GB: We also have on the line with us, as we always do when we’re lucky on Thursdays, Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn, www.steynonline.com. Mark Steyn, how are you?
MS: I’m a little bit aggrieved now. When I guest hosted for Hugh a couple of years back, I didn’t get Mary Katharine as co-host. So I think on behalf of previous guest hosts, we should all file a class action suit demanding to know why we didn’t get Mary Katharine as our co-host.
GB: Hugh could actually represent you, probably.
MS: (laughing) That would be worth doing.
GB: Mark, we all watched the speech yesterday. The president of the United States concluded with this lovely sound byte, cut five:
BHO: They are waiting for us to act. They are waiting for us to lead. And as long as I hold this office, I intend to provide that leadership. I do not know how this plays politically, but I know it’s right.
GB: He knows it’s right, Mark.
MS: (laughing) Well of course, the American people are not waiting for him to act. They’ve seen what it is he proposed to enact, and they don’t want it. And it’s as simple as that. And the more speeches he gives, the more the American people’s opposition to it grows. This is one of the greatest failures of political leadership in the modern era. When he started out with this shtick a year ago now, something like 70% of the American people were in favor of so-called health care reform. After whatever it is, 450 speeches later, they are now opposed to it by 70%. And it’s astonishing to me that the president still thought this wretched, little speech, you know, where he was doing all this, the time is now or whatever it is, or this is the moment, it’s the big, bombastic ballad in that Broadway musical from a couple of years back, Jeckle and Hyde. And one point, just before Jeckle turns into hide, he sings this big ballad called This Is The Moment. I think David Hasselhoff played it at one point. And that’s really what the president is doing. As the Jeckle of health care turns into the Mr. Hyde of Obamacare, he still comes out on stage every couple of minutes and sings Now is the hour, this is the moment, our time is come, we must seize the moment. And it never, and it hasn’t worked for the last year. It’s not going to work now.
MKH: Look, Mark, I think if there’s anybody that you want to emulate on leadership, it is Mitch Buchanan of Baywatch, so let’s not throw the Hoff under the bus here.
MKH: But I want to ask you, speaking of leadership, about another Democratic leader whose strategy now is apparently lather, rinse, repeat. Pelosi had this rallying cry today. It’s cut number 9.
NP: We will pass the bill, and we will pass the bill.
MKH: (laughing) I’d like to get your reaction to that, and I’d like to get your reaction to that.
MS: Yeah, I don’t think that even qualifies as short term memory loss. Nancy Pelosi is a spectacular figure in a way. I mean, I think, I rather agree, from her point of view, with what she’s doing, which is that she has to find something in the region of half a dozen of Democratic lemmings who are prepared to go over the cliff for this thing. And if she can do that, whatever passes, all this talk about fixing the abortion language after the House passes it is all rubbish. Whatever passes in the House, if the Senate bill passes in the House, the president will sign it, it will become law, and they are willing to take a hit in November for it, because they know that if they get this thing through, the normal leftward ratchet effect of big government will do the rest, and they will succeed in putting us on the path to a European social democratic state.
GB: And speaking of a European democratic socialist state, you had a great piece at National Review Online last weekend about Greece, and how that might be kind of a picture of things to come for the United States if we continue on our fiscal path. This is from today. Greece should sell some of its uninhabited islands to raise cash to avoid bankruptcy, say two German parliamentarians. They want Greece to sell off their islands, because they’re so fiscally insolvent. You’ve just got a chuckle at this, Mark.
MS: Well actually, I’m looking forward to it, because once Obama’s ruined America, you’re going to want to have somewhere else to flee to. Now I gather that so far, the rise in the ocean sea levels that he promised to reverse, I gather the oceans have stopped rising, so that’s one election campaign promise he kept. But so far, unless some uninhabited atoll reemerges in the Pacific, you’re going to have to have somewhere else to flee to by the time he’s through with ruining America. And I would be in favor of him putting up, say, St. Thomas or Guam up for sale, going the Greek way, actually selling off outlying bits of territory. And perhaps some of us could clump together and raise the money to buy it and keep it as like a little theme park of the way America used to be.
