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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

The Secret To Mark Steyn’s Success

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HH: Of course, it’s Thursday, and when we’re lucky on Thursday, we are joined by Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn of But of course, Mark Steyn, welcome, it’s great to talk to you. I haven’t talked to you in a few weeks.

MS: No, I’ve been in and out of London and Ireland and Belgium and Scotland and all kinds of other places. But I decided to get the hell out of the British Isles before the Olympics started, so I’m back in the United States.

HH: Well, it’s opportune that you are here, because I need to confront you with the fact that that book, After America…

BO: You didn’t build that.

HH: We know you didn’t write that book.

MS: (laughing) No, no I didn’t. The government invented the paper, and the government invented, actually, the government wrote the content. There’s actually a department of government writers that you can get to write your books. I don’t know whether you know about that.

HH: Well, come clean. America Alone…

BO: You didn’t build that.

HH: You didn’t do that, either.

MS: No, no, I didn’t write that, either. That was also from the government writing agency. Yeah, they wrote that.

HH: And I’ve got in my hand the Jessica Martin and Mark Steyn, A Marshmallow World Disco Fever edition. You probably didn’t record this.

MS: No, no, I didn’t make that Christmas single. That actually comes from the federal Christmas single regulatory authority. If you want to release a Christmas single, then you apply for a permit from the federal Christmas single regulatory authority, and they will designate a federally-funded singer and orchestra to come around and record it.

HH: And this column I read in the Register, or these talks you’ve been giving on the Continent in Scotland, you’ve probably been sent there by the government.

MS: Yes, that’s right. The government was responsible for all my speeches, well, the ones that went well, not the ones that wandered off the prompter and self-destructed.

HH: (laughing)

MS: But all the successful speeches came from the government speechwriting agency.

HH: Mark Steyn, I want to play the whole thing, because I don’t want to play the President out of context. Here’s the whole bit from Roanoke.

BO: If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think wow, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something. There are a whole bunch of hard-working people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

HH: So Mark Steyn, let’s just come clean. You didn’t get to be Mark Steyn on your own. You’re not so smart.

MS: (laughing) No, no, but he’s wrong. He’s right to say that it’s the government that is responsible for the depressingly low level of success I’ve had. But it wasn’t a teacher who inspired me or a magnificently paved road that I drove on. It was in fact, I think, a bureaucrat from the Bureau of Compliance. I think it was, I think there’s a federal bureaucrat somewhere in, I think he said the Robert C. Byrd Agency of Federal Bureaucrats, somewhere in West Virginia, who’s responsible for my success, and I feel, you know, if I ever win a Pulitzer Prize or an Oscar or anything, I want to bring that federal bureaucrat who’s really responsible for my success to the ceremony with me.

HH: And all those wonderful obituaries that you used to write for The Atlantic that I read, did you even put pen to paper when it came to those things?

MS: No, no, the government did. There’s a government program. You just apply to the, you fill in the paperwork, you do all the permits, you’ve got to get workman’s comp, by the way, in case a bureaucrat has to visit you in your office to check on your success and the lampshade happens to fall on him, but the government is basically responsible for everything that works in this country. As Obama likes to say, the government built the Hoover Dam, and the government built the Golden Gate Bridge. And if it weren’t for the Hoover Dam, all those obituaries that I wrote for The Atlantic would all be washed away. They’d be washed away into the Pacific in The Atlantic. And if it weren’t for the Golden Gate Bridge, I wouldn’t be able to get from my little town in New Hampshire to, I don’t know, Idaho. If it weren’t for the Golden Gate Bridge, do you realize, Hugh, that for the cost of the 2009, the Golden Gate Bridge costs about $530 million dollars in today’s money. For the cost of the 2009 Obama stimulus bill, we could have had, I think it’s something like 1,567 new Golden Gate Bridges.

HH: But you know, Mark, that we’re too lazy to make those bridges. The President told us that, that we are too lazy to make those bridges anymore.

