Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Sept. 28, 2004 / 13 Tishrei, 5765

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Satire with a spin ... 10 minutes with P.J. O'Rourke | Humorist P.J. O'Rourke passes himself off as a Wall Street Journal-certified funny guy, best-selling book author and excellent magazine journalist who satirizes the idiocies he finds in Washington, D.C., international politics and bachelorhood.

But anyone who's followed his writings in Rolling Stone or read any of his books -- "Peace Kills" and "Parliament of Whores" come to mind -- knows he's really a clever propagandist for the libertarian-conservative cause.

Q: A review of one of your books on said -- and I don't know if this is a compliment or not, you tell me -- that "you're less bitter than Ann Coulter but funnier than Al Franken."

A: (laughs) I think that's fair. I'll take that as a compliment. I don't know how bitter Ann actually is. I don't really know her. But she's scary, I know that. I'm definitely less scary. I'm shorter too, I think. But I'm taller than Al Franken.

Q: You -- I think you know this -- combine humor, satire and sarcasm with a very specific political/ideological and, dare I say, philosophical message or point of view. What is that?

A: To put a single word on that, it would be "libertarian." I am a libertarian conservative. Or as we libertarian conservatives like to say, a classic 18th-century liberal. Now that everybody's thoroughly confused (laughs). ... But it's just -- from a political and I suppose philosophical point of view -- that the ultimate good is human liberty and the concomitant responsibility that goes with that liberty. And that's what we measure everything against: Does this increase human liberty and responsibility, or not?

Q: I'm a longtime libertarian, so I know the difference between a classical liberal and a John Kerry liberal, for instance.

A: Yeah, about 180 degrees.

Q: Right. Are you deliberately trying to proselytize in your writings? Are you trying to speak to the unpersuaded?

Donate to JWR

A: Definitely. Definitely. But of course it depends on what I'm doing. A lot of the time I'm just being a reporter, so my job is just to tell people what things are like -- how many people died in the car crash. So I'm not proselytizing then. But when I do something like a book like "Eat the Rich" or "Parliament of Whores" or "All the Trouble in the World," definitely I am.

Q: What do you think of President Bush and will you vote for him?

A: Yes, I will vote for him. I am aggravated with him. I've got a whole long list: I hate the faith-based initiatives. I hate No Child Left Behind. I hate the deficit spending. I hate the fact that he hasn't even attempted to cut back on government spending.

From my point of view, government spending is the key issue, not deficits or taxes.

Milton Friedman pointed out some years ago that when the government spends, it will figure out a way to finance its spending, whether by taxes, by deficit borrowing or debasing the currency. The real key is how much of a nation's economy, and hence of people's material freedoms, the government is allocating to itself.

Q: Is there anything you can say nice about Mr. Kerry?

A: Yeah. Well, "consistency" wouldn't be the word that leapt to mind. I think he's an honest-enough fellow. I don't think there's any reason for him to be president, and I don't think he has one.

If it were (Dick) Gephardt, there would lots to talk about. He'd be a worthy opponent. Kerry, I don't know. Just to take Iraq, as an example, here's something from my speech: What does Kerry propose to do, give Saddam Hussein a mulligan and let him take his tee shot over? No.

Q: Are you a dove or a chicken hawk on Iraq?

A: Chicken hawk (laughs)... a proud chicken hawk. I was in Kuwait. I covered the first Gulf War. I saw what the Iraqis did to Kuwait, so I was very much in favor of finishing the job. These are bad people -- not all the Iraqis, but the Baath Party and Saddam Hussein.

Q: On foreign policy, I've always tried to figure out if you were a quote-unquote "real" libertarian -- a noninterventionist. Where are you on foreign policy?

A: I'm pretty hawkish. I guess that's where I kind of come apart with at least some of the people at the Cato Institute. They and I just don't agree about this. I just think it's a big, bad world out there. Evil is an outreach program, and we've got to do something about it. I wish it were otherwise, but I don't think there is a way around it. These people are after our butt.

Q: Do you still think going to Iraq was a good move?

