Tea time with Mark Steyn and Hugh
HH: On the day after the tea parties, we begin as we do on those Thursdays when we are lucky with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read all of Mark’s analysis at www.steynonline.com. Mark, I’m tempted to begin with Olga the Russian hairdresser, though. You’re the only one who spotted that story thus far.
MS: (laughing) Yes, yes I am. It’s a cautionary tale not to hold up a hair salon in Russia. This guy went in with a gun, he told all the stylists and the clients to drop to the floor and give them all their money. And at that point, Olga…
MS: …Olga punched him in the gut, bent him up double, wrapped a hair dryer cord around him, dragged him into a storeroom, handcuffed him to the radiator, pumped him full of Viagra, and had her way with him for 48 hours. The guy’s now recovering in a hospital, and I think we need to get Olga patrolling the Somali coast, because she’s clearly what’s needed.
HH: It’s clearly…she manned up in a hurry there, and then just made him into her boy toy for two days. And it’s really one of the most remarkable stories. So how often do you read the Moscow Times anyway, Mark Steyn?
MS: I don’t read the Moscow Times that often, but I must say that particular column in there, their crime watch column, does have some amazing stories. You know, in many way it’s a sad comment on Russia that this totalitarian state has sort of devolved instantly into a massive violent kleptocracy without going through any intervening stage of real liberty. But it is full of some bizarre stories.
HH: And their media reports them at least accurately, which I cannot say for our media. What did you make of the media coverage of the tea parties yesterday, Mark Steyn?
MS: Well, I thought it was really pitiful. The Boston Globe, for example, this after all, this tea party thing, is taking off on an event called the original Tea Party that took place in Boston Harbor, which I gather is, you know, in the general vicinity of Boston. And yet the Boston Globe did not have anything in the paper about the many, it claims to be the New England newspaper, yet had nothing in there not only about tea parties in Boston or in Massachusetts or in New Hampshire or Rhode Island or other parts of what it claims to be its coverage area. This is a newspaper that the New York Times, its owner, has threatened to close. The New York Times bought this newspaper in one of the worst deals in business history for, I think it was $2 billion dollars a decade ago. It’s now worth nothing. The Boston Globe, actually, the way things are going, the last edition will wind up being dumped in Boston Harbor, and everybody dancing on the pier as it sinks to the bottom unmourned. The coverage which was exemplified by the absence of it in the Boston Globe, and by the condescension of that ludicrous teleprompter reader on CNN hectoring members of the public, I think speaks, says more about the media than it does about the tea party movement.
HH: I have to play the clip of the CNN reporter, Susan Roesgen, because…I played it a couple of times last night towards the end of the show after it had come in, but I want to make sure that if people have not yet heard it, we’ll have Mark Steyn analyze this. This is a CNN reporter at an Illinois tea party yesterday.
SR: Let’s see, drop the taxes, drop socialism. Okay, let’s see, you’re here with your two year old, and you’re already in debt. Why are you here today, sir?
Tea Partier: Because I hear a president say that he believed in what Lincoln stood for. Lincoln’s primary thing was he believed that people had the right to liberty, and had the right…
SR: Sir, what does this have to do with taxes?
Tea Partier: Hold on…
SR: What does this have to do with your taxes?
Tea Partier: Okay, you won’t let me finish speaking.
SR: Do you realize that you’re eligible for a $400 credit…
Tea Partier: Let me finish speaking, ma’am. Let me finish my point. Lincoln, Lincoln believed that people had the right to share in the fruits of their own labor, and that government should not take it. And we have clearly gotten to that point.
SR: Wait, wait, wait. Did you know that the state of Lincoln gets $50 billion dollars out of these stimulus? That’s $50 billion dollars for this state, sir.
Tea Partier: Ma’am, ma’am…
CNN producer: Sir, sir, sir.
Tea Partier: Can you stop this, sir? Hold on, hold on.
SR: Okay, well Kyra, we’ll move on over here. I think you get the general tenor of this. It’s anti-government, anti-CNN since this is highly promoted by the right wing conservative network, Fox.
Lady in the crowd: You’re not a reporter. You’re not a reporter.
SR: And since I can’t really hear much more, and I think this is not really family viewing, toss it back to you, Kyra.
HH: Now Mark Steyn, that’s Susan Roesgen from CNN. What do you make of that?
