HH: I begin, and I am very glad to begin today with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. Mark, welcome. Normally, I like to have some fun with you, but I am both astonished and actually angry about what the New Yorker published yesterday and today about Rick Santorum. Its editor, David Remnick, said that Rick’s views are anathema, and his rhetoric abhorrent. But then their staff writer who does mostly economics writing, a guy named John Cassidy, wrote a piece. And I’ve got to read four paragraphs, just so the audience knows, and then I want to hear your take on this. It begins, it’s titled The Meaning Of Rick. “Aaghh! Santorum! Not Santorum!! Surely not Santorum!!! From Cambridge to Brooklyn, from Georgetown to Hyde Park, from West L.A. to pretty much the entire Bay Area, you could almost hear the howls of anguish this morning. They even reached across the Pacific. “SANTORUM? Oh, America, how you disappoint me,” Jeremy Tian, a writer and actor from Singapore, tweeted in response to my earlier post. Ladies and gentlemen, I feel your pain. Ever since Santorum was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994, I have regarded him as a particularly off-putting character. But the strength of the feelings that Santorum evokes pretty much explains why the former Pennsylvania senator, even at this late stage, could put a serious fright into Mitt Romney, and, just conceivably, could take him down. To educated liberals of almost any description, Santorum is an abomination. It’s not just that he’s a pro-life, anti-gay, anti-contraception Roman Catholic of the most retrogressive and diehard Opus Dei variety. It’s his entire persona. With his seven kids, his Jaycee fashion code, his nineteen-seventies colonial MacMansion in northern Virginia, his irony bypass, he seems to delight in outraging self-styled urban sophisticates: the sort of folks who buy organic milk, watch The Daily Show, and read the New York Times (and The New Yorker, of course).” Mark Steyn, what is that?
MS: Well, this is a preview of what would happen were Rick Santorum to be the nominee. If you think Sarah Palin, when they sent 99.9% of mainstream media reporters, who were dispatched to Wasilla to dig up trivia while ignoring the background of the Democratic nominee, that would be nothing to what they would do to Rick Santorum. The guy isn’t wrong in that sense. Rick Santorum represents everything they loathe – his general fecundity, the seven kids, his respect for life, the story of how his dying child who only lived a few hours, he brought home to meet the family, the sweater vest that no less a major political analyst than Scarlett Johansson savaged earlier today. Everything about him just offends the liberal sensibility. And you would see one of the most vicious campaigns ever were he to be the nominee. But the interesting thing is that when that boob whose basically destroyed the New Yorker, to anyone who understood what the magazine was a few decades back, who calls Santorum’s views anathema and abhorrent, it’s interesting that the left engages in huge projection here.
MS: That somehow it’s the right that’s strident and extreme, but it’s always the left, whether it’s Planned Parenthood vis-à-vis the Komen Foundation, or whether it’s the New Yorker vis-à-vis Rick Santorum, or that gay, what’s he called, Dan Savage, the guy who got Rick Santorum turned into some sort of gay vernacular. It’s always the left who winds up taking the tire iron to those who dissent from what they regard as conventional wisdom.
HH: Now what is maddening to me about this, it really did strike and anger chord, is that John Cassidy is a Brit. He was born and raised in England, he went to Oxford, he came over here as the deputy editor of the Times of London, and he worked at the Post. And now he’s the staff writer here, and he drives around Manhattan in one of his biographical pieces in a coupe DeVille. He likes old coup DeVilles. Do you think he has any idea who made the coup Devilles? The people of Linden, New Jersey, and the manufacturing plants of Detroit, and who they are, Mark Steyn?
MS: No, but this is really the theme of Charles Murray’s book. I mean, just to go back to that little intro paragraph you read, what was it he said? Form Cambridge to…
HH: to Brooklyn, from Georgetown to Hyde Park.
MS: to Brooklyn, Georgetown to Hyde Park, West L.A. to pretty much the entire Bay Area. That is America to him. I mean, that is, he lives, that famous New Yorker cover of a few decades back that showed the view from Manhattan across the Hudson River, and the whole of America was just a kind of general blur beyond that, that’s actually the bubble that Charles Murray describes America’s cultural elite as living in. And it’s not where, and that’s the interesting thing. I mean, in a sense, in 2008, with a big enough sliver of the voting public that lives out in all those unfashionable zip codes that this guy has no interest in visiting, they were able to turn enough of the so-called mushy moderates and independents, they were able to make Sarah Palin sufficient of a joke figure to damage vote totals in some of those areas. And they will attempt to do the same to Rick Santorum.
HH: Now this is, by any measure, anti-Catholic, as the President’s HHS regulations are anti-Catholic. This is explicit. The President’s is only objectively so, because it attacks only Catholic institutions. You and I do not like the term hate speech. You have been persecuted under that term.
HH: But on the left, this would be hate speech. And Roland Martin of CNN got suspended for hate speech against a protected group. Do you think anything except applause will greet John Cassidy’s hate speech as the left defines it?
MS: No, no, because one of my, one of the things I learned over my experience with hate speech complaints in Canada and Britain and Australia and Europe and all kinds of other places is that certain categories of people you can say almost anything about. And that certainly applies to Christians. Christians are just expected to take it, whatever is done to them. But this is where, I mean, I think I mentioned this on your show last week, Hugh. To a certain extent, the Catholic Church was suckered by the whole Obamacare business. They largely subscribed to an Obamaesque view of the world, except with abortion. And what they failed to realize on the Health and Human Services business is that when government gets big, everything else gets small. And the space for alternative sources of legitimacy in society shrivels. And that’s why there’s not even enough common ground to debate this issue, because you realize with somebody like John Cassidy and his colleagues at the New Yorker, that the Catholic Church’s views on this issue are simply absurd to them. They’re not even worthy of discussion. The Catholic Church is basically, by the way, is basically the Western world’s oldest surviving institution. So you’d think we would at least recognize that it knows a thing or two having managed to survive this long. And yet its very longevity is, and consistency for most of that period, is held against it, as in fact evidence of how irrelevant it is to the modern world. That’s the liberal governmentalist-statist mindset.
HH: Even if the anti-Catholic poison spreaders of the New Yorker are not rebuked, do you expect, given Jake Tapper’s reporting at ABC today that Joe Biden and Leon Panetta and Bill Dailey, all of the White House and the administration’s in-house Catholics that have come, they oppose these regs, and they were overridden by the President himself, do you expect given the furor that has erupted, that the President will bend back towards the Constitution?
MS: Well, that’s an interesting question, isn’t it? I mean, I think this is an issue where we will see, I think, whether so-called faith-based institutions are still faith-based. I would say that a lot of so-called Catholic colleges and Catholic hospitals are actually pretty residually Catholic. So this is really the ultimate test. If they won’t, I mean, I think this is an outrage, and I think this is definitely something for civil disobedience, for these institutions to say we will never comply with this law. You’re going to have to, if you want to impose this on us, as the President does, you are going to be, you’re going to wind up sending armed officials into our institutions to force us to comply with it, because we will not do so. We cannot do so and remain Christians. I mean, it’s…and by the way, this isn’t just for the institutions, because the idea that you would be granted exemptions if most of your clientele were Catholic, that would mean that when you check into a Catholic hospital, you would be required to provide the government with information as to how much of an observant Christian you were. I mean, that ought to be absolutely…that ought to be…Barack Obama is effectively saying I’m Henry VIII. And we now, and I am proclaiming my own church that outpunches your church.
HH: He is. He’s gone Henry VIII on us. Mark Steyn, thank you.
End of interview.