Tuesday, February 15, 2022

PJ O'Rourke

I am very sorry to hear of his passing. I liked much of his material, especially including Parliament of Whores, Give War a Chance, Eat The Rich, and Don't Vote! It Just Encourages the Bastards.  (Eat The Rich should be a required high-school textbook.) I have quoted him many times over the years and written about him from time to time. He was entirely willing to support military intervention by the US, but his libertarianism made him very suspicious of nation-building.  I think he proved out there.  The Colin Powell "If you break it, you own it" doctrine is a cute line, but turned out to be a terrible foundation for policy. O'Rourke pointed out many times that what we said we were going to do at the outset of a war seldom turned out to be what we actually did.

Good quotes of his in general.  Favorites of mine I have quoted in the past: 

I usually vote with the Republicans because they have fewer ideas. But not few enough.

The purpose of voting is not to elect great men, but to vote the bastards out.

There are a billion people in China.  And every man-jack of them wants a Buick.

I have heard him speak to small groups here in NH, where he eventually moved, down near the central border near where we vacation. He did not like Trump at all in 2016, believing he would get us into more unnecessary wars - which was pretty much my worry as well.  I don't think I heard PJ recant that, but I might have missed it.  He was less in the public eye after 2015, and I did not seek him out. Toward the end in early 2020 I heard him deploring the ridiculous spending that Donald was doing while still pretending to be a friend of conservatives, but I never heard what he thought after that or about that election. I felt the same way about the $, and still do.  I voted for the bastard, but the way conservatives could overlook the trillions he was forking over because they felt good about his "owning the libs" irritated me. Somehow the populists forgot that we are always voting for the lesser of two evils - and he was - and got excited about him instead.  Never a good sign.

Despite losing his perspective and endorsing Hillary in 2016, I think history will be kind to him.


james said...

I also liked Holidays in Hell.

james said...

Or Harry

Unknown said...

Last year, P.J. put out "Eat the Rich" as a free pdf, with a new introduction and commentary on what had changed since he wrote it in the 90s.


Kansas Scout said...

I agree with you here. If people really think the GOP is going to save us think again. Trump as well. He spent almost as much as Obama, just 1 trillion less than Obama's 9 trillion. By 2024 no one will have the option to spend that kind of money. There will be no miracle. We are screwed.

dmoelling said...

PJ wrote some really good stuff on economics (always with a wry sense). I get the impression he was a libertarian that really got hooked on the power of the Free Market. What bothered him the most about Trump was not his crude manners (anyone writing for the old National Lampoon would not have been too upset) but that he had no real political creed. He was a business hanger on who had no real understanding of a national economy. I saw Rush Limbaugh wrestle with this early in the Trump rise and have to give up in the face of populists.

PJ was too smart and too good natured to tolerate this so he gave up (plus he had health issues).

Assistant Village Idiot said...

That sounds about right, on all points. Trump was, and remains, a populist, and on the center-left to the far right those have a lot of overlap with conservative causes, and even more overlap with rhetoric of the fire-breathers. He could therefore bull his way through to get conservative things accomplished that actual conservatives never did. But it was otherwise not reliable.

PenGun said...

I was found of PJ, he was a reasonable man. Worth looking at the 2 'Have I got News For You' episodes he was in.