The dinosaur is wearing a “PS” (Parti socialiste) pin in his beret.
Tim Blair offers some quotations as commentary on the French election.
P.J. O’Rourke in 2008:
France is a treasure to mankind. French ideas, French beliefs, and French actions form a sort of loadstone for humanity. Because a moral compass needle needs a butt end. Whatever direction France is pointing in—toward Nazi collaboration, Communism, existentialism, Jerry Lewis movies, or President Sarkozy’s personal life—you can go the other way with a clear conscience.
French voters elected François Hollande as president on Sunday, giving the country a Socialist leader who has pledged to shift the burden of hardship to the rich and resolve the protracted euro-zone sovereign-debt crisis by softening the current prescription of austerity.
Time to haul right and stomp welfare. History is our guide.
UPDATE. Iowahawk: “If white people are so smart, then how do you explain Europe?”
P.J. O’Rourke isn’t fooled. The American elites claim to represent the interests of the poor in order to credential their own class’s power grabs as a worthy cause, but their real attitude toward people who fail to perform satisfactorily in the meritocratic rat race is one of utter contempt and complete intolerance.
[P]oor people don’t have a lot of pleasures. Sure, they have more sex than progressive elites. But somehow, for poor people, the sex always ends up in illegitimate children or HIV or some bum of a boyfriend instead of leading to, as it does for elites, a Reichian release of primordial cosmic energy or the wonderful self-fulfillment and midlife reawakening of a new divorce. And, yes, the poor have drugs and alcohol, but these bring them nothing but grief. They’re not at all like the subtle and refined delights of a 300-bottle wine cellar or the therapeutic relief from Zoloft, Lexapro, Elavil, Ambien, Halcion, Xanax, beta blockers, Levitra, and Cialis.
And poor people do have a lot of troubles. Sometimes, when you’ve got a crap job and are going to get laid off from it besides and your crack-head daughter has three kids by four fathers and your oldest son is on the front in Afghanistan and your youngest son can’t decide which drug crew to join and the cable company has cut off service and somebody’s jimmying the twelfth lock on the sheet-metal door, you’d like to sit down on your own damn chair in your own damn kitchen and have a smoke.
Well, forget it. The progressive elites are already charging you $7 for that pack of king-size filter tips, and pretty soon they’re going to add the price of eviction. Because they hate your guts.
The elites who denounce poverty despise the poor. Their every high-minded, right-thinking “poverty program” proves this detestation—from the bulldozing of vibrant tenement communities to the drug law policing policies that send poor kids to prison and rich kids to rehab to the humiliation of food stamps and free school lunches to the loathsome inner-city public schools where those free lunches are slopped onto cafeteria trays.
Vote for them anyway, P.J. O’Rourke advises. The alternative is democrats, and they hate our guts.
Perhaps you’re having a tiny last minute qualm about voting Republican. Take heart. And take the House and the Senate. Yes, there are a few flakes of dander in the fair tresses of the GOP’s crowning glory—an isolated isolationist or two, a hint of gold buggery, and Christine O’Donnell announcing that she’s not a witch. (I ask you, has Hillary Clinton ever cleared this up?) Fret not over Republican peccadilloes such as the Tea Party finding the single, solitary person in Nevada who couldn’t poll ten to one against Harry Reid. Better to have a few cockeyed mutts running the dog pound than Michael Vick.
I take it back. Using the metaphor of Michael Vick for the Democratic party leadership implies they are people with a capacity for moral redemption who want to call good plays on the legislative gridiron. They aren’t. They don’t. The reason is simple. They hate our guts.
They don’t just hate our Republican, conservative, libertarian, strict constructionist, family values guts. They hate everybody’s guts. And they hate everybody who has any.
My dad once owned a 1960 Chevrolet Bel Air
P.J. O’Rourke wrote an elegy for the American Automobile, murdered by federal regulators, union leeches, and socialist looters.
