HH: The two big issues of the day, four justices of the California Supreme Court, by a vote of 4-3, have imposed gay marriage on 30 million Californians, imposed it. It’s a judicial coup. More on that, and then George Bush talks about appeasement to the Israeli Knessett, and all hell breaks loose in the Democratic Party back in the United States. To discuss all this and more, Mark Steyn, Columnist to the World. You can read all of Mark’s material at www.steynonline.com. Mark, I think we should probably start with the President’s Knessett speech. Have you had a chance to hear the excerpts yet?
MS: I’ve actually read the whole speech, because it seemed, when I heard Barack Obama complaining about it, it seemed to me a bit unlikely that the President would have flown all the way to Israel just to give a speech about Senator Obama. And as I expected, it turned out to be nothing to do with Obama.
HH: Let’s listen to one excerpt of it, cut number one, and them come back and talk about it. Duane?
GWB: Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they had been wrong all along. We’ve heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided. We have an obligation to call this what it is, the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
HH: Mark Steyn, what is it about this statement that drove Obama and his Democratic colleagues crazy today?
MS: I don’t know. I find it very revealing that the minute they hear somebody talking about appeasing terrorists, they assume you must be talking about them. That in itself, I think, is very revealing. The fact is, the President was making a general statement about people, which includes not just the Democratic Party, but also significant numbers of Republicans, including pals of the President’s, like Jim Baker with his ludicrous Iraq Study Group, it includes large numbers of European and Canadian and other Western politicians who think the whole purpose of foreign policy is just to talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, even when you’re talking to people who have no interest except in wiping you off the face of the Earth.
HH: Now I think it’s partly Obama’s reflexive reaction is partly in response to an interview that he gave to Jeffrey Goldberg earlier this week at the Atlantic. Let me read you the two exchanges that matter the most here. Jeffrey Goldberg asks Senator Obama why do you think Ahmed Yousef of Hamas said what he said about you, meaning he hoped he got elected. Barack Obama – my position on Hamas is indistinguishable from the position of Hillary Clinton or John McCain. I said they’re a terrorist organization, I’ve repeatedly condemned them, I’ve repeatedly said, and I mean what I say, they’re a terrorist organization, we should not be dealing with them until they recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, and abide by previous agreements. Jeffrey Goldberg – were you flummoxed by it? Barack Obama – I wasn’t flummoxed, I think what’s going on here is the same reason why there is some suspicions of me in the Jewish community. Look, we don’t do nuance well in politics, especially don’t do it well on Middle East policy. We look at things as black and white, not as grey. It’s conceivable that there are those in the Arab world who say to themselves, this is a guy who spent some time in the Muslim world, has a middle name of Hussein, and appears more wordly, and has called for talks with people, and so he’s not going to be engaging the same sort of cowboy diplomacy as George Bush. And that’s something they’re hopeful about, and I think that’s a perfectly legitimate perception, as long as they’re not confused about my unyielding support for Israel security. Mark Steyn, it seems that Barack Obama is indeed admitting to appeasement, calling for talks with Ahmadinejad, and admitting, perhaps inadvertently, a stunning ignorance of the Middle East.
MS: Yes, and I think the one thing he does get right there is that it’s really not about what he thinks of Hamas, which he talks about right at the beginning, but what Hamas make of him. And what Hamas make of him is that he the nearest to the squishiest kind of European social Democrat foreign minister that you are ever likely to be able to get elected to the United States, and that having someone like Obama in the White House actually in effect Europeanizes a big chunk of American foreign policy, which is definitely to the advantage of Hamas.
HH: I want to play for our audience, Mark, the original Obama offer to meet with the bad guys. This is from a Democratic debate early in the primary season, cut number five:
Q: In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since. In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?
Anderson Cooper: I should also point out that Steven is in the crowd tonight. Senator Obama?
BO: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous. Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to the Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire, and the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them, they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we have the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward. And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them. We have been talking about Iraq. One of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria, because they’re going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses. They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point, but if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight in terms of stabilizing the region.
HH: Mark Steyn, he fulfills everything…
MS: I don’t know where to begin taking that apart. The fact is, we have been talking to Iran. The United States has been quietly talking to Iran, and the British, the French and the Germans have been very publicly talking to Iran. What happens though, when you send the president of the United States to sit down in a meeting with the president of Iran, a man who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map of the Middle East, a man who is a Holocaust denier, and presided over a Holocaust denying conference, what you’re essentially doing is making that man respectable. You’re saying well, here’s the American position, and here’s the pro-wiping Israel off the map and Holocaust denying position, and now we’ll put them both in the scales, and reach a balancing point between the two. That’s where Obama is deluded and naïve. And I think frankly, he’s just extraordinarily ignorant about foreign policy, and in a sense, keeps offering hostages to fortune every time he speaks about it.
HH: Do you think he gets fully, Mark Steyn, that Hezbollah is really an extension of Iran, and that when he offers to meet with Ahmadinejad, he’s really offering to meet with Nasrallah?
MS: Well, the thing is, Abbas Musawi, who was a former leader of Hezbollah, put it more clearly than anybody else. Musawi said we are not fighting so that you’ll offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you. Now you can negotiate that. He may want to, he may be happy to enter into a negotiation where he says okay, I won’t eliminate all 300 million Americans. Let’s just eliminate 150 million Americans, mainly the troublemakers. The fact is, when he puts it that bluntly, we’re not fighting so that you’ll offer us something, we’re fighting to eliminate you, and when his actions align with his words, I think you’re best to take him at his word.
HH: Now I want to switch over to domestic politics and judicial rulings today. The California Supreme Court, in what is a judicial coup, reverses a vote of the California people, which was a 61-39 vote, in just 2000, and declares that same sex marriage is now the law of California. Mark Steyn, do you think this will create any kind of a backlash either in the Golden State or the rest of the country? Not about the underlying issue of whether or not two people of the same sex ought to be “married”, but about the judicial fiat being exercised here?
MS: Yes, I think so, because I happen to be opposed to gay marriage. My own state, New Hampshire, the Democrats took control of the legislature in November, and I believe we’re the first state in the Union where in effect, a form of civil union, or whatever you want to call it, was brought in not by a court, but by a legislature. And I think that’s a very different…I happen to be opposed to it, but I think that’s a very different way of doing things. I think clearly, what happened here was not just a sly judicial coup, but an explicit one in the wake of the expressed will of the California electorate, and their elected representatives. And what’s interesting to me about this general business of judicial activism, in a period when most sort of sources of authority in society, whether you’re talking about politicians or the Church, or I suppose the media, if you mean fellows like Walter Cronkite, when most of those sources have diminished in authority, we have kind of compensated by over-venerating a handful of guys in black robes, just because they happen to be called judges, and sit on a fancy court. And there’s no reason for this. It’s entirely at odds with the founders’ conception of a functioning republic, that in effect, you should turn a handful of judges into super monarchs who can overrule.
HH: Agreed. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, www.steynonline.com, America.
End of interview.