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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn previews America Alone, and the legacies of Mark Foley and Bill Clinton

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HH: It’s Thursday, so we have Mark Steyn at the top of the hour. Mark is the author of America Along: The End Of The World As We Know It. It’s available at I’ve linked it at It’s just doing smashingly well, but I’ve unfortunately discovered, Mark Steyn, welcome back, you can’t sign your name.

MS: (laughing) I sent you a signed copy, but I delegated it to some neanderthal caveman who lives in the woods to put some scrawl in it, Hugh.

HH: It’s just truly an astonishingly bad signature. And there’s nothing worse for an author than looking at a stack of about a thousand books, and having to go through it like that, so I actually…

MS: Well, you know what I always love? These things…celebrities now have sort of official signatures. Like you’ll be wandering past a storefront window, and you’ll see the Farrah Fawcett signature collection, and it’ll be her kind of range of lingerie, or something like that. And it will have this beautiful, cursive thing that has been designed by some graphics artist on Madison Avenue. And I’ve always wanted to be able to just pick up a pen and write one like that. But it’s hard to learn.

HH: I think you’re too far gone, actually. Mark Steyn, on Page 145 of America Alone, you talk about the virus that has been a long time incubating. In 1971, it begins at the Cairo Sheraton. And then you talk to us about Mariam Farahat. The reason I bring her up is that the story in the Guardian today is that Gaza is sliding into civil war, and so that virus is now gone internal. What’s going to happen there?

MS: Well, I think what you have in Gaza is you have for a start, which I think I say somewhere on the third page of the book, you have one of the highest birth rates on the planet. They have an almost entirely endless supply of teenage boys for whom there is nothing to do, who have been raised in a death cult. You know, everyone talks about, brings this kind of great perspective to the Palestinian thing. And anytime you start talking about Palestine and Israel, people say well, 1967 borders, and then they go back to 1948 and the founding of Israel, and then they go back to the Balfour Declarations. None of these guys remember this. They’re all…the median age in Gaza is 15.6 years, so their memory only goes back to the mid-1990’s. They know nothing other than this kind of intifada squat that they’ve been raised in. And frankly, if you’re a teenage boy, you can make a sort of economic sanity argument to people. You can say well, we’d like to invest in infrastructure, and get some economic development going in Gaza, and you could have a nice home in the suburbs with a big yard and raise children and get a second car and have a steady job. And that’s fine if you’re a 40 year old guy. If you’re a 15 year old boy, who cares? The jihad’s a lot more fun, and intifadas are a lot more fun, and killing people is a lot more fun.

HH: And teenage boys have long enjoyed blowing things up. And this is the reality there. Plus a mom…this woman that you describe in the book, it’s amazing. She’s sent three of her six sons off to die, killing Israelis with suicide attacks.

MS: Yes, and she actually made a video of that to inspire other mothers. She made a video of herself sending her son off to die killing Jews, which is what a lot of people like…that is the main economic activity in Gaza. And this woman was elected to parliament, basically, because she had sacrificed three of her six sons to the great cause of killing Jews. And you’re dealing here with, I think, something that is…when we talk about it as depraved, it doesn’t seem depraved in Palestinian terms. It’s a while since I’ve been in Gaza, but I was in the West Bank a couple of years ago, and you’d like go into grocery stores, and if you die killing Jews, if you’re a young guy or a young woman, they often use women, and you die killing Jews, they put you up on the wall at the grocery store as the martyr of the week, you’re a big hero. It’s so bizarre. You’re having this perfectly normal economic exchange, where you’re buying a can of Coke and a Mars bar to eat in the car, and you’re doing it in this kind of strange death cult environment, where they glorify this activity. They don’t see it as depravity.

HH: And Mahmoud Abbas has 4,000 security forces, according to the Guardian, Hamas, 3,000, and dozens of smaller armed units. It’s hard to see how that is anything other than, well, what we have in Baghdad, except it’s not reported as what we have in Baghdad. Mark Steyn, also another theme of America Alone is what’s going on in Europe. Today in the Washington Times, borrowing from the London Daily Telegraph, is a story that the French Interior Ministry has announced that 2,500 of their officers hve been wounded this year, and that violent crashes within the French housing estates, the radical Muslim infested housing estates, are at about 14 officers a day. It’s an intifada, the Washington Times says. Do you agree with that assessment?

