The Farmer File: Political humorist takes on Naples


— Sometimes when we hear a good speaker say something profound or funny or both, we wish we’d said that.

That happens a lot when listening to the celebrity speaker slated for Monday’s Naples Town Hall Lecture Series — P. J. O’Rourke.

He is never better than when his subjects are politicians and the political system in which they thrive.

O’Rourke has written a dozen books, some hilarious, plus countless magazine pieces.

Last year he left an audience in Jacksonville laughing, with remarks about the presidential election campaign.

As reported by the Florida Times-Union on

“‘The two most terrifying words in Washington,’ he said, ‘are bipartisan and consensus.’”

“‘It is hard to do a worse job of running the government than the Republicans,’ he stated, ‘but if anyone can, the Democrats can.’”

O’Rourke says he’s a libertarian and a some-time conservative, but also shows flashes of his liberal youth. He has been a regular on lefty Bill Maher’s HBO show.

We might glean a bit of what he could write about Naples traffic troubles or the Marco Island sewer controversy from his comments in the Weekly Standard magazine.

The column is titled, “Letter to our European Friends – Everything you need to know about our presidential campaign.”

He acknowledges that many Europeans, even the few who think kindly about America, don’t understand our political system. As O’Rourke puts it:

“Europeans feel an understandable confusion when faced with a political system — two houses of Congress and a White House, and nobody is home in any of them.”

“The question of race in America is supposed to be a matter of what one looks like. But it’s difficult to comprehend how a political interest group that contains both Al Sharpton and Halle Berry could be based on looks.”

“I’m backing Hillary Clinton,” O’Rourke wrote during the campaign, “because she could lose, (not because) she’s a woman. The reason is, she’s the particular woman who taught the 4th grade class that every man in America wished he were dead in.

“Hillary is Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. Hillary is ‘America’s ex-wife.’”

About other political players:

■ “Dennis Kucinich swept the Mars caucuses.”

n “Ron Paul is very popular with people who stay up all night in Ayn Rand chat rooms, bury Krugerrands in the yard and think the Trilateral Commission causes sub-prime mortgage foreclosures.”

O’Rourke writes about his hometown, Toledo, OH, as a place

“so flat that a child is under the impression that the direction hills go is down.”

■ “There are so many Germans (there) that a boy I knew, Don Eggenschwiler, went all the way through grade school and junior high without being teased about his name.”

■ “Easterners … think they’re the best and brightest. They have their best and brightest and we Toledo people have ours. Their best and brightest come up with things like FEMA, the budget deficit and Iraq. Our best and brightest start a successful chain of muffler shops.

From the East Coast’s brightest, we get taxes and chaos. From the brightest of Toledo we get quiet cars.”

■ “Toledo is better than fun, it’s happy. Nothing is more conducive to sadness than taking yourself seriously. Taking yourself seriously is difficult when your baseball team is the Mud Hens.”

E-mail Don Farmer at

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