Being part of the Naples Town Hall Distinguished Speaker Series affords Naples residents and visitors the opportunity to interact with some of the world’s most influential people. A treasured aspect of this job for me is communicating with these speakers before and after they grace our podiums.
P.J. O’Rourke is a Town Hall alumnus from 2009 and one of the best-loved political satirists in American literary history. Known for the brilliant cadence that flows throughout his work, he’s written more than a dozen books, including “Eat the Rich,” “On the Wealth of Nations,” “Republican Party Reptile” and “Don’t Vote — It Just Encourages the Bastard.” Mr. O’Rourke also contributes to The Weekly Standard, House and Garden, Foreign Policy, The New York Times Book Review and The Atlantic Monthly, among others. His wit is out of this world, quite literally. For example, in his “Candidates in Orbit” story for The Weekly Standard (April 2012), he wrote: “I sat in on a briefing by an officer from the part of the military that gathers satellite intelligence. The briefing was more or less classified (‘Eyes, Ears, Nose and Throat Only’ or something).” He has also called out some of the world’s largest media outlets and continues to cover issues in a way that only he can.
As our guest four years ago, Mr. O’Rourke shared his views on the just-inaugurated Democratic president. He also shared a few predictions. With the 2012 election just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to catch up with him again. As usual, he didn’t disappoint.
Q: Your last appearance at Naples Town Hall was right after the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Your brilliant satire was both biting and prophetically accurate. How have your opinions of this president changed since those early days?
A: He still seems like a nice young man who applied for a position teaching a course in Community Organizing at a junior college, filled out the wrong form, and accidentally got the job of president of the United States. Class participation will account for half the grade we get on Nov. 6.
Q: One of my favorite quotes of yours reads simply: “When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.” We have plenty of both. Would you please provide us with an inoculation against seduction by power and endemic stupidity in government?
A: Government, with all its temptations and all its empty promises, is, indeed, hard to resist. We have to remind ourselves that surrendering our freedoms to government means a committee will run our lives. We’ve all been on committees.
Q: What are your thoughts on Twitter, Facebook, news sites like Huffington Post and the demise of journalism as a formerly exalted art form?
A: “The demise of journalism as a formerly exalted art form” might be no great loss, but Facebook, Twitter and all the other new ways we have to tell the world what we’ve got to say prove Mother’s maxim: “Think before you speak.” Or, as Dad put it: “Shut up.”
Q: Which is the better replacement for the Electoral College: The Presidential Commemorative Edition of the Ouija Board or the new Eight Ball App for iPhone 5?
A: Answer cloudy. Ask again later. Q: If you could be any animal in the world, would you be a mud hen? A: Not if I knew that people like me were out duck hunting. A mud hen is about all I ever seem to bag. You know the recipe: Nail mud hen to board. Boil for 12 hours. Throw away mud hen. Eat board.