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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

RINO Mark Steyn on the yearing for the un-Romney candidate

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HH: Joined by America’s most prestigious RINO, Republican In Name Only, Mark Steyn, as in Mark, you have joined the many of us including George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Ann Coulter, Tom Coburn, etc, who have been RINOized by their public positions on Newt Gingrich.

MS: Yeah, yeah, the jelly-spined squishes like Ann Coulter.

HH: (laughing)

MS: That’s certainly a plausible line of attack, and I’m proud to be one of them.

HH: Yeah, I wrote a piece today that just counted up all these different people, and I said he must feel like Caesar. Really, he must, because everyone’s come out to plunge one into Newt. But it’s actually the old Washington, D.C. rules. Paybacks are hell, and revenge is a dish best served cold. And a lot of people didn’t like Newt in the 90s.

MS: Yeah, and it’s not, you know, it’s not so much that with me. I’m not a Beltway insider. In fact, my main gripe with Newt derives from an appearance he made in New Hampshire just at the lowest, darkest depths of the Iraq war, just after Iraq had been given self government, and the new elected government and prime minister had emerged. And the Republicans were doing badly, and someone in the crowd asked Newt why the Republicans were doing such a bad job in Washington. And he said well, you must understand, we’re not used to being in the majority. Now at that point, the Republicans had been in the majority for ten years. The Iraqis are supposed to pick up the hang, pick up the knack of government in six months, but the Republican Party apparently can’t get the hang of it after ten years. And I thought Newt sounded pathetic. And it exemplified the problem to me, I think. He has many brilliant qualities, but he was not an effective executive.

HH: Now I’ve got to ask you whether or not all this matters, though, because with the exception of you and a few others like me who raised questions about Newt’s electability who are not in the Beltway, it is a Beltway offensive against Newt. And therefore, I don’t know if it really matters to this very anti-Beltway Republican primary electorate that so many people are saying so many nasty things about Newt Gingrich. What do you think, Mark Steyn?

MS: Well, yeah, I think what it is, is people who know him best. Now all these people who were hot for Herman Cain 20 minutes ago, and were hot for Rick Perry 40 minutes ago, and were hot for Michele Bachmann an hour and ten minutes ago, are suddenly saying ah, no, we know Newt way better than you guys. And I understand. This is an immensely dissatisfactory choice that it has come down to a month before the Iowa caucuses. But the lesson of all these imploding, the imploding un-Romney figure…I mean, this is like, I don’t even know whether they play it over here, but it’s a bit of musical chairs. Or it’s like one of those games that the trick with that is to be, to get a chair when the music stops. The music is going to stop in Iowa, and the guy who is sitting in the un-Romney chair at that point has a huge advantage. And Newt has timed his peak brilliantly. But in the end, this electorate, I think, is taking as wild a flyer as it ever did on Herman Cain or Rick Perry or any of the other guys it momentarily flirted with.

HH: Let me ask you, Mark Steyn. Rick Santorum is an old…I admire him a lot. I have been happy to campaign for him a couple of times in the past, he’s been a regular guest on this show, he was on yesterday. And if, in fact, the half-life of a presidential un-Romney is about 30 days, it may be that Rick Santorum has timed his surge the right way. Or is that just wishful thinking?

MS: You know, I would like to believe that’s true. Rick Santorum is someone I agree with on almost everything he says on every issue.

HH: Yes.

MS: But the fact is that there is that indefinable spark that is the difference between someone you want to invest, a party’s base wants to invest its dreams and ambitions in. And what I think these various un-Romneys have in common, and I would include Donald Trump in this, too, when he was briefly flirting with campaigning, is that the party would like someone who is a happy warrior, which is what Herman Cain was, who talks small government talk, which is what Rick Perry did when he said he was going to work to make Washington as irrelevant in your lives as possible, and who’s a confident, pugnacious debater. And I think they want someone who is going to take the fight to Obama. And in that sense, I think the lesson for the Romney campaign in the kind of very cautious, protective campaign which has served them well in the run up to this point. They’re going to have to move off that very defensive position, I think, at some point in the next couple of weeks.