A: I don't want to Monday-morning-quarterback the thing. I always thought Bush should have come out after it was clear there weren't any WMDs and say, "Look, Saddam Hussein didn't have any weapons of mass destruction. How crazy does that make him?!"

I'm not sure this tactically was the right thing to do. I think this was a battle that was going to have to be fought. Should it have been fought right when it was, I don't know. I'm glad I didn't have to make the decision. It is evident that the administration was a little short on Plan B in case things didn't work out. On that, they're obviously open to criticism.

Q: Do you do predictions on the election?

A: Not I. Not I. I gotta say I'm less worried than I was a couple months ago, but I'm still worried. I really don't know how this is going to go.

Q: You will be speaking to an audience -- and I'm sure you've done this before -- of urban liberals who probably won't like much of what you're going to tell them about freedom, government, Republicans. How are you going to shock them?

A: Well, it's not a matter of shocking them. My idea of a balanced approach is to show them that I am fully aware of the shortcomings of the side that I am allegedly on. I try not just to be funny about my views but to give them a little idea of why I feel the way I do.

The thing I always try to get at with people is that the political process is just not a good way to make decisions -- that you don't have to make it that way. I try to explain why political decisions in our lives should be limited. We can't get rid of them completely, but they definitely should be limited.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.

09/14/04: Beware 'grass-roots tyranny' ... 10 minutes with Clint Bolick
09/07/04: State of the unions ... 10 minutes with Linda Chavez
08/26/04: The Lincoln few Northerners know
08/23/04: Steroids & 'fairness' … 10 minutes with bioethics expert Norman Fost
08/13/04: Contrary to popular belief ...
08/10/04: The IRS & the $250 billion question … 10 minutes with House Speaker Dennis Hastert
08/09/04: Tight scripts and loose cannons
07/27/04: Still George McGovern
07/06/04: High time to eliminate drug laws?
06/28/04: Iraq: ‘Mission impossible’ ... 10 minutes with terror expert Yossef Bodansky
06/22/04: Get ready to rumble ... 10 minutes with Michael Barone
06/11/04: Ready for the 'fair tax'? 10 minutes with …Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss
06/08/04: Wal-Mart is an undeserving whipping boy
06/01/04: So, what is a 'neocon'?
05/17/04: Editors play armchair general
05/04/04: Chasing tornadoes; how modern day sports photography was born
04/29/04: Rigged for the rich ... 10 minutes with author David Cay Johnston
04/27/04: Are the 'Greens' killing blacks?
04/19/04: A moving, if skewed, tribute to rock
04/11/04: Stay the course in Iraq ... 10 minutes with Oliver North
04/05/04: Iraq needs 'social capital' ... ten minutes with Ray Salvatore Jennings of the United States Institute of Peace
03/31/04: Congress must come to terms ... ten minutes with Rep. Dick Armey
03/22/04: How to win the terror war ... 10 minutes with terrorism expert Steven Emerson
03/16/04: Religion, spiritual freedom & Ronald Reagan … 10 minutes with author Paul Kengor
03/10/04: America's materialism keeps world in tune
02/24/04: Our new epoch in history ... 10 minutes with philosopher/political thinker/novelist Lee Harris
02/20/04: Vanity Fair, SI sink lower than ever
02/13/04: A rare libertarian among Big Media liberals — up close and personal with John Stossel
02/10/04: Young innovators changing the rules
02/03/04: Now, the election fun begins … 10 minutes with Charlie Cook
01/30/04: Dem Dems
01/16/04: Caucuses bore you? You're not alone
01/14/04: Paradise lost? Ten minutes with … Victor Davis Hanson
01/09/04: Howard Dean week?
