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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn on the 15 Minute Man

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HH: It’s the Thursday before the election, and we’re so pleased to begin this hour with Mark Steyn, Columnist To the World, www.steynonline.com. Mark, any predictions in New Hampshire?

MS: I’m hoping that we can squeeze out a victory here. As I think I said to you last week, Hugh, I’m confident that both the governor’s race and the presidential race will fall the right way on Tuesday.

HH: Now about the impact of Sandy, and especially of the President’s trip with Chris Christie. Do you judge it a non-event in terms of electoral impact? Or is it the decisive moment that the left is proclaiming it to be?

MS: I think it’s irrelevant, and I don’t attach anything to it one way or the other. I mean, basically he’s issued a photograph of himself sitting in the Situation Room looking concerned. There’s a photo op of him walking around looking concerned, he’s taking a telephone call. I find this stuff rather pathetic and unworthy. I don’t think it’s the right approach to disaster. I mean, you want to preventive approach to disaste.r I mean, here in New Hampshire, we weren’t hit by a hurricane, but we nevertheless had over 200,000 people out of power. Why? Because we’ve got a pathetic electrical system that relies on poles going up and down roads even in built up areas. If they’d taken the trillion dollar stimulus and spent that burying every electric pole on the eastern seaboard, Hurricane Sandy’s impact would have been confined just to the flooding, to the areas where the real hurricane actually hit, not to all the people at the end of the electric poles who were knocked out of power for a week, including my assistant. So I think that’s a good example of how big…if by big government, you mean Obama and photographing himself looking serious in the Situation Room, that’s one thing. If by big government you mean spending a trillion dollars and actually having something to show for it, this administration is a joke.

HH: Mark Steyn, the President did make two statements, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. I want to play for you back to back to get your reaction. He was talking, of course, about Sandy, but there was a second level on which to understand this, from Tuesday.

BO: This is a tough time for a lot of people, millions of folks all across the eastern seaboard, but America is tougher, and we’re tougher because we pull together, and we leave nobody behind. We make sure that we respond as a nation, and remind ourselves that whenever an American is in need, all of us stand together to make sure that we’re providing the help that’s necessary.

HH: And on Wednesday:

BO: We are not going to tolerate red tape. We’re not going to tolerate bureaucracy. And I’ve instituted a 15 minute rule, essentially, on my team. You return everybody’s phone called in 15 minutes, whether it’s the mayors, the governors, county officials. If they need something, we figure out a way to say yes.

HH: So Mark Steyn, we leave nobody behind. Whenever an American is in need, we help them. There’s a 15 minute rule. Of course, this is an odd set of comments as we study the details of the Benghazi massacre.

MS: Yeah, because it wasn’t 15 minutes. Those guys in Benghazi, Glenn Dougherty and Tyrone Woods, called and called and called again, and hours went by. And the 15 minute man made no response to them. We leave nobody behind. That is a term with precise military echoes. The government of the United States chose to leave behind the staff of its consulate in Benghazi. And the only reason that there are four dead as opposed to somewhere between seven and twenty, we don’t know the exact number of people in that compound, is because Glenn Dougherty and Tyrone Woods disobeyed their orders to stand down and went back and fought off them all. Otherwise, the President would have left maybe up to two dozen people behind to die while the 15 minute man watched them on live footage, apparently, for hours on end. And what’s interesting about that is the bubble the President lives in. No one who has been following Benghazi, or who was thinking about Benghazi, could have uttered those words. The fact that he was able to utter them shows that in fact he’s living in his bubble, and he thinks this is not an issue. And as far as he’s concerned, those four Americans, he’s already sloughed them off. They’re dead and buried, and move on.

HH: I think that bubble encompasses his Chicago team, Mark Steyn. I’m an optimist about this election because of sub-groups like Catholics in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Michael Barone has talked about the upper middle class of the suburbs moving decisively. Gallup and Pew have both said independents have broken to Mitt Romney decisively. Do you think Axelrod’s in the bubble? Or is he just trying to keep, along with Nate Silver, the dynamic duo of denialism?

