Transcript of Thursday’s interview of Mark Steyn on the Hugh Hewitt radio program:
HH: I begin this Thursday as I do those in which we are lucky with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read all that Mark writes at http://www.steynonline.com. Mark, do you think it’s possible the ball cap bombers are stupid enough to still be in the country?
MS: Well, that’s an interesting question, Hugh. I mean, in theory, they’re, four hours after the explosions, they could have driven north and crossed a sleepy Canadian border crossing and been out of the country. On the other hand, if they are foreign visitors to the United States, since 9/11, there’s been the introduction of a vast range of facial recognition stuff. Everybody who’s not a U.S. citizen has to have his eyeballs photographed, fingerprinted, and photographs taken when they enter the United States. And if that stuff’s going to work, you’ve got to believe that they’ve cross-referenced these pictures with the photographs of people who entered the country recently and have tried to leave it recently. So I suspect the FBI already know the answer to that question.
HH: Now Andrew McCarthy said on this program yesterday, former federal prosecutor of the Blind Sheik, that if you have to go public with the photos, you’re in a pretty bad spot from an investigatory position. Do you agree with that?
MS: Yeah, I think that’s true. And just to go back to what I was saying earlier, I think that means that they’ve run them all through the immense number of new databases and new security checks that have been introduced since 9/11, and they’ve come up empty. And that’s why they’re standing in a room in Boston saying does this still ring any bells with anybody?
HH: Any reaction to the video, Mark, as it was played less than an hour ago?
MS: Yeah, I mean, I think this is an interesting question. I mean, I don’t want to prejudge anything here, and I find it rather weird the way people have been desperate that the killer should fit their particular biases. This guy who wrote this article at Salon saying I hope and pray that it is a white male American. Obviously, the guys in the baseball caps didn’t look like white male Americans. It doesn’t mean anything. They could be native-born Americans of one particular ethnicity or another. They could be a foreign student studying in Boston. But here’s the point. It would be, the idea that this would be a kind of official credentialed, card-carrying member of al Qaeda terrorist attack would mark a real change in strategy for al Qaeda. I remember shortly after 9/11 standing on my town common the Saturday after 9/11, and there was a little sort of town fair and people selling this and that and all the rest of it, and saying to a neighbor of mine, you know, that if I was these guys, I’d blow up somewhere like here next, in other words, to say that nothing is safe. We can not only take out the great iconic landmarks of New York, but you can go to some nowhere town in the middle of Nowheresville, and we’ll kill couple of people there, too. And they didn’t do that, al Qaeda. They’ve gone for big iconic targets, whether it’s in the U.S. or the London Tube bombings. And to do something like this in Boston, where they just, they kill a relatively small number of people, it would mark a change, a real change if this was to be any kind of official al Qaeda act.
HH: And more, we will follow in the weeks ahead. Now I want to switch over to leadership. I wrote a column at Townhall.com today, Mark, after the President’s rant in the Rose Garden yesterday. And I’m mad at the Republicans as well, and in the House, Dave Camp, who leads Ways And Means, is blocking tax reform in order to do a deal with Max Baucus. And I just look around Washington, D.C, and I see a complete collapse of leadership. But yesterday in the Rose Garden was the worst. What did you make of the President’s fit of pique yesterday?
MS: Yeah, it was interesting to me. It reminded me a bit of, in a less dramatic way, of Bill Clinton when he’d been grilled by the Grand Jury, and made the mistake of going on national television afterwards when he was still steamed about it. And he let loose on TV for about three minutes. And for just those three minutes, for the first time, America glimpsed the real Bill Clinton, petulant, whiny, unlikable. And that was exactly the mistake that Obama made yesterday, a glimpse of a side of him that he’s held very carefully under control now for the five years he’s been on the national stage. And so in that sense, I think it was a big mistake. The other thing is I think this just reveals what happens when you elect a guy as national leader who comes from a perfect left wing bubble. The voting precinct he lives in, in Chicago, voted, I think it was 97% Democrat. He’s not used to a world where you have to take the views of your political opponents seriously. And the idea that simply be demagoguing the issue, by virtue of the fact that he demagogued it so effectively, the opposition should have caved and let him have his way, I think he illustrated why in a sense, he’s at odds with the American Constitutional order, which has a big degree of bipartisanship and compromise and reach across the aisle type stuff built into it. This is not a guy who does that kind of thing.
HH: Now the American Constitutional order also calls, regular order is the catch phrase of the day, it calls for the House passing a tax bill, being sent to the Senate, the Senate does what it does, sends it back, you have a conference, they agree or they don’t, if they do agree, it goes to the President and he signs or he doesn’t, and they come back and they have a veto override. That’s regular order. And John Boehner, the Speaker, has said he’s pledged to it. But underway in the House right now, Mark, and I know you’re sitting in for Rush tomorrow, and I hope you hammer the House Republicans, and especially Michigan’s David Camp on this, they are sitting on tax repeal. They’re not doing it because Dave Camp wants to do a big deal with Max Baucus. Why in the world do the Republicans want to do anything with Max Baucus?
MS: No, I don’t get that, and I take what you say. I have a respect for the U.S. Constitution, and I have a respect for Congressional procedure. But there’s no doubt that basically we’re living in a world where Congress and the executive are winging it. That’s what they’ve been, they’ve been doing what they want. The President never offers a budget on time, the Senate never offers a budget at all, I mean, basically, the idea…and then every so often, they’ll dredge up some bit of cobwebbed parliamentary procedure and decide that they’re going to stick to it. But essentially, the Republicans who are the majority in the House have been unable in the last two years to make that majority mean anything. And the disenchantment on the right, the disenchantment on the right is real. I mean, what would be the point? I mean, there’s a fatalism on the right that a lot of people think they’ll lose the House in 2014, but that even if they win the House, big deal. What do they get? What do they have to show for it?
HH: Well that, this comes down to the leadership of House Republicans. I think Cantor and McCarthy and Paul Ryan are doing a fine job, but I think the Speaker is old school, and he lets these committee chairmen do or do nothing as they care, and I frankly have had it with them. I don’t know why anyone gets excited about House Republicans anymore. Do you know anyone, anyone at all in our world of broadcast and commentary who is excited about the House Republicans?
MS: No, but I don’t really know anybody who’s excited about them in the…you know, the people who have to go knock on doors, the people who have to make phone calls, the people who have to ensure that there’s turnout when you don’t have a glamorous celebrity at the top of the ticket like Obama. And I remember a few years ago, Newt Gingrich came and gave a speech in New Hampshire. And this was just before 2006. And he was asked, you know, why has the Republican House been such a disappointment? This was in the Denny Hastert days. And he said well, what you have to remember is the Republicans aren’t used to being in the leadership and running the House. Now at that point, they had been running the House for over a decade.
MS: It was the time of the new Iraq Constitution. The Iraqis are supposed to get the hang of free constitutional responsible government in 20 minutes, but the Republican Party can’t be expected to get the hang of it in a decade. And it sounds pathetic. The one thing one has to admire about the Democrats, they did it when they took over here in my own state in New Hampshire, is they don’t just think it’s about occupying the corner office and having a driver, and having a fancy title on your business card. They use it. From the word go, they’re passing this and they’re passing that. Obama was obvious, the country didn’t want Obamacare. He got out his mallet, and he hammered it down the American people’s throat regardless. The Republicans never show that determination.
HH: No, they don’t, and as a result, they’re going to give up that which they do not use. Mark Steyn, look forward to hearing you tomorrow on the national, the absolutely legal immigration show tomorrow as Mark sits in for Rush. Don’t miss that, America.