Pointy-headed busybodies of the environmentalist, new urbanist, utopian communitarian ilk blamed the victim. They claimed the car had forced us to live in widely scattered settlements in the great wasteland of big-box stores and the Olive Garden. If we would all just get on our Schwinns or hop a trolley, they said, America could become an archipelago of cozy gulags on the Portland, Ore., model with everyone nestled together in the most sustainably carbon-neutral, diverse and ecologically unimpactful way,
But cars didn’t shape our existence; cars let us escape with our lives. We’re way the heck out here in Valley Bottom Heights and Trout Antler Estates because we were at war with the cities. We fought rotten public schools, idiot municipal bureaucracies, corrupt political machines, rampant criminality and the pointy-headed busybodies. Cars gave us our dragoons and hussars, lent us speed and mobility, let us scout the terrain and probe the enemy’s lines. And thanks to our cars, when we lost the cities we weren’t forced to surrender, we were able to retreat.
But our poor cars paid the price. They were flashing swords beaten into dull plowshares. Cars became appliances. Or worse. Nobody’s ticked off at the dryer or the dishwasher, much less the fridge. We recognize these as labor-saving devices. The car, on the other hand, seems to create labor. We hold the car responsible for all the dreary errands to which it needs to be steered. Hell, a golf cart’s more fun. You can ride around in a golf cart with a six-pack, safe from breathalyzers, chasing Canada geese on the fairways and taking swings at gophers with a mashie.
We’ve lost our love for cars and forgotten our debt to them and meanwhile the pointy-headed busybodies have been exacting their revenge. We escaped the poke of their noses once, when we lived downtown, but we won’t be able to peel out so fast the next time. In the name of safety, emissions control and fuel economy, the simple mechanical elegance of the automobile has been rendered ponderous, cumbersome and incomprehensible. One might as well pry the back off an iPod as pop the hood on a contemporary motor vehicle. An aging shade-tree mechanic like myself stares aghast and sits back down in the shade. Or would if the car weren’t squawking at me like a rehearsal for divorce. You left the key in. You left the door open. You left the lights on. You left your dirty socks in the middle of the bedroom floor.
I don’t believe the pointy-heads give a damn about climate change or gas mileage, much less about whether I survive a head-on with one of their tax-sucking mass-transit projects. All they want to is to make me hate my car. How proud and handsome would Bucephalas look, or Traveler or Rachel Alexandra, with seat and shoulder belts, air bags, 5-mph bumpers and a maze of pollution-control equipment under the tail?
And there’s the end of the American automobile industry. When it comes to dull, practical, ugly things that bore and annoy me, Japanese things cost less and the cup holders are more conveniently located.
The American automobile is—that is, was—never a product of Japanese-style industrialism. America’s steel, coal, beer, beaver pelts and PCs may have come from our business plutocracy, but American cars have been manufactured mostly by romantic fools. David Buick, Ransom E. Olds, Louis Chevrolet, Robert and Louis Hupp of the Hupmobile, the Dodge brothers, the Studebaker brothers, the Packard brothers, the Duesenberg brothers, Charles W. Nash, E. L. Cord, John North Willys, Preston Tucker and William H. Murphy, whose Cadillac cars were designed by the young Henry Ford, all went broke making cars. The man who founded General Motors in 1908, William Crapo (really) Durant, went broke twice. Henry Ford, of course, did not go broke, nor was he a romantic, but judging by his opinions he certainly was a fool.
America’s romantic foolishness with cars is finished, however, or nearly so. In the far boondocks a few good old boys haven’t got the memo and still tear up the back roads. Doubtless the Obama administration’s Department of Transportation is even now calculating a way to tap federal stimulus funds for mandatory OnStar installations to locate and subdue these reprobates.
P.J. O’Rourke is bitter about GOP’s recent defeat, and contends that we conservatives have only ourselves to blame.
In the manner of sophisticated libertarians, he blames, firstly, conservatism’s reliance on non-elite Southerners and people of faith. I’m afraid I don’t agree with the we’d-be-winning-if we-just-kept-the-conservative-movement-for-the-Yuppies-like-us theory. We really do need a few more votes to win nationally. I was actually beginning to wonder if he would start complaining about Sarah Palin and marvelling at how articulate and really really deep Barack Obama is.
