On Thursday I joined one of the questioners on the Republican debate, now restored to his position as "third-rate radio announcer", Hugh Hewitt. We did a bit of post-Reagan Library analysis, starting with "climate change":
HUGH HEWITT: I'm joined to continue that conversation, as I am on Thursdays when I am lucky, by Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. Mark Steyn, the first thing I want to ask you, since you wrote Steyn V. the Stick [actually, "A Disgrace To The Profession"], global warming came up last night. What did you make of Marco Rubio's response on that, and the general exchange on global warming?
MARK STEYN: I thought it was a bit disappointing that Ted Cruz didn't get to speak on that, because Ted Cruz is far less fainthearted and apologetic about that than Marco Rubio and Co. were to my taste. In a sense, they accepted too many of, I thought, of Jake Tapper's premises there. They all denied they were deniers, in effect, whereas Ted Cruz said 'Oh, I'll answer this, I'm a skeptic.' And Jake Tapper cut him off and said we'll be going to another subject. And I thought that was a bit of a shame, because I think that actually that's a subject on which Ted Cruz would have dealt with a bit more effectively than Marco Rubio there.
HH: Now Steyn V. the Stick, do you talk about the idea that the left is actually after the economy and nothing else, because I think that's what the general point was being made. And I think it was Rubio and Christie made that argument, right?
MS: Yes, and I think that's the case, and they're in fact more and more open about this. There's this thing that so-called activists have just launched this week called The Leap Manifesto, which is basically saying that in order to save the planet, we have to abandon capitalism. We have to abandon a free market economy. And in that sense, it's the biggest, most sentiment...it's dangerous, because it's the most sentimental pretext for big government that's ever been devised. There's nothing that you can't claim is covered by the environment. The environment is a term, is essentially a meaningless term for everything that's all around us. And I think in that sense, it is dangerous, and I would have liked a little bit of a more coherent pushback on that subject, particularly after all the time spent on, you know, 'he said something rude about your face, what do you think of your face?' type stuff. It was actually a shame that poor old Ted Cruz never got to give his answer on that.
The question of Hugh's questions also came up:
MS: Well, I don't have any problem with your questions, Hugh. I had a problem with your answer when Donald Trump said 'Hey, am I the greatest interview in the world?'
HH: Oh, I'm sorry, Mark (laughing).
MS: And you said 'Oh, yeah, no question about it.' What am I, Hillary Clinton's gefiltefish? I mean, give me a break here.
MS: But that aside, I think, you know, the question here, Hugh, I think, at the time of the last debate, which was only a few weeks ago, people assumed that Donald Trump's appearance was some kind of freak show, and that at a certain point, it was going to settle down and become a normal Republican primary. And I think it's clear now that actually that is not going to happen. And if you look at it in terms of what it was an hour before the debate began, the two frontrunners were Trump and Carson. And the beneficiary of the debate, at least from the professional pundit class's point of view, has been Carly Fiorina. And in a sense, all these Senators and Governors have to face the fact that, between now and Iowa and New Hampshire, it's not going to be a normal Republican primary, and that takes us into fascinatingly uncharted territory.
We also discussed one of the oddest moments of the night - Jake Tapper's question about Trump's views on vaccines and autism:
MS: Right at the end, Dr. Carson got a softball, essentially, to him about autism. And it was supposed to be a question that made Donald Trump look like a complete chump and a buffoon who is anti-science and anti-medicine. And instead, Carson didn't really take the ball and thwack it across the stadium wall. And Trump's response, where he talked about the timeline with which we pump the babies full of vaccines, turned out to be rather thoughtful. And Dr. Paul and Dr. Carson wound up agreeing with him. And it was a reminder, even on not a strong Trump night, that he has this strange way of kind of defying the conventions and the laws even on something as relatively abstruse as vaccination and autism.
HH: True, that did play to him.
MS: Yeah, yeah.
HH: He actually did, he walked away unscathed.
MS: He gave a more thoughtful answer on that than on Syria, actually.
And a final thought - that the money pool out there can't support the existing line-up indefinitely:
MS: This field will narrow, if only because you can't have 13 members of the political class all bouncing along in single figures all the way through to Iowa and New Hampshire. Some of them, for some of them, this was their last stand, whether they knew it or not.
You can read the full transcript of our conversation here, and listen to the complete audio here.
~Tonight I'll be closing out the week with Sean Hannity on Fox News, coast to coast at 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific.
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