Yesterday we conducted an extensive interview with best-selling author and prolific columnist Mark Steyn, in connection with the release of a newly updated version of his entertaining and insightful book of obituaries and appreciations, "Mark Steyn's Passing Parade."
One obit Steyn pens is for Strom Thurmond, the one-time Dixiecrat presidential candidate, and later Republican U.S. Senator of 48 years from South Carolina. Within his Thurmond obit, Steyn reveals a story about the one instance in which he encountered Thurmond, crammed into an elevator between current U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and the then-ancient Senator during the Clinton impeachment proceedings.
We'll let Steyn take the epically creepy story from there:
"I was covering the impeachment trial of President Clinton, which was the first time I’d been exposed close up to the United States Senate, which is not a lovely site. And one of the few interesting things as that trial wore on was actually Strom Thurmond because he – Clinton had the sort of two sexpot lady lawyers – and Strom Thurmond used to bring candy for them each day, and then press them with his 112-year old lizard-like hands into their fingers. And you could see the women were like, fatally taken aback by this, but at a certain level they understood that this was what it was gonna take to prevent their guy from being removed from office. And in the end, Strom did not vote to remove Clinton from office, in part I do believe because he had the hots for those lawyers.
But yea, there was one moment at the end of the day where we were sort of pressed in a crush – me, Barbara Boxer, Strom Thurmond, and a ton of other people. And I suddenly noticed what I thought was this like incredible-sized lizard on the sleeve of my coat. And I was listening to – I think Barbara Boxer was talking – so you look down in horror as this thing is moving down your arm, and then I realize that as it then reached down and began to stroke my hand that it was the incredibly wizened fingers of Strom Thurmond who I think had been meaning to reach over and stroke Barbara Boxer’s hand, but had fallen a little short, and ended up stroking mine."
Steyn took this experience in stride, stating:
"What can you do? It’s not often…people are always saying your editors always want you to get up close and personal with these political figures, and I felt, if nothing else, I’d done some serious heavy petting with Strom Thurmond.
But, you know, we live in hyper-partisan times, and that’s fair enough. My view basically of the American situation -- Mark Levin and I were actually talking about this one time, and Mark put it very well: it’s a 50/50 nation and one side has to win, and the other side has to lose. And I tend to agree with that. All that said though, when you’re being groped by Strom Thurmond, it’s important to be able to recognize the comedy in your own side too. I like to think I could always do that."
For more from our interview, in which Steyn discusses one of the most potentially consequential First Amendment cases of the last 50 years (in which Steyn himself is being sued for his global warming-related criticism of climate scientist Michael Mann), and speaks with us about gay marriage, Common Core, the fate of the Western world and much more, be sure to read the full thing here.