Category Archives: Age and Guile and P.J. O’Rourke

The satirist who predicts the future

Quote for the Day

The best reason to read National Review is Florence King.  She has a column and a book review in this issue, making the magazine twice as good.  Her review is of P.J. O’Rourke’s Driving Like Crazy, and she has this gem:

This man really does love cars, so some readers will be lost when he lapses into good-ol’-boy mode, e.g., “a hydraulic-fluid-filled device with variable pitch blades that delivered power from the 322-cubic-inch V-8 . . .” I have no idea what that means, but I can see Russia from my house.

His prose occasionally goes over the top, as in his description of the pink goo oozing from Ralph Nader’s crushed skull, but he atones for it with this: “The American automobile industry . . . will live on in some form, a Marley’s ghost dragging its corporate chains at taxpayer expense.” I forget whether that’s called a simile or a metaphor, but an English sentence never had a better tune-up. P. J. O’Rourke might be mad, bad, and dangerous to know, but he can write like an angel.

One more book for my to read list.

The blood runs colder

Rod Dreher on conservatism’s problems [emphasis added]:

Today, the greatest threats to conservative interests come not from the Soviet Union or high taxes, but from too much individual freedom. Look around you: Americans have been poor stewards of our economic liberty, owing to cultural values that celebrate unfettered materialism. Our families and communities have fragmented, in part because we have embraced an ethic of extreme individualism. Climate change and a peak in oil production threaten our future because we have been irresponsible caretakers of the natural world and its resources. At best, the religious right stood ineffectively against these trends. At worst, we preached them, mistaking consumerism for conservatism.

All political problems, traditional conservatism teaches, are ultimately religious problems because they result from disordered souls. In the era now dawning, Americans will learn again to live within limits — and together. Religious conservatives are philosophically positioned to lead the way, but we can’t do it by pouring new wine into old skins.

We’re going to have to learn to think and talk in terms — and not overtly religious ones — of building up civil society and its mediating institutions.


Yowza.  Did Dreher just declare war on the libertarians?  P.J. O’Rourke’s response to this mindset should be recalled:

There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.

The civil war on the right is going to interesting . . .