See you with Tucker tonight. Meanwhile, a few thoughts to start the week:
~The British historian Andrew Roberts has been touring the United States promoting his Churchill book. His Spectator diary contains this curious aside:
The livid scar down the centre of his forehead that Churchill received in that accident is visibly to the fore in George W. Bush's excellent portrait of him that hangs in the Dallas Country Club. At dinner à trois with the former president and Laura Bush there, '43' — as everyone in Texas seems to call him — pondered whether he might turn out to be the last Republican president in American history, because clearly Trump doesn't count. We discussed the Whig-Democrat struggles of the 1830s and 1840s, and the way that no political party has an inherent right to exist. I told him about the new Independent Group in Britain, which seems to believe in independence for itself, but not for the United Kingdom.
I supported George W Bush's candidacy and presidency, and, in fact, I believe I can take credit for introducing Andrew Roberts to the President:
MARK STEYN: [Bush] mentioned on I think the George Stephanopoulos show that he was reading Andrew Roberts' History Of The English Speaking People Since 1900, a sort of sequel to Churchill's work. And everyone's very sniffy about the President, and they assume he's just saying that because he wants to look like he's read a book, and he's just a moron. Everybody knows he's just an idiot. And in fact, he said to me, he asked me if I knew Andrew Roberts. And I said 'Oh yeah, sure. I got an e-mail from him this morning. He was very pleased and flattered that you'd mentioned his book...' And he goes, 'That is a great book. People need to read that book.' And you think you're just having some sort of social chit-chat. My assistant, Tiffany, got a call this morning from an assistant to the President, who said 'Mark told the President that he had Andrew Roberts' e-mail address. Do you think you could ask Andrew Roberts to get in touch with the Oval Office, because we would like him to stop by when next he's in Washington. The President would like to talk about his book with him.' I mean, he is absolutely not the guy, this sort of fratboy idiot that they paint him as. He's a man who is greatly...he's not interested in...you know, when Al Gore says that he's reading Stendhal, The Red And The Black, we think what a pretentious twit.
HUGH HEWITT: Yes. But we think that anyway, so...(laughing)
MS: Yeah, yeah. But if he is seriously reading it, he's incredibly pretentious. And if he's just pretending to read it, it's like even more idiotic, because it's not even a cool thing to pretend to read anymore. But the President had actually read this book... and he'd remembered that I'd said I just had an e-mail from him, and immediately, they call up a few hours later
When my assistant emailed him in London to say the Oval Office had just called and could he get in touch, Andrew immediately assumed it was just some leg-pull of mine. Once that was cleared up, he did indeed visit the White House, having checked (as a Briton) that protocol requires him to address the guy as "Mister President". However, when he knocked on the Oval Office door, it opened and there was Bush with his arms outstretched exclaiming in mock astonishment: "Andrew Roberts!"
So Andrew threw aside protocol, mimicked the outstretched arms and mock-astonished right back: "George W Bush!"
They hit it off famously. But I have to say Bush's remark on Trump shows an almost pathological lack of self-awareness. If 43 is indeed "the last Republican president", it will be not because of Trump but because of the conditions that enabled Trump - that's to say, the state of Bush-era Republicanism by the time of 2015.
In parliamentary systems, parties that outlive any useful purpose die either very quickly (Italy) or rather slower (Britain). But the United States is unique in having a frozen two-party system for a century and a half - until 2016. To take Bush's statement as correct, that year the GOP base chose to elect an independent - and that's on Dubya, Jeb, Mitt, McCain, Ryan and the rest and what they did to their own party. A certain amount of self-reflective circumspection might be appropriate.
~One of the accelerating trends of our time is the near total abandonment of the principle of free speech, something to which, until very recently, almost everyone felt obliged to pay lip service to, at least in public. Not anymore. Here is a Democrat candidate for the Massachusetts 8th Congressional District demanding government action over bad reviews for Hollywood's latest damp squib of a virtue-signaling blockbuster:
Brianna Wu Calls for Government Legislation In Response to Negative Captain Marvel 'Reviews'
Ms Wu believes it should be illegal to criticize global mega-corporations if they put a woman in a lead movie role. The alliance of identity politics, corporatism and the "social media" cartel is a far greater menace than Trump. I wonder if Bush, Romney or other "mainstream" conservatives have anything to say on the subject.
~It is almost three years since Britain voted to leave the European Union, and less than three weeks till it's supposed to happen. As of now, no one knows what, if anything, will actually occur on that day. However, one consequence of the last three years is clear: David Cameron, an open Remainer, was succeeded by Theresa May, a sotto voce Remainer reborn representing herself as a can-do Brexiteer. Instead, she has remade almost the entire UK political class in her own malign image. Almost every utterance from anybody in the Palace of Westminster now rings bogus: former Remainers silkily purport to be "delivering Brexit" by supporting a May deal that subverts it; hardcore Brexiteers of the Gove school turn out to be squishier-than-thou types; Jeremy Corbyn, a visceral Europhobe, pretends to be in favor of a second referendum to keep the sophisticates of the metropolitan media on side; and any number of run-of-the-mill MPs are hoping their colleagues will pass May's deal while they themselves vote against it to preserve deniability on charges of a sellout...
Nothing is what it seems, although even that may not be what it seems. The descent of politics into a dinner theatre of dissemblers is complete. If the last year doesn't entirely discredit the notion of a professional ruling class, nothing will.
~We had a busy weekend at SteynOnline, starting with my thoughts on the GOP's next hill not to die on: reparations. Our Saturday movie date looked back at the director of Dr Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick, and our Sunday musical selection went cruising down the Yangtse to the accompaniment of People's Liberation Army gunfire. If you were too busy resetting your clocks, I hope you'll want to catch up with one or three of the foregoing as a new week begins.
If you enjoy the time you spend round these parts and you'd like to take it to the next level, there's always The Mark Steyn Club - and, indeed, the second annual Mark Steyn Cruise, which will be sailing from Vancouver through Alaska's beautiful Inside Passage this September with Dennis Miller, Michele Bachmann and more. We'd love to have you with us.
See you on the telly with Tucker tonight, live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific.