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Mark Steyn’s Wishes For A Stolid, Dull, Reliable Christmas

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HH: That’s the sound of Jessica Martin and Mark Steyn from the Gingerbread And Eggnog EP, and I’m joined by Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. And a Merry Christmas Eve Eve to you, Mark.

MS: And a Merry Christmas Eve Eve to you, too, Hugh. I’m actually in the lobby of a hotel at the moment, and we’ve got, I think it’s Andy Williams or something playing in the background. So I was glad to hear the superior Christmas music coming down from your end of the telephone.

HH: Absolutely, and the EP’s available at for your last minute Christmas gift needs. Mark, I want to start with my favorite story perhaps of the year. Britain’s Prince William was nearly run over by a road sweeper vehicle when he spent the night sleeping rough in minus 4 degrees Celsius for a charity in London this week. Liam, 27, and second in line to the British throne, curled up inside of a sleeping bag on cardboard boxes. But a local council cleaning vehicle almost ran him over.

MS: Yeah, this is the British version of Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, isn’t it? It’s a very, very seasonal. And actually, it’s interesting, because Prince William’s brother was out serving very honorably and bravely with the British forces in Afghanistan. It’s very interesting to me that it’s actually more dangerous just being on the streets of London, which certainly would accord with many people’s experience.

HH: Well, if the street sweeper had run over Prince Will, do you think he would have been airlifted to the NHS? Would he have gone to the public queue at that point?

MS: Well, it’s very interesting, that. I mean, I don’t think he would have, because I do believe there is now an 18 month wait for treatment for being chewed up by road sweepers. It’s not quite as long for hip replacements or for an MRI, but it’s getting up there. I think if you’re run over by a road sweeper and chewed up, I think that’s now an 18 month wait at an average NHS hospital.

HH: Now Mark, the reason I bring this up, I saw you hosting Hannity this week, and I heard you on Rush today, and I’m thinking, you’re probably as sick of this debate as I am. But you’re as urgent into it as I am. This is a disaster what’s happening to America.

MS: Oh, absolutely, and if anything, I fear, I mean, I was talking about this with Stuart Varney from Fox. Stuart is an immigrant to this country. And you know, both of us fled the countries that have these kinds of systems, and we know the scale of the disaster. And it’s not clear to me, I’ve been talking to some very savvy guys on Fox this week, Karl Rove and Dick Morris, and it’s not clear to me that Karl and Dick and guys like that actually appreciate the scale of the catastrophe. I think this is going to be, you know, I’ve often said, point out that the British National Health Service is the third biggest employer on the planet right after the Chinese Army and the Indian Railways. And I think the scale of the bureaucratic nightmare that is about to engulf America will be unprecedented, even by those standards.

HH: Now I do believe that the American people get it, even if media elites inside of the Beltway-Manhattan, you know, media machine, don’t. And I think that’s why Ben Nelson, much to his chagrin and surprise, is being rejected, thrown out of Nebraska en masse. I think he may come back a changed man, Mark Steyn. What do you think?

MS: No, and that’s interesting. I would hope that there will, when he flies back for Christmas, that there will be some people there waiting at the airport to let him know that they don’t care what crummy, sleazy, little deal he managed to get them. The people of Nebraska are fine, honorable people, and don’t need to be subsidized for all eternity by the other 49 states. And I think this gets to the heart of the particular wretchedness of the American version of government health care. I think I said to somebody on the Hannity show that whatever you say about the Canadian one, or the British one, that there is a degree of equality of awfulness about it, except for certain members of the Royal Family who get chewed up by road sweepers. But other than that, there is a degree of equality of awfulness. And what you see already in this version that’s being constructed here is instead, it will be the usual federalized, boondoggled, earmarked, accumulation of spaghetti strands snaking off in various ways. And there will be no equality of awfulness behind it.

HH: Now…and we will continue to fight, and I hope people go to our website and click on that Take Additional Action button, the Free Our Health Care banner to do so. Mark, our friend, John Hinderaker at Powerline, drew my attention to Nile Gardiner in the Telegraph, who has listed the ten worse mistakes of the worst year for American foreign policy since Jimmy Carter. I’d like to run down some of these. Number ten, throwing Churchill out of the White House, and number nine, embracing genocidal killers in Sudan.