MS: Well, for a start, let’s say she’s missing the point. The guy was right. Taxes are a liberty issue. When she stands there and she says oh, but you’re going to be getting a $400 dollar check from the government, I say keep it. I don’t want a $400 dollar check from the government, I don’t want a $4,000 dollar check from the government, I don’t want a $40,000 dollar check from the government. I want my liberty. I want to be able to live my life the way I want to live it without having to account to an all-powerful state that gives me lollipops in return. And the condescension of this woman, here is an informed man talking to her about Lincoln’s principles, the condescension of this woman, it’s sort of talking on a completely different track saying oh, but you’re eligible, you’re eligible for a $400 dollar check. This guy wants his freedom.
MS: This guy understands the point of the original Tea Party. What’s pathetic is that the CNN reporter doesn’t. King George…this is why America rebelled against my king, George III. And if George III came back today and had been running against John McCain and Barack Obama, he’d be the small government candidate. That’s how out of whack things are. And as for CNN, you know, this is like the Boston Globe. It’s a dying network. If it weren’t for the fact that every time you catch a lousy forty minute commuter flight you have to sit at the gate while the plane’s delayed watching six hours of Wolf Blitzer, there would be no detectable ratings for CNN.
HH: I must say the piece that we did not have the clip of, she berates a demonstrator for carrying a perfectly repellant comparison of Obama and Hitler. I always hated the Bush-Hitler, I hate the Obama-Hitler stuff as well.
HH: But Michelle Malkin goes back and finds the same reporter approving, making approving comments about a Bush-Hitler mask a few years ago.
MS: Right, right.
HH: This is really a network, Mark Steyn, if you count Jack Cafferty, Rick Sanchez and this teleprompter lady, they have had a quality control problem.
MS: Yes, I think that’s right. Look, I don’t…Hitler is Hitler. And every time you compare either Bush to Hitler or Obama to Hitler, you’re not insulting Americans, you’re not insulting Obama or Bush. You’re insulting millions and millions of people around the planet who know the difference between the real Hitler and you know, the paper mache puppets that people are waiving at demonstrations. But I will say this, I went to a Sarah Palin rally, and there was a guy there from the Providence Journal. There were lots of incredibly great looking women at that Sarah Palin rally – young soccer moms who just looked terrific. And if you’d interviewed them, and you put them on camera, they would tell you that Sarah Palin played well with these terrific looking moms. Instead, they go to my neighbor, Tom, who’s one of these wild and crazy guys in plaid with a huge, long beard, and they photograph him close up because he’s the nuttiest looking guy there. I love him, he’s my neighbor, he’s a great guy. But he’s the nuttiest looking guy there. That’s how the mainstream media cover these events. So people should be aware of that. Don’t take the Hitler sign there, because if you take the Hitler sign, you’re going to get on CNN, and millions of people are going to say this is a movement for nuts. It’s not. This is a real movement for real people.
HH: Now I’ve got to ask you about the Homeland Security report. Today, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano promised to meet and clear the air with veterans groups, saying that an apology is owed, and saying to the extent that veterans read it as an accusation, an apology is owed. This is the thinnest, goofiest, stupidest report, and I’ve seen a lot of thin, goofy, stupid reports out of the government, Mark Steyn. Did you read the nine pages of dreck that came from Homeland Security?
MS: Yes, and I understand that where, as you say, this is government work, and so one shouldn’t hold it to too high standards. But the guy who wrote this is too stupid even for government work.
MS: What is dangerous about it, aside from the insults of the veterans, this idea that you know, all these soldiers are going to be coming back from Iraq riddled with post-traumatic stress disorder, and they’re going to be berserk and gunning down people at the lunch counter, is disgraceful. But beyond that is the broader tenor of the report, which is not dealing with groups who advocate violence or anything like that. It’s attempting to criminalize ideas. If like me you believe in the 10th Amendment, if you think that one of the great glories of this country is American federalism and decentralized government at the lowest accountable level, this report says ideas like that put you on the fast track to crazy right wing extremism. Sorry, I pass. I had that all up in Canada. The Canadian government actually attempts to criminalize opinion, and dragged me and my magazine before three government tribunals. I don’t want that happening south of the border, too.
HH: We’ve got about a minute, Mark Steyn, 45 seconds. The pushback has begun. Do you think the negatives from Pelosi, the media, and the Napolitano fringe over at Homeland Security, do they deter or help grow the concern over the direction of the government?
MS: Well, I think there is a real concern over it. My worry, though, is when you see polls like this poll that came out yesterday that showed something like 53% of the American people think their taxes are either fair or too low, that you know, we have still got a way to go. This isn’t yet a broad mass movement, that there’s something real out there, and CNN and the Boston Globe and the rest of them don’t yet get it.
HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure.
End of interview.