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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Pundits On Parade Starring Mark Steyn

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HH: Morning glory and evening grace America. It’s Hugh Hewitt. Welcome. Today is Pundits on Parade Day as I ask pretty much all my regular guests what they think is going to happen Monday night in New Hampshire at the big debate. I start off as I do every Thursday when I lucky with Mark Steyn, columnist of world Steyn on Hello, Mark.

MS: I love that show Pundits on Parade! I think it was the all time flop musical. It closed after the first 20 minutes when Michael Baron and John Podhoretz and I came out and did our first tap number.

HH: Well they are all on today’s show (laughing).

MS: And it was a disaster, but I always thought Pundits on Parade was a hit title so maybe the next musical . . .

HH: The revival. Now, I had just suggested to Jonah Goldberg yesterday, Mark Steyn, that the best debate would feature you, Jonah and Ann Coulter asking our candidates questions. That would be pay per view land. What do you expect of Monday night’s get together?

MS: Yeah. I think that . . . well, let me say two things on the formats of these debates that I think that one of the big problems with the process. You know, the thing I hate about the most of all is when the moderator comes out and he announces at the beginning “under terms agreed by the two parties, each candidate will have 45 seconds for an opening statement following which another candidate will have 30 seconds for a rebuttal of the first candidate’s opening statement after which the third candidate will give a pre-rebuttal of the fourth candidate’s opening” and this is why they often flop. I’d rather much just see the guys mixing it up, mixing it up. Some of the best moments actually are when they break format and somebody unleashes a particularly lethal one liner at the other candidate. I’m sick of these stultified, pansified, formats that I think are big problem with the debate. Then the second big problem I think is when, for Republicans particularly, is when you get these so-called mainstream moderators who inevitably want to dwell on issues that are entirely peripheral to the situation that the country is facing. I think we already saw that in whatever it was the debate was a couple of months ago where people get sidelined into long discussions on the legalization of marijuana or whatever and I don’t think we benefit from having this sort of like last time the Gwen Ifillization of the moderators. I’d love to see Ann Coulter and Jonah up there.

HH: Oh it would be fantastic for everyone involved. Now let me ask you about Michelle Bachmann because I think Michelle’s voters, and she’s a friend of mine and I think she’s a friend of yours, are almost 100% contained within the universe of Sarah Palin voters so I do not understand allowing Ed Rollins to go after Sarah Palin with a two edge knife yesterday. What did you think of that and what ought Michelle Bachmann to do about it?

MS: Well you know, let me say it as bluntly as I can because I love Michelle Bachmann. I think she’s…if we have to have Congressmen and Congresswomen I’d rather more well like Michelle Bachmann and less were like Anthony Weiner and all the obvious candidates.

HH: Amen! (laughing)

MS: So I adore Michelle Bachmann and I don’t see why she needs Ed Rollins. Ed Rollins is one again to lump him in with the moderators and the format is one of the things that disfigures American politics because he’s one of these so-called backroom boys whose always in the front window. I don’t see the point of having backroom boys who are always in the front window, and in this case when he started going on– I forgot what it was that he said you know that his candidate was just as hot looking as Sarah Palin. He said that about Michelle didn’t he at one point?

HH: Yep.

MS: Which I agree with and I vaguely remember that from I think it was 1988 when Bob Dole’s campaign manager announced that Bob Dole was twice as hot as George Bush Sr. So, obviously this is clearly part of a well established pattern in Republican primaries, but I don’t think Michelle Bachmann needs Ed Rollins and I actually, while we’re at it, I’ll put it out there: we are past – I don’t want an Ed Rollinsfied primary season with respect – if you have to have backroom boys keep them in the backroom. I’m tired of backroom boys in the front window.

HH: Amen on that. Now I want to talk to you a little about your favorite person Donald Trump and he was talking about Anthony Weiner yesterday and Donald said he’s been a creepy guy forever. I think the Donald was right about this. Are you surprised by Anthony Weiner?

