HH: Well, America, now I am worried. Morning glory and evening grace, but don’t trust me, and don’t trust the President. Trust the Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. Hello, Mark, have you got yourself an anti-radiation suit garbed up, ready to go?
MS: Yeah, up here in Northern New Hampshire, we’re not taking any chances. I’m doing this interview live in my radiation suit, because I find the President only marginally less reassuring than Joe Biden, who should be coming out and doing one of his ‘head for the hills’ statements any moment now.
HH: You know, I was perfectly fine with this, wasn’t worried until the President assured me I had nothing to worry about. It’s sort of like his, you know, standing by the freedom fighters of Libya.
MS: (laughing) That’s right. You know it’s all over. There’ll be three-headed cows walking down Main Street any moment now.
HH: (laughing) Oh, it’s not funny for the people of Japan, but whenever the President’s out there, I’m just going the other way. Mark Steyn, who knew? Donald Trump is a birther. Let me play you something from Good Morning America, cut number one.
DT: Everybody that even gives any hint of being a birther, a word you didn’t use, even a little bit of a hint like gee, you know, maybe, just maybe, this much of a chance, they label them as an idiot. Let me tell you, I’m a really smart guy. I was a really good student at the best school in the country. The reason I have a little doubt, just a little, is because he grew up and nobody knew him. When you interview people, if I ever got the nomination, if I ever decide to run, you may go back and interview people from my kindergarten. They’ll remember me. Nobody ever comes forward. Nobody knows who he is until later in his life. It’s very strange. The whole thing is very strange.
HH: So Mark Steyn, this is like Aaron Burr reincarnate. I’m so happy to have Trump in this race. What do you make of that one?
MS: Well, I don’t know why every time I’m on the show now, Hugh, you ask me about Donald Trump.
MS: I mean, I don’t know whether you’re pitching, you know, Trump: The Making Of The President book on my behalf at selected publishers.
MS: I wasn’t planning on following the Trump campaign this closely, to be honest.
HH: We’re trying to lease Duane to him. We want to make this into the Trump studios. But I just think he’s going to be endlessly entertaining. Listen to this quote, Mark. Cut number two:
AB: You put up $600 million for this?
DT: Absolutely, assuming I’m doing well.
AB: Do you have $600 million to spare?
DT: I have much more than that. Part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich.
HH: Mark Steyn, that’s pretty right out there, isn’t it?
MS: (laughing) Well, he’s pretty up front about it, that he’s just to sign the check. He doesn’t have to go around doing all these fundraisers like Obama’s doing. The problem here is that actually, I would quite like a candidate who is not Beltway business as usual. Donald Trump is not the man I had in mind. In some ways, Donald Trump represents the kind of charlatan capitalism as far as I’m concerned. He’s done very nicely for him. I tell you, I like his participation on the Regis Philbin Christmas album. He chips in and does a little bit in the middle of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, where he fires, I think, Dasher or Prancer. And I respect that in a man, that it’s actually quite a competent performance on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. But I would, before we get to joke candidates in the race, I would like to be reassured that there are some heavyweight candidates in the race.
HH: Well, he doesn’t like anyone, and we’ll get to them in just a minute. Now let’s turn dreadfully, boringly serious and talk about domestic politics. Do you think that the House Republicans are managing this debate over continuing resolutions very well, Mark Steyn?
MS: No, I don’t. And I think this, I don’t see the point of this. The continuing resolution is like trench warfare in 1916, fighting over relatively barren and pointless bits of ground. And after November, they shouldn’t…November was supposed to be a breakthrough. It wasn’t supposed to be the Western front in 1916. And I think there are diminishing returns to eking out miserable victories over continuing resolutions every couple of weeks. We are in serious trouble. And when Harry Reid goes on TV and says he doesn’t want to even hear anything about Social Security fixes for another 20 years, by the way, Harry Reid will be 92 in 20 years.
MS: So just his own casual assumptions about life expectancy tell you a lot about what the problem with 1930s era Social Security formulas are. But when somebody says that, they just don’t get it. We don’t have 20 years. There isn’t going to be an America in 20 years if Harry Reid gets his way.
