Skip to comments.A timeless P. J. O'Rourke Classic
Posted on 09/14/2002 8:34:29 PM PDT by Noumenon
From a speech given at the CPAC roast of Robert Novak
I know it's late, but I think there's always time for a fair and evenhanded assessment, a nice objective little look, at the Clinton administration:
Simps and ninnies, lava lamp liberals and condo pinks.
Spoiled twerps, racket-jawed purveyors of monkey doodle and baked wind.
They are piddlers upon merit, beggars at the door of accomplishment, thieves of livelihood, envy-coddling tax lice applauding themselves for giving away other people's money.
They are the lap dogs of the poli-sci class, returning to the vomit of liberalism.
They are little pig herders, tending that sow that eats her young - the Welfare State.
They are muck dwelling bottom feeders, growing fat on the worries and disappointments of the electorate.
They are the ditch carp of democracy.
The President and his ilk surpass Kennedy in their arrogance, LBJ in their lack of scruples, and Carter in their plain stupidity.
They are dung beetles in legislation, legislators in the bedchamber, chambermaids in the battlefield and field marshals in the war against everything reasonable and decent.
Such has not been seen in the executive branch since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was wheeled up the disabled access ramp to the Gates of Hell.
But wait... wait. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I have failed to learn anything at all from the marvelous work that has been done in the social sciences over the past three-quarters of a century. Maybe Clinton and his appointees aren't evil. Maybe they're sick. And maybe what we see as disorganization, incompetence, mendacity, folly, pandering and Marxism sold by the glass is actually... a plea for help.
If this is true, and the Clinton administration is a form of mass psychosis, there is only one thing to do - we must return these people to private life as quickly as possible - by impeachment if necessary - and then, once the Clintonites are ordinary citizens again, they will be able to receive the mental health care of which they are in such dire need; and all for free, thanks to the National Health Care Reform spearheaded by the First Lady.
You know, in a way I'm being a little unfair because in fact we owe a great debt of gratitude to the Clinton administration. It is the only thing on earth that could have created Conservative Unity. I also think that we should admit that it is kind of nice to be back in the opposition again for real. No more gentle sparring with the administration, no more striking with the flat of the sword, no more firing blanks.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have GAME in our sights. Clinton is a disaster for the country, but he is meat on our table. What fun it is to turn to Bob (Novak) and say, "Bob, bring the guns down to deck level. And load with grapeshot."
Now, in some ways, being in opposition is where we belong. It is being opposed to big government that defines true conservatism. We know government doesn't work, even when the most brilliant people in the world - us - run it. We know that government is an inefficient means of delivering life's benefits.
Clinton doesn't know this. Clinton thinks Americans can vote themselves richer, vote themselves smarter, vote themselves taller. He probably thinks he can vote some inches off his own waistline.
We know that people have free will and responsibility for their actions.
Clinton thinks people are victims - victims of conservatism. You remember how Ronald Reagan used to like to sneak out of the White House at night and sell crack and get teenaged girls pregnant, right?
We believe in God, Clinton believes in going to church. And Clinton's staff believes that government is the only true church in the modern world.
We believe in freedom and we know there is no freedom without economic liberty. Clinton never had a real job in his life. Never had a real job in his life and won't have another one after 1996.
Clinton people like to say that they are non-ideological. Let me translate - it means they don't know right from wrong.
Clinton people say that they are pragmatists - this means they don't know "can't" from "shouldn't".
I say they are a whining pack of sniveling buttinskis with no understanding of the two fundamental rules of free society - * Mind Your Own Business * Keep Your Hands to Yourself. Keep your hands to yourself, Bill. And Hillary, mind your own business.
Of course, this brings us to a little question: If we're so smart, why aren't we elected? Well, personally I believe it is because we, as conservatives, have concentrated on issues which divide everybody, including ourselves, rather than concentrating on issues which unite the nation.
We are the champions of freedom. Liberals are the champions of statism, dependence and oppression - let us not forget that basic point. And because we conservatives are the champions of freedom, there is always going to be a lot of arguing among us. Arguing is what freedom is all about.
While we are doing that arguing, let us not lose sight of the fact that there is a place for everyone under the conservative rubric. For men, for women, for born-again Christians, for Catholics, for Jews, for Muslims, for mainstream Protestants, for African Americans, for native Americans, whites, Hispanics, for everyone in between, for young people, old people - it may surprise you to hear me say this - for gays, for people on welfare, even for people who teach college.
We've got a conservative mayor of Jersey City. We have room for everyone in our tent because what we stand for is individual responsibility and personal freedom.
