Mark Steyn opened the show today. He is not a fan of the promotion of Kevin McCarthy from GOP House Whip to Leader:
HH: Today is a story of two civil wars, one of them bloody and horrible in Iraq, one of them political and bloodless inside the Republican caucus on the House of Representative side. Joining me to discuss both of them as is the case whenever we are lucky on Thursday is Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read everything that Mark writes at www.steynonline.com, and Mark, welcome, it’s always good to talk to you.
MS: Hey, good to be with you, Hugh.
HH: Here is a fun headline from the Mail Online. “They line the streets with the decapitated heads of police and soldiers,” Iraqi refugee reveals the horrors of the jihadi takeover as Baghdad vows to fight back. It has a slightly 1975 quality to it, doesn’t it, Mark?
MS: Yes, it does, and as weird as the, I mean, the severed heads are obviously more horrifying, but as telling, just the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of discarded Iraqi army and police uniforms, including some quite high-ranking ones. There’s discarded brigadier general’s uniform that was just dumped in the street, where these guys, you know, heard these fellows are coming, and just stripped their clothes off and ran off to blend into the general population. You described it as a civil war. I think that’s rather overdignifying the official Iraqi state’s response. It’s as if the Iraqi state is simply disintegrating before our eyes.
HH: There are reports this afternoon that the Quds forces have been dispatched from Iran. Those have not been verified, yet, by an independent American journalism institute, but they are allegedly filling the gap as they did in Syria when Bashar al-Assad was up against the wall. Quds came in with Hezbollah-trained fighters. Now, they’re going on their own. What to make of that, Mark Steyn, if this becomes the long…does it in fact vindicate the left’s critique of George W. Bush that he destabilized the region and invited this ultimate breakdown? Or does it indict President Obama for fecklessly waiving off an American advantage gained at great and extraordinary expense and loss of life?
MS: Well, I think you can look on it that if that report is true, that the simmering, slow burn, Sunni-Shia was within Islam, which is essentially in the Middle East between the nuclear mullahs in Iran, and Sunni Islam, that that may well be actually blazing into full-throated open warfare. But you know, when you look at it at the Obama-Bush level, Hugh, most of these people don’t care. They can’t tell Obama from Bush, and they can’t tell Bush from Hillary Clinton, and they can’t tell Hillary Clinton from Dick Cheney. They were planning 9/11. The fellows who planned 9/11, for example, were planning it before Al Gore got into his hanging chad problem down in Florida. So they don’t think about Bush or Obama. They just hate America. And if you look at it again from the point of view of people who love America, or who made the mistake of getting on the right side of America in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I was on a panel with the great Bernard Lewis a couple of years ago, actually six or seven years ago, and Bernard said that the danger here is that America risks being seen as harmless as an enemy, and treacherous as a friend. And if you’re someone who got too close to the Americans in Baghdad, where the most expensive U.S. embassy, the most expensive any embassy on the planet in the history of embassies, is about to fall, if you’re someone who got too close to the Americans in Kabul, you’re about to learn the truth of Bernard Lewis’ dictum. And likewise, if, you know, the other half of that, that America is harmless as an enemy, treacherous as a friend, that applies to Libya, that applies to Egypt, that applies to Syria, that applies to Iraq, that applies to Afghanistan. It’s a very dangerous lesson to teach the planet.
HH: And Benjamin Netanyahu had better be taking good account of that as well, because there’s no assurance that you can rely on from this administration. You simply cannot rely on an assurance from this administration. Now I want to switch to something about which we have no control, what happens in Iraq, to something over which we have like an infinitesimal amount of influence, which is the House leadership battle. Mark Steyn, Eric Cantor was defeated by our friend, Mark Levin, and Laura Ingraham.
HH: …and the Tea Party. And I was wholly unaware of it, not a participant in it, stunned when it happened, and I thought Eric Cantor was a fine guy and didn’t think he’d get thrown over, because I didn’t think he was John Boehner. I mean, Eric Cantor didn’t mock his own caucus in Cincinnati a few weeks ago. John Boehner did, and I am told John Boehner cried real tears for Eric Cantor, not realizing, I guess, that it was his mocking of his own conference of immigration that led to his overthrow. Now, we have the response of, apparently overnight, oh, well, let’s replace Eric Cantor with Eric Cantor, his deputy, Kevin McCarthy.