Still, I think he’s quite right about prominent portions of the movement being dead wrong on immigration. “Keep those hard-working Roman Catholics with strong family values out of here!” Obama carried the Hispanics, despite McCain’s record of sympathy toward illegal immigrants. McCain was obviously severely disadvantaged by the general GOP party line favoring border fences, heavy-handed immigration law enforcement, and deportations.
Despite certain tendencies toward effete Northeastern elitism, P.J. O’Rourke is witty as ever, and does make some good points.
Let us bend over and kiss our ass goodbye. Our 28-year conservative opportunity to fix the moral and practical boundaries of government is gone—gone with the bear market and the Bear Stearns and the bear that’s headed off to do you-know-what in the woods on our philosophy.
An entire generation has been born, grown up, and had families of its own since Ronald Reagan was elected. And where is the world we promised these children of the Conservative Age? Where is this land of freedom and responsibility, knowledge, opportunity, accomplishment, honor, truth, trust, and one boring hour each week spent in itchy clothes at church, synagogue, or mosque? It lies in ruins at our feet, as well it might, since we ourselves kicked the shining city upon a hill into dust and rubble. The progeny of the Reagan Revolution will live instead in the universe that revolves around Hyde Park.
Mind you, they won’t live in Hyde Park. Those leafy precincts will be reserved for the micromanagers and macro-apparatchiks of liberalism—for Secretary of the Department of Peace Bill Ayers and Secretary of the Department of Fairness Bernardine Dohrn. The formerly independent citizens of our previously self-governed nation will live, as I said, around Hyde Park. They will make what homes they can in the physical, ethical, and intellectual slums of the South Side of Chicago.
The South Side of Chicago is what everyplace in America will be once the Democratic administration and filibuster-resistant Democratic Congress have tackled global warming, sustainability, green alternatives to coal and oil, subprime mortgage foreclosures, consumer protection, business oversight, financial regulation, health care reform, taxes on the “rich,” and urban sprawl. The Democrats will have plenty of time to do all this because conservatism, if it is ever reborn, will not come again in the lifetime of anyone old enough to be rounded up by ACORN and shipped to the polling booths.
None of this is the fault of the left. After the events of the 20th century—national socialism, international socialism, inter-species socialism from Earth First—anyone who is still on the left is obviously insane and not responsible for his or her actions. No, we on the right did it. ...
Although I must say we’re doing good work on our final task—attaching the garden hose to our car’s exhaust pipe and running it in through a vent window. Barack and Michelle will be by in a moment with some subsidized ethanol to top up our gas tank. And then we can turn the key.
I looked death in the face. All right, I didn’t. I glimpsed him in a crowd. I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, of a very treatable kind. I’m told I have a 95% chance of survival. Come to think of it—as a drinking, smoking, saturated-fat hound—my chance of survival has been improved by cancer.
P.J. O’Rourke remembers the good old times when Good King Ronald ruled the land:
Weren’t the eighties grand? Cash grew on trees or, anyway, coca bushes. The rich roamed the land in vast herds hunted by proud, free tribes of investment brokers who lived a simple life in tune with money. Every wristwatch was a Rolex. Every car was a Mercedes-Benz. A fellow could romance a gal without shrink-wrapping his privates and negotiating the Treaty of Ghent. Communist dictators were losing their jobs, not presidents of America and General Motors. Women wore Adolfo gowns instead of dumpy federal circuit court judge robes. The Malcolm who mattered was Forbes. Bill Clinton was only a microscopic polyp in the colon of national politics, and Hillary was still in flight school, hadn’t even soloed on her broom. What a blast we were having. The suburbs had just discovered Martha Stewart, the cities had just discovered crack. So many parties and none of them Democratic…Back then health care was a tummy tuck, not an inalienable right. If you wanted a better environment, you went to Laura Ashley.”
The problem on the left is, now that Karl Marx has forsaken them, they have no philosophy. Thank goodness. Think what evil creeps liberals would be if their plans to enfeeble the individual, exhaust the economy, impede the rule of law, and cripple national defense were guided by a coherent ideology instead of smug ignorance.
The always entertaining Mr. O’Rourke talked about politicians, politics, and the 2008 election at a recent Cato Institute Benefactors’ shindig.