GB: What do you make of these riots in the streets of Greece, because people are getting some of their holiday taken away by the socialist government, because really, they have no choice. It’s what these draconian, as they call them, austerity measures being forced upon them by the EU.
MS: Yeah, and just to clarify what draconian means in the European context, a Greek public sector worker retires at the age of 58. He gets fourteen monthly paychecks a year. You do the math on that. And that carries on for his pension. And I think what is at issue here is that once the public sector gets so huge, there’s absolutely no incentive to be stuck in the ever-shrinking private sector that is to generate the wealth to pay for it. Right now, I mean, my colleague at National Review, John Derbyshire, his basic line is, get a government job. If you go into the private sector, you’re wasting your time. Get a government job. You’ll have shorter hours, you’ll have better benefits, you can retire at 53, 55. You look at what they pay to California public sector workers for the last 20, 25 years of their life swinging in the hammock. That’s the logic of where we’re going in this country, and it represents the death of the American idea.
MKH: Well, and finally, we’ve got a story from across the pond. A Muslim woman refuses body scan at airport from the Times. A Muslim woman was barred from boarding a flight after she refused to undergo a full body scan for religious reasons. She was warned she would be stopped from boarding the plane, but decided to forfeit her ticket to Pakistan than to submit to the scan. And I believe she’s believed to be the first person to refuse on religious grounds. Frankly, what do think about that one?
MS: Well, I’m actually opposed to the full body scan, because I don’t actually think it’s what we need at airports. So our best shot at getting rid of it is eventually, a Supreme Court judgment comes down that it’s religiously discriminatory for TSA operatives to get their jollies from looking at Islamobabes under the burka.
MS: So I congratulate this woman for what will be, I think, the first stage in getting these full body body scanners…I don’t want government employees looking at me naked. If they want to do that, they should send me an e-mail, and I’ll send them a photographic set upon request for a payment of a small fee. But I don’t see why government workers should get to look at you naked.
MKH: To be clear, the article says they afford clear outlines of passengers’ genitals, so get ready for that, everyone.
MS: (laughing) That’s right. And that, I don’t see why, there are enough, as we were saying earlier, there were enough perks to government jobs with early retirement as it is. I don’t see why the outlines of private sector genitals should also be one of the perks of a government job.
GB: Well Mark, you’ll be happy to know that this entire situation, the entire question has been sent to a human rights commission to deal with. So, overjoyed, aren’t you?
MS: Yes, yes I am. And as someone pledged to destroy human rights commissions wherever they rear their ugly head, for this one case, I may be up there speaking in defense of this particular Muslim lady.
GB: We had President Obama, last question here, yesterday, he came out and said well, among other things, this bill is entirely paid for. It’s, you know, and it’s actually, there’s found money. He said the money generated by my program can pay for X, Y and Z. I laughed as well, yesterday, listening to the audio. Do you think there’s anyone left, even within the deepest, darkest corners of the Think Progress basement who really believes him on this?
MS: No, and this is why it’s not 1994 again, because this isn’t God, guns and gays and the cultural issues. This is just basic arithmetic, that the fact that he made trillion a normal word in American language, it now signals to more and more people every day that this whole shtick is a crock, is a fraud, and can never be paid for. There are never enough people around to pay for government spending on this scale. And the more he’s up there throwing around words like trillion dollar this and trillion dollar that, the more people realize it.
GB: Mark Steyn, I heard that if you were to turn the page and in terms of your commentary, and flip in favor of Obamacare, there might be a federal judgeship in it for you. I’m just throwing it out there. Mark Steyn, judge? For now, we just have to read him, and we love to do it at www.steynonline.com. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, sir.
MS: Thanks a lot, Guy. Thanks, Mary Katharine.
MKH: Sure, glad to see you.
End of interview.