HUGH HEWITT (HH): Let’s begin with the issue of the (BLOGOVICH) report. I hate to bring politics into a holiday, but it seems to me that the Obama camp’s release of the report yesterday was designed to assure that no one talked about it, so we’re going to. What do you make about its timing and what it says?
MARK STEYN (MS): Well basically, this is an attempt at self-exoneration. I mean, this is slightly absurd. I mean, no one would take this seriously if George W. Bush was issuing reports on what he knew about Iraqi WMD. People would be mocking it and hooting it with derision. I think clearly, releasing it on the 23rd of December is a way to ensure that it stays buried all the way until Hogmanay at least. And they will probably be successful at that. People are not yet ready to hear bad things about the President-elect. That’s both not just a partisan thing. I think that is the natural optimism of the American people in some way.
HH: Now Mark, I got an e-mail, actually a number of e-mails from assistant United States attorneys around the United States, and I posted one at Hughhewitt.com, where he kind of walks us through what the U.S. attorney’s office is doing in Chicago. And it’s not good for Rahm Emanuel. It’s not particularly bad for the President-elect, but it’s the sort of thing, he describes in detail, that Fitzgerald has done in the past to get Scooter Libby tied up in a web of misstatements, any one of which to a federal person is a violation of 18 USC 1001, the False Statements Act.
HH: Do you think Fitzgerald’s playing for keeps here?
MS: Well, my respect for Patrick Fitzgerald has gone up, having seen him put away my friend, Conrad Black, who is spending the first of what could be six Christmases in jail in Florida on a very thin chain of circumstantial evidence that was nevertheless piled up relentlessly and very effectively by Patrick Fitzgerald and his assistant U.S. attorneys in the northern district of Illinois. I regarded him with contempt over the Scooter Libby thing, but one can regard people with contempt and still nevertheless be impressed by their effectiveness. And I think the difficulty for Rahm Emanuel is that it’s really in the interest of every party here to, if you like, set him up as the fall guy. And there will be…he risks approaching a tipping point whereby Obama decides it’s actually better to toss Rahm Emanuel to the wolves, and leap to the clear himself. That’s the difficulty.
HH: Now do you see us getting clear of this? This is a very complicated scandal with Blagojevich about to be indicted and impeached, and he’s not going to go gently into the night. We’ve got a Rahm Emanuel on tape, we’ve got other people on tape. We’ve got Chicago. This makes, actually, Whitewater look tame in comparison when Bill Clinton entered office, and I’m not sure that the President-elect is dealing with it very effectively by not telling us, for example, that he was interviewed by the U.S. attorney’s office for five days. I’m surprised that Mr. Transparency didn’t come clean with that.
MS: Well no, and I think it was clear that this was going on from the moment he gave his first press conference, where there was no outrage. The normal person, if you’ve been the Senator representing the people of Illinois for the last 20 minutes, or however long he was a Senator before he became president, and it emerged that your seat was effectively being auctioned to the guy who could do Governor and Mrs. Blagojevich most good, you would be outraged. And the lack of outrage is what Sherlock Holmes would call the dog that didn’t bark. And the minute he did that, he set himself up for all this, you know, what did Obama know, has he been interviewed. And it’s more dangerous than Whitewater, because it’s understandable. It’s vivid. There are these transcripts of the Governor using the F word every 1.8 nanoseconds. That’s vivid in a way that some obscure, rinky-dink, nickel and dime land scandal in Arkansas isn’t.
HH: First request for a prediction for ’09. Do you think we will still be talking about Blagojevich and the President-elect, now the president’s ties to him and his staff’s ties to him this time next year, Mark Steyn?
MS: Well, we could well be talking about it. The question is whether Obama’s messianic status enables him to waft free and soar above it. And although he’s been, since the election, he’s been downplaying all his sort of healing the planet and lowering the sea level stuff. I think the minute he starts to look like a grubby, little politician, like everyone else from the Chicago machine. It’s really in his interest to become the messiah again and start talking about healing the planet, and if you like, get several thousand feet above this very Earthbound scandal.
HUGH HEWITT INTEVIEWS MARK STEYN
ON HEWITT'S RADIO PROGRAM
25 DECEMBER 2008