Mark Steyn says Justice Kennedy stole his line
HH: This hour, we begin as we do every Thursday when we are lucky with Columnist To the World, and lecturer extraordinaire, Professor Mark Steyn, who is professing tonight, in fact, at Hillsdale on the Utopia of Myopia: America On The Edge. Mark, you’re up in our beautiful land of Michigan?
MS: Yeah, that’s actually next Tuesday, that is, that speech. I think, in fact, I think you’re hanging out with Larry Arnn, the head honcho of Hillsdale.
HH: I was, so I had my dates wrong, and I though you were going to be, I was going to have Arnn, and you were taking over the college and going to change the locks on him. But he’ll be back in time.
MS: Yeah, the last time, Larry Arnn is not just the president of Hillsdale, but he’s a great man. He has a terrific book out on the founders. When I saw him last year, he came up to me and he said did you see this story about Beyonce playing private parties for the Gaddafi family for a million dollars a pop? And I was absolutely stunned, not by Beyonce taking a million bucks to go and serenade Gaddafi, but the fact that Larry Arnn had heard of Beyonce. That’s your death of the republic right there, regardless of how the Supreme Court decides.
HH: I may bring that up in the introduction tonight, because I am introducing him tonight. But what is the Utopia of Myopia?
MS: Well, I’m always interested, I’m increasingly interested as I travel around America and the rest of the West, and what’s holding the joint up, because I think there’s what I think statisticians, and in fact, I think doctors, too, call the normality bias, that the way things are, and that people have a tendency to believe that the way things are now is the way they’re always going to be. And I’m basically going to say no, wait a minute, you can be like some French bon vivant of the 1890s strolling around all dapper and debonair, and inside, you’re all rotted away from tertiary syphilis, and you don’t even know it, yet. So I’m going to be doing a bit of the old apocalyptic doom mongering on that.
HH: Well, I’m glad you are, because I have rarely had the response I did to the last three days of radio shows, largely not because of what I said, but because of what Paul Clement said, and how he said it in response to pointed questions about first principles.
HH: And it seems to me that when Anthony Kennedy said you know, this is a big decision, this will fundamentally change the nature of the government and the citizens, that some people actually noticed, Mark, your seeds may be coming up.
MS: Yeah, that judge guy stole my line! Where did that Kennedy guy get it from? He stole my line. That’s right, I’ve been saying for years that the distinguishing feature of a governmentalized health care system is that it does transform the nature of the relationship between the state and the citizen. So to have some fancy guy in a black robe saying it from the judge’s bench, I was kind of a little miffed by that. I mean, I’m flattered, but I kind of feel he should have given me credit for it.
HH: Send him a bill. What did you make of, this was the most candid moment, Antonin Scalia said I don’t want to read 2,700 pages, my clerks don’t want to read 2,700 pages, are you kidding? We’re not going to read 2,700 pages. Well, you know what, Mark? We have to live under that. If we don’t do what it says, we break the law.
HH: How in the world can we…
MS: No, but this is what’s fascinating to me, because John Conyers, Congressman Conyers, when he was asked whether he’d read the bill, he said there’s no point in me reading the bill, because I’d have to spend six days with lawyers to tell me what it all meant. Well now, we have the greatest jurists in the land saying that they don’t want to read the bill. So…and there’s a serious point here that when a law is 2,700 pages long, it’s not a law. It’s a hierarchy of privilege. It’s about determining where you come in the particular rankings of privilege that the massive 2,700 pages of regulations are going to bury you under. And that’s why no sane…the minute a law is 2,700 pages, you should vote it down automatically. And by the way, if this Supreme Court had its marbles about it, they would take that view, because all the stuff that got the revolutionaries all riled up, say what you like about the Tea Act, but it was a couple of pages long, and it was about tea, and that’s all. And that’s the way real laws are.
HH: And it does give the lie to the idea anybody has any idea what it does. Nobody has any idea what it does. We know little parts of it.
MS: Well, what it does is it empowers Kommissar Sebelius.