MS: Yeah, I think to a certain extent, they are in the bubble. I think a lot of the things they get caught up in, the bayonets and horses line, for example, is the kind of stuff that everyone in your circle thinks it’s cute. You know, you can imagine them sitting around and coming up, and saying wow, that’s a real zinger, yeah. The fact that to any casual observer it seems at best petty and unworthy, and at worst, actually, factually inaccurate, escapes these guys. And I think that that bubble is actually why they’ve had such a disastrous time since Benghazi tossing all this irrelevant stuff about vote for Obama, sacrifice your virgin daughter to Obama, or whatever that commercial a couple of days ago was. This complete sort of so-called cool, edgy, hip stuff that appeals to the guys in the bubble, and of course, isn’t cool, edgy and hip when the government’s doing it. By definition, if the government’s doing the cool, edgy, hip commercial, it isn’t cool, edgy and hip. And I think that that kind of, the cocoon that these guys live in has absolutely clobbered them these last six weeks.

HH: I also have to bring up your famous line that we are the brokest nation in history. Brokest nations in history have no reserve funds with which to rush aid to battered cities, no matter how badly their subway system and their road system is compromised, or to provide bailouts to people who have lost everything, Mark Steyn. We’ve spend the seed corn.

MS: Yeah, and that’s why the waste of money…you know, this guy has added $6 trillion dollars to the national debt, and has nothing to show for it. It’s an astonishing feat. I would have thought it was impossible. I would have thought if the Guinness Book of World Records had had a global competition to ask somebody…it sounds like one of those around the world in $6 trillion dollars, where David Niven accepts a wager to see if he can blow through $6 trillion bucks without leaving a trace. It’s absolutely incredible that he has been able to do that. And as a result, when you do need money in a situation like this, there actually isn’t any. As I said, think of what…if he hadn’t spent it on basically tossed it in small bills into the Potomac and watched it float out to sea, imagine what that money could be doing now.

HH: Now Mark Steyn, I want to finish by talking with you about Mitt Romney. I think he’s run a very disciplined campaign, and I think he’s counting on, he’s sort of a throwback guy, back when people ran for office based upon their records as opposed to glossies. But I think he’s run a very good campaign. But what do you think about the Romney campaign?

MS: Yeah, I think he has, too. And you know, I have to say you were right on this, Hugh, and a lot of us who were having concerns during the primary season basically have been proved wrong. I think he has run a disciplined campaign. And I think in a sense that the sort of lack of excitement of it, the calmness of it, is what people are looking for. You know, I have my personal favorites from primary season. I loved Michele Bachmann. It’s no secret. Everybody knows I was a big fan of hers. And in a sense, you would love to have like a red meat figure like her just battering Obama relentlessly. But I think the election now is going to be decided by people basically who voted for this guy in 2008, and want a candidate who reassures them that it’s okay to put that 2008 vote in the trash can of history and move on. And Romney’s done a terrific job of that, and he’ll be rewarded for it on Tuesday.

HH: And the legacy of Barack Obama, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, because I am an optimist. But when they write the history of the Obama campaign, what will be the subtitle on that?

MS: Well, it was a disastrous campaign, but when you say they write the history of Barack Obama, you are now counting your chickens, Hugh, because I wouldn’t put it past this guy to be the second coming of Grover Cleveland, and to be back among us with Hope And Change II in 2016. So you may be speaking a little bit too soon there, Hugh.

HH: You invented the term the margin of lawyer, Mark Steyn.

MS: Yes.

HH: However, since you said it on this show, we’re going to say you didn’t build it. We’re going to copyright it. But the margin of lawyer, I thought you were about to say Romney might win and then have it taken from him. Are you still worried about the margin of lawyer in places like Ohio?

MS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think, the one point I disagree with my friends on the right on is having U.N. observers come in and watch the elections, because the more, the merrier. And it is personally embarrassing to me the way elections run in so many parts of this country. Basically, Romney needs to win big in order, by the time we’ve got through the margin of lawyer, for him to eke out those 270 Electoral College votes. So no matter how inevitable you think his victory is, everybody needs to be in the polling booth on Tuesday, because as your book title put it, if it’s not close, they can’t cheat.

HH: But now, I’ve seen everything. Mark Steyn puts on a blue helmet on the Hugh Hewitt Show. I never thought that would happen. Thank you, Mark Steyn. www.steynonline.com, America.

End of interview.

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