HH: I begin this hour as I do when I’m lucky with Mark Steyn, columnist to the World, www.steynonline.com. Mark, what do you think’s going to happen?
MS: Well, I’m generally pessimistic on this thing, because every time I’ve been reassured by those in the know that it’s never going to pass the House, it’s never going to pass the Senate, it’s completely dead now that Scot Brown’s been elected. It comes back to life. You know, I always liked the bit in the creature feature where they kill the monster the first time, and then they’re strolling away from the house devastated, and from under the ground, a hand reached up through the dirt, and rotting hand, and grabs the young girl’s ankle, and the monster has come back to life. And they have to kill it again. But this thing is ridiculous. I don’t mind one of those, just for the observance of tradition, but this thing should have been pumped full of silver bullets a long time ago. And this rubbish about deeming, now deeming it to have passed, as you call it, the kangaroo Congress stuff, it isn’t…whether it works or not, it isn’t quite respectable. And I think it’s even worse than actually strong-arming Congressmen into supporting it and passing it honestly. Taking one for the team is all very well. Taking one for the deem, or whatever this is meant to be, I think, just not only makes this a bad bill, but actually gives the whiff of banana republic to the whole process.
HH: It absolutely does, and you’re right about the horror film analogy, because every time we open a new door, or pry open a window, bats fly out with new stuff. Today, we find 12,000 new IRS agents. I believe five of them have been assigned to you, Mark Steyn.
MS: (laughing) That’s very probable.
HH: So in terms of the Bismarck Bank Deal that comes in today as well, Kent Conrad’s got himself a carve-out for the student loan business in North Dakota. Does the indelible brand of corruption attach itself to the Democratic Party after this fiasco?
MS: Well, I don’t think, I mean, I think if you look at, for example, all the utopian drivel that attended the passage of the National Health Act in Britain in the 1940s, of the original Medicare up in Canada in the 1960s, that whatever one feels about it, it was clean. I think this thing, where you, it’s dragged through on a partisan vote, and then, even then, you have to resort to these parliamentary shenanigans, which by the way, I regard as very serious, because in any free society, the checks and balances really are only as strong as the willingness of all players to be gentlemanly about it. I mean, in a sense, they depend on unspoken codes of conduct. If you have a revolutionary commissar like Nancy Pelosi, who’s prepared to just ride roughshod over them, you can more or less do anything you want. And I think that is what is disgusting about it. So I think this will be tainted from the get-go. And that’s very different from what’s happened in other countries.
HH: It’s the serial assaults on precedent. It has a whiff of the Roman revolution about it. When every successive leader did something no one had ever dreamed would happen before, wear away at the self-restraint that’s imposed on the system. I don’t know that they can repair this, Mark Steyn. I think it’s going to be six months of knock-down, drag out hostility from both sides, and I welcome that. Do you?
MS: Well, I think this is a useful clarifier. I mean, I was interested to see David Brooks, for example. David Brooks was a man who was smitten, by his own account in the New Republic, he was one of these right of center types who was smitten by Obama’s cool, by his pant leg, by the perfect crease in Obama’s pant leg, as David Brooks rhapsodized. And he now says that essentially, we’re in banana republic terrain here. So I think that’s what’s interesting about this. You can’t present this even in terms of progressive utopianism. It’s dirty, it stinks from the beginning, and I think that is going to be impossible for Obama and his commissars to cover up.
HH: There’s another difference as well. If I read…I don’t know much about post-war Britain, but I remember that the big Labour guy, Anthony Bevin, was a tough character.
MS: Yeah, Ernie Bevin.
HH: Ernie Bevin.
HH: Tough, smart character, right?
MS: Yeah, yeah.
HH: Compare that to Congresswoman Slaughter, who originally we heard from when she came up with the chopper stopper at the health care debate. Here’s a sample of Congresswoman Slaughter defending her creation yesterday.
LS: It really has been an astonishing fact, or not a fact, a fact telling them on what it was coming out today here about the Constitutionality of whether we can deem a bill to be passed. It has been done here since the 1930s over and over again. Most people, I think, in the House at this point have voted for something exactly like it or very similar during their Congressional career.
