It’s 1984, knock-knock on your front door

I’ve touched on this before, and while I know many of you kids don’t believe me, there was something cool about being a conservative in the 80s, at least within the imaginations of producers of popular culture. Nowadays Nick Gillespie and stripey shirt guy are the only ones even trying but consider this: Alex P. Keaton lost his virginity to an older, sophisticated red-head that he met at a Milton Friedman lecture.

The most surprising thing to me about CommencementGate (or should that be CommencementGhazi) was the fact that these assholes can get paid 35K to give a speech. That said, I was hoping that we wouldn’t be stuck with the Tim Egan/Olivia Nuzzi/Damon Linker “more in sorrow than in anger…STFU kids” pieces everyone’s been talking about, that some real dinosaur from the ’80s would rear his head, come into the airspace of the United States of America, and drop some Reagan era anti-PC jive (trashing college kids was a staple of 80s discourse) on us. And who better than P. J. O’Rourke to do it:

1989 happens to be when the Berlin Wall fell. I know, I know, most of you weren’t born, and you get your news from TMZ. A wall falling over can’t be as interesting as Beyonce’s sister punching and kicking Jay Z in a New York hotel elevator. But that 1989 moment of “something there is that doesn’t love a wall” (and I’ll bet you a personal karaoke performance of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” that you can’t name the poet who wrote it) had interesting consequences. Stop taking selfies and Google “Berlin Wall” on the iPhones you’re all fiddling with.

[…]

Do you know Milton Friedman graduated from Rutgers? Do you know who he is? Won the Nobel Prize for economics. I checked your Department of Economics website. Courses are offered in “Economics of Crime,” “Income Inequality,” “Women in the Economy” (Condoleezza Rice won’t be getting her honorarium for speaking at this ceremony), and “Game Theory.” (Useful on Xbox? Or not so much?) But I don’t see a course called “Capitalism and Freedom,” also the title of the book by Milton Friedman that has been shaping economic debate in this country for half a century.

There’s a dumb Santayana/Santana pun, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and a bit about pony-tailed hippies. Epic!

If you want to know what Reagan era cool conservatism was like, this flips the track and brings the old school back.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit






185 replies
  1. 1
    Alison says:

    Just sayin…I’ve always been a liberal, and my folks were quite similar to Mr and Mrs Keaton, and I’ve never dated a Republican…but back in the day (as in, back before I realized I had teh gay), I would totally have banged Alex P Keaton.

    Your TMI for the day, you’re welcome.

  2. 2
    robotswillstealyourjobs says:

    Condescend to us some more, PJ! We love it when you do that!

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    Disco was cool once too. Then we got better.

  4. 4
    Foregone Conclusion says:

    He doesn’t know what Game Theory is. Or, to be generous, he’s playing dumb for his readers.

    What an asshole.

  5. 5
    dr. bloor says:

    Yeah, there hasn’t been anything as cool as yellow power ties before or since.

  6. 6
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    CommencementGate (or should that be CommencementGhazi)

    Commenceme-Gahzi Those two paragraphs were somehow grown out of PJ’s dudgeon that poor Condi is being picked on just for being incompetent and dishonest and helping the country get bamboozled into the biggest foreign policy disaster since ever? Also, too, I was in college in the ’80s, and I remember Grampy Reagan telling me Apartheid was no big deal. I wonder if they teach that at Rutgers.

    That Egan piece was a real disappointment. He out-Brodered Broder on that one, and I usually like his stuff. I’m not sure who the other two are.

  7. 7
    robotswillstealyourjobs says:

    Condescend to us some more, PJ! Your barely concealed contempt for our generation makes us really think about what you have to say!

  8. 8
    Comrade Jake says:

    there was something cool about being a conservative in the 80s

    Yeah I don’t think so. I can certainly appreciate how it might have felt cool. But there’s a pretty big chasm between things that feel cool and those that actually are.

    If Alex P Keaton is what you hold up as evidence for cool, well…

  9. 9
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    The DKs and Montell Jordan in one post? Nicely done.

    P.J was once able to be funny. Horrible, but funny.