And what we can say as Conservatives to all the various and diverse people in the electorate is this: Do you want the Government to control your whole world? Do you want your life to be one endless visit to the Welfare Office? Do you want your children raised by Congress? Do you want the Post Office to perform your kidney transplant? If you do, vote for liberals; they will arrange it for you.
Now, in this room we have a really very good basic political philosophy. To put it briefly: God is a Conservative, and Santa Claus is a liberal.
Think about it; it's really very simple. God is an elderly or at any rate middle aged male - a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal, a great believer in duties and rules. He has little apparent concern for the material well-being of the disadvantaged. He is politically connected, socially powerful, and He holds the mortgage on literally everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. And it is very difficult to get into God's Heavenly Country Club.
Santa Claus is another matter entirely. He's cute, he's non-threatening, he's always upbeat and positive. He loves animals. He may know who's been naughty and nice but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything that they want without thought of quid pro quo. He works hard for charities, and he's famously generous to the poor.
Santa Claus gives us a better deal than God in every way except one: there is no such THING as Santa Claus.
Now, we have quite a group of these imaginary Santa Clauses in the White House right now. People who think government works. Or, government would work if you could just get some bright young kids from Yale to run it.
We're being governed by dorm-room bullsessions. The Clinton administration is over in the West Wing right now, pulling an all-nighter, and they think if they can just stay up late enough they can bring democracy to Haiti.
The Clinton administration thinks that we're going to decrease government spending by increasing the amount of money we give to government to spend.
No. We can't do that.
Health care is too expensive so the Clinton administration has put a high-powered corporate lawyer - Hillary - in charge of making it cheaper.
Now, this is what *I* always do when I want to spend less money - I hire a lawyer from Yale. Right?
The Clinton administration is putting together a program so that college students can work to pay off their school tuition; as if this were some genius idea. It is called "Getting a Job". Most folks *do* that, when they get out of college. Unless of course they happen to become Governor of Arkansas.
The Clinton administration launched an attack on people in Waco, Texas, because those people were religious nuts with guns. Hell, this country was founded by religious nuts with guns.
Who does Bill Clinton think stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock? Who were those people? Peace Corps volunteers?
Let's go back to Health Care for a minute. Now, personally, I just can't seem to learn anything about President Clinton's Health Care plan. I watch the network News, and I discover the plan cannot be summarized briefly. I read the papers, and I find the plan cannot be explained at length. I listen to the President himself, and he seems at least as confused as I am, though less succinctly. I also don't know why I'm supposed to take health advice from a man with a waistline like a Beautyrest mattress, the jogging pace of a beached sea lion, and the sleep habits of a teenage slumber party.
I gather from the President's speech that we're supposed to come up with a large sum of money to invest in a vaguely-described deal that's going to have a huge payoff someday... Now, isn't the Federal Communications Commission trying to crack down on people who do this kind of thing?
Our ignorance of the Clinton Health Care Plan isn't important, because government programs are like the models in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. You know? Form is far more important than content.
The plan is 1400 pages long, detailed specifics to come. You know, you can stand on this thing to paint the ceiling.
In my copy of the World Almanac, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights occupy four and a half pages. That's four and a half pages to run an entire country for more than 200 years, versus three reams of Federal Pig Latin if I slam my thumb in the car door.
Now, of course, I've not read the entire Health Care Reform plan. I suspect Ira Magaziner himself has only read this document in the sense that you or I read the book of instructions that comes with the basement dehumidifier.
Anyway, says the President, this may not be the real or final plan because he's an open-minded guy who wants to be bipartisan and hasn't had a chance to get everybody's input. Roger Clinton might have some bright ideas. Sox the cat might, too; though the plan does not cover veterinary expenses. Yet.
We can however be certain of two facts about the health care reform plan: One: It won't work. No government proposal more complicated than "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private" ever works. And that one doesn't work real well.
Two: It WILL be expensive. All comprehensive governmental entitlement programs grow vastly larger and more costly than they were ever meant to be. Witness Medicare and Medicaid, FDIC, and so forth. At one time our country did have a government entitlement act that was cheap, the Homestead Act, and it involved the death or exile of almost all the native people on the continent.
There's a much simpler way of making American medical treatment less expensive: just make it worse. And this, too, can be accomplished under the Clinton Health Care Plan.
Federal health care reform is going to drive the best people out of the health care professions. What kind of person is going to become a doctor just to wind up as a bureaucratic goat, or a government hack?
Students with straight A's can get much more entrepreneurial freedom and cheaper health care benefits fixing mufflers. There will come a day, when you will be wheeled in for a heart bypass operation and the surgeon will be the same fellow who is now behind the counter when you renew your car registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
But, let us not forget the moral dimension of health care reform. Everyone, rich or poor, needs health care in order to live. And everyone, rich or poor, needs food in order to live. Therefore, next year, the Clinton administration will introduce legislation mandating the Federal preparation of all your meals.
