Saturday, January 06, 2007

Court Jester

Saturday's Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd; alt. free link) contains an interview of soi-disant humorist P.J. O'Rourke by Joseph Rago -- the latter having just survived the blog onslaught that occurred when he described blogs as "Written by fools to be read by imbeciles." Anyway, O'Rourke seems to have become the thinking man's Dennis Miller, in which semi-informed bar stool utterances become the basis for deep policy prescriptions, most of which happily coincide with the policies of George W. Bush. In the midst of his various analyses, there is the Irish Question --

I have no idea if some societies, anthropologically speaking, aren't really suited for democracy. I don't think that's true. But there certainly are societies that just love to fight. Northern Ireland, for instance. You couldn't stop that problem because they were having fun -- they were really, really enjoying themselves. It would still be going on full-force today if the sons of bitches hadn't accidentally gotten rich. What happened was, more and more people started getting cars, and television sets, and got some vacation time down in Spain, and it wasn't that they wanted to stop fighting and killing each other and being lunatics, but they got busy and forgot.

Mixed in with all these questionable assertions (note the absence of any role for the hard men having worn themselves out) is the possibility that he's confused Northern Ireland with the Republic, where the story of sudden gains in wealth is much more applicable.

The article also implies, reflecting the interviewer's previous concerns, that O'Rourke's act was funnier before a certain class of New Media adopted it --

When Mr. O'Rourke set out into the world after a youthful Maoist phase (it was, after all, the '60s) there was an element of novelty to his insouciance, and his beliefs, like the larger movement of which he was a part, constituted their own kind of insurgency. Now, all that was fresh and scandalous then has become the stock-in-trade of every other pundit, blogger and radio-show bore, while the right has also made its own establishment -- and correctness, of any kind, cripples humor.

The apparent consequence of bloggers stealing his method is that he's been forced to read Adam Smith in search of novel material, which is maybe not a bad thing since he seems to have believed in 2003 that an Invisible Hand would magically look after reconstruction in Iraq.

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