MS: Yeah, I think, and I think he’s right there. When the President says you know, basically, America’s lost a little of its edge, by the way, I don’t get that. That speech he made where he said Americans, you know, we’ve grown up a bit lazy and a bit complacent, I don’t see why that would make any difference to our success when it’s the government that’s responsible for it anyway. The government’s responsible.

HH: Let me play you three of his greatest hits – cut number one:

BO: This is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft, and we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades.

HH: Cut number two:

BO: We’ve lost our ambition and our imagination, and our willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge.

HH: Cut number three:

BO: You know, we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We’ve kind of taken for granted well, people will want to come here, and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America, and trying to attract new businesses into American.

HH: No wonder…

BO: You didn’t build that.

HH: We don’t have any energy, Mark Steyn.

MS: No, I know. (laughing)

HH: I’m quitting this show right now, in fact. I’m done.

MS: Yeah, I know. I don’t even, I mean, basically, the government’s responsible for what success you’ve had, Hugh, so we should just go to the beach and put our feet up and watch Dancing With The Stars.

HH: Well, I’m feeling really stupid, because I’ve been working hard all these years, and I didn’t realize that someone was dressing you. You know, you always show up at all these speeches, and you’re so nattily-dressed, and you’ve got to pert pocket kerchiefs and the nice ties. I didn’t know that the government was wardrobing you.

MS: No, no, that comes from the government wardrobe department. You don’t use the government valet then, huh?

HH: No, I don’t.

MS: He’s terrific. He’s, I think it was Chester Arthur who was the first guy to have a valet in the White House, but they’ve got like a whole agency now for everyone. So if you need clothes, the government will pick out your shirt and tie.

HH: Now Mark, I want to point out, in distinction to what we’ve been talking about, the federal government will spend more in red ink in the next 100 days before the presidential election than most presidents used to run up in their entire term as president, and we’re talking, this president is just taking us on the craziest road. We’re not talking about anything that matters.

MS: No, and the thing is, this argument, I mean, to take him seriously for a moment, because Mitt had a very good line when he said when people kept saying are you taking the line out of context, he was right to say the context is actually worse than the line.

HH: Yes.

MS: Nobody is arguing about…I’m in favor. I like it when I go down to the bottom of my hill every morning to find a road there. And that is not what we’re arguing about. Actually, this government doesn’t do that anymore. It doesn’t build Golden Gate Bridges and Hoover Dams. The President’s own deputy assistant, assistant deputy, assistant deputy, environment secretary has said you’re never going to see another federal dam. That’s not what government does. Government spends $188 million dollars every hour that it doesn’t have. It borrows $188 million dollars every single hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including Christmas, Boxing Day and Ramadan to waste on bureaucracy and regulation. And the devastating thing about Obama’s prompter moment, his prompter fail, is that it’s a glimpse of who he is. It’s like that thing where Clinton, the moment after the Grand Jury deposition when he went on TV and was in an angry, mean, vengeful mood, and people got a glimpse of the real Bill Clinton he’d held in control, he normally held in control very well, people got a glimpse of the real Barack Obama here, and that line sticks to him.

HH: You know, Mark, you’re sounding like this.

BO: If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think wow, it must be because I was just so smart.

HH: You’re, that’s what you sound like, Mark Steyn. The people in the audience are raising their fist at you right now.

MS: (laughing) Yeah, no, no…

HH: (laughing)

MS: You’re right. I didn’t, I got it because there was a federal department of punditry regulator who was there for me. And that’s the only reason I’m on this show.

HH: Well, they call me up every week and they say it’s time to have Steyn on, and I say yes, sir.

MS: Yeah.

HH: But people don’t know this about you, and I’m pulling the mask off. The band-aid’s coming off with one big yank today, Mark Steyn.

MS: No, no, and this is how, people don’t get this, but this is how the whole thing works. It’s a collectivized thing, there’s guys sitting in Washington determining the success. They’re the ones who are saying yeah, this guy seems like he’s got a bestselling book, and that guy’s got a hit show, and it’s all actually because somewhere down the road, there was some great federal bureaucrat who’s responsible for your success.

HH: Mark Steyn, I used to say thank you, but now I’m going to say thank you to the government for showing up today., America.

End of interview.


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