HH: …who’s a very fine guy. You might even know him. I know him. He’s a nice guy. But it’s the most tin-eared, if it was a musical, it would have closed in previews. It’s unbelievably bad.
MS: Well, I think to a certain extent, the Republican leadership is manufacturing these candidates somewhere at a factory in Shanghai, and importing them, you know, they’re all sitting on the docks at wherever waiting to come into the country, because it shows, I would rather Eric Cantor have stayed in his position until January, and been succeeded by this guy, Professor Brat, down in Virginia, because to do that is to basically say we don’t care what happened in Virginia.
MS: It’s business as usual. And you’re right. Eric Cantor was a different kettle of fish from John Boehner in many ways. I heard him speak at a sort of closed-door session for conservative activists. And there was nothing wrong with what Eric Cantor said, nothing wrong with it. But there was nothing particularly right about it. And it was, and it was insufficient to the moment, because we are going through epic times here.
MS: America is basically departing the world stage. And to have, and the sort of minimalist, incremental approach, where basically the Boehner-Cantor Republican establishment says we don’t want to change direction, we just want to get to where the Democrats are going, but in third gear, is insufficient. And that’s the message of Virginia.
HH: You just reminded me of Agent Smith in the Matrix. All right, and so they’ve replaced Agent Smith with Agent Smith, and Neo is what you need. Now into this picture comes Raul Labrador, who’s ticked off.
HH: And fifteen minutes before the show began, Business Insider, which is a very good website, circulates the idea that Raul Labrador of Idaho, who is nobody’s fool and is really smart, and is not part of leadership, says you know what? I might make a run for this. That would be an upending thing, as would, say, Ron DeSantis out of Florida, who’s a combat veteran, or Mike Pompeo, who is a combat veteran. That’s what we need right now. We need someone to step up who’s completely different.
MS: Well, the base wants someone that will, that lives where they live. I’ll put it that way, because for example, on the illegal immigration issue, on the let’s do it for the children amnesty lite version that Eric Cantor was peddling, if you live in any number of school districts around the country, if you go to any number of emergency rooms around the country, you see the real word costs of what’s going on. I’m not even talking about just being at the Southern border. I mean, actually, this very day, representatives in my own state, which are a long way from the Southern border, had to go some air base to receive the latest bunch of illegals that have been, these children that have been flown all the way up here. There are real world costs to that, and people like, too many people in the Republican Party leadership, the sort of Chamber of Commerce Republicans, give the impression that they’re living in some gated community where they do not live where the base lives. And the base wants someone who lives where they live.
HH: I agree, but I also don’t want the party to fall over into Tom Tancredo land. And we may, I don’t know what you think of Tom. He’s a fine guy. It’s just he would be the worst thing in the world for the Republican Party if he were nominated as governor of Colorado.
MS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. No, but I’m not in Tom Tancredo country on that, and I don’t think he’s a skillful politician.
MS: And I want someone who can articulate, and I get a big fevered about this, because anyone who’s a legal immigration to this country, and has made the mistake of going through the legal immigration process in this country has a very different view of this.
HH: That’s only partly ironic, isn’t it?
HH: It’s only partly ironic to say to have made the mistake of going through it.
MS: Right, right, and I don’t, I mean that literally, actually.
HH: I know.
MS: But they want someone who can actually look at these things, as I said, about the real world costs to communities, because you don’t have to talk like Tom Tancredo. You don’t have to demonize anybody. You don’t have to do any, you don’t have to…but you have to be able to talk about this in the same language that voters are responding to.
HH: By the way, Raul Labrador can do that. Have you ever met him?
MS: No, I haven’t. I don’t think I’ve ever been at an event with him.
HH: He is an extraordinarily talented Cuban-American, Spanish-speaking, Mormon Idaho guy who gets it, and very smart.
HH: And that makes me excited for the weekend, Mark Steyn. It really does, although watching the collapse of Iraq, I just, I don’t even know what to say about that. I’ll have to read your column on, when do you write any more, by the way?
MS: Oh, I’m writing all the time. I’m watching the World Cup with my sons, so go Cameroon. It’s more exciting than the House majority leadership race.
HH: Well, that’s just about any race. Thank you, Mark Steyn. Everything that Mark writes available at www.steynonline.com.
End of interview.