Don't Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards

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A new book by New Hampshire's own P. J. O'Rourke means that I have one more thing to stick on my Christmas list. And it worked. It is, of course, quite good. P. J. looks at the current American political scene, and is discouraged. It would be an excellent introductory Political Science text for high schoolers, were it not for the filthy language and advocacy of drinking and cigar smoking. Politics is a broad field, and the book is wide ranging. Some might say rambling and unfocused, but I prefer "wide ranging."

It's tempting to just type in a few quotes from the book. And I will succumb to the temptation. Here's P. J. on health care reform:

What part of the cost of medical treatment is supposed to get reformed? The cost, or our cost? Somehow, in the mouths of politicians, it's always both. The quality of health care will increase, the quantity of health care will increase, the number of people receiving health care will increase, and therefore health care will cost less. […]

Something doesn't add up. Politicians are telling me that I can smoke, drink, gain two hundred pounds, then win an iron man triathalon at age ninety-five.

On Citizen's United, the Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance:

President Obama called the Supreme Court ruling "a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies…" At which point he seemed to run out of kinds of corporations that Americans are ticked at. "…and other powerful interests," he said. Surely, if the president had thought for a moment, he would have added, "…those people who call in the middle of dinner and want you to switch cell phone services."

Climate change? It's the shortest chapter in the book, one page, and here it is in its entirety:

There's not a goddamn thing you can do about it. Maybe climate change is a threat, and maybe climate change has been tarted up by climatologists trolling for research grant cash. It doesn't matter. There are 1.3 billion people in China, and they all want a Buick. Actually, if you go more than a mile or two outside China's big cities, the wants are more basic. People want a hot plate and a piece of methane-emitting cow to cook on it. They want a carbon-belching moped, and some CO2-disgorging heat in their houses in the winter. And air-conditioning wouldn't be considered an imposition, if you've ever been to China in the summer.

Now, I want you to dress yourself in sturdy clothing and arm yourself however you like—a stiff shot of gin would be my recommendation—and I want you to go tell 1.3 billion Chinese they can never have a Buick.

Then, assuming the Sierra Club helicopter has rescued you in time, I want you to go tell a billion people in India the same thing.

A few pages in the penultimate chapter involve an interview with then-Senator John E. Sununu; I predict a lot of my fellow Granite Staters will read this with intense pangs of sadness. Why did John E. first run for Congress?

When then New Hampshire House seat came open," he said, "I looked at the other people who had announced. I came to the conclusion that if I didn't run, New Hampshire would be represented by another trial lawyer."

Well, at least we had him in there for awhile. P. J. notes what came next:

The Democrat who defeated John Sununu in 2008, former New Hampshire governor Jeanne Shaheen, is not a trial lawyer—her husband is. Shaheen is a product of the only institution capable of making our lives more miserable than the law courts. She is a schoolteacher.

You probably won't agree with everything P. J. has to say—I didn't—but you'll have a good time figuring out why not.

Last Modified 2012-09-29 6:34 AM EDT