MS: Yeah, I think these are two relatively minor things, but I think the actual insult about returning the Churchill bust symbolizes something. Whatever else one feels about Churchill, he understood clearly the disastrousness of appeasement. You know, what he always said is an appeaser is someone who thinks the crocodile will eat him last. And that’s very different from the Obama worldview. You see that in Sudan, where that assistant deputy whatever of the State Department, who’s responsible for American policy in Sudan, and compared it to going into a grade school fight, and mending up quality time relations between two squabbling students. They’re not. They’re grown up people who, one bunch of grown up people is hacking to pieces another bunch of grown up people with machetes. And it’s contemptible and embarrassing that the world’s superpower sends a man as stupid and witless as this State Department buffoon to go and represent it in that.

HH: Number eight, bowing to emperors and kings, seven, siding with Marxists in Honduras, and six, giving DVDs to the British Prime Minister.

MS: Yes, I think the bowing thing and the DVD thing are interesting, because it gets back to something you said, that he simply doesn’t know how to be president. I don’t think one head of state bows to another. I bow to Her Majesty, the Queen, because I am her humble, groveling and unworthy subject. And what it tells you when you see this man fawning and prostrating himself at the feet of the Saudi dictator and the Japanese emperor, is not just that he doesn’t know how to behave, but the protocol people, the guys who are supposed to shepherd you through this stuff, the people around him in the administration don’t have, lack the degree of grown up expertise one would expect in this situation. As for the DVDs, I think that is, that is a small but telling way of the carelessness with allies. Gordon Brown loves Obama. He didn’t deserve to get this crummy, Wal-Mart DVD bumper bonus package of 15 movies you’ve seen a thousand times before for $9.99, take it back to Downing Street, stick it in the machine, and can’t get it to work.

HH: And two more, number five, apologizing to France for America’s arrogance, and then the worst mistake, not even appeasing the mullahs of Iran get to this, number one, surrendering to Russia over missile defense, Mark Steyn, one rhetorical, one all too real and terrible.

MS: Yeah, and I think that’s what we see, that the apology card is the only one you’ve got, he’s got in the deck. And it’s one thing to go around the world apologizing to third world dictators and genocidal mass murderers, and millenarian cultists like Ahmadinejad. But when you’re reduced, when you’ve done so many apologies that you’re reduced to apologizing to the French for your arrogance, the French of all people…

HH: Right.

MS: You’re apologizing to Jacques Chirac and Co. To be reduced to apologizing to Jacques Chirac for arrogance is truly pathetic. The missile defense business is real. It tells the world that this is the post-American era. And if you’re one of America’s new friends like the fledgling Eastern European democracies, that’s really not a role you want to be in the world today.

HH: Now Mark, a couple of light subjects. You introduced me to the term Nancy-boy. And today, they named the top boys names of the decade.

MS: Yeah.

HH: Number one is Aiden, number two is Jacob, three is Ethan, four is Matthew, five is Nicholas. There are a couple of Nancy-boy names in there. What has happened to Tom, Dick and Harry? What’s happened to Mark?

MS: Yeah, it’s interesting, that. On almost any list, I take it that’s an American list.

HH: Yes.

MS: Because if it was from any European country, like the first six names are all variations of the spelling of Mohammed these days. And say what you like about Mohammed, but it’s not a Nancy-boy name.

HH: No, it’s not.

MS: And so…

HH: No, it’s not.

MS: It certainly isn’t, and I think what is interesting about these ones is it’s the kind of desperate search to be different, which I think what lies behind that is a kind of sort of civic insecurity. I rather like dull, boring names. I mean, I find American names, I used to find American names fascinating, because to a foreigner, it wasn’t always obvious which was the Christian name, and which was the surname. But I find that the sort of sad desperation to be different with names now reflect of a kind of basic sort of civic insecurity.

HH: And last question, Mark Steyn, I’m doing my gift giveaway today. For people who got stiffed over the years for the Christmas present they never got and always wanted, or got the worst Christmas present ever, did Mark Steyn ever not get something from Mom and Dad Steyn that he wanted for year after year?

MS: Oh, yeah. I always got presents I didn’t really want. They were always dream presents. My parents were not in the dream gratification business. And it was interesting to me that you’d get a nice sort of stolid, unglamorous present. I used to get presents from my grandparents that were always fabulously glamorous and dreamlike, and then three days after Christmas, it ceased to work entirely. So I grew to appreciate the stolid, dull, reliable Christmas presents.

HH: Mark Steyn, thank you for anything but a stolid, dull, though very reliable appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Show in 2009. We’ll talk in 2010. Hopefully, it can’t be a much worse year. It’s got to be a better one.

End of interview.


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