On Monday night I was honored to return to Minneapolis and the Center of the American Experiment for a night at the Guthrie Theatre, which is a lovely space beautifully configured so that almost all one thousand attendees have good seats. The faintly wacky element this time round was that I was appearing on the set of the Guthrie's current production - Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. So Juliet could cry "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" all night long, but the only guy below the balcony was me.
A more somber backdrop to the event was Sunday's bloodbath in Las Vegas (on which I have more to say here). John Hinderaker, the Center's new head, began the night with a moment of silence for the 58 dead and more than 500 injured. Following that, Howard Root (whose book is an inspiration to anyone ensnared in this country's sclerotic and dysfunctional "justice" system) gave me a delightful introduction. John's Powerline colleague Scott Johnson reports:
This was a triumphant return... Mark commented most powerfully on the lack of humanity demonstrated by now former CBS vice president and senior counsel Haylee Geftman-Gold in response to the massacre. (Paul Mirengoff provides the details in the adjacent post.) By contrast, Mark spoke of his own sympathy for the victims of the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando even though he is not a practicing homosexual. "Or a non-practicing one," he helpfully added, despite the familiarity he acknowledged with the theatrical milieu (gesturing behind him toward the set of Romeo and Juliet).
Commenting on his own disclaimer of homosexuality, Mark paraphrased Hamlet's judgment on his mother: "Methinks he doth protest too much." I'm laughing even as I type it out...
Mark's remarks on the Las Vegas massacre said something original and true. Thinking them through would afford the benefit of a liberal education in politics. Providing such commentary on news only hours old is a task performed with a high degree of difficulty. Mark, however, made it look easy..
Last time around, I observed that what John Coltrane was to the saxophone, what Art Tatum was to the piano, Mark Steyn is to the English language applied to politics. He is an artist and improviser in a class of his own. But then you knew that.
Mark came with a prepared text, but for the first 15-20 minutes or so his remarks came directly out of yesterday's news. Mark improvised at length off the New York Post story on Obama's Tuesday fundraising appearance at the mansion of gazillionaire Rich Richman. Mark played with the theme of "Rich Richman" like a jazz soloist taking the song to previously unexplored heights and depths... I trust the "Rich Richman" remarks will turn up on Mark's site one way or another before too long. Mark, all I can say is that I want to hear that number again. Consider this a request!
Well, those remarks were improvised, just as yesterday's far more sober observations on events in Las Vegas were improvised. I had entirely forgotten Rich Richman, which is the real, real name of a rich, rich man who got to host a fundraiser for President Obama. Because they were improvised, I don't have a script, but, just for Scott Johnson and three years late, I made an effort to reconstruct what I said from my scribbled notes. Here we go:
This is from today's New York Post:
'President Obama blasted Republicans as the party of "billionaires" on Tuesday while mingling with high-rollers at the $26 million estate of Rich Richman — yes, that's his real name — in Greenwich, Connecticut.'
So the President blasted Republicans as the party of billionaires at a fundraiser hosted by a rich, rich man called Rich Richman. He made his money in rental housing. Is this Richie Rich all grown up? If you remember Ricky Nelson from the Ozzie & Harriet Show, when he grew up and decided he was a serious artist he changed his name from Ricky Nelson to Rick Nelson. So maybe Richie Rich grew up and became Rich Richman. Boy, I'd love to have been a fly on the wall when Obama and Valerie Jarrett were booking that fundraiser:
'Who's on first?'
'Yeah, that goes without saying. But which rich rich man?'
That's all the President does these days. He goes to fundraisers hosted by [Insert Name of Rich Richman Here] and he does so many of them that he actually winds up at a party hosted by a rich rich man called Rich Richman. He's like the Boutros Boutros Ghali of Obama supporters. The President must be so confused, because that's how he categorizes the American people:
Category A: Rich rich man.
Category B: Impressively rich man.
Category C: Moderately rich man.
Category D: Rich man.
Category E: Borderline rich man.
Category F: All you losers.
I used to love all those Mitteleuropean operettas where the prince falls in love with a humble serving wench, or the countess loses her heart to a lusty stable lad, and I would love to see a big Broadway show in which wealthy, connected Obama backer Rich Richman falls in love with a humble Tea Party supporter who's being audited by Lois Lerner, Penny Pennilessgirl. And Rich Richman invites Penny Pennilessgirl to his $26 million estate for dinner with the President, and the following day he sends her a dozen roses with a romantic invoice for $34,000 – which is apparently what each of those donors paid up for Obama. Billy Joel's doing the songs:
You've been going with a poor poor girl...'
The President was ferried to the Rich Richman fundraiser in Greenwich, Connecticut by a fleet of helicopters from Manhattan, where he'd been attending a fundraiser hosted by George Soros. And this is why this absurd, parodic vignette that no novelist or playwright would attempt to get away with because it's too crude, too obvious, this is why this absurd, parodic vignette is emblematic of where we're headed – the Latin-Americanization of US society, where you'll have a super-wealthy elite of rich rich men and a vast dysfunctional morass of poor poor men and an ever shriveling middle class in between, and, as the rich rich men helicopter their way from Manhattan to Greenwich to the Hamptons to Martha's Vineyard, there won't be a lot of ways for those poor poor men to better themselves and join the helicopter set. Oh, to be sure, those rich rich men will toss 'em a bone from the choppers – more food stamps, better social security disability payments, longer unemployment insurance, free contraceptives. But there'll be no middle class to get you on the moving walkway between poor poor man and Rich Richman.
That's more or less what I said in 2014. And two years later that malign alliance between the political class and rich rich men like Rich Richman is one reason why last November the decisive vote in key swing states went to Trump.
If you couldn't get to Minnesota, I'll be making an even rarer appearance in the national capital next month, when I'll be honored with Kellyanne Conway and Diane Hendricks at the Independent Women's Forum annual awards gala. If you're in the vicinity of the DC Swamp and would like to attend, please click here and enjoy a special discount on the ticket price by entering the promo code STEYN at the bottom of the ticket information box.
We have fun in The Mark Steyn Club, with monthly radio serials, a brand new video poem this weekend, a quarterly newsletter, live planet-wide Q&As, and much more. I appreciate the Club is not to everyone's taste, but, if you're minded to give it a go, either for a full year or a three-month experimental period, you'll find more details here - and, if you've a loved one who'd like something a little different for a birthday or anniversary, don't forget our new gift membership.
See you on't telly with Tucker Carlson tomorrow night, Wednesday, coast to coast on Fox News at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific.