On my weekly appearance with Hugh Hewitt, we chewed over Obama, the Iranian bomb, and Marie Harf's preference for monosyllabic words. But Hugh began the show with what, to me, was an unfamiliar piece of music:
HUGH HEWITT: I'm joined by Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn, who may or may not know that this is the University of Michigan fight song. Mark Steyn, did you know that?
MARK STEYN: No, I didn't. I'm somewhat stunned to know the University of Michigan has a fight song. So that's for when the safe space breaks down, is it?
HH: It is. Well, I want the audience to know that yesterday, after 300 students complained, the University of Michigan cancelled the showing of American Sniper because it was anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, and Chris Kyle, the American hero depicted in the movie was a killer. Then Jim Harbaugh, their new football coach, tweeted out Michigan football will watch American Sniper, proud of Chris Kyle and proud to be an American. And if that offends anybody, so be it. And then the University of Michigan put the movie back on. What do you make of this episode?
MS: Well, the thing that I thought was interesting about this, and actually indicated a degree of subtle contempt, I thought, from the authorities - either that or we are just beyond parody here - is that they replaced American Sniper with Paddington Bear... If people are going to get... 'Oh, no, I feel threatened and intimidated by seeing American Sniper', then fine. You watch the teddy bear movie. We'll schedule Thomas the Tank Engine. We'll schedule Babe the pig. Oh, wait, no, that would offend all the Muslims, and there'd be a riot. So we won't have that, but we'll find some other children's stuffed character that is safe for you to watch. The logic of the safe space…
HH: I guess Charlotte's Web is off the list, too.
MS: …is that 23 year old students can only watch Paddington Bear.
While the most pampered generation in history is fretting over whether Paddington's too butch for the safe space, the Iranians are busy creating their own unsafe space. Hugh wanted to know whether Obama is Chance the Gardener or the Manchurian Candidate:
MS: I think it's actually more than that. The Manchurian Candidate was, if you see the original film, the Frank Sinatra/Montgomery Clift film, which is a great film and not that weaselly remake they did a few years ago where the Manchurian Candidate turned out to be some guy working for Halliburton, more or less…
Golly, my brain's seizing up. That's not Montgomery Clift in the original Manchurian Candidate, that's Laurence Harvey. They both died young - both aged 45 - but I've no idea what caused me to jumble them up live on air. Angela Lansbury, by the way, who played Harvey's mom in The Manchurian Candidate, was less than three years older than him. But, if you're gonna play the mother roles, pick a great one, as that is.
Anyway, if I blew the movie trivia, I was certainly on top of the 1933 Montevideo Convention:
MS: I've been writing about this for a long time. About a decade ago, I dusted off the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States - 1933, I think it is... Most of the things that you need to be recognized as a state are obvious. You need a permanent population, you need a territory, you need a government. But the fourth qualification is the capacity to enter into state-to-state relations. And that means things like not seizing embassies, not issuing, taking out contracts on foreign nationals as they did with Salman Rushdie, and they killed a bunch of his publishers and translators, not blowing up community centers in Argentina for which eventually the former education minister and speaker of the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament, was actually charged by the Argentine government - I mean, that's like John Boehner blowing up a community center in Slovenia. So Iran does not have the capacity for state-to-state relations ...and yet Obama said it doesn't matter, we shouldn't go into this deal expecting Iran to change. We will now be creating a state that is incapable of state-to-state relations, and giving it a nuclear bomb. No good will come of that.
HH: Now I would like to know if you'd go into your bedroom, Mark, and take a Twitter photo of your bedside table, because I know that the Montevideo Convention is right there along with the Litvinov Agreement and Smoot-Hawley Tariff right there.
MS: No, actually, I keep the Montevideo Convention next to the sheet music for my disco arrangement of 'Marshmallow World', Hugh. So it's an eclectic mix on my nightstand.
The President, meanwhile, has replaced geopolitical strategy with Facebook status:
BARACK OBAMA: Well, I think that it's important to recognize that Iran's a complicated country, just like we're a complicated country.
HH: Now doesn't that sound like a show tune to you? They're a complicated country, we're a complicated country?
MS: I know. Well, this is a bit like when he was asked about American exceptionalism, and he said the Greeks thought they were exceptional, too. You know, everybody's exceptional, everybody's complicated... Barack Obama's Relationship Guide to State-to-State Relations. It's replaced the Montevideo Convention.
And that's before we got to the State Department's Marie Harf complaining that Henry Kissinger and George Shultz are just using a lot of big words. Don't you just hate that about foreign policy? Maybe the Montevideo Convention can also be replaced by Paddington Bear.
You can find the full interview here.