12/26/03: How is the magazine sector doing?
12/17/03: 10 minutes with Thomas Sowell
12/15/03: Journalism 'watchdog' displays bad reporting
12/09/03: Book lovers are losing a good read
12/05/03: 'South Park' has unlikely audience tuning in
12/03/03: An odd lot of 35 'heroes'
11/24/03: 'We'll learn the truth someday' … 10 minutes with JFK expert Cyril Wecht
11/18/03: Exposer of the idiocy of bureaucracy and the threat to individual freedom posed by government … Ten minutes with author James Bovard
11/14/03: Two stories examine Wal-Mart's domination
11/07/03: The real Rumsfeld … 10 minutes with author Midge Decter
11/05/03: Lights! Camera! Fudge!?
10/31/03: The straight dope on hate, drugs, Jon Stewart
10/24/03: See what federal $$$ does?
10/21/03: Esquire recalls its glory days
10/14/03: A 784-page biography hatchet job that only Clinton-haters will love — published by Random House? Ten minutes with Nigel Hamilton
10/10/03: Bush adviser girds for a tough fight ... 10 minutes with Mary Matalin
10/07/03: Forbes gives advice on making rich list
09/30/03: A 20th Century American tour
09/26/03: Reagan's life in letters
09/24/03: Bin Laden and Boy Bill
09/22/03: Dennis Miller makes funny business of politics
09/16/03: Famous 'bad girls' clear the air
09/12/03: Ben Stein gets serious: Davis is a 'thug in a gray flannel suit'
09/09/03: Smart(-Alecky) mag's very different 'swimsuit issue'; Murdoch might not be as bad as we thought
09/02/03: Ex-teacher lambastes our schools
08/25/03: Vanity Fair strives to be more than glamorous
07/22/03: Title IX's original intent … Ten minutes with Eric Pearson
07/11/03: Vanity Fair dishes it out on JFK Jr., N.Y. Times
07/09/03: Why Ben Franklin should be the "Father of Our Country" ... 10 minutes with Walter Isaacson
07/07/03: Honoring nation's first celebrity superstar
06/27/03: Reader's Digest can't help but act its age
06/24/03: Dick Morris, consultant for hire, reveals the inside story
06/20/03: Move over, Hillary. Here comes a better work of fiction
06/10/03: Publications take us away from Middle East
06/03/03: Dear graduates: Work for freedom … 10 minutes with Penn Jillette
05/30/03: National Geographic goes to the top of the world
05/23/03: Editors dabble in history, fiction
05/16/03: The Old Grim Lady gets covered
05/09/03: Political parties fighting over Iraq's wreckage
05/07/03: 10 minutes with a big-city Dem mayor who loathes budget deficits, the federal highway program, taxpayer-funded sports stadiums and the meddling (and aid money) of Washington
05/02/03: Are you sufficiently terrified?
04/29/03: Finally, a president defending American principles in the Middle East ... 10 minutes with Alexander Haig
04/25/03: Newsweeklies starting to lose interest in Iraq war
04/21/03: There's bias, and then there's bias
04/11/03: Planning future of Iraq, world
04/04/03: Newsweeklies come back with graphic look at war
03/28/03: Newsweeklies try to keep up with TV war coverage
03/26/03: Wen Ho Lee whistle-blower says beware of China
03/21/03: America's ready for war ... and peace
03/18/03: Baseball limping, not dead … 10 minutes with author Andrew Zimbalist
03/14/03: Vanity Fair gets us ready for month's big event
03/11/03: A road map for Iraq's liberation devised by James Madison? … 10 minutes with James S. Robbins
03/06/03: Iraq war will come and go before we know it
02/28/03: America takes time out for swimsuits
02/26/03: 'We shall be seen as liberators' .... 10 minutes with noted Brit commentator David Pryce-Jones
02/21/03: Terrorism one of many losing battles
02/14/03: Editors planning for the day after Gulf War II
02/12/03: The 'religiosity' of Ronald Reagan … 10 minutes with author Paul Kengor
02/10/03: Should the shuttle crash be the end of NASA?
02/06/03: Dear Joan ...
01/31/03: Newsweek, Nation ponder pros, cons of Gulf War II
