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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn

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HH: Joined now, as I am most Thursdays when we’re lucky, by Mark Steyn, columnist to the world. Mark, you guest hosted for Sean Hannity this week. How was the experience in the rapid fire exchange world of cable television?

MS: I actually enjoyed it. I don’t know how rapid fire I was, but I had a very good time. They’re very affable fellows over at Fox, and basically, the vice president came down from the executive suites to basically give me the advice, if you’re going to be bad, it’s better to be relaxed and bad than nervous and bad.

HH: But you weren’t bad. I got all sorts of e-mails from the listeners to the Hugh Hewitt Show, telling me after the fact that you were on doing this, one woman saying you were cute. And I said that can’t be the case, because you’re Canadian.

MS: Well, I’d like the lady who thinks I’m cute, I’d like to have her e-mail address. A neighbor of mine said to me wow, you looked a lot heavier on TV, and I said well, you know what they say, they always say the camera adds ten pounds. And she said what? So there were like six of them in the room (laughing)

HH: (laughing) Mark, well, congratulations. I hope they bring you back for that a lot. It’s good to be…I don’t know who your co-host was, but I can’t imagine it was an equal match. Was Alan on with you?

MS: Yeah, Alan was on with me.

HH: Okay, well then, that’s fair. He knows what he’s doing.

MS: And in the bipartisan spirit, I have to say he’s one of the most affable lefties around, so I can’t complain about that.

HH: Yes, he is. And now we’re done complimenting lefties.

MS: Yes, that’s right.

HH: Mark Steyn, the president of Iran has this week, twice now, threatened America with going away. And Michael Ledeen, who we’ll talk to next hour, is reporting that there have been discoveries concerning plots within plots aimed at George W. Bush in Jordan by revolutionary Iran. Has he crossed a line, do you think?

MS: Well, I think he crossed a line some time ago. In fact, I think if you look at it in strictly legal terms, in terms of international relations, I think Iran crossed the line within the first couple of months of the founding of the Islamic republic, and they’ve repeatedly crossed more and more lines. You know, this is basically a gangster state that basically is the patron of terrorist groups around the region, and around the world. And so in that sense, going nuclear for particular purposes is entirely consistent with what they’re doing. And I think in a sense, when I read something like the Iraq Study Group, I think in a sense, although it’s easy to dismiss Ahmadinejad as a madman, in a sense, he has a more rational view of the scene than many of the people who try to excuse him, than the James Bakers, and the Lee Hamiltons, and the Europeans, and Kofi Annan in his parting speech at the U.N. I think all these guys, in their attempt to sort of rationalize Ahmadinejad’s genocidal talk, are in fact, in many ways, more deranged than he is. I mean, he is very clear, for example, that if Iran becomes a nuclear power, they can total Israel, and Israel will not be able to inflict any equivalent damage on Iran. And I think is, you know, broadly speaking, a correct assessment. One bomb in the middle of a country that’s 11 miles wide can do a lot more damage than in a country the size of Iran.

HH: Of course, with submarines, I’m not sure Iran is deterrable, but with the Israeli submarines, and the alleged cruise missiles that they have, they could deliver much more than one blow to Iran, and they would, wouldn’t you think?

MS: Well, yes, but I think at the end of the day…

HH: They’re dead, yeah.

MS: At the end of the day, I don’t think we’re talking about an equivalent level of deterrence here. I also think that basically, if you take a sort of millenarian view of the world, that deterrence rally doesn’t enter into it. And I think this is what’s dangerous. It’s actually worse than the 1930’s, in that Ahmadinejad is being far more explicit about what his goals were than Hitler was. I mean, Hitler was actually quite good at giving the impression of being a relatively housetrained, mild authoritarian, when he was having a nice cup of tea with Lord Halifax, the British foreign secretary. I mean, this guy doesn’t even actually bother going through the pretenses.

HH: Now I want to bring to your attention, you probably already see it, one of those small bits of data, which may have significance in a larger set. In the Popular Names publication in England, today came out that if you look at it, for the first time ever, number 22 is Mohammed, and number 44 is Muhammed. One spelled with an O, the other spelled with a U.

MS: Yeah.

HH: Neither has ever appeared on the list before. Together, they now total more than 4,000. The total exceeds those of George’s and Joseph’s in England. Significant, or just simply a burp?

