On Thursday I kept my weekly date on The Hugh Hewitt Show. Hugh was off promoting his book The Queen (not the Queen, but Mrs Clinton), so Lanhee Chen guest-hosted. The day was dominated by the aftermath of Wednesday's mass murder in South Carolina:
LANHEE CHEN: Obviously a day of sorrow as we follow what happens in Charleston. We're joined by Mark Steyn, regular guest here at the Hugh Hewitt Show. Mark, this is a tragic day, it's a difficult day, and obviously, the American people mourn. What's your reaction to all that's happened in the last 18 hours here or so?
MARK STEYN: Well, I think there's something particularly depraved about gunning people down during a church service, during worship. And it's something we hear about and expect to hear about from other places. A few weeks ago, it happened in Lahore, at Sunday morning service - a couple of the jihad guys decide to go in and bomb and kill people while they are worshiping. And whether it happens in Pakistan or whether it happens in the United States I think it's a depraved act on a scale beyond opening fire in other circumstances - because it suggests a murderer who sees himself as beyond God, and that is a terrifying thought. And it's particularly terrifying when you then hear that his roommate knew that he planned to start a civil war and wanted to die after killing a big bunch of people, but apparently thought that's just part of the chit chat of the day... Other than that, I regret the President attempting to politicize it. I think these are times for not playing to your tropes... When it is a different scale of depravity, when you choose a house of God as a symbol for your act of murder, then the atrocity and the horror is diminished by the President just playing to his lame tropes about gun control.
By "a different scale of depravity", I mean that there's something Nietzschean about being willing to open fire in a church - Nietzschean in the sense not that "God is dead" but in what he expected to follow that conclusion: a world where every man is his own god - even some pudding-bowled dweeb loser with all the usual pathetic addictions.
Lanhee thought the responses of both the President and Mrs Clinton were "tonally... a little bit off":
STEYN: Well, I think, I'd separate them, slightly. I think Hillary is a candidate, and if she wants to, she's entitled to play this as a candidate. But the President speaks for the nation, including the 50% of the nation that don't vote for him. And that 50% of the nation includes an awful lot of people who own an awful lot of guns, and will never do what this man did... I live here in Northern New Hampshire. I've got a lot of neighbors who have got more firepower in their homes than the average European Union army. And they've got no plans to kill anybody... To make it a political issue - in other words to take this murderer who is responsible for his actions and to tie him to a huge percentage of the general population - is an abomination. I mean, aside from the fact that it devalues the specific nature of this event and the victims, the specific real victims of this event, I think there's something just obscene in trying to attach millions of law abiding people to the act of this mass murderer.
CHEN: Yeah, and you mentioned Hillary Clinton a little different there. You think because she's running for office, because she is, you know, a candidate and not sort of in a position to be the unifier-in-chief, if you will, maybe we should give her a little more latitude?
STEYN: No, no, I'm not really saying that at all. What I'm saying is I can understand. You know, she's on the make. She looks at everything as what's in it for me. And if you're a candidate... Bernie Sanders, who's her principal opposition, is a Vermont Senator. And Vermonters have quite a high rate of gun ownership, and Bernie Sanders has a good record on gun rights. So perhaps she's thinking well, maybe Bernie came, looked good in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, maybe I can use this as a bit of a wedge issue - which is what happens when you think of everything in political terms. There was a civil servant somewhere in Whitehall in London on September 11th, who even as the towers were crumbling on that day sent an email out to her department saying now would be a very good time to get out any news we wish to bury. In other words, there's some people who cannot even react, who are so politicized - and I think I would put Hillary Clinton in that category - who are so politicized that they cannot look on any, even the most shocking action, an act out of the blue, and not think of it in political terms. That's one of the depressing and miserable things about modern life is that everything has been politicized.
But maybe this isn't political... this isn't Democrat, this isn't Republican. And for the President and Mrs. Clinton to try and make it a Democrat or a Republican issue is vile.
You can find the entire conversation here. We also talked about the Pope's encyclical on climate change, but I'll save further thoughts on that for later.