Sarah from Carnaby Fudge asked me to comment on the book, stating:
Michelle Malkin complained that P.J.'s getting soft and unfunny in his decrepitude, and I really hope this is not the case.Well, I don't think he's getting soft, but the subject matter doesn't really lend itself to laugh-out-loud hilarity. P.J. is just as sharp as ever, IMHO, though.
O'Rourke dedicates the book to Michael Kelly, the Atlantic Monthly editor and Washington Post columnist who died in a Humvee accident in Iraq - to much gloating from the Left, I might add. This is pretty indicative of the fact that a laugh-a-minute is not to be expected. O'Rourke does manage, in his inimitable style, to be wry and amusing from the start nonetheless.
The opening chapter, Why Americans Hate Foreign Policy is classic O'Rourke "theater of the absurd" observations of bureaucratic idiocy, and sharp-tongued assessments of uncomfortable realities. "The night before I left to cover the Iraq war I got drunk with another friend, who works in TV news." he writes. "We were talking about how - as an approach to national security - invading Iraq was . . . different. I'd moved my family from Washington to New Hampshire. My friend was considering getting his family out of New York. 'Don't you hope,' my friend said, 'that all this has been thought through by someone who is smarter than we are?' It is, however, a universal tenet of democracy that no one is."
And that is followed by this:
Americans hate foreign policy. Americans hate foreign policy because Americans hate foreigners. Americans hate foreigners because Americans are foreigners. We all come from foreign lands, even if we came ten thousand years ago on a land bridge across the Bering Strait. We didn't want anything to do with those Ice Age Siberians, them with the itchy cave-bear-pelt underwear and mammoth meat on their breath. We were off to the the Pacific Northwest - great salmon fishing, blowout potluck dinners, a whole new life.Ayup.
America is not "globally conscious" or "multicultural." Americans didn't come to America to be Limey Poofters, Frog-Eaters, Bucket Heads, Micks, Spicks, Sheenies, or Wogs. If we'd wanted foreign entaglements, we would have stayed home. Or - in the particular case of those of us who were shipped to America against our will, as slaves, exiles, or transported prisoners - we would have gone back. Events in Liberia and the kind of American who lives in Paris tell us what to think of that.
Chapter two, Kosovo, discusses the apparent futility of peacekeeping efforts there:
In a background briefing a British Colonel said, "Out of a prewar Serbian population of thirty thousand, there are eight hundred and seventy-five Serbs left in Pristina."Chapter Three is entitled Israel. Too much to excerpt, but another soon-to-be-oft-quoted O'Rourkeism:
"Exactly eight hundred and seventy-five?" I asked.
"Exactly." And (more visions of Saint Nick as NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe) the colonel knew when the Serbs were sleeping. He knew when they were awake. He had 250 of his men living with the Serbs.
"Living with them and doing what?" I asked.
"Keeping them alive."
In politics, as opposed to reality, everything is zero-sum.Chapter four goes for the real hilarity. It's entitled 9/11 Diary. (Can't imagine what Malkin might be thinking!) Much of this chapter is spent illustrating the vacuity of the protesting Left. It would be infuriating but for O'Rourke's descriptive style - sadly descriptive ridicule.
Back in Washington, I went to a peace rally on September 29 at Freedom Plaza, near the White House. Several thousand people attended. As I arrived, a man on the speaker's platform was saying, "We cannot permit the president of our country to claim there are only two forces - good and evil. We are not with either."(Wanna bet?) It goes downhill from there. Not O'Rourke's descriptions, but the described.
Toward the end of the chapter, you get a little feel for O'Rorke's emotion on the topic. Discussing the outcome of the still-unsolved anthrax attacks, he comments:
Aren't we supposed to be a big, terrifying country, a Godzilla of capitalism wrecking the globe? Since when did Godzilla flip out because he might have brushed against something in the mail room while he was devouring Trenton, New Jersey? Since when did Godzilla turn (devastating) tail and scamper to Mexico to buy Cipro over the counter? I trusted this was a momentary lapse. And I hoped that Osama bin Laden was discovering, amid smart bombs and Delta Forces in Afghanistan, that America isn't scared, America is scary. The members of al Qaeda had gotten dressed up in their holy-warrior costume and gone trick-or-treating at the wrong house.O'Rourke is not funny in this book, but his observations are as razor-sharp and razor-witted as always. He's mad, sad, and emotionally wrought here, and it shows, but he's honest, forthright, and unflinching.
I recommend it.