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Mark Steyn’s Christmas with the Clapper

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HH: And that of course is Jessica Martin and Mark Steyn in the disco fever edition of A Marshmallow World, still available at And we’re pleased to mark this Christmas week with a visit from Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. Hello, Mark, Merry Christmas.

MS: Hey, Merry Christmas to you, too, Hugh.

HH: And I think there’s still time for people to order the extended play edition of disco fever of A Marshmallow World, isn’t there?

MS: Yeah, the bongo break in the middle of that will make your holiday party go just, it’ll pack the dance floor. I can’t tell you how thrilling that bongo break is in the middle of the megamix.

HH: I hope that the critical views have been good. Mark, there was a celebratory press conference closing up just recently at the White House. I’d like to give you the key segments of the adversarial press and the president of the United States. Here are three:

BHO: Dan Lothian

DL: Thank you, Mr. President, and happy holiday.

BHO: Happy holidays.

– – – –

BHO: Jake Tapper.

JT: Thanks, Mr. President, Merry Christmas.

BHO: Merry Christmas.

– – – –

BHO: Juan Carlos Lopez.

JCL: Gracias, Presidente. Feliz Navidad.

BHO: Feliz Navidad.

HH: What do you think, Mark? Pretty aggressive group there, eh?

MS: (laughing) Well, it’s very weird, Hugh. I mean, it’s like there’s a whole kind of category of Obama rebound analysis, that the Associated Press actually has it sort of slugged as a separate category on its own now.

HH: In terms of…do you believe that he handed the Republicans their head, as is being widely broadcast this afternoon?

MS: No, I don’t think so, but I think while they may be saying Merry Christmas, but actually as far as they’re concerned, it’s Easter, that their messiah has risen from the dead, and now bestrides lame duck Washington like a colossus. I mean, I think the idea that somehow Obama’s great achievement would be extending the Bush tax cuts, something which he called morally troubling, if this is what makes them happy, so be it. The fact is November the 2nd was a repudiation of the previous two years. And this idea that somehow people were voting for bipartisanship, people were voting because they want the parties to work together to get things done, no. All the princess fairy pants stuff was not what they were voting for. They wanted to end spending, they wanted to end big government, they wanted to roll back the last two years. So let the Obamaboppers in the press have their little moment. And reality will sink in with the arrival of the 112th Congress.

HH: Now I’m a great admirer of Jake Tapper. In fact, I think he is the best and toughest questioner in the White House press corps, and I wish he had ABC’s Sunday show instead of the dreadful alternative that we now have that I no longer watch. But here is Jake succumbing to the moment in today’s press conference with President Obama.

BHO: Jake Tapper.

JT: Thanks, Mr. President, Merry Christmas.

BHO: Merry Christmas.

JT: I have a couple questions about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. First of all, congratulations.

HH: First of all, congratulations, Mark Steyn? Do you think Richard Nixon or George W. Bush or even Ronald Reagan ever got a congratulations from the White House press corps?

MS: No, but I think that is, I think that gets to the reality of this situation, that this is an elite America cultural issue. I mean, I think there is, I mean, for a start, if you think about how the rest of the world views this, America is fighting two hard wars on two fronts at the moment, in Afghanistan and Iraq. And yet to read the newspaper coverage from the capitol city of the imperial power for the last couple of months, you would have thought that the biggest issue in the military is Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And so you want to say okay, now you’ve done that, can you like get back to fighting the war and maybe winning the war? Would that be too much to ask? But it’s a basic cultural issue for the Jake Tappers of this world. And so for them, it’s not something that there are two sides on. It’s not something that is a question or to be weighed, and is particularly nuanced. It’s just there’s a cultural issue where there’s the right thing to do. The question now is whether the elite will reciprocate and allow the U.S. military a presence back on American campuses, or whether they’re just going to say oh, well, no, you’re not allowing pre-op transsexuals in the military to pick which shower they want to use, so we can’t have ROTC on campus, and they’ll find some other excuse for the next five to ten years.

HH: Meanwhile, while that is dominating press coverage, we had the three top officials in the Obama administration when it comes to counterterrorism assemble with Diane Sawyer yesterday. One of them, James Clapper, is the director of national intelligence. And Diane Sawyer throws him a not-very-hard question. Here it is. Oh, it’s stuck? The computer is stuck? Did you see this tape, Mark Steyn?

