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
What part of the cost of medical treatment is supposed to get reformed?
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
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
On Citizen's United, the Supreme Court ruling on campaign
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
-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
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
you'll have a good time figuring out why not.