modern weekly standard: a punditry book for idiots

When I was in high school, one year while I was at some camp or another I was introduced to my roommate’s copy of P.J. O’Rourke’s Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People. I’m sure if I read it again today, much (seriously, much) older, familiar with P.J. O’Rourke’s oeuvre and with a better sense of the privileged white conservative subtext of the whole thing, I’d find it less funny, but at the time I thought it was hysterical. I read a couple more of his books before I lost interest and similarly thought they were funny, but not as funny as Modern Manners. I never read his stuff anymore, but I’m sure he’s still funny, you know? I mean you don’t lose your ability to be funny, even when you lurch out onto the right wing fringe.


"Actually, cha-cha..."
“Actually, cha-cha…”

Well, I’m sure somebody still finds him funny. But anyway, here’s this thing what P.J wrote about how President Obama is so stupid, I mean come on, this is sure to be a laugh riot!

“You’re stupid,” is not something even his most severe critics usually say to President Barack Obama. But on Friday morning I picked up the Wall Street Journal and learned that the president had given a speech about the war on terror saying, “This war, like all wars, must end.”

HAHAHA YEAH WHAT A STUPID FU–WAIT WHAT? He said that it might be nice if we weren’t always and forever to be at war with Eastasia the emotion of terror, and this is what makes him stupid? Sheesh, P.J., you know he maybe didn’t even mean it, right?

That story was at the top of the front page. Immediately below was a photograph of flowers being laid at a makeshift memorial near the Woolwich Royal Arsenal where machine gunner Lee Rigby was hacked to death by terrorists.

Ah, OK. So no end to the war until all knife-related violence is a thing of the past. I guess?

This war, like all wars, must end when someone wins it.

Now that is something that is not a Stupid Thing to Write, and nobody who wrote such a thing would ever be considered a Stupid Person. I don’t think P.J. was the first one to go there, though:

But anyway P.J, you were saying?

The president—speaking at the National Defense University, of all places—said, “the core of al Qaeda . . . is on the path to defeat.” And so it may be. But meanwhile, the core of al Qaeda, its aims and its beliefs, is also on the path to Boston and London and any number of other places.

On page 7 of Friday’s Journal was the headline, “Suicide Bombings in Niger Linked to Mali Islamist Group.” On page 9 was a report of terrorist Hezbollah militias aiding the terrorist Assad regime in attacking the rebel-held Syrian city of Qusayr where the rebels themselves are allied with yet more Islamic terrorists. And on pages 4 and 8 were more bad tidings from that perpetrator, abettor, and friend of terrorism, Iran. Iranian fundamentalists, in the chokehold they have on the country’s political system, are improving their grip. And, “according to current and former U.S. officials,” Iran has “escalated a campaign of cyberassaults against U.S. corporations. . . . The hackers were able to gain access to control-system software that could allow them to manipulate oil or gas pipelines.”

So, wait, now Hizbullah is al-Qaeda, and Bashar Assad is al-Qaeda, and Iran is al-Qaeda too? And “suicide bombings in Niger linked to Mali Islamist Group” are not only al-Qaeda but al-Qaeda Coming to Get Us? Well, at least P.J. got the part about some of the Syrian rebels being al-Qaeda right. U R NOT STOOPIT LIEK TEH PREISDENT PEEJ!

And you say that Iran is engaged in cyber attacks against US interests? My god, what despicable terrorists they are! Iran is like al-Qaeda times a thousand! Goodness knows that we here in the United States of A would never engage in such horrific and warlike behaviors against another sovereign nation!

I like the president’s use of the word “efforts” here, as though he’s merely trying to be stupid. He doesn’t need to try. Earlier in the week he signed new policy guidance for drone strikes. In the future we will use lethal drones only on terrorists who are a “continuing and imminent threat to the American people” and not on terrorists who are a “significant threat to U.S. interests.” Although, assuming tremendously stupid efforts will be made to tell the two kinds of terrorists apart, maybe I’m wrong about the president not needing to try. The policy guidance also stipulates that there “must be a near certainty” that civilians won’t be killed or injured in a drone strike. Imagine how stupid a WWII Army Air Corps briefing officer would have had to be to say that to his B-17 pilots.

zOMG President Obamas R SOOOOOOOOOOOOO STOOPID! I mean, what kind of idiot stops trying to straight blow up as many people as he can for whatever reason? NOBODY IN WWII WAS THIS STUPID. You fucking carpet bombed whoever and whenever and nobody said shit about it! And everybody knows that US missile and bomb technology is exactly the same today as it was 75 years ago, so there is no reason to expect that our military could engage in more precise strikes now than they could then. Only a total stupid would think stupid things like that.

Ha! Stupid!

Tell me, P.J., why don’t you pundits tell President Obama, “You’re stupid”?

Maybe we pundits don’t tell President Obama, “You’re stupid,” because we are proudly showing off our sensitivity to the negative stereotypes that hurtful language engenders in a way that we didn’t feel was necessary when we were telling Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush, “You’re stupid,” even though actors, WASPs, and Texans are burdened with their fair share of negative lamebrain stereotypes.

More likely it’s because we pundits prize signs of intelligence. We take every opportunity to display our own signs, and President Obama exhibits the same wordy, wonky, academic intelligence indicators that we do, so we don’t call him stupid.

I’m starting to wonder who this “we” is.

But what’s the most likely reason that “we” don’t call President Obama stupid, P.J.?

But the most likely reason that we don’t call President Obama stupid is that it’s such a cul-de-sac of a word. Stupid gives the pundit nothing to perform punditry upon. Call a man ignorant and you have license to show the world your vast fund of knowledge and wise him up. Call a man misguided and you transform your column or blog post or TV appearance into a valuable and beneficent German shepherd with a handle on its back and you lead the poor soul in his blindness. Call a man, best of all, wicked and you get to don the sacramental vestments, climb into the pulpit and thunder forth with such a sermon as to bring him weeping to the font of righteousness or cause the Lord God Almighty to strike him with a thunderbolt in his pew or something fun like that. But call a man stupid and . . . there it is.

Yeah, you’re right on here, Peej. It is stupid not to call people stupid just so you can have some reason to make yourself sound smart, especially when all you wind up doing (present company excluded OBVIOUSLY) is to make yourself look REALLY stupid instead. I could go into more painful detail about how you apparently have no idea what “terrorism” or “al-Qaeda” are beyond “stuff that scares me,” or talk about how folks like you thought it was High Treason to question our previous president’s intellect, yet you write something like this on Memorial Day, but I don’t want to be the kind of stupid person who is afraid to just call somebody “stupid,” the end.

P.J. O’Rourke, you are stupid. Let’s just leave it there.

Yep, stupid.
Yep, stupid.


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