P.J. (Patrick Jake) O’Rourke, journalist, satirist and writer, has died:
P.J. O’Rourke, the conservative satirist and political commentator who was unafraid to skewer Democrats and Republicans alike in best-selling books like “Parliament of Whores,” in articles for a wide range of magazines and newspapers, and on television and radio talk shows, died on Tuesday at his home in Sharon, N.H. He was 74.
The cause was complications of lung cancer, said Deb Seager, the director of publicity at Grove/Atlantic, Mr. O’Rourke’s publisher.
Mr. O’Rourke’s political writing was in the caustic tradition of H.L. Mencken. As writers and commentators go, he was something of a celebrity, welcome on talk shows of almost any political bent and known for appearances on NPR’s comedy quiz show “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me.”
He was a proud conservative Republican — one of his books was called “Republican Party Reptile: The Confessions, Adventures, Essays and (Other) Outrages of P.J. O’Rourke” — but he was widely admired by readers of many stripes because of his fearless style and his willingness to mock just about anyone who deserved it, including himself. In “Republican Party Reptile” he recalled his youthful flirtation with Mao Zedong.
“But I couldn’t stay a Maoist forever,” he wrote. “I got too fat to wear bell-bottoms. And I realized that communism meant giving my golf clubs to a family in Zaire.”
In 2010, The New York Times invited him and assorted other prominent people to define “Republican” and “Democrat.” He offered this:
“The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer and remove the crab grass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then get elected and prove it.”
Mr. O’Rourke was prolific. In addition to some 20 books, he wrote a column for The Daily Beast for a time and appeared regularly in The Atlantic, The American Spectator, Rolling Stone and The Weekly Standard, where he was a contributing editor. He was the conservative side of a point-counterpoint segment on “60 Minutes” in the mid-1990s, opposite Molly Ivins, and a guest on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” “The Daily Show,” “Charlie Rose” and other talk shows.
Mr. O’Rourke was most often identified as a political satirist, but his subjects ranged well beyond the political. His first book, published in 1983 (and reissued in 1989), was called “Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People.”
“Good manners can replace intellect by providing a set of memorized responses to almost every situation in life,” he wrote. “Memorized responses eliminate the need for thought. Thought is not a very worthwhile pastime anyway. Thinking allows the brain, an inert and mushy organ, to exert unfair domination over more sturdy and active body parts.” . .
He was renowned for his pithy quotes which include:
Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
You can’t get rid of poverty by giving people money.
Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
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.
To mistrust science and deny the validity of scientific method is to resign your job as a human. You’d better go look for work as a plant or wild animal.
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.
Fiscal conservatism is just an easy way to express something that is a bit more difficult, which is that the size and scope of government, and really the size and scope of politics in our lives, has grown uncomfortable, unwieldy, intrusive and inefficient.
The idea of capitalism is not just success but also the failure that allows success to happen.
When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.