HH: Well, the President have given them three things on which to do that. And if I were advising Team Romney, I’d be talking about the Keystone Excel Pipeline every day. I would be talking about the fact that Iran has a drone. And I would be talking about today, Mark Steyn, that the U.S. EPA has announced that fracking, which is the salvation of my home state of Ohio, and the neighboring state of Pennsylvania, I mean, literally the economic second chance no one thought they would ever get. And Obama’s EPA is trying to kill it.

MS: Yeah, I think this is an indulgence. I mean, I think the United States cannot be the Sierra Club writ large, which is what it is. The Western world, the economy is in a serious and potentially fatal condition at the moment. The idea that this pipeline, for example, you hold it up essentially as an act of environmental poserism. This energy, Canada doesn’t sort of say okay, we’ll stick the energy back in the cupboard under the stairs until you guys are ready to buy it, until you’ve made up your mind it’s politically safe to do so. There are lots of other customers out there on the world stage. And this poser environmentalism that the United States is locked into, it’s unbecoming to a serious power. And it will cripple, all these people living in California and sipping their decaf lattes, and thinking that the problems, they have the luxury of being able to save the planet? The planet will be fine. It’s your country that is sliding off the cliff.

HH: I tell my friends at the Texas Public Policy Institute energy is freedom. That ought to be their complete motto. Everyone in this country ought to be walking around and realizing that. But we have lost that, Mark Steyn. You write in After America we just don’t take energy seriously. We assume that it will be there.

MS: Yeah, I think that’s what we don’t get. We assume that in fact, we can turn, we can essentially zone everything within our eyesight. The reality is we’re not even in this game anymore, which is terrible. And we think we don’t have to be in that game. We think that all the unpleasant stuff, the drilling and the mining can all happen somewhere out of sight, someone on the other side of the world, and we are too good for that. We are beyond that. We are about to get a very hard lesson. China is buying up resources all over the world, whether you’re talking Canada, where it’s a big investor in the energy markets in Canada, or down in Australia with the mining, or whether it’s boxite in Jamaica. It’s buying up all the resources it needs. And the United States still seems to think that this is, that life is some kind of PBS pledge drive, where you can just support your favorite non-profit, and everything will turn out fine.

HH: Mark Steyn, I don’t know, I want to conclude by talking a little baseball. I don’t know if you’re a baseball fan, but today Albert Pujols turned the California Angels into Yankees West by signing a ten year, $250 or $260 million dollar deal. And my first reaction was he just gave $26 million dollars to the state of California. Actually, more, because they want to raise the highest level of income taxation out here, and I don’t even know if his agent has any idea what’s planned for the ballot. But look at that. Imagine the morality of that. The guy signs a contract, he’s never gotten anything from California…

MS: Right, right.

HH: And he’ll come out here, and they want $26 million of his $260 million dollar deal. I think it’s a great moment to illustrate what California is doing to itself.

MS: Yeah, I’m amazed. I mean, my only experience of the California business environment, for example, is every time I step foot in the state just to give a 20 minute speech, and the state of California taxes me just for the privilege of talking in public in California for 20 minutes. It’s not something that…I fly all over the world giving speeches, including to jurisdictions I think of as socialist basket cases. But it’s the Golden State of California that presumes to tax me, even as a non-resident, for just flying into the state for 24 hours to give a speech. I mean, this is not a serious business environment. And again, you know, it’s the self-indulgence of it all. This business a couple of weeks ago that they’re going to institute some new public bed sheet regime that makes it illegal for motels to have non-fitted sheets on their beds. The idea that this is something a state in the financial condition of California needs to do right now is crazy.

HH: I hope you listened to Tom Cotton yesterday talking about the new rules about teenagers working on farms. It turns out his father was breaking the labor laws of the United States for the 20 years that he was working on the farm. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure. Of course, the new Christmas album, Making Spirits Bright, available, sung with Jessica Martin. It’s an entire Mark Steyn album. It’s at, as is America Alone, the perfect Christmas present.

End of interview.


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