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Mark Steyn On The Rise Of The Canadigators

Thursday, May 12, 2011

HH: It’s Thursday, and we are always lucky when we can begin with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read all of Mark’s work at Mark, next hour, I’m going to be interviewing Dick Van Dyke. And so in your capacity as author of Broadway Babies Say Goodnight, I learned from his new memoir, My Lucky Life, that he got his break in Bye Bye Birdie. What did you think of that show?

MS: I loved the score for Bye Bye Birdie. I think Put On A Happy Face is one of the great songs. And you remember when I saw you at dinner in California a couple of weeks back, and at one point, a lady asked me about all these hideous pop songs they have now…

HH: Yup.

MS: …like F.U. and F’ing Perfect, and Sex Room. And at some surreal point late in the evening, I thought we’ve come a long way from Put On A Happy Face. I might like to do a medley of Put On A Happy Face and F.U. as a way of bridging the generation gap in America.

HH: (laughing)

MS: But I think that’s a great song, and Dick Van Dyke’s performance in Bye Bye Birdie…and I must say as well, Mary Poppins…

HH: Yes.

MS: You know, I was going to do a Cockney song a couple of years ago, and the producer said to me go and give it your best Dick Van Dyke. And they still, forty years after the film of Mary Poppins, they still refer to a particular kind of entirely unconvincing Cockney accent as the full Dick Van Dyke.

HH: He writes about that in this memoir. And he’s embarrassed by it, but nevertheless, it didn’t get in the way of Mary Poppins.

MS: Oh, no, no.

HH: He’s a wonderful guy. He’s a lefty, but he’s a wonderful guy.

MS: And it’s a great film. I mean, you know, it’s a jolly holiday with Mary. I mean, you can’t beat that. That’s fantastic stuff.

HH: All right, to the serious stuff, or actually the good news. Up north, Stephen Harper, Fred Barnes writes a piece about the triumph of the conservatives. Tell us about your homeland, and why they did what they did.

MS: Well, the liberal party of Canada, which is the most successful governing party in the Western world, it was in power in Canada for 70 years of the 20th Century, no comparative record anywhere – not the Democrats in America, not the Conservatives in Britain. And it got the worst result in its history. It was down to third place, which has never happened, worst time since Canadian federation since 1867. And Michael Ignatieff, the leader, lost his seat. Now he may be known to some of your listeners, Hugh, because he was a professor at Harvard before he decided to return to Canada in order to become prime minister. And it didn’t work out for him.

HH: It didn’t work out.

MS: And Harvard is apparently mad. There’s, you know, at the Harvard faculty, they think it’s some sort of anti-elitist move by Canadians that they rejected this…Harvard had picked out the perfect prime minister for these benighted Canadians, and they rejected Harvard’s choice.

HH: But it’s a fairly big win for the conservatives. What do you expect them to do with it, if anything?

MS: Well, and that’s the question – if anything. I’m tired of Conservative parties that are in office, but not in power. And I want…the excuse for the last few years has been that the Conservatives have only had a minority in Parliament, and that’s why they couldn’t, for example, abolish the appalling law under which I was dragged into court over the free speech business. Well, okay, they’ve got a big majority now, and I would like them to actually get on and do some of this stuff. And instead, we see that it looks as if they will be the same passive creatures of the bureaucracy as far too many Conservative parties are in the Western world. One thing I admire about Democrats, you know, is they use their moment.

HH: Yup.

MS: The minute Obama got into office, he basically said we’re going to ram this stuff down the throat of the American people, because as he said, we won. I’d love it is Stephen Harper were to use the Obama line, we won, and to take the same attitude, because Democrats and Liberals don’t waste their moment.

HH: You know, interesting in that regard, Mitt Romney today gave a speech up in Michigan about health care, but he began that speech by denouncing Team Obama’s NLRB-sponsored assault on Boeing. I think that this is a very powerful issue, Mark Steyn, that Obama and his people have overreached in the eyes of everyone.

MS: Well, I would hope so, but you know, all these things in theory are overreaching. The idea, for example, that the national government, which is what I call it now, because there’s nothing federal about the way Obama governs, if the national government can compel you to make a particular form of arrangements for your health care that fit its needs, then naturally, if they can get away with that, they would also think they can compel a company not to build in State A, but to build in State B instead.

HH: Yup.

