HH: Well, this raises a delicate question. Before there was Mark Steyn, there was and remains George Will. And I think many of us in the business of opinion journalism respect his work over a long period of time. But I'm beginning to worry if he's going Pat Buchanan on us, Mark Steyn. Today he wrote a column blasting the idea that the authorization for the use of military force somehow authorized the president to conduct surveillance on al Qaeda. And Andrew McCarthy answered this at National Review. But it's an absurd column by one of the elder statesmen of conservatism. What's going on?
MS: Well, I think George Will is like a lot of conservatives. I like George Will enormously, but, and he's got a very sharp mind. But he doesn't basically accept the premise of the Bush doctrine, which is that you can somehow change the culture of our enemies' states, in other words, the Middle Eastern states, Afghanistan, Pakistan, that you can somehow change them, and make them more like us. And you're right . . . he's right to an extent that you can't give liberty to people. They have to want it. But on the other hand, it's a hard job, but there's actually not much alternative to it. You have to somehow say to these people you have to find a way to reach an accommodation between your religion and the modern world, because just saying it can't be done is no answer to anything. That condemns us all, essentially, to a majority Muslim planet in which American will be isolated and very short of friends. And the Bush doctrine is a long shot, but it's better than just consigning ourselves to hopelessness. And I respectfully disagree with George Will, and I wish he could see that.
He doesn't even address the issue of executive power that was the subject of the Will column. Instead, he launches into a diatribe about Will not believing that the U.S. government can plant liberal democracy in the Fertile Crescent like one plants one of those little packets of Zinnia seeds.