fool them if that’s what you want to vote for. But they have nothing to show for it. And I think they’ve been especially hard hit by the economic downturn of the last three years, and he’s got no plan to do anything about that except make it worse. Now I’ve no, I would be fascinated to know whether this will have real world effects. In other words, if Tavis Smiley will actually start questioning whether it makes sense for black Americans to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, as they have been for the best part of half a century now. Obviously, it doesn’t. It’s not in their interests, unless you believe dependency is in their interest.
HH: Those are fine questions, but I’m still stunned. I’m going to have to ask Barry Lynn of Americans United For Separation of Church and State a little bit later about this, at Tavis Smiley’s declaration, taxpayer-funded, and taxpayer-supported declaration on PBS that our Savior was crucified while people were jumping up and down. It puts the left in a bit of a quandary, doesn’t it, Mark Steyn?
MS: Well, you’re assuming that’s a reference to Jesus when he said our Savior was cheered. I thought that was for whoever called in on Pledge Drive Week, and chipped in an extra $200 dollars so that Peter, Paul and Mary reunion special from 1984 could resume again for its umpteenth broadcast. I assumed he was talking about that.
HH: Have you ever been invited to do a PBS special, Mark Steyn?
MS: No, I’ll tell you why, Hugh.
HH: (laughing) I didn’t think so.
MS: (laughing) Without getting into real trivia now, but years ago, I made a big special for the BBC, and it was going to be bought for PBS’ great performances, but they wanted to edit me out and replace me with Angela Lansbury.
MS: That is what your show needs. You could take my answers, edit them out, and replace them with Angela Lansbury.
HH: I don’t think she has slippers, either. I want to switch over, coming up after the break, Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker is going to join me. We’re going to talk about faith and politics, because he has been in a back and forth with Ross Douthat over at the New York Times about what did Francis Schaeffer really believe. And my friends at Article Six Blog are jumping in here. And Mark Steyn, my question is do you think anyone really cares among mainstream media what these candidates believe when it comes to God? Or are they just looking to embarrass the candidates?
MS: Yes, I think that’s all that’s going on. Nobody is really interested in any serious, meaningful, theological discussion. The point is to raise the subject, to tell secular independents or post-Christian members of the Congregational Church, and the Episcopalian Church, that these people are slightly freaky-deaky, and way out of our comfort zone on this subject. And so it’s about hanging a label around them. And that’s what, in fact, a lot of the nonsense in the Republican debates is about, and it’s not about any theological exploration and all the rest of it. I mean, you could go back to Obama’s thing. Obama gave the most ludicrous answer to that when he said his definition of sin was about being out of alignment with my values, as he put it, “my values.” In other words, Barack Obama worships at the First Church of Himself. And that’s a stupid answer, but nobody even worries about that, because nobody’s trying to hang around his neck a label saying this guy is outside your comfort zone on these matters.
HH: You know, Mark Steyn, what’s amazing is, and I’ll make this argument with Ryan, Iran is within, some estimates say, sixty days of a nuclear weapon. They’ve suggested their navy is going to come within the hundred mile boundary of the United States international waters. We’ve got the Haqqani Network, I’ve just been reading this book, The Triple Agent by Joby Warrick.
HH: Amazing book, by the way, if you haven’t read it, yet. And there is no seriousness in these debates that is sustained. They’ll get a serious question, but there really isn’t any serious, sustained debate. But we do talk about seven day evolution in these things.
MS: No, and I think that’s why the questioners need to, the candidates need to demonstrate contempt for the questions. We’ve got $15 trillion dollars of debt. The government is spending $4 trillion dollars while raising $2 trillion. That’s unprecedented in human history. It’s going to be catastrophic. Meanwhile, around the world, the Chinese, the Iranians, the Russians, smell weakness at the heart of the crumbling superpower, and sense opportunity. And so to have these ludicrous, stilted, hideous debates, where kind of uptight, secular, snobbish liberals pursue their own weird, freaky obsessions, is a complete waste of time for the most part.
HH: Now Rick Perry did walk back his answer about the heartless anti-illegal immigration/tuition tax credit crowd. Were you satisfied with what he had to say, Mark Steyn?
MS: I understand he has a difficult problem. The majority of the babies being born in Dallas General Hospital are Hispanics. So simply as a matter of practical reality, that’s who Texas’ children increasingly are, and he has to address that reality, because he’s not the governor of magical Fairyland. But he should be able to address that reality without that horrible, revolting, cheapest rhetorical trick of just damning anyone who has a difference of opinion with you as either racist or heartless. We’ve got the Democratic Party for that. In a two-party system, there ought to be room for one party that doesn’t resort reflexively to those cheap accusations. And it’s unbecoming. And Rick Perry is a former Democrat. He should know better than to simply fall back on the cheapest of Democrat smears.
HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure. The brand new book by Mark is After America. It’s available at www.steynonline.com. And Mark now has a Twitter account – @steynonline if you’re following him on Twitter.
End of interview.