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Mark Steyn on why Haiti is such a disaster, and opens up on the Massachusetts Senate election next week

Thursday, January 14, 2010

HH: I begin this Thursday with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn, Very few people have traveled as far around the globe as Mark. Mark, have you ever seen anything remotely approaching this Haiti thing?

MS: No, because I think Haiti is, certainly in the Western Hemisphere, as near as you can get to an entirely non-functioning state. By the standards of the Caribbean, it’s a failure and a disaster before the earthquake strikes. If an earthquake had happened to strike the Bahamas, or even the Turks And Caicos, it would not have looked like this. And that’s why although earthquakes are indiscriminatory, and the earthquake certainly doesn’t have any preferences to whether Haiti or the Dominican Republic, is either side of the border line, the impact of the earthquake is certainly very different according to what side of the line you’re on.

HH: Mark Steyn, I know, I assume, and I think I’m right about this that you’ll agree with me in rejecting Pat Robertson’s analysis of why this happened. But why is it that Haiti is such a basket case?

MS: Well, for a start, it was a French colony rather than a British colony. I mean, we can make that comparison almost anywhere in the world. I’m a bit of an old school British imperialist, and I know obviously the majority of your listeners for very good historical reasons will have a different view on that, but generally, and it’s a good guide in the world, even in the worst parts of the world, that if you’re trying to do business, it’s easier to do business in Malaysia, say, than Indonesia. And if you’re trying to do business, obviously, you’re better off in Jamaica than Cuba, and you’re certainly better off in Jamaica than in Haiti. And I think what it is, is that no nation was ever really built there. It’s always very moving to me when you go to the British Caribbean, if you go to Barbados or the Bahamas, or wherever, and you go into those little parliaments, which are like little, mini Westminsters, you see the speaker with his wig, and the mace, and hansard, just like in London or Ottawa or Canberra, whatever one feels about imperialism, functioning societies were built there. There has never been a functioning civil society or public infrastructure in Haiti. And so when a natural phenomenon strikes, it’s devastating there, not just by comparison with an earthquake in California, but even by the standards of an earthquake in Iran, for example.

HH: I am hopeful that, when we come back, I’ll talk more about the relief effort in Haiti, but I’m hopeful maybe we can get the British imperialists to take over Chicago for a while, and introduce some semblance of civilized government there. I’ve just finished reading the new book Game Change. Have you had a chance to read that yet, Mark Steyn?

MS: No, I only know these various juicy bits that have been leaked over the last few days.

HH: Well, I wrote a very long review of it for Townhall. It’s up there today. But what’s amazing is even though they set out not to hurt Obama, Heilmann and Halperin end up bruising him badly. He comes off as insecure and needing reassurance, self-important, cynical, megalomaniacal, petulant, spoiled, touchy, vain, hypocritical, over-weaning, deceptive, and those are the good parts.

MS: Yeah, and you know what I find interesting about that is that I think that’s true of a lot of Obama boosters generally, that they don’t realize, even when they’re trying to paint him in a good light, they don’t realize that to a whole bunch of people, it comes over in a bad light. It’s like a lot of those photographs they put up at the official White House website, that they think makes him look the coolest president ever, and which just make him look arrogant and disconnected to people who don’t share that view. I mean, there’s a lot of people who don’t particularly want a cool president for a start, but who don’t see it as something incredibly, fantastically cool, but just see a man who seems disconnected. And so I think that particularly has come into play since his disastrous performance after the Christmas Day attempt to take down that airliner.

HH: Yeah, what’s remarkable, the people who come off the worst, though, is the media, because you’ve got Hillary and Bill wandering around obsessing about President Obama’s past drug use and not being reported…

MS: Right.

HH: …Hillary muttering about Obama’s mother being a communist. I mean, there’s all sorts of stuff in this book.

MS: Right, right, right.

HH: None of it made it into the media.