You know what this health care reform business is really all about. It's about the eternal liberal fantasy that the free market can be escaped. The thing is somehow something other than what people will pay for.
It's about price-fixing. Price-fixing worked so well in the old Soviet block. And it's still working. Still working with New York City's rent control. Of course, everybody knows how easy it is to find an inexpensive, nice apartment in a safe neighborhood in New York, right?
Why is price fixing a public service when government does it, but a crime when we try it as private individuals? Is it suddenly really all right for Hillary Rodham Clinton to hold up a drug store? Did I miss something?
President Clinton is trying to convince the American voters that they're going to be able to get sick cheaply. Well, he's right.
Getting sick has always been cheap. Often free. It's getting well that costs a whole lot of money.
When the price of an item is fixed above market value, there is a surplus of that item - as the Arabs learned with oil.
When the price of an item is fixed below market value, that item disappears. As the Russians discovered, with everything.
We have here a basic law of economics. The price of health care will be fixed below market value. And we're all going to die. It's as simple as that.
Something else that Bill and Hillary should be reminded of, another basic law of economics - When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold will be legislators.
But it's no use talking to Bill. Or Hillary. Sometimes it seems like it's no use talking to the electorate when it gets itself worked up into one of these liberal gimmee moods; but we have to keep talking.
We have to keep saying to people: As long as our country keeps treating elections like visits to that liberal Santa Claus in the department store which is Washington, we're going to keep getting sticks and coal in Congress and the White House.
It may be time that Americans went back and really read the Constitution, because the preamble to the Constitution really raises a very important question.
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity"
The question being: Are we done yet?
"Form a more perfect union." Well, compared to the AFL-CIO, we've done that.
"Establish justice?" Well, to judge from the LA riot trials, the Bobbit verdict, the Menendez verdicts and so on, Americans aren't even interested in justice anymore.
"Ensure domestic tranquility?" Well, that's where divorce comes in.
"Provide for the common defense?" The common defense is so well provided for that even such uncommon items as Kuwaitis are being defended.
In the matter of "promoting the general welfare," we have, to judge by the welfare rolls, done it too well.
"The blessings of liberty," are so manifestly secure to ourselves that we're all on strict diet and exercise programs trying to get rid of some of those blessings.
So when can we quit? Just quit passing laws, quit raising taxes? When will our politicians realize their jobs are finished? When will they return like Cincinnatus to the plow or, better yet, to Little Rock? When can we say of our political system, "stick a fork in it; it's done!"
Because: freedom is not empowerment.
Empowerment is what the Serbs have in Bosnia. Anybody can grab a gun and be empowered.
Freedom is not entitlement. An entitlement is what people on Welfare get, and how free are they?
And freedom is not an endlessly expanding list of rights. The right to education, the right to health care, the right to food and housing - that is not freedom, that is dependency. And those are not rights, those are the rations of slavery; they are hay and a barn for human cattle. Thank you very much.
Thus ends the transcript of the words spoken by P.J. O'Rourke, as delivered on CSPAN, lightly edited to assist the transition from spoken to printed words.
P.J. O'Rourke Spoke at the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference, 11 February 94.
All rights (presumably) reserved by P.J. O'Rourke but posted in the interests of spreading a higher truth.
He might well have added "the right to possess and smoke dope" to his list. The costs are socialized no less in the case of recognizing dope "rights" than they are in recognizing health care "rights."
And they are certainly no less dependency-inducing and enslaving.
Or is something more insidious, perhaps you oppose freedom from laws which require a police state in order to be successfully enforced upon the public? Do you oppose freedom from a government of limited power, in favor of government with the power to do whatever it pleases in the name of whatever needs pleasing?
There's worse things than drugs...
This was a very astute observation on P.J.'s account--because it was so true.
Newsweek (yes--I used to have a subscription, before they had color fold-out centerfolds of Mandy Grunwald and Donna Shalala) said that Clinton's college-age staffers would litter the halls of the White House with pizza boxes and old sneakers while holding a 3 am meeting in the Map Room. It was surreal. Almost like your children "playing office."
They would grab red phones connected to our military leaders and act like they knew what they were doing.
The phrase "THE ADULTS ARE BACK IN CHARGE" should not be taken lightly or ridiculed. It is a fact, in comparison to the sophomoric rule of the Chez-3rd Floor Lounge Act that terrorized our nation for 8 long years.
I read that in the American Spectator, and have never forgotten it...
Gee, is that really too difficult for you to figure out?