HH: Now Mark, I actually think they’re going to fold. I have no confidence in the GOP leadership. Do you? Do you have more confidence than I do that they’ll actually stand and deliver at some point?
MS: No, I don’t. I don’t, to be honest. I think John Boehner has been an incredible disappointment. I think John Boehner has basically climbed into the Bob Dole suit, and I think they misunderstand the lessons of the 2010 election, which is that the Tea Party chose to work within the diseased husk of the Republican Party it loathes. And it still hasn’t forgiven for 2006 and 2008. So for the Republicans to demonstrate that hey, we’re back to 2006 again, except on Obama-level spending, is not a good idea. We need Republicans to at least take the lead in broadening public discourse. This country is broke. It’s the brokest country in the history of the planet. And the idea of arguing over itsy-bitsy, half a billion here and half a billion there, and continuing resolutions staggering forward every ten days, is preposterous. It’s inadequate to the task. It’s inadequate for the challenge facing America.
HH: You know, I hadn’t thought about it in those terms, but you’re absolutely right. The brokest country in the history of the planet.
HH: Mark, let me ask you about, I think what the problem is. I think they’re misreading 1995. They look at 1995 and say Newt and the Republicans lost. Well, in fact, they didn’t beat Clinton for the presidency, but they held onto the Congress. If Newt hadn’t fought in 1995, I think they would have pulled the rug out from under them. They’re not fighting is the, is giving the Tea Party every good reason, and a lot of Republicans, to walk away from them.
MS: Yes, and in fact, I think it’s teaching a lesson that’s actually more dangerous than that, which is that the political institutions of the United States are simply impervious to course correction. And there are no good conclusions to be drawn from that, because basically what we’re being offered it one party that wants to floor it and put its foot on the pedal as we go over the cliff, and another party that says oh, no, no, no, it’s okay, vote for us, we’re only going to go over the cliff in third gear. That’s not enough of a choice for a functioning two-party system.
HH: Now I have to ask you, I’m sure you watched the President pick his brackets in the middle of Libya, Japan and Bahrain. But if he wasn’t picking his brackets, which of these crises should he be paying the most attention to and actually doing something about, Mark Steyn?
MS: Well, that’s a final four right there, isn’t it?
HH: Yes, it is (laughing)
MS: Why don’t we have a final four of Middle Eastern revolutions. I mean, maybe he could go on Al Jazeera and pick his Arab strongman bracket.
HH: Yeah, Mubarak didn’t impress in the first round.
MS: (laughing) I mean, I think this gets to the heart of the problem, really, that on the planet, as far as the rest of the planet is concerned, the superpower is a spectator. And this is the delusion of Democrats, by the way. They think they’re just, Obama knows he’s just a spectator. He doesn’t really have a lot of interest in what’s going on in Libya. What he doesn’t understand yet is that America is not just a spectator in these global ructions. It’s a spectator in its own fate. And it is a tragedy for the superpower that it has this man at the helm at this moment in history.
HH: Mark, can we actually go through a year and a half with a president who is presiding as opposed to governing? Can we get along without a president?
MS: I think things are going to happen. For example, if you look at various strange shipments that are being tracked en route from North Korea to Iran, I think there will be, I think there are going to be developments in the next 18 months. I think for example, just on the fiscal scene, I don’t, I wouldn’t want to bet on the dollar being the global reserve currency, whether formally or informally, if this continues. So there are consequences for this. But you know, the American people knew what they were doing. And in a way, that’s why I’m not on board with all this birther thing. I mean, I’d quite like it if he wasn’t born in Hawaii, because I’d run for president and say I was born in Hawaii. But I think that lets the American people off the hook. The issue is not the president. The issue is that you guys voted for this president. And that, and if you don’t understand what’s wrong with that now, then the problem is the American people, and not the American president.
HH: I’ll tell you, Mark, that’s well said. I hope you stay in your cellar. If you come out and see a three-headed cow, go back in immediately to the coal room. Mark Steyn, Columnist To the World, www.steynonline.com, America.
End of interview.