  10. 10
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Why would anybody want Condi Rice speaking at their commencement? That’s a hell of a thing to tell those grads – ‘Work hard and you can become a Grade-A fuck-up like me? Now where’s my 30 grand?’

    State funding for education is constantly being cut, and the idiots who run Rutgers thought that it would be great idea to give 30 large to a Looser. Fucking morons.

  11. 11
    My Truth Hurts says:

    If all you know about the younger generations are cliches then you don’t know anything at all about them or even what you are talking about. The boomers were bashed in the 60’s and ’70’s, gen x in the ’80’s and ’90’s and now it’s the millenials turn. And look who is doing the bullying, the fucking Boomers, the same ones who were bullied when they were kids. Adults are always bullies to the young. PJ is an out of touch bully and is nothing but an old man screaming at a cloud, just like the greatest generation was when they criticized him and his peers when they were young.

  12. 12
    MattR says:

    Unsurprisingly, much of the coverage I have seen treats this as “spoiled liberals not wanting to hear an opposing viewpoint” and completely ignores the specific actions in the speakers’ past that appalled the students. I had absolutely no problem with George HW Bush being the commencement speaker at my graduation, but I would have joined the protestors at Rutgers or Haverford based on those choices.

  13. 13
    Anoniminous says:

    Shut up O’Rourke. Nobody cares.

    ETA: You’re a has-been. Deal with it.

  14. 14
    SatanicPanic says:

    You shoulda put a trigger warning on that bullshit. I suffer from Worst Decade Ever PTSD.

  15. 15
    aimai says:

    We had my daughter’s highschool graduation today. She is at a lab school, a private academy attached to a local university. This makes their graduation like a fakey version of a college one. The headmaster of the school is just one of the most awful people in the world and he managed to invite a friend of his to give the commencement address-the guy is head VP for fundraising for the University and the two of them seem to have had a drunken bet on how easy it is to give a commencement address. So the VP for fundraising gets up and gives an entire commencement address based on cribbed portions of other people’s speeches “and now let me quote Will Ferrell…” These were horrible speeches originally, redeemed only by being told by the actual people speaking so that at least their fake analogies and anecdotes were relevant to their lives. To hear them chopped up, cut and pasted together, with the only thread running through them the seemingly bottomless contempt that speakers have for the students and their pathetic achievements, was just bizarre.

    I mean I’m not into the romance of highschool graduation or anything but Christ on a pogo stick it is a big day for the graduates and their families and who the fuck decided that the object is for the commencement speaker to preen and show off and give the kids one last kick in the pants before they start the next stage? There is something truly insulting and even pathological about the assumption that many commencement speakers have that being the speaker means that they get to take the students “down a peg” for their “arrogance” and their illusions about themselves.

  16. 16
    Howard Beale IV says:

    Shrub’s administration’s damn lucky they haven’t been frogmarched to the Hague and held for crimes against humanity.

    Then again, since the US isn’t signatories, they get to skate.

  17. 17
    Marc says:

    Alex P. Keaton lost his virginity to an older, sophisticated red-head that he met at a Milton Friedman lecture.

    Also the plot of the worst Peanuts strip ever.

  18. 18
    Wag says:

    Yeah. Nobody protested at graduation ceremonies back on the ’80s. Except at my alma mater, Colorado College, where there were protests against apartheid at graduation in 85. And at numerous other schools, as well

    Jello was king.

  19. 19
    penpen says:

    I like how a guy flaunting how much older/wiser he is than the dumb kids has no idea what “game theory” is.

  20. 20
    joel hanes says:

    Alex P. Keaton lost his virginity to an older, sophisticated red-head

    Alex P. Keaton is a fictional character.

    So are all hip and/or cool Republicans.

    But then, so was President Ronald Reagan, (who was played by emeritus actor Ronald Reagan.)

  21. 21
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @penpen:

    Well, obviously game theory is gay-me theory.

  22. 22

    Nothing is more tiresome than close-minded conservatives lecturing others about being open to other points of view. Hypocrisy is not humorous.

  23. 23
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @joel hanes:

    Given what a ham Reagan was, you have to wonder what Republicans have against pork.

  24. 24

    BTW who is Alex Keaton?