MS: Yes. Well, it was this fellow from the French police unit, union, who used the term intifada, and I was glad to see him do that, because I’ve been using that to describe what’s been going on in France since the Spring of 2002, when I saw it firsthand in these lawless suburbs, where basically, the writ of the French state does not run. And it’s interesting to me that politicians, including the lady who’s going to be one of the favored presidential candidates in the next election, they essentially have deferred to that, like when they go to liaise with the big shot imams. They don’t meet the imams on their turf. That would be disrespectful. The imam arranges to meet the big shot French politician on so-called French turf. In other words, these politicians are explicitly ceding territory of the 5th Republic of France to essentially a kind of…to the house of Islam, in effect. And I think people point out and they say oh, well no, we’re not talking about the jihad here. These aren’t people wearing burkas, and with long beards, and talking about Allah all the time. It’s basically a secular kind of alienation. And that’s all very well to put it in those terms, to say yes, these guys at one level look like just regular, Western teenagers. But for them, Islam has become a kind of political identity, and a very embracing political identity, and it’s become like the coolest gang identity on the planet for these guys.

HH: Well now, next week, we’re going to spend the entire hour talking about America Alone. We’ll take your calls as well, America. But you’ll want to go and get the book before that. I’ve linked it at, or you can go to So be ready for next week. Let’s turn…you know, we’ve got Paris in flames, we’ve got Gaza at civil war, we’ve got six dead in the Philippines from a terrorist attack. Let’s talk about Mark Foley.

MS: (laughing) Exactly. We…enough with this trivia. Let’s get to…

HH: And I’m not even going to get to North Korea with you until next week. The political situation as you see it, Mark Steyn, 26 days out?

MS: I think the Republicans will do a lot better than these ludicrous predictions of massive losses. I think Mark Foley is over already. I think the idea that you can somehow, at the risk of unpleasant imagery, ride Mark Foley to victory in the November election, I think, is absolutely preposterous. This is…this was a kind of three day flash in the pan, and at some point, the Democrats have to get serious about what it is they plan to do in office. And the fact of the matter is, I do not believe there is…that even if you look at it in a cynical way, that the intention of this is to kind of label the Republicans as a kind of decadent, gay toga party, so that the religious right all stay home on election day, for that to work, the religious right have to be as stupid as the Democratic Party and the left think they are. And anyone who knows most evangelical Christians, knows they are not as dumb as cynical but ignorant Democrats in New York and Boston and Los Angeles think they are.

HH: Now Mark Steyn, I think probably the best commentary on Foley was not really about Foley. it was Claire McCaskill on Meet the Press this weekend. Listen to this clip:

Russert: You’re having Bill Clinton come in to raise money for you. Do you think Bill Clinton was a great president?

CM: I do. I think…I had a lot of problems with some of his personal issues. I said at the time, I think he’s been a great leader, but I don’t want my daughter near him.

HH: Now the reason I bring that up, Mark Steyn, is because for Republicans who were under asault for Mark Foley’s predatory tactics, it seems to me the complete answer’s been provided by the Democratic nominee for the Senate in Missouri.

MS: Absolutely. And he wasn’t just some peripheral Congressman. He was the chief of state of the world’s superpower. And a lot of the problems we’re dealing with now, he was banging on when lost control on that Chris [Wallace] thing. Read Richard Clarke’s book. Read Richard Clarke’s book. Read Richard Clarke’s book. Well, if you take Bill Clinton at his word, and you read Richard Clarke’s book, this guy explains that every time Richard Clarke came up with a great idea for how to get bin Laden, how to do something about the jihad, how to deal with the terrorist camps in Afghanistan, Bill Clinton would never go along with it, because he felt that with his particular problems, with the draft dodging issue, with all the rest of it, that he couldn’t plausibly order American troops into action on any difficult mission. In other words, character tells. Character tells. If you elect people in the full knowledge that they have significant character flaws, and those character flaws have certain implications for policy areas. Don’t be surprised, then, that it comes back to haunt you. The fact of the matter is, Bill…you can’t say Bill Clinton was a great leader, but a flawed personal man, because the personal flaws impacted, and ultimately rendered his presidency not just a waste of time, but a very dangerous period in American history.

HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure. And next week, an hour on America Alone. America, get the book now. It’s available at

End of interview.


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