Vale Republican Party Rascal

P.J. O’Rourke, Journalist and satirist (14/11/1947 – 15/2/2022)

O’Rourke was once (c. 2009) a guest on the ABC’s Q & A programme, surrounded by the usual suspects. After listening to the various diatribes, he stated a forceful rhetorical question: “Why does the Left assume we’re all as stupid as they are?

His whole life was filled with such sublime bon mots. Read one of his essays, diary notes or other pieces, and you will find a fair bit of wisdom and a hell of a lot of hilarity. (A firm favourite is his ‘book review’ of “Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life” by Jimmy & Roslyn Carter, in which he creates several parlour games from the trite and absurd text. E.G., ‘Finish That Thought,’ where you “find a Carter thought (‘be sure to allow adequate time!) and take it to its logical conclusion”:

So often, the best therapy for a mentally ill person is just knowing that someone cares.” “SO JIMMY AND I GAVE JOHN HINCKLEY A CALL.”

P(atrick) J(ake) wrote with fiery wit, bombast and a sheer love of life. An early leftist, he grew up and became that despised specimen, the funny conservative (in fact, importantly, that problematic sub-species, the conservative libertarian).  A sui generis columnist who could produce an article entitled: How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink.

A little selection from his written work will illustrate:

“Walt is dead. And, after a couple of hours at Epcot, you’ll wish you were, too.” (Through darkest America: Epcot Center) (1983)

“Bush and Gore also agree on what a wonderful thing technology is. And both men mean to get a clue about it soon…Easy to picture them…circa 1970 – Al picking up on the hippie thing a little late, ordering his bell-bottoms from the Sears catalog, and George W. in a real National Guard unit, shooting Al.” (The CEO of the Sofa) (2001)

“One of the messengers said, in the voice people use when they’re saying something important, “After today things will never be the same.” Then he seemed to have one of those moments that came to everyone on September 11, with jumbled thoughts alike in size but wildly mismatched in weight – pity, rage, and how to get shirts back from the dry cleaner. “Transportation in the air won’t be as fast,” he said, in a smaller voice.” (Peace Kills) (2004)

“Memo to Europeans: try washing your whole body; believe me, you’d smell better.” (Among the Euro-Weenies) (1986)

“Never complain that the people in power are stupid. It is their best trait. In recent years we’ve seen a variety of powerful figures barter their authority for the gratification of childish vanities.” (On the Wealth of Nations) (2007)

“…government, swollen and arrogant with pelf, goes butting into our business. It checks the amount of tropical oils in our snack foods, tells us what kind of gasoline we can buy for our cars and how fast we can drive them, bosses us around about retirement, education and what’s on TV; counts our noses and asks fresh questions about who’s still living at home and how many bathrooms we have; decides whether the door to our office or shop should have steps or a wheelchair ramp; decrees the gender and complexion of the people to be hired there; lectures us on safe sex; dictates what we can sniff, smoke and swallow; and waylays young men, ships them to distant places and tells them to shoot people they don’t even know.” (Parliament of Whores) (1991)

“They raised their nine whelps in an atmosphere of brutal pride and stupid competition.” [on the Kennedys] (Mordred Had a Point: Camelot Revisited) (1984)

“…insist upon a rating system for music, film, television and the Boston Globe editorial page. A warning would have to be prominently displayed: ‘OH-OH, A PERSON INVOLVED WITH THIS UNAPPEALING ITEM OF MASS COMMUNICATION HOLDS SILLY OPINIONS ON MATTERS ABOUT WHICH HE OR SHE IS LARGELY OR ABYSMALLY UNINFORMED.’ There’d be three ratings: S = Silly  VS = Very Silly  SML = Shirley MacLaine. (Notes Toward a Black List for the 1990s) (1992)

“…if Joe Biden hadn’t been driven from place to place on the campaign trail he might have been driving his own car in typical elderly fashion at 15 mph the wrong way down one-way streets while leaving his turn signal on for half an hour.” (A Cry from the Far Middle) (2020)

“So what’s going to happen at our southern border? Is an enormous, terrifying beaner tidal wave going to roll across our fair nation? Well, we don’t have to worry about that. It already has.” (Mexican border idyll) (1986)

“Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, and then they get elected and prove it.”  (Parliament of Whores) (1991)

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Which may be the most ridiculous political economic idea that anybody has ever had.” (Why Kids R Commies) (2020)

“Being woke is a parody of being born again – instead of you accepting Jesus, people like Jesus (Cisgender normative, famously well-connected father) have to accept you.” (A Cry from the Far Middle) (2020)

“It’s hard to face the truth, but I suppose you yourself realize that if you’d had just a little more courage, just a little more strength of character, you could have been dead by now. No such luck.” (How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink) (1987)

“A government house-building orgy won’t work because one third of the homeless are crazy and will jump out the windows and one third are screwed up on drink and drugs and will sell the plumbing. The rest have primarily economic problems, but we can keep giving them free housing forever, and it won’t help. The law of supply and demand tells us that when the price of something is artificially set below market level there will soon be none of that thing left – as you may have noticed the last time you tried to buy something for nothing.” (Among the Compassion Fascists: The National March for Housing Now!) (1989)

“And worrying is less work than doing something to fix the worry. This is especially true if we’re careful to pick the biggest possible problems to worry about. Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help mom do the dishes…The spectre of biosphere doom serves the mystical needs of people too sloppy and self-indulgent for regular religion.” (All the Trouble in the World) (1994)

“Today’s students…are cognizant of the origins of poverty but ignorant of the origins of wealth.” (A Cry from the Far Middle) (2020)

“What I believed in the sixties – Everything. You name it and I believed it. I believed love was all you need. I believed you should be here now. I believed drugs could make everyone a better person. I believed I could hitchhike to California with thirty-five cents and people would be glad to feed me. I believed Mao was cute. I believed private property was wrong. I believed my girlfriend was a witch. I believed my parents were Nazi space monsters. I believed the university was putting saltpeter in the cafeteria food. I believed stones had souls. I believed Lyndon Johnson was plotting to murder all the Negroes. I believed Yoko Ono was an artist. I believed Bob Dylan was a musician. I believed I would live forever or until twenty-one, whichever came first. I believed the world was about to end. I believed the Age of Aquarius was about to happen. I believed the I Ching said to cut classes and take over the dean’s office. I believed wearing my hair long would end poverty and injustice. I believed there was a great throbbing web of psychic mucus and we were all part of it somehow. I managed to believe Gandhi and H. Rap Brown at the same time. With the exception of anything my mom and dad said, I believed everything.” (Give War a Chance) (1992)




1 Comment

  1. Reply


    June 16, 2022

    Hi Peter,
    Excellent review. PJ was one of a kind. The wit, humour and incisive analysis delivered simultaneously. The only Australian equivalent that comes to mind is The Mocker, the anonymous journalist that writes for The Oz on Thursdays.
    Most enjoyable read.

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