  25. 25
    🌷 Martin says:

    Our commencement speaker isn’t getting a speaking fee. Won’t be getting an honorary degree (we don’t do that) and wasn’t invited in exchange for a big gift. He’s just a cool guy with a couple of dogs that the students wanted to come speak. We didn’t even have to arrange transportation – his people took care of all of that.

  26. 26
    joel hanes says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Mallory’s conservative authoritarian suckup brother.

  27. 27
    Anoniminous says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    A fictional character on a TV show.

  28. 28
    Anoniminous says:

    PJ O’Rourke gives a commencement speech.

  29. 29
    NotMax says:

    Michael J. Fox slept with David Caruso?

    Who knew?

  30. 30
    JoyfulA says:

    Wasn’t that PJ supposedly once very funny? I find that hard to believe.

  31. 31
    raven says:

    there was something cool about being a conservative in the 80s,

    Sheeeeeet

  32. 32
    srv says:

    Somebody needs to make an app that just strings random pj emotes and streams that all day.

    Or he could just buy a shotgun and do a double suicide with Noonan. Question is, which would pull the trigger?

  33. 33

    @JoyfulA: Dyspeptic seems a more appropriate definition.

  34. 34
  35. 35
    NotMax says:

    @JoyfulA

    Wasn’t that PJ supposedly once very funny?

    Have to go back to heyday of National Lampoon magazine.

    And even then, spottily.

  36. 36
    scav says:

    oh the dears. Preppies thought they were cool. Ubiquitous, I’ll grant them, but cool?

  37. 37
    Forked Tongue says:

    Well, I do remember that Prince, Iggy Pop, and Paul Westerberg all came out with pro-Reagan comments. (Neil Young too, but he’d always struck me as a wild card.) None of this made me think conservatism was cool, or even seriously turned me against these guys (I don’t think I’d be as forgiving now of somebody I had liked coming out as a GWB or Romney fan), but I did think it was just fucking fucked up.

  38. 38
  39. 39
    gene108 says:

    But I don’t see a course called “Capitalism and Freedom,” also the title of the book by Milton Friedman that has been shaping economic debate in this country for half a century.

    Milton Friedman made an astute observation about one of the causes of the Great Depression. He received the Nobel Prize for it.

    His other contributions to public policy sucked ass.

  40. 40
    penpen says:

    I mean you’d think someone wanking off about how awesome and serious the Cold War would know better than to mock game theory of all things.

    This is just incomprehensible:

    “You need to study history, so that it doesn’t come around again and, per Santayana, bite you in the Ukraine.”

    Christ what an asshole.

  41. 41
    SatanicPanic says:

    While we’re at it- no one who can’t put themselves in another person’s shoes has any claim to being a high-level thinker. No shit people who were born before the fall of the Berlin Wall wouldn’t see it as some defining moment. Nice work there Einstein. Hey, I don’t have an emotional connection to the Emancipation Proclamation or Pearl Harbor or the moon landing or JFK’s assassination I guess I don’t live up to PJ’s high standards of being a self-congratulating asshole.

  42. 42
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @joel hanes: I liked Mallory.

    @JoyfulA: The Bachelor’s Home Companion is pretty funny. And useful. It lets know that taking a handful of diet pills and sitting up all night with a bottle of whiskey and a pistol is not a very effective way to rid your house of rats. Also, the Yes/Maybe/No chart for spaghetti sauce ingredients helpful (fwiw tobacco is a No).

  43. 43
    different-church-lady says:

    there was something cool about being a conservative in the 80s, at least within the imaginations of producers of popular culture.

    After a decade of hippies being mainstream, conservative youth was an exotic novelty.

  44. 44

    @SatanicPanic: Facts are irrelevant to the conservative mythology.

  45. 45
    gene108 says:

    @JoyfulA:

    Wasn’t that PJ supposedly once very funny? I find that hard to believe.

    He did some commentary on SNL news, back in the 1980’s, which I found funny as a 12 or 13 year old.

  46. 46
    Ash Can says:

    there was something cool about being a conservative in the 80s

    No there wasn’t. It was fashionable, but “cool” and “fashionable” are not necessarily the same thing.

  47. 47
    NotMax says:

    @scav

    Younger versions of what were once called country-club Republicans.