MS: Yes, I did, and I would urge everybody to look at the video of this. This is the director of national intelligence. Diane Sawyer asked him a question about the arrests in London – 12 terrorists, Bangladeshi origin, most of them, biggest plot disruption in two years. She asked him a question about it. He has no idea what she’s talking about.

HH: None.

MS: This is the director of national intelligence.

HH: None.

MS: And what I find odd about it, Hugh, is that I’ve had conversations, I’m sure you had conversations with President Bush, who told me that he looks at this stuff last thing at night, first thing in the morning. Similar conversations with British prime ministers, Australian prime ministers, other prime ministers around the Western world. In other words, if you’d asked Bush or Tony Blair or John Howard that Diane Sawyer question, they would have known the answer. The director of national intelligence, the head bureaucrat, doesn’t have a clue what she’s on about. And even when John Brennan, a man I hold in very low regard, is like feeding the other guy prompt lines, Director Clapper his prompt lines, the guy doesn’t pick up on it. This is amazing, the bureaucratization of intelligence. That guy’s frozen face, the deer in the headlamps, the bureaucratization of intelligence.

HH: Can you imagine, Mark Steyn, if George W. Bush’s director of national intelligence, 24 hours after the fact, actually, it might have been longer. I was reporting on it on Monday night…

MS: Right.

HH: …and talking about it with guests, had frozen in the headlights and had not been aware of this?

MS: Right, right. I know. I know. And somehow the idea that it doesn’t matter, I mean, that he can’t be expected to know everything that’s going on. This is the biggest terrorism story so far of the Christmas season.

HH: I talked to John Burns about it at length, and John Burns had already talked to everyone in the BBC, talked to everyone at Scotland Yard, at MI6 and MI5, and figured out exactly what was going on, and yet our top guy doesn’t know it. It’s a scandal, but we’ll come back to it. I want to get another story that surface in the Israeli press, Mark Steyn. Jonathan Pollard is the subject of a personal and formal appeal from Benjamin Netanyahu to President Obama for a commutation. I’ve talked with Ambassador Michael Oren about it on the program yesterday. What do you think about Netanyahu doing that? What do you think Obama will do? And what about the merits?

MS: Well, I think this is consistent with Netanyahu’s view of the world. It’s not consistent with Obama’s. And I would be very surprised if we were to go along with this at all. I mean, I don’t think there’s any doubt that when you look at Barack Obama, who is undoubtedly, I think, the most antipathetic president toward Israel in the last half a century…I mean, even Jimmy Carter has become, in many ways, a vicious anti-Zionist, and borderline anti-Semite in many of his pronouncements in recent years. But when he was in office, it was all slightly more nuanced. But I think there’s no doubt that the Israelis were the first to pick up on the fact that Barack Obama is an American leader for a post-American world, that he has a different view of American power, and he has a different view of Israel’s relationship with the United States. So I would absolutely say that there is no chance of this happening. I cannot see any reason why Obama, who dislikes Netanyahu personally, with an amazing intensity, why he would go along with this at all.

HH: All right, I’m switching over to the domestic side now. Tom Coburn, Senator from Oklahoma, basically proved himself more productive than any Senator ever in the history of the United States by saving two billion dollars out of the 9/11 Responders bill today, cutting it down to a $4.2 billion dollar outlay…

MS: Right.

HH: …by capping, among other things, attorneys fees at 10%.

MS: Right.

HH: What do you make of the bill? What do you make of Coburn’s stand?

MS: Well, I’m with Coburn. You know, we’re talking here, when people say first responders, we’re talking here about 71,000 people, including, for example, 24 from the state of Wyoming. It would seem to me, it would seem to me statistically somewhat improbable for 24 first responders from the state of Wyoming to develop health issues relating to 9/11. But the point is, I don’t know one way or the other. And nor do the politicians in Washington. This hasn’t been scientifically established. So it’s not compensation, as that term is legally understood. If they want to say well, you know, these guys are America’s heroes, and it’s simply too important and too, what they did was too important, too critical for us to look into it, so let’s just give them a big bunch of money to go away. That is another manner entirely. But let’s not pretend it’s scientifically proven compensation.

HH: Mark Steyn, we’re out of time. We’ll watch you on Hannity tonight. Thanks for joining us, my friend, Merry Christmas to you.

MS: Merry Christmas to you, too, Hugh.

HH: And a Happy New Year.

End of interview.


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