October 28, 2010


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Don't Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards
By P.J. O'Rourke (2010, Atlantic Monthly Press, 275 pages)

For those of us who consider next Tuesday, Nov. 2, a geeky poli-sci holiday, Don’t Vote is the perfect book to stir up the holiday spirit. Particularly if your spirit is grumpy this year.

O’Rourke, right-wing jokester on NPR game show Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and author of such juicy volumes as Parliament of Whores and Eat the Rich, returns with his melodious sentences, his love of swear words and his ultimately fairly romantic view of republican government, though I’m sure he’d hate to hear his words described as such. Maybe I’m just a sucker for discussion of the Declaration of Independence and how it would have been different had “the pursuit of happiness” been “estates” or “property.”

On Big R Republican government, O’Rourke, with his libertarian leanings and dim view of President George W. Bush, is less romantic. And of course even less so about Democratic-led government — to include President Obama and Nancy Pelosi — for which he has no use. Ultimately, however, he’s not impressed much with either of them, though, as a fellow New Hampshire resident, he does put in a good word for both of our political Sununus, former senator John and his father, former Governor John.

But generally: “I’m sick of politics. We’re all sick of politics. We live in a democracy, rule by the people. Fifty percent of people are below average intelligence. This explains everything about politics,” O’Rourke writes near the book’s end.

That doesn’t mean he won’t gleefully hash it all out for you — taxes, the punditocracy, health care reform. Reading O’Rourke is like reading a very good bar rant by your most learned friend (bar rants being another thing he discusses). Agree or disagree, he won’t make you feel better about Politics in Our Time but he will help you get more entertainment out of the process. Happy holiday. B+

— Amy Diaz

See P.J.
When: Saturday, Nov. 6, at 11 a.m.
Where: Toadstool Bookshop, 12 Depot Square, Peterborough, 924-3543
Info: toadbooks.com