  48. 48
    efgoldman says:

    @aimai:

    The headmaster of the school is just one of the most awful people in the world and he managed to invite a friend of his to give the commencement address

    In my year (1963) for some reason the school superintendent gave the address. He was taught, apparently, at the Cardinal Cushing Monotone School of Public Speaking (Bostonians of a certain age will understand.) I was in my cap and gown, but still sitting in the band. When the Supe got to “and IN conCLUsion…” I cheered. No one knew where it came from.
    I guess I was always a smart ass.

  49. 49
    raven says:

    @gene108: Yea, born in 1947 but somehow managed not to go into the military. I love motherfuckers like that.

  50. 50
    burnspbesq says:

    I can remember a time when P.J. O’Rourke was funny.

    Yes, I am really, really old.

  51. 51
    efgoldman says:

    @Howard Beale IV: Shrub’s administration’s damn lucky they haven’t been frogmarched to the Hague into Federal court and held for crimes against humanity.

  52. 52
    efgoldman says:

    @Marc:

    Also the plot of the worst Peanuts strip ever.

    Wait! What?? Charlie Brown isn’t a virgin???

  53. 53

    1989 happens to be when the Berlin Wall fell. I know, I know, most of you weren’t born, and you get your news from TMZ. A wall falling over can’t be as interesting as Beyonce’s sister punching and kicking Jay Z in a New York hotel elevator. But that 1989 moment of “something there is that doesn’t love a wall” (and I’ll bet you a personal karaoke performance of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” that you can’t name the poet who wrote it) had interesting consequences. Stop taking selfies and Google “Berlin Wall” on the iPhones you’re all fiddling with.

    What a pretentious twat.

  54. 54
    maurinsky says:

    Does anyone else remember Reagan joking about bombing Moscow, multiple times?

  55. 55

    For those pointing out that Game Theory is actually an important and sophisticated math-heavy subject useful in multiple disciplines, and this guy is being a dumbass for pissing on it… that’s not really accidental. That whole little rant is pure 80s, when the Cool Kids (no matter your age) were meanspirited bullies who proved how great they were by pissing on anything that involved feelings or actually knowing anything. Jocks vs. Nerds, and any media that supported the Nerds was deliberately rooting for the underdog who generally had to win by proving they could be just as big assholes. The current conservative movement IS the 80s. Racism, automatic opposition to anything that helps people, anti-science, abusing women, superficial Christianism, and calling cowardly bullying ‘strength’ – that was all mainstream 80s.

  56. 56
    Alexandra says:

    there was something cool about being a conservative in the 80s

    Sully, in a nutshell.

  57. 57
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Comrade Dread: You are right. There is a lot of Dennis Miller in that.

  58. 58
    muddy says:

    I didn’t realize he was still alive, I haven’t heard shit about him in years. I see he has not altered his hair style, probably not since prep school.

  59. 59
    NotMax says:

    @efgoldman

    Am not going to go looking, but dollars to doughnuts there is Charlie Brown/Linus slash fiction out there somewhere.

  60. 60
    efgoldman says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Yes, I am really, really old.

    I’m older than you, and I read a couple of his books. Plenty of snark, but not much that was actually funny.
    He was amusing in the context of a talk show, in five-minute doses.

  61. 61
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Forked Tongue: (Neil Young too, but he’d always struck me as a wild card.)

    As opposed to Prince, Iggy and Westerberg?

    Young’s Let’s Roll got a lot of right-wingers excited, as I recall, I don’t think they liked “Let’s Impeach the President” as much

  62. 62
    Steeplejack says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Michael J. Fox’s character on the sitcom Family Ties.

  63. 63
    TG Chicago says:

    @gene108: Are you thinking of A. Whitney Brown? He looks kinda similar. Skimming through my memory and through wiki, I’m not sure O’Rourke was ever on SNL.

  64. 64
    joel hanes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I liked Mallory.

    Me too. Only actual character in the script, and well acted.
    That’s why I characterized M.J.F. as I did.

  65. 65
    BruceJ says:

    @My Truth Hurts: PJ has always been an overrated asshole.