MS: No, and I think that was a conscious, obviously that was a conscious decision. There was a great phalanx of protection around him. I remember the one time I saw him speak in New Hampshire, down in Southern New Hampshire somewhere, and he was, you know, he was ordinary. He was ordinary. And what was strange to me is that after the buildup in the press that he was this incredible being, this revolutionary being, this transformative being, that what struck me was just how sort of ordinary he was. And I made the mistake of, which I should know better of, of assuming that my colleagues in the press couldn’t all be so misguided and deluded, and perhaps I’d caught him on a bad day. But I think we’ve seen, actually, when we see him stagger through these listless, lifeless performances he gives, that in fact that is the real Obama, and the media invented a kind of alternative one out of their own kinky fantasies.

HH: Hillary at one point says, “Am I the only one who sees the arrogance? Does it not bother other people? Bill says he’s an, “off the rack Chicago politician.” Over and over again, they’re amazed he’s an empty suit, and they can’t touch him.

MS: Well, and the arrogance thing, and I think Hillary is right. I think there is, that you can certainly make the case, I mean, I’m not someone who cares about sexism and mean-spiritedness, and all the other obsessions of the Democratic Party. But I think if you do, then I think that you can certainly make the case that Hillary was the victim of that, that in fact, he’s in many ways a quite unpleasant man, this sort of curious habit he has of composing himself so that his hand on his face appears to be flipping the finger at you, which he has done a significant number of times, toward political opponents, that it doesn’t seem like an accidental gesture. And I think this is the question….somebody said to me before the election, Obama isn’t cool, he’s cold, he’s cold. And I think that’s what America saw in the performances after Fort Hood and the Pantybomber.

HH: I’m also beginning to think he’s completely tin-eared politically. They’ve managed to take a terrible bill, the health care bill today, Mark Steyn, and make it even worse by unbelievably carving out a special deal for union members. If you’re a union member, you’re not going to have to pay the Cadillac tax. Thus if you’re an automobile worker in Tennessee…

MS: Yeah.

HH: You’re going to pay the Cadillac tax because you’re not unionized. But if you’re up in falling apart Michigan, you’re not going to pay it. I think this is going to…I think it may tip the Massachusetts Senate race to Scott Brown as people say to themselves, this is an out of control special interest Chicago meltdown.

MS: Yeah, and this is what it is. This is why I used to be a pessimist when I first started talking about this with you, Hugh. I thought we were heading for something as disastrous as Britain and Canada. But in fact, I think it’s going to be a disaster on a far worse scale than that, because if you take government health care, but you filter it through this corrupt and disgusting horse trading that’s going on, the one thing you can say about the Canadian or British system is that there is an equality of awfulness. This idea of carving out special exemptions for favored clients of the Democratic Party, I mean, I hope Scott Brown wins in his special election, because I think that would be a huge, symbolic act to take what those arrogant Democrats in that decrepit one-party state of Massachusetts keep calling Ted Kennedy’s seat, and to reclaim it for the people, because of the disaster, the corrupt, disgusting disaster of health care, would be a huge, symbolic victory.

HH: Now what’s your sense of your neighbors to the south, Mark Steyn? There’s some interesting polling out shows Coakley still has a couple of point edge in a few of these polls, larger in others, but there seems to be a lot of momentum for Scott Brown, What’s your instinct tell you?

MS: Yeah, I think Martha Coakley, the question is whether Martha Coakley can recover to get herself a margin of victory. And she has no feeling for politics at all. She’s a classically stupid career politician. These half-wit observations that all the terrorists have gone from Afghanistan, so why do we need to be there now, this sort of insulated attitude that if you ask her a hostile question, you’re stalking her, this woman is simply too stupid. I mean, I say this in a bipartisan spirit, because I thought it about that ridiculous Republican nominee in whatever New York Congressional district that was up by the Quebec border.

HH: Scozzafava, yeah.

MS: Scozzafave, yeah. I thought the same thing there. I think this woman is simply too stupid. 100 Americans out of 300 million get to be United States Senators. Even a decrepit one-party state like Massachusetts can do better than this pathetic husk, brain dead, non-functioning husk of a politician.

HH: On that note, Mark Steyn, thank you. We’ll talk next week, and hopefully, we’ll be tipping glasses and celebrating Scott Brown’s ascension to the United States Senate – Thank you, Mark Steyn,

End of interview.

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