MS: No, I’m not. I think in a sense this isn’t – I’m depressed by what I call the naive cynics. What I mean by that is people who think they are worldly and sophisticated and are just in fact patsies and rubes, the sort of people who say oh well everybody does it. This is just a purely private sexual matter-you uptight squares need to grow up about this stuff. No, actually. That’s not the way it works. Sexual corruption in a political culture is usually the tip of a much broader culture of corruption. France is a very good example of that by the way, and I think it’s particularly – I think it’s not good enough for Anthony Weiner to say well look none of these girls were 17 and three-quarters. They were at least 3 days past their 18th birthday. I don’t think that’s what it is about. This guy was in line to become the next mayor of New York up until last Sunday or whenever it was. Elliott Spitzer actually made it to Governor of New York. John Edwards was in line to become Vice President of the United States. Dominick Strauss-Kahn was in line to be President of France. There is something wrong with the political culture and big government in particular is very attractive to otherwise untalented people who get to afford themselves parts to which they would otherwise be unentitled.

HH: I don’t know if you recall an essay by Daniel Patrick Moynihan called Defining Deviancy Down and this seems to be exhibit A now – there are lots of exhibits sadly on that, but if Anthony Weiner is being judged for lying but not for the conduct behind the line, then we truly have defined deviancy down because it’s just perverted.

MS: Well I think I don’t want to be governed. I mean-when Donald Trump is calling you sleazy and disgusting (laughing) – that’s actually quite interesting to me! Donald Trump was a figure of fun in the 1980s because he would be trading-he’d trade in one trophy wife for another trophy wife a generation younger, but Donald Trump did that on his own dime. He was a showboating celebrity, entrepreneur and he did that on his own dime. I think the trouble with big government is when people…when Anthony Weiner was boasting about the fact that he was a Congressman to this blackjack dealer in Vegas and this porn star in Vegas because in a sense he thought that insulated him from exposure. In other words, he was using his Congressional status to access chicks and I’m sorry I don’t want to be governed by people like this. If America thinks it’s enough the fact that these girls weren’t 17 and three-quarters then America is done for! There’s a huge problem in this country that there’s a sickness in the ruling class. Some people aren’t into the chicks. Charlie Rangel is into skimming off a little money from his rental property in the Dominican Republic and Bonnie Frank is into installing his boyfriend as head of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or whatever it is, but sexual corruption is never where it stops. That is only the most lurid example of a broader corruption, and I do not want to be governed by Anthony Weiner. I demand better than that, even if the voters of his New York Congressional District don’t, I think the rest of us who have to live at the mercy of his votes deserve better than that.

HH: Mark Steyn, I am beginning tomorrow’s program 2 hours worth in a conversation with David Mamet about his new book The Secret Knowledge. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read this yet. It’s a very powerful book. Mamet’s actually an optimist. He believes that even though he agrees with your assessment just uttered about the nature of the sickness and the governing class and especially his punch line is there is no secret knowledge. The federal government is just the local zoning board at large. It’s that government doesn’t work, but he’s optimistic that the culture-the swamp can be drained and the land reclaimed. Are you?

MS: Well I think that is really the issue on underpinning the debate next week. I want a guy who understands the crisis facing the United States, because I think it’s easy when you look at Congressional budget office estimates to think we don’t really need to worry about this until 2050, 2080, or whatever and we do. In other words, if we haven’t reversed this stuff by 2015, it’s over. America might not know it’s over and America indeed might think that we’re in for a kind of gentile decline, but the rest of the world will have concluded that it is over and they will be making arrangements, as many of them already are, for the post American world. I want a candidate-I think you can turn it around. One of the things that always impresses me about New Hampshire, for example, is when a school board gets out of control the way a small town of 400 voters will rouse itself and replace the school board overnight and vote down budgets until the out of control school board aligns itself. Now, can we do that at the national level? David Mamet says yes, and I’m not so sure.

HH: I hope you are right. I hope he is right. Mark Steyn, thank you.


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