  66. 66
    TG Chicago says:

    @efgoldman: Agreed. He’s decent on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, but I once tried reading one of his books and it was a bore.

  67. 67
    Ruckus says:

    @JoyfulA:

    Wasn’t that PJ supposedly once very funny? I find that hard to believe.

    He was witty. He could once in a while enlist a chortle. He was not very, funny. He could put sentences together that went someplace. Brooks with style, charm and substance. Now he’s just a barely been.

  68. 68
    gene108 says:

    @My Truth Hurts:

    In all honesty, I think Boomers mostly came of age in the 1970’s, as opposed to the 1960’s. Only the very oldest Boomer’s would’ve been old enough to tune, turn on and drop out by 1967, without parental consent.

    They enjoyed the best economic situation in U.S. history throughout most of their lives, but somehow have decided to heap scorn on subsequent generations facing increasingly crappier economic situations.

    Boomer’s were bitching about Gen X’ers 20+ years ago.

    They hung that tag on my generation and I was like WTF? Why the the hell are you calling us “Generation X”. Made no damn sense to me then and makes less now.

    An interesting thing about your comment is the fact Gen X’ers aren’t bitching much about millennials. The “OMG! Kids today suck, compared to when I was a kid” doesn’t seem to be getting handed down.

  69. 69
    Narcissus says:

    “Milton Friedman, hearda him?” doesn’t carry so much weight when you view Friedman-esque neoliberalism as just as corrupt and outmoded as Marxist-Leninism.

  70. 70
    gene108 says:

    @TG Chicago:

    You are right, it was A. Whitney Brown I was thinking about.

  71. 71
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    P.J was once able to be funny. Horrible, but funny.

    I read Republican Party Reptile when it first came out, and O’Rourke was always honest about his motivation. He wanted to marry a rich person and live the Gilded Era lifestyle, and in the 1980s, that meant hanging around with rich Repub scumbags. After a false starter marriage (“creative” cred, not enough moola) he married into Old Money, and went full-bore Colonel Blimp because he could. Funny is hard work, but recycling ‘jokes’ about Those People is easy — and it gets him all the egoboo / cash he’ll ever need, so why work hard?

  72. 72
    Mnemosyne says:

    @aimai:

    I have to admit, I have absolutely no memory 20-cough years later who our high school commencement speaker was. Not the faintest. So at least it will probably leave your daughter’s memory pretty quickly, if it’s not gone already.

  73. 73
    RSA says:

    But I don’t see a course called “Capitalism and Freedom,” also the title of the book by Milton Friedman that has been shaping economic debate in this country for half a century.

    If O’Rourke had thought to google “rutgers”, “syllabus”, and “capitalism and freedom”, he’d have found a dozen political science classes taught within the past few year at Rutgers with chapters from Friedman’s book as required reading.

    Maybe P.J. could try out one of these new-fangled computing machines. He might find out about what’s happened since the 1980s.

  74. 74
    gene108 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    BTW who is Alex Keaton?

    T.V. show character played by Michael J. Fox, on a 1980’s situation comedy Family Ties. It was the role that made MJF a star and launched his career. The show was very popular for a number of years.

    Alex P Keaton wikie

  75. 75
    JGabriel says:

    PJ O’Rourke:

    “something there is that doesn’t love a wall” (and I’ll bet you a personal karaoke performance of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” that you can’t name the poet who wrote it)

    Robert Frost, and I’m sure most everyone here knew that. But if there was any English majors in that crowd who didn’t know it was Frost – and I bet all of them did, but if – then they should sue the college for fraud, for taking their money without educating them.

  76. 76
    Ruckus says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:
    That is/always has been conservatism. Way before the 80s. And it hasn’t changed. Buckley could speak better and didn’t rant and rave so people listened. But what he said was no different than what conservatives say today. Just was not as loud.

  77. 77
    NotMax says:

    @Mnemosyne

    No idea at all who it may have been at my high school graduation, as I didn’t attend.

    1) Zero interest at all in being there.

    2) Had already left the state for a summer job.

    Was more than pleased to make them pay something out of the budget to mail the diploma.