MS: The secretary shall determine this, the secretary may determine that, the secretary may, shall and determine anything she wants off the top of her pretty little head. Where do you go to vote out the kommissar of health and human services? The fact of the matter is this is not a law in the sense of a clearly defined law being passed by elected citizen representatives in a legislature. And that is the great problem with the hyper-regulatory state, by the way, that the old line about ignorance of the law being no excuse no longer applies, because you and I, and everybody else that’s walking around, in breach of a bazillion little regulations that some guy cooked up in the back office that we’re not even aware of.
HH: Yeah, that’s the case of EPA V. Sackett, where three people from the EPA show up and tell you to unbuild your house and fill your lot in, because you violated a wetland you didn’t know was a wetland, and actually wasn’t, but you can’t sue them, because of the…
HH: It’s a nightmare. Now I’ve got to make sure I find time to talk to you about our president’s new best friend, the president of Russia, who will transmit things to Vladimir. You and I could not have made that up, Mark Steyn. What did you make of that exchange?
MS: Well, I think if you wanted just a single reason to vote this guy out in November, this is pretty much it. It’s part of a pattern. He regretted, a couple of years ago, that he didn’t have the freedom of maneuver that the politburo does in China. And we know that in China, it’s a dictatorship. In Russia, Vladimir Putin rigs the elections. Here, there’s 300 million people who have got all kinds of whimsical ideas about this and that, and they’re getting in his way. And for him to actually be sitting there next to the president of a hostile power, and say oh, believe me, I so envy you, you wouldn’t believe the trouble I have with this crazy democracy business back home, I can’t wait until that’s all behind me, and then I can just do what I want, that alone ought to be a disqualifier for office.
HH: Now the left media is blasting Romney for saying this was disconcerting, alarming, deeply troubling, and they are claiming that he’s an old Cold Warrior who’d out of step with the times. I think this is actually the best week Romney’s had in a long time, because he drew a very sharp distinction. What did you make of Romney’s response, denouncing this tête-à-tête with Medvedev?
MS: No, I thought he was absolutely right. And to be honest, I rather enjoyed the Pravda guy going nuclear on him. And what did he do? He called, this is like, electing Romney would be like putting a pedophile in charge of the nursery school, or whatever it was. I mean, he clearly got a rise out of them. And here’s the thing. I think it’s nothing to do with the Cold War. I think this would be equally appropriate if he’d been sitting next to the prime minister of Belgium saying this. I just think it’s obnoxious in a supposedly self-governing republic headed by a citizen executive that that citizen executive is sitting with foreign potentates of whatever stripe, and saying essentially the citizenry are a pain in the neck, but don’t worry, after November, I can stick them in the bottom drawer, and I won’t have to worry about them.
HH: Now Mark, are you at all optimistic about November? It is apparent to everyone now, the Zombie narrative is dead. There is not going to be a brokered convention. Romney’s going to be the nominee, and he’s going to pick Rubio or Ryan or Christie or McDonnell or Portman. Someone will be there, and it’ll be a very distinct choice. Are you an optimist about the country making the right choice in November?
MS: Well, I think the left has had a very bad few weeks. I think genuine things…I think they were taken completely by surprise by Obamacare. I think all the little distractions they keep throwing in front of people, whether it’s the Sondra Fluke thing, or this case down in Florida, I don’t think they quite stick, either. So the question is whether the guy we nominate is basically good enough to drag the party across the finish line. And I think there is a question mark about Romney on that. As we said a week or two back, he’ll have a great primary night, and he’ll win tons of delegates, and he’ll have a big victory, and then the next morning, I think last time around, it was the guy going on about the Etch-A-Sketch thing. Somebody will in fact snatch a gaffe from the jaws of victory. And I hope that by the time we get to the general election campaign, those days are over, because you just have to be good enough to beat this guy. You don’t have to be a genius. You don’t have to be the most charismatic guy. You don’t have to be the colossus. But you just have to be good enough to beat this guy, because if we don’t, then as he’s just said to President Medvedev, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
HH: Oh, on that note, Mark Steyn, Columnist To the World, good luck at Hillsdale next week. I’ll tell Arnn to have the locks checked before you come.
End of interview.