MS: I mean, all these things are outrageous. What you have to do is step back and think in the realm of the possibility, can he find five votes on the Supreme Court that would be willing to entertain that possibility? And once you start thinking like that, you start to see how fragile really core freedoms are. I believe if Obamacare passes Constitutional muster, there is no Constitution. I mean, generally speaking, the Democrats invoke the Constitution specifically in order to repudiate it. But if it can encompass Obamacare, I don’t see why you couldn’t equally torture its plain meaning to allow the national government to instruct where companies are allowed to build their factories.

HH: And if you can stop them from going somewhere, you can compel them to go elsewhere. That’s the key.

MS: Yes.

HH: Now Mark Steyn, I want to play for you a little segment I had with Paul Ryan yesterday, talking about the President and his jump towards demagoguery, and then play a little bit of his Texas-El Paso speech to illustrate it. Here’s Paul Ryan on the show yesterday.

HH: Now Congressman, the President called you to the White House.

PR: Yeah.

HH: And he put you in the front row, or pretty close to the front row, and he proceeded to flay you. It was so graceless.

PR: It was, yeah, I was in the front row. I was about ten yards away from him.

HH: What were you thinking when that happened?

PR: Basically what you just said. I’d never seen that kind of demagoguery from a president before. What I was thinking, literally, is he is bigger than this. This speech is beneath his office, it’s beneath him. He should be above this. When you hear that kind of rank demagoguery, you know, we don’t want to help kids with autism and Down Syndrome, and we’re out to hurt people’s grandparents, maybe your grandparents, or something to that effect, that kind of demagoguery tells me he’s in campaign mode. He is not in governing mode. He is turning on the demagoguery. And the message that he’s going to give is basically a caricature description of his political adversaries.

HH: And then he followed that, I want to follow that with what the President actually said in El Paso earlier this week.

BHO: I’ve got to say, I suspect there is still going to be some who are trying to move the goalposts on us one more time. They said we needed to triple the border patrol. Or now, they’re going to say we need to quadruple the border patrol, or they’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat. They’ll never be satisfied.

HH: Mark Steyn, if you’re going to be a demagogue, ought you to be at least a little good at it and funny?

MS: Yeah, he isn’t really good at it. And he wasn’t good at it in the Paul Ryan thing, although I must confess, I did like the moat with alligators line. And I’m actually happy to be, for us to be the moat with alligators party.

HH: (laughing)

MS: I think that’s…what I don’t understand, by the way, if I was to take and entertain this ridiculous demagogue, and take him seriously, is they actually are building a moat, in effect, on large parts of the Canadian border.

HH: Oh, are we?

MS: Yeah, they buy up, any time a border-straddling property comes up for sale, they buy it, because they don’t like people having property that’s both in America and in Canada. The U.S. Government buys it and puts this kind of moat down…so we’re going to have, and you know this makes sense, Hugh. We won’t have a moat with alligators on the southern border…

HH: (laughing)

MS: But we will have a moat with alligators on the 49th Parallel.

HH: Canadigators.

MS: You know, you’ve got to be able to prioritize, Hugh. That’s where the moat and the alligators are needed.

HH: Now I want to prioritize. Our friends at Powerline Blog have come up with the Powerline Prize, $100,000 dollars, Mark Steyn, for the person who most creatively illustrates the fiscal crisis – the size, the epic scale of it.

MS: Yeah.

HH: Which media do you think is going to triumph in the Powerline Prize competition?

MS: Well, I think anything is possible here, because I think the trick here, I get a lot of mail. I sometimes talk about America borrowing a fifth of a billion dollars, spending a fifth of a billion dollars every hour that it doesn’t have. That’s what’s going on right now as we speak, a fifth of a billion dollars every hour that it doesn’t have. And people say well, nobody knows what a billion dollars is, or a trillion dollars is. You’ve got to bring it down to what they can understand. And I think the person who does this, whether they do it in a visual form, or whether they do it in a song, whether they do it some snappy kind of motto, will be a genius, because we’ve got to find a way. We’ve got to find a way. And this is why this prize is so important. We’ve got to find a way of just making the average guy understand that this is the death of America. This is the death of America unless it’s stopped. And no…in effect, America will be the moat with alligators. And we will all be getting chewed up.

HH: And we’re all going to be briefcases and shoes. Mark Steyn, a pleasure, we’ll look for you on Hannity tonight., America, for all of your commentary needs.

End of interview.

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