MS: No, I think it’s actually part of the trend. I mean, comparatively speaking, the number of Mohammed’s is quite low in England and Wales, compared to, say, Belgium, where it’s the number one boys name in Brussels, number one boys name in Amsterdam, and several other continental cities. And I think clearly, it’s just going to go up the hit parade as the years go by, because basically, if you look at the spine of England, and the cities from the north, Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, down through the industrial heart of England in Birmingham, down to Bristol and London, the main source of population growth in all those cities is Muslim. So clearly, Mohammed has nowhere to go but up, and I think we’re looking at…this is going to be the Mariah Carey, all I want for Christmas is you, blockbuster sized hit on the boys name hit parade in a couple of years.

HH: I think you’re right about that. Now I want to turn to the name that’s most likely to fall in America, and that would be Matt, at least among military families. A couple of cuts from Matt Damon being interviewed by Christopher Matthews two days ago. Cut number one:

CM: Do you think if you waterboarded Cheney like in the movie that you’d get a different truth out of him?

MD: Well, there’s two answers to that question. One is he doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who has any real personal courage…

HH: Mark Steyn, your reaction?

MS: Well, you know, I’m happy to have politicians insulted by almost any group in society, but not by celebrities who get $20 million dollars to make some fluff movie that everyone’s forgotten about a year later. You know, the fact of the matter is that Matt Damon…I think there is a general problem, I think, with the gracelessness of movie stars. I had the pleasure of meeting Arnold Beichman, who’s now in his 90’s. But he used to write sort of press stories for Jimmy Cagney and people back in the early…he was the press agent at Warner Brothers. And all the movie stars had their copy written for them. And as a result, they said far less idiotic things over the years than these people who are just, simply because they get $20 million to be a big hunk in a movie, think they’re some great geopolitical thinker. I mean, Chris Matthews sat there kissing up…you know, Chris Matthews, Mr. tough guy interviewer, was swooning like a teenager over Matt Damon. It’s pathetic, a pathetic thing for a grown man to be doing.

HH: Well, one of the questioners at least asked a very serious question of him. Cut number two:

Q: I was just wondering would either of you go to war right now?

MD: We kind of blundered in there with the best intentions, but nevertheless without a plan. So…but in terms of your question, I agree with Bob (DeNiro) that it’s a complex question, and it would depend on certain situations. I mean, I don’t think that it’s fair, as I said before, that it seems like we have a fighting class in our country, that’s comprised of people who have to go for either for financial reasons…I don’t think that that is fair. And if you’re going to send people to war, if we all get together and decide we need to go to war, then that needs to be shared by everybody, you know? And if the President has daughters who are of age, then maybe they should go, too.

HH: Mark Steyn?

MS: You know, this is the thing. The left is always against whatever defense system you have. So for example, 40 years ago, when we had a draft, they said this isn’t fair. If you want to go to college, and you want to play in a rock band, you shouldn’t have that disrupted by having to go to Vietnam for a couple of years. Now, we have an all-volunteer military, and people like Matt Damon have talked themselves into believing that the only people in that military are people who were forced into it, forced into it. And I think that’s a completely false characterization of the military. But basically, it’s part of the left’s old shell game, you know, that whatever system was devised for constructing the military, they would be opposed to.

HH: Right.

MS: So if you said to Matt Damon, you’re right, we’re going to have a draft, all men will go, pick up your gun and report for duty, he’d say oh, no, no, no, no. If you want to fight a war, you should be the volunteers to go for it. I mean, it’s pathetic.

HH: Now George Bush gave a press conference yesterday, talking about resolve in the war. Did you hear it, Mark Steyn? And is he getting his game back?

MS: I did hear it, and I though it wasn’t a great performance, but I was interested in the sense that he reassured me on the bottom line, which is that basically, the Iraq Study Group deal is dead in the water. And I think that is heartening, that in fact the President, whatever else he may be doing, and whatever other problems there may be, he’s not going to go down that path.

HH: Mark Steyn, congratulations on this Christmas. I’m sure America Alone is still selling briskly. Has it remained on the New York Times bestseller list?

MS: Yeah, and I’m absolutely stunned, actually, by the number of people who’ve been buying multiple copies for Christmas presents. I think there’s going to be a lot of Americans with a very glum Christmas in their stockings when they come down and open their presents in the morning, because my gloomy, apocalyptic book is going to be there when they could have had some nice, little bit of fluff, you know, Matt Damon pick your favorite movie.

HH: (laughing) But they’ll be laughing all the way to eclipse. Mark Steyn, you can get the book at, America.

End of interview.


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