HH: We’re lucky Mark Steyn is in the house, Columnist To the World. And before we go to the serious stuff, Mark Steyn, I’ve got to know if you’re back in the studio recording a new Christmas album.
MS: I am actually, before I came on air, I was immersed in orchestrations, and I shall say no more than that.
HH: I am thrilled.
MS: There’s something…there’s something might be in the works.
HH: All right. Well, you heard it here first, breaking news every day. Now the press conference after the press conference is the one that counts. The President gave a press conference, but then I have Mark Steyn comment on the press conference. Mark, here’s what the President said about ISIS, cut number one:
BO: As our strategy develops, we will continue to consult with Congress, and I do think it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in, and or that our consultations with Congress continue to develop so that the American people are part of the debate. But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy, yet. I think what I’ve seen in some of the…
HH: There you have it, Mark Steyn. We don’t have a strategy, yet.
MS: Yes, and that’s true. Actually, I believe Churchill after the fall of France, went out and gave a press conference outside 10 Downing Street, where he announced that we don’t have a strategy, yet, just as he took over from Neville Chamberlain. And people said well, what are you going to do about this Nazi war machine? And he said well, we don’t have a strategy, yet. And that apparently made front page news in Germany. So I’m sure around the world, I don’t know whether that actually is the strategy, not to have a strategy, but just looking at the color of his suit, I think you would have concluded that this was a man without a strategy.
HH: Oh, Mark, we have to stay there. I had the same reaction. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a presidential press conference done in staffer brown. You know, it’s that light brown staffer color that invades Washington, D.C.
MS: Well you know, you know something, I used to be far more flamboyant, as it were, in my dress. And I was advised when I started appearing on television here that Americans never take you seriously unless you wear a dark suit. And I believe the last occasion I wore a suit that color was on a morning talk show in Australia with a lady called Kerri-Anne Kennerley, who’s basically the Oprah of Australia. And I was appearing with some miniature highland cattle, and thought that if you’re appearing with miniature highland cattle of a shaggy mean, then that color suit is appropriate. But as a suit for which the global superpower reacts to the incursion, as they say, of Ukraine and Americans signing up to die for ISIS and all the other stuff that’s going on, I would leave that suit for the Australian daytime talk show circuit.
HH: Well, I’m going to diverge for just a second. I’m worried about the miniature highland cattle. Will they still be part of the United Kingdom, do you think, a month from now?
MS: Well, I honestly couldn’t say on that. And you know, that is the choice of Scotsmen. If the Scots want to secede, and there’s a good, basic rule here, you know, that generally speaking, small countries tend to be more effective countries, tend to be wealthier countries, and all the rest of it. And the United States has always been an exception to that rule. And a few years ago, a couple of guys wrote a book that said if the United States were as centrally governed as France, it would have busted up two hundred years ago. Obama is actually now testing that proposition. But generally speaking, smaller countries tend to be more effective. I personally would regret the loss of the active union, but I don’t think Scotland, even if it votes to become an independent kingdom, will be leaving the commonwealth.
HH: There it is. The referendum is on September 18th, and Mark Steyn is making no prediction on his fellow commonwealth descendants. Now let me turn back to the press conference. The President said two other remarkable things, I’ll play them back to back, about Ukraine, number two:
BO: We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem. What we’re doing is to mobilize the international community to apply pressure on Russia.
HH: And then he went to say this.
BO: It is not in the cards for us to see a military confrontation between Russia and the United States in this region. Keep in mind, however, that I’m about to go to a NATO conference. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but a number of those states that are close by are. And we take our Article 5 commitments to defend each other very seriously. And that includes the smallest NATO member as well as the largest NATO member. And so part of the reason I think this NATO meeting is going to be so important is to refocus attention on the critical function that NATO plays.
HH: So Mark Steyn, what was he saying there?
MS: Well, for a start, he was doing his usual thing where he tells you all the things he’s not going to do, where he says we’re not going to have military action. Even if you’re not going to have military action, to go back to what we were talking about earlier, you don’t announce it. You don’t rule it out. Then he actually, then in some weird psychological move, he basically said okay, so we’re prepared to toss Ukraine and Ukraine’s borders to the wolves, to the Russia bear, be that as it may, but on the other hand, we take NATO very seriously.
MS: Now if you’re Estonia, would you, if you were the Estonian government, would you actually be reassured by that? And if you were Putin, if you were Putting sitting in the Kremlin, and you just wanted to mess with Obama, wouldn’t you be slightly ever-so-tempted just to invade Estonia, just to see whether Obama follows through on that Article 5 thing? And I think that’s what’s so weird about it. He’s like the classic guy who stands up in public, and one way or another winds up saying the thing you intended not to say. So his reassurance to NATO in fact actually put a question mark over it.
HH: It sure did. It also left Ukraine open to the Russian bear. I mean, that’s the most amazing thing. He took any kind of defense of them off of the table other than economic sanctions. It’s remarkable. Let me play for you, Mark Steyn, I’ve been doing this show for fifteen years. I had an exchange with Governor Romney this week, which generated more media than anything else that’s ever happened here. Here’s what he said.
MR: Again, we said look, I had the chance of running, I didn’t win. Someone else has a better chance than I do. And that’s what I believed, and that’s why I’m not running. And you know, circumstances can change, but I’m just not going to let me head go there. I remember that great line from Dumb and Dumber, where…
HH: So you’re telling me I have a chance?
MR: Yeah, right, there you go. You remember. You’re telling me I have a chance. Yeah, that’s one of a million (laughing).
HH: So Mark Steyn, that launched a million commentaries.
MS: I know. I didn’t think, you know, to be honest, I don’t rule it out, either. I didn’t think the kind of Adlai Stevenson thing was possible anymore, where you run and you lose, then you run again and you lose again, and now you run again. I didn’t think that was possible in American politics anymore. And it says something slightly weird about where the Republican Party is. Look, I think Mitt Romney is, I think, is a tremendously decent guy. And I think there’s no doubt that he fought a much better campaign in 2012 than he did in 2008. But I would be, I would like just, one of the, I mean, forgive me looking it from the foreigner’s point of view, but one of the odd things about the system here is that the Democrats tend to wind up nominating sociopaths, and the Republicans tend to nominate rich guys. I mean, I’m generalizing here. And I think it would be just great if somehow just a regular, ordinary American who understand how ordinary Americans live their lives, because he’s lived those lives, were to be the nominee of the party. And I don’t believe Hillary Rodham Clinton meets that definition, and as much as I think Mitt Romney is a decent guy, I would like a candidate who can connect instinctively with an American middle class that is actually shrinking, and is living worse lives than their parents and their grandparents.
HH: Jonathan Toobin and I, I think it was he over at Commentary Magazine, interpreted Romney as saying gosh, the field is falling apart, and if it continues to disintegrate, I might have to do this. And I think that’s what you’re saying as well, but hopefully someone emerges, right?
MR: Well you know, I think the nominating system, and my state plays as big a part in that as anybody, has actually failed in recent cycles, and I don’t want it to fail again. There is a question mark here, though. And I think this is of concern to Romney. There is a question mark over where the Republican Party is on certain issues. If it were to become, for example, a foreign policy election, with the way the map is imploding on Obama’s watch, that could well happen. The question then is you know, clearly Rand Paul doesn’t speak for a certain percentage of the Republican base.
HH: And we have to leave it there, Mark Steyn, to be continued next week on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
End of interview.