01/24/03: 'Original' ideas follow New Deal philosophy
01/22/03: When handicapping 2004, watch the economy: Ten minutes with … Charlie Cook
01/17/03: New Republic fans hatred for SUVs
01/14/03: 10 minutes with Santorum on ... taxes, steel and Lott
01/10/03: Newsweeklies move on to latest menace
01/07/03: The best of the Q&As
12/30/02: Rosie's demise tops list of 2002 highlights
12/23/02: GOP must stick to its principles: 10 questions for ... Bill Kristol
12/20/02: Lott fiasco uncovers bigger problem
12/18/02: Free markets king in Sweden, at least for a day: Ten minutes with …. Donald Boudreaux
12/13/02: Corruption of Indian casinos no surprise
12/06/02: Giving credit to young philanthropists
12/02/02: Ten minutes with …. Chris Matthews
11/26/02: It's critical to memorialize communism's victims: 10 minutes with … Lee Edwards
11/22/02: JFK's secret health woes are revealed
11/19/02: “It's best to contain Saddam”: Ten minutes with … Col. David Hackworth
11/15/02: Brushing up on the affairs of a wild world
11/12/02: Make Dems filibuster … 10 minutes with … Robert L. Bartley
11/08/02: National Geographic: Urban overpopulation is good
11/05/02: The bloody consequences of a broken INS: Ten minutes with … Michelle Malkin
11/01/02: Going to pot; thank heaven for media overkill
10/29/02: It's all about federalism: Ten minutes with … Jonah Goldberg
10/25/02: Frank Sinatra, Kurt Cobain, Mad Magazine will never die
10/22/02: Here's why Orwell matters: Ten minutes with … Christopher Hitchens
10/18/02: The sniper knocks Iraq off the covers
10/15/02: Iraq, oil and war: 10 minutes with ... economist/historian Daniel Yergin
10/11/02: England's gun-control experiment has backfired
10/04/02: Buchanan the media baron?
09/27/02: Analyzing Esquire, GQ is not for the squeamish
09/20/02: CEOs: The rise and fall of American heroes
09/13/02: Skeptics remind U.S. to calm down
09/10/02: 'A failure to recognize a failure': 15 minutes with ... Bill Gertz
09/06/02: Rating the 9-11 mags
08/30/02: Bad trains, bad planes, and bad automobiles
08/28/02: Baseball, broken, can be fixed: 15 minutes with George Will
08/16/02: 9-11 overload has already begun
08/13/02: Tell us what you really think, Ann Coulter
08/09/02: A funny take on a new kind of suburb
08/02/02: It's not the humidity, it's the (media) heat wave; the death of American cities
07/12/02: Colombia's drug lords are all business
07/09/02: If capitalism is 'soulless' then show me something better: 10 minutes with … Alan Reynolds
06/25/02: Origins of a scandal: 10 minutes with … Michael Rose
06/21/02: 9/11 report unearths good, bad and ugly
06/18/02: The FBI is rebounding … 10 Minutes with Ronald Kessler
06/14/02: U.S. News opens closet of Secret Service
06/11/02: 10 minutes with … William Lind: Can America survive in this 'fourth-generation' world?
06/07/02: America, warts and all
05/30/02: FBI saga gets more depressing
05/13/02: The magazine industry's annual exercise in self-puffery
04/30/02: 10 Minutes with ... The New York Sun's Seth Lipsky
04/26/02: Will the American Taliban go free?
04/23/02: 10 minutes with ... Dinesh D'Souza
04/19/02: Saddam starting to show his age
04/12/02: Newsweek puts suicide bombing in perspective
04/09/02: How polls distort the news, change the outcome of elections and encourage legislation that undermines the foundations of the republic
04/05/02: Looking into the state of American greatness
03/25/02: The American President and the Peruvian Shoeshine Boys
03/22/02: Troublemaking intellectual puts Churchill in spotlight
03/20/02: 10 minutes with ... Bill Bennett
03/18/02: Suddenly, it's cool again to be a man
03/12/02: 10 minutes with … Ken Adelman
03/08/02: TIME asks the nation a scary question
03/05/02: 10 minutes with ... Rich Lowry
02/26/02: 10 minutes with ... Tony Snow
02/12/02: Has Soldier of Fortune gone soft?

© 2002, Bill Steigerwald