The problem is not really politicians. The problem is politics. Politicians are chefs— some good, some bad—but politics is road kill. The problem isn’t the cook. The problem is the cookbook. The key ingredient of politics is the idea that all of society’s ills can be cured politically. It’s like a cookbook where the recipe for everything is to fry it. The fruit cocktail is fried. The soup is fried. The salad is fried. So is the ice cream and cake. And your pinot noir is rolled in breadcrumbs and dunked in the deep fat fryer. It is just no way to cook up public policy. Politics is greasy. Politics is slippery. Politics can’t tell the truth. ...
There is only one number that matters in politics. And you may think that that’s the number of votes, but that’s not the number. The number that matters in politics is the lowest common denominator. It is the avowed purpose of politics to bring the policies of our nation down to a level where they are good for everyone. No matter how foolish, irresponsible, selfish, grasping, or vile everyone may be, politics seeks fairness for them all. I do not. I am here to speak in favor of unfairness.
I have a 10 year old at home, and she is always saying, “That’s not fair.” When she says that, I say, “Honey, you’re cute; that’s not fair. Your family is pretty well off; that’s not fair. You were born in America; that’s not fair. Honey, you had better pray to God that things don’t start getting fair for you.”
P.J. O’Rourke visits an aircraft carrier and becomes a fan of John McCain’s.
Some say John McCain’s character was formed in a North Vietnamese prison. I say those people should take a gander at what John chose to do—voluntarily. Being a carrier pilot requires aptitude, intelligence, skill, knowledge, discernment, and courage of a kind rarely found anywhere but in a poem of Homer’s or a half gallon of Dewar’s. I look from John McCain to what the opposition has to offer. There’s Ms. Smarty-Pantsuit, the Bosnia-Under-Sniper-Fire poster gal, former prominent Washington hostess, and now the JV senator from the state that brought you Eliot Spitzer and Bear Stearns. And there’s the happy-talk boy wonder, the plaster Balthazar in the Cook County political crèche, whose policy pronouncements sound like a walk through Greenwich Village in 1968: “Change, man? Got any spare change? Change?”
Some people say John McCain isn’t conservative enough. But there’s more to conservatism than low taxes, Jesus, and waterboarding at Gitmo. Conservatism is also a matter of honor, duty, valor, patriotism, self-discipline, responsibility, good order, respect for our national institutions, reverence for the traditions of civilization, and adherence to the political honesty upon which all principles of democracy are based. Given what screw-ups we humans are in these respects, conservatism is also a matter of sense of humor. Heard any good quips lately from Hillary or Barack?
A one-day visit to an aircraft carrier is a lifelong lesson in conservatism. The ship is immense, going seven decks down from the flight deck and ten levels up in the tower. But it’s full, with some 5,500 people aboard. Living space is as cramped as steerage on the way to Ellis Island. Even the pilots live in three-bunk cabins as small and windowless as hall closets. A warship is a sort of giant Sherman tank upon the water. Once below deck you’re sealed inside. There are no cheery portholes to wave from.
McCain could hardly escape understanding the limits of something huge but hermetic, like a government is, and packed with a madding crowd. It requires organization, needs hierarchies, demands meritocracy, insists upon delegation of authority. An intricate, time-tested system replete with checks and balances is not a plaything to be moved around in a doll house of ideology. It is not a toy bunny serving imaginary sweets at a make-believe political tea party. The captain commands, but his whims do not. He answers to the nation.
And yet an aircraft carrier is more an example of what people can do than what government can’t. Scores of people are all over the flight deck during takeoffs and landings. They wear color-coded T-shirts—yellow for flight-directing, purple for fueling, blue for chocking and tying-down, red for weapon-loading, brown for I-know-not-what, and so on. These people can’t hear each other. They use hand signals. And, come night ops, they can’t do that. Really, they communicate by “training telepathy.” They have absorbed their responsibilities to the point that each knows exactly where to be and when and doing what.
These are supremely dangerous jobs. And most of the flight deck crew members are only 19 or 20. Indeed the whole ship is run by youngsters. The average age, officers and all, is about 24. “These are the same kids,” a chief petty officer said, “who, back on land, have their hats bumped to one side and their pants around their knees, hanging out on corners. And here they’re in charge of $35 million airplanes.”
