Tuesday, 2 November 2010


There's some vim in O'Rourke's zingers, but sometimes the vim is of a slapdash sort. From a recent Guardian piece (scroll down to the bottom):
Liberals have invented whole college majors – psychology, sociology, women's studies – to prove that nothing is anybody's fault. No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you'd have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers. A callous pragmatist might favour abortion and capital punishment. A devout Christian would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view." Give War a Chance (1992)
There's a wealth of nostril-widening, lip-foam-flecking satirical fun to be had from confusing 'potential people' with 'real people', of course; but I'm not sure O'Rourke takes this as far as he could. I'd prefer something along the lines of: 'wearing a condom condemns literally millions of unborn children to a frutiless, early death. Consider how much you'd have to hate gentiles to deplore the killing of millions of Jews, whilst actively advocating the murder of millions of unborn Christian babies with every single male orgasm! A callous pragmatist might favour condoms and genocide. A devout Catholic would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view.'
There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as caring and sensitive because he wants to expand the government's charitable programs is merely saying that he is willing to do good with other people's money. Well, who isn't? Why I am a Conservative (1996)
It may be that the implied 'nobody' of the last question doesn't articulate a '...because it's a good idea'; but O'Rourke's satire is rather dissolved by that thought. The slippage here is moving silently from 'willing to do good with everybody's money' to 'willing to do good with other people's money'. Communal funds used for communal benefit is hardly the same as me using your credit card to buy myself a new TV.
The idea of a news broadcast once was to find someone with information and broadcast it. The idea now is to find someone with ignorance and spread it around. Peace Kills (2004)
Ah, Fox News! Yes indeed. But here I'd say O'Rourke has a problem keeping up with the reality, satire-wise.
How would Adam Smith fix a mess such as the current recessionary aftermath of a financial collapse? Sorry, but it's fixed already. The answer to a decline in the value of speculative assets is to pay less for them. Job done. Don't Vote (2010)
Financial realligment of value job done. Human misery job left undone. But what Conservative wants to worry about that? Provided, of course, that he or she is wealthy enough not to feel the misery.

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