HH: Now Mark Steyn, that is A) false, B) delivered in a tone that is risible, and C) recalls that people like this and Dennis Kucinich and Nancy Pelosi are deciding the fate of the American republic. It’s, it would be so amusing…
MS: Yeah, and you have, just to correct something, when I said Ernie Bevin, he was a foreign secretary in the post-war Labour government. It was actually Nye Bevan who was the health minister.
MS: And Nye Bevan stood up after they passed the National Health Act and said that Britain now had the moral leadership of the world. Now you don’t have to agree with that to at least recognize that the whole thing had been, had gone through the House of Commons an the House of Lords, and received royal ascent in an entirely legitimate process.
MS: And this is the difference here. They are making up the rules as they go along, and that is something that this ridiculous woman, as you say, the last heard from demanding that we backdate federally-subsidized false teeth all the way back to George Washington’s wooden choppers, this woman is not in that league at all.
HH: And Dennis Kucinich, they were actually listening to Dennis Kucinich yesterday as though he had something to say, Mark Steyn.
MS: Yes, and in fact, he was just subject…when the President gave that speech in Ohio a few days ago, Kucinich was there, and Obama got the crowd, he asked the crowd how do you want Dennis to vote. And he got the crowd all chanting yes, yes, yes. I mean, this, that was almost like one of those Soviet show trial moments. And I think this is, however you do it, whatever emerges from this, the Obama cool, the post-partisan healer, the whole shtick he ran on, that’s dead and gone forever. There’s a price that he’s paid for doing this, and I guess from his point of view, it’s worth it. It’s worth cancelling all these overseas visits to Indonesia and Australia, it’s worth offending even more allies than he normally offends in the course of a week. But I guess from his point of view, it’s worth it, but it’s changed the nature of the man and his character as it’s understood by the American people.
HH: Agreed. Now we’ve talked about this before, and you’re a pessimist about repeal. But I’m beginning to think that they’ve gone so far down the road towards banana republic land, and kangaroo Congress land, that indeed repeal might actually be possible in a swoop. What do you think?
MS: Yes, I think so, and I think what we need to do is get all Republican candidates to delegitimize what happens. And so in November, they should announce that they do not recognize what has happened as a legitimate piece of legislation. They will vote to repeal it when they can, and in the meantime, they will do their best to starve it of funds, and starve it of any practical applicability. What we are seeing here is something that will, I think, actually bankrupt America, and a lot quicker than anybody thinks. If you look at what’s happened in Massachusetts, it’s led to all the features of a classic socialized system, longer waits in emergency rooms, more shortage of doctors, doctors quitting the profession, plus 27%, Massachusetts residents pay 27% more than people in the rest of the country. I think that’s what we’ll see here, and very quickly. And that’s why all Republicans should take the equivalent, I think, of the New Hampshire no tax pledge on this health care thing.
HH: So is the damage to the Republic irreversible?
MS: Well, if it stays, it is reversible. I mean, we keep, you know, making these comparisons with what’s going on in Greece at the moment, but the reality is that what happens in Greece isn’t terribly important to the fate of the rest of the world. What happens in America is on an entirely different scale of this, and I think you see that’s really the difference between…America is not a genuinely, even a potentially utopian society in the way certain European countries are. If you ask the Swedes to go for socialized health care, they’ll at least do it in a utopian and equitable way. What we’ve seen in Congress is it’s done with strong-arming and bullying and special deals for every little rinky-dink Congressman or Senator who sits on the fence long enough. So it’s stinkingly corrupt. Even if you regard socialized health care as utopian and deluded, at least in Canada or Scandinavia, there’s an equality of awfulness. This is not merely utopian and deluded, but stinkingly corrupt.
HH: Well, let me give you at least a little happy note to leave on, Mark Steyn. Joe Biden at the White House today, let’s hear it.
JB: His mom lived in Long Island for ten years or so, God rest her soul, and…although she’s, wait, your mom’s still, you’re mom’s still alive. It’s your dad who passed.
HH: Mark Steyn, Joe Biden can be counted on to give us a yuk even on dark days.
MS: (laughing) You can’t beat Joe Biden when it comes to death jokes and, what was his last one where he asked a guy to stand up in a wheelchair?
MS: He’s got a whole range of refreshingly politically incorrect gags.
HH: Mark Steyn, a pleasure.
End of interview.