The crew is in more danger than the pilots. If an arresting cable breaks—and they do—half a dozen young men and women could be sliced in half. When a plane crashes, a weapon malfunctions, or a fire breaks out, there’s no ejection seat for the flight deck crew. While we were on the Theodore Roosevelt a memorial service was held for a crew member who had been swept overboard. Would there have been an admiral and a captain of an aircraft carrier and hundreds of the bravest Americans at a memorial service for you when you were 20?
Supposedly the “youth vote” is all for Obama. But it’s John McCain who actually has put his life in the hands of adolescents on a carrier deck. Supposedly the “women’s vote” is . . . well, let’s not go too far with this. I can speak to John’s honor, duty, valor, patriotism, etc., but I’m not sure how well his self-discipline would have fared if he’d been on an aircraft carrier with more than 500 beautiful women sailors the way I was. At least John likes women, which is more than we can say about Hillary’s attitude toward, for instance, the women in Bill’s life, who at this point may constitute nearly the majority of the “women’s vote.”
These would have been interesting subjects to discuss with the Theodore Roosevelt shipmates, but time was up.
Back on the COD you’re buckled in and told to brace as if for a crash. Whereupon there is a crash. The catapult sends you squashed against your flight harness. And just when you think that everything inside your body is going to blow out your nose and navel, it’s over. You’re in steady, level flight.
A strange flight it is—from the hard and fast reality of a floating island to the fantasy world of American solid ground. In this never-never land a couple of tinhorn Second City shysters—who, put together, don’t have the life experience of the lowest ranking gob-with-a-swab cleaning a head on the Big Stick—presume to run for president of the United States. They’re not just running against the hero John McCain, they’re running against heroism itself and against almost everything about America that ought to be conserved.
I think PJ is getting a bit overenthusiastic about McCain, but he’s right enough on Hillary and Obama.
P.J. O’Rourke contemplates the twin horrors of the upcoming election.
Watching Republicans in Washington is like watching lemmings, if lemmings jumped into cesspools instead of off cliffs. Splash! There goes Mark Foley!...
Actually, the Republicans should be grateful for their lying, thieving scum. It distracts the public from the things the Republicans have done that are honestly bad. Our postwar policy is creating Weimar Iraq. And when the Islamofascist Beer Hall Putsch comes there won’t even be beer.
Social Security privatization was presented to the electorate with a public relations and marketing flair not seen since New Coke. Intelligence collection has been given an additional bureaucracy to correct the problems created by too much bureaucracy in intelligence collection. “Homeland Security” sounds like a failed 1980s savings and loan. Didn’t Grandma lose $20,000 when Homeland Security went under? Then there’s No Child Left Behind. What if the child deserves to be left behind? What if the child deserves a smack on the behind? We have a national testing program to test whether kids are . . . what? Stupid? You’ve got kids. Kids are stupid.
Immigration policy will fence the border, providing economic stimulus to the Mexican ladder industry. The National Guard is stationed on the Rio Grande—U.S. troops standing between you and yard care…
I am so moved by principle and idealism, so indignantly high-minded, that I’m changing sides. At least the Democrats aren’t hypocritical about being scum. After Gerry Studds was censured for molesting an underaged congressional page, he was reelected six times. Therefore, in the mid term elections, I’m working to get Demo crats into office.
And work it is. There’s the problem of putative speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, whose very name summons images of children coming home from day care madly scratching their scalps. Then, when you see Pelosi speak, it’s impossible not to think of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. I hope her campaign slogan isn’t “A New Kick-Off for America.”
There is also the problem of issues for the Democrats to run on. You’re going to elect Democrats to control government spending? And you’re going to marry Angelina Jolie for her brains. The privacy issue—government spying on U.S. citizens—isn’t going to work. True, NSA has been collecting all our telephone information, but anyone who’s answered the phone during dinner knows that every telemarketer on earth has that information already. Illegal immigration? When the Democrats were in charge, the illegal immigrants were from al Qaeda. And as for Iraq, the best the Democrats have been able to do is make the high school sex promise: “I’ll pull out in time, honest.”