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Mark Steyn’s two stents’ worth of opinion

Thursday, February 11, 2010

HH: I begin as I do on Thursdays when we are very lucky with Mark Steyn, Columnist To the World, Mark, welcome. We’re all relieved that President Clinton has his two stents in, and he’s doing fine. Before we went on, Duane was asking me, Mark, how long, do you think, before they helicopter him up to Montreal or Toronto to get some of that great Canadian health care?

MS: Right. I don’t…so you want me to throw in my two stents worth as well? I gather CNN is going wall to wall with this.

HH: It is.

MS: And I don’t quite know why. Apparently, they’re doing retrospectives of his greatest hits as if, as you say, he had gone to a hospital in Quebec, and they told him there’s a 48 hour wait, and he’d been sitting in the parking lot all that time, but with disastrous consequences. I mean, I’m very relieved, I’m very relieved he is okay. Dick Cheney…I think the first time I heard stent, in fact, was during the 2000 Florida recount when Dick Cheney went in for the first of his several stents. I think at that time, he was having a stent every couple of weeks. The stress of the Florida recount…and I was grateful for it, because it was like a new word. I mean, we’d had chad, chad, chad, chad, chad, and then on the 12th day, we had stent just to break it up. And then we went chad, chad, chad, stent again when Dick Cheney had the next one. But I don’t quite understand why CNN regards Bill Clinton’s stent more newsworthy than Dick Cheney’s.

HH: I don’t know. I wish I had product placement rights on Bill Clinton’s stents because of the amount of coverage they’ve got. Let’s get to the other absurd story of the day. Joe Biden on Larry King last night, in what will be one of his all time greatest moments. Cut number three:

JB: And so it’s…that’s my greatest concern. I’m very optimistic about Iraq. I think it’s going to be one of the great achievements of this administration. You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government. I spent, I’ve been there 17 times now. I go about every two months, three months. I know every one of the major players in all the segments of that society. It’s impressed me.

HH: I think he’s saying he’s the father of modern Iraq, Mark Steyn.

MS: I guess he’s the George Washington of Iraq. I don’t know whether they do brain stents…

HH: (laughing)

MS: But I think it’s about time he went…he’s got hair stents. I like his hair stents. But I think it’s maybe time for him to have a brain stent. I mean, this is a guy who if we’d done what Joe Biden did, remember Joe Biden?

HH: Oh, there’d be four Iraqs we could celebrate.

MS: Yeah, he wanted, Joe Biden wanted to partition Iraq and make three countries out of it. So instead of just having one Democratic Party quagmire, we’d have three quagmires, three quagmires for the price of one. That was the great Joe Biden plan. And you can imagine what shape Iraq would be in if we’d done that now. The idea that Joe Biden and a bunch of other prominent Democrats, who actually behaved shamefully…you know, Harry Reid, the late Congressman Murtha and many other prominent Democrats were effectively willing on defeat. And now, God bless them, they’re claiming it as one of the great achievements of the Obama administration. It’s a good thing George W. Bush isn’t a thin-skinned vain man, because I’ll bet wherever he is right now, he’s laughing his head off.

HH: He’s laughing. He’s laughing.

MS: Yeah.

HH: I’ve been reading this afternoon, I don’t know if you read James Quinn in the U.K.’s Telegraph, but he’s penned a great blog pointing out that President Obama’s Business Week interview, in which he both says oh, it’s great to have bonuses on Wall Street, is now being walked back by the White House. And now, there’s another AP story coming out that he also says that President Obama is agnostic in this interview about raising taxes on households under a quarter million.

MS: Right.

HH: I hope Bill Clinton recovers quickly, because I think we’re going to have to send him in at some point, Mark, because this team doesn’t know front from back, up from down.

MS: No, and what is amazing to me, I mean, I had no expectations of Barack Obama, because he has never run anything. He doesn’t know anything about business. He’s never had to get into the office at nine in the morning, make decisions, meet payroll, anything like that. That’s why his jobs bill, his so-called jobs summit yesterday, he alls in Al Sharpton and a bunch of other sort of special interests to talk jobs. I mean, these people don’t know anything about jobs, apart from Al Sharpton’s job, which we should all be lucky enough to have, because that pays great. But he doesn’t know anything, and I didn’t expect him to, I didn’t really expect…that meets expectations, as far as I’m concerned. What has stunned me about this administration is that he didn’t even know enough to hire people who knew stuff. And that’s what is, that’s what I think is the, why this administration is a disaster, is apart from his handful of little Chicago cronies, he has people out there who are just disasters every time they go out in public, like this guy Brennan, like Napolitano, like Tim Geithner. All people in prominent positions make fools of the administration, and underline that it’s a know-nothing administration. And Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, as Jim Geraghty at National Review said, seems to have entered the witness protection program.

HH: Yeah.

MS: I don’t know, I don’t know what hospital she’s been in since January 20th, 2009, but apart from when you occasionally discover that he’s in Kinshasha or Kampala or somewhere, talking to high school students, that the so-called heavyweights of the Obama administration are nowhere in sight. So instead of being a kind of cabinet of all the talents, it’s a grand coalition of no talent.

HH: Well, I think we have to take great confidence in the American economy as the markets have now judged us as essentially without an acting president for the next three years, and they still haven’t crashed. They’re voting confidence in America. We’re at 10% unemployment, and we can get through it because the economy’s so strong. But today, Mark Steyn, Charles Grassley walks out with Max Baucus.

MS: Right.

HH: And they announce a draft of an $85 billion dollar plan, I’m quoting from the New York Times, that would give employers a payroll tax exemption for hiring those who’d been unemployed for at least sixty days. The bill would also provide a $1,000 income tax credit for new workers retained for 52 weeks. Now like you, I hire people to help in the media business.

MS: Right.

HH: I’ve been doing it for 20 years. I know you’ve been doing it a long time. This is insane.

MS: Yes.

HH: No one will hire anyone because of this.

MS: No, the idea that you, to qualify for a $6,000 dollar tax credit, you pay someone or you hire someone and take them on at $105,000 dollars. That’s what I mean about a know-nothing administration. It doesn’t understand why people hire people. You hire people because you are growing your business, you’ve got more sales, and you need to make more product. That’s why you hire people. You don’t hire someone to give them $105,000 dollars to access a $6,000 dollar tax credit. This is stupid. Only a moron would think that does anything to create jobs. But let me say something else, too. You said you hire people. I hire people in the United States. I’ve run businesses in other countries, too. This is an incredibly cumbersome, bureaucratic country to hire people in.

HH: Yes.

MS: If you pay someone, if you get more than $600 dollars from somebody, they’ve got to issue you a 1099. You know, this is stupid. And so if you’re someone just in a relatively low key carpentry business, finish carpentry, and you do this job, that job, this job all over the map in the course of a year, you’ve got to collect 1099s from a gazillion people. I mean, that…people think, the federal government thinks it can impose things like that, and they have no cost. They have great cost. They eat into your time. And like the stupid $6,000 dollar tax credit is going to eat into your time, too. And it would be much better off instead of piling more paperwork on you, actually getting rid of half that nonsense.

HH: But what do we do about Grassley? The Republicans, you finally think they’re getting it, and then Chuck Grassley walks out grinning, and you know, I like Chuck Grassley. He did a great job on Obamacare stopping it. But this is just nuts. I hope McConnell and Kyl take him aside and just say you cannot do this to people.

MS: No, and this is why the Republicans are doing well despite the Republican leadership. What you’ve had in the last year is you’ve had a grass roots anger manifesting itself in the Tea Parties and town halls. And belatedly, the Republican members of the United States Senate sort of caught onto it, caught on to what was happening. But their instincts are still to do what Senator Grassley did, which is to go along with the Democrats. And it makes no sense at all. The Democrats ought to have, this joke of a jobs bill ought to be hung around the necks of the Democrats only, so that every time the jobs bill is mentioned as another Obama laughing stock like the stimulus and all the other stuff, it will be branded Democrat only. I mean, Grassley must understand that. I know he’s been there since Reconstruction, but he must understand that, surely.

HH: I hope so. Hey, Mark Steyn, 45 seconds we’ve got left, just your thoughts on Robert Duvall, who I’m about to interview. He’s one of my favorite actors. Do you follow him much?

MS: Yeah, terrific actor. He’s one of those guys who’s watchable in almost anything. I think about ten years ago in a film called Gods And Generals…

HH: Yes.

MS: He played General Robert E. Lee, who I think is actually his great-great-great-great-grandfather or whatever it is.

HH: Absolutely right. And even though the beard was bad, the film was great. I loved that movie.

MS: Yeah, but it was terrifically bad beards, and I love a film with really bad beards.

HH: Mark Steyn,, America, thank you.

End of interview.

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