  78. 78
    JGabriel says:

    DougJ:

    I’ve touched on this before, and while I know many of you kids don’t believe me, there was something cool about being a conservative in the 80s …

    Of course there was. The Fascists always have the coolest uniforms.

    If only I’d read Ayn Rand before George Bernard Shaw … maybe I’d’ve been cool instead of a Social Democratic outcast. Oh well, we had better music.

  79. 79
    Suffern ACE says:

    @penpen: it’s never too early to start a war. Especially if you learn one lesson about history and apply it to everything.

  80. 80
    Schlemizel says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    43 years since my HS graduation & I still remember the speaker and how he opened.
    It was hotter than hell in the packed, un air conditioned, St. Paul auditorium. Walter Mondale got up and started by saying that he could not remember what his commencement speaker had said but he clearly remembered it took 45 minutes for him to say it. “You will be glad to know” Mondale added “That I will only speak for 5 minutes!”

    He got a standing O and still finished in under 5.

  81. 81
    RandomMonster says:

    That snippet was enough to tell me I didn’t want to read the whole thing just because of the non-stop paranthetical bits. (See how fucking ANNOYING this is?) (What shitty style.)

  82. 82
    JGabriel says:

    JGabriel:

    … was any English majors ..

    (Slaps forehead) Is our children learning? D’oh.

    Obviously, was should be were. Editing fail.

  83. 83
    Linnaeus says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    That Egan piece was a real disappointment. He out-Brodered Broder on that one, and I usually like his stuff. I’m not sure who the other two are.

    Pretty much what I thought too, including the comparison to Broder. Sadly, he’s not the only one. Isaac Chotiner and Michelle Goldberg have weighed in as well.

    Both are more nuanced than Egan. You could even make a case that Chotiner has something of a point on choosing your targets carefully. But Egan, Chotiner, Goldberg, etc. are still, in the end, recycling 1990s-era hype about “political correctness” but putting a liberal spin on it. In Goldberg’s case, I suspect that her interview in that Vox article is a continuation of axes she’s had to grind for a while.

  84. 84
    Suffern ACE says:

    @JGabriel: and it would be humiliating to have to sing a Beyoncé song?

  85. 85
    linda says:

    @robotswillstealyourjobs: Hey I totally understand him. O’Rourke longs for the days when he was relevant and people gave a rat’s ass what he thought.

  86. 86

    @JGabriel:

    If only I’d read Ayn Rand before George Bernard Shaw

    I did. It’s a very angry existence, but you get to whine a lot about being persecuted and oppressed. Much like the conservative Christianity I grew up in.

    I still carry a lot of scars and bad habits from both the political and religious side of the conservative movement.

  87. 87
    JGabriel says:

    Baud:

    Disco was cool once too. Then we got better.

    Watch American Hustle. Amy Adams can make even disco look cool.

  88. 88
    Linnaeus says:

    While my comment’s stuck in moderation, let me give a link-less version of it:

    There’s been a recent spate of liberal writers like Egan who think they’ve identified a trend toward “liberal intolerance” or an “anti-liberal left”, e.g. Isaac Chotiner in the New Republic and Michelle Goldberg in The Nation. IMHO, they’re recycling 1990s “political correctness” wars and trying to put a liberal spin on it.

  89. 89
    Schlemizel says:

    @linda:
    When the hell was that? I must have missed it.

  90. 90
    gian says:

    the 1980s
    political buttons

    “Jane Wyman was right”

    I fucking hated Reagan then, and I still hate his rotting corpse. “capital gains tax cut” “supply side economics”
    fucking James Watt…
    Assholes worshiping the idiot for killing people in Greneda to district from his disaster in Beruit.

    you had to WANT to believe in Reagan to actually think he was anything other than a disaster, and plenty of people did.

  91. 91
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @gene108: A. Whitney Brown is completely different. He has a fairly old account at the GOS and is pretty much socialist. Also very funny.

  92. 92
    Fluke bucket says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: nailed it..

  93. 93
    Culture of Truth says:

    @gene108: Did he? No offense, but you’re not thinking of A. Whitney Brown, are you?

  94. 94
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bobby Thomson: “I didn’t become a vegetarian because I love animals. I became a vegetarian because I hate plants.”

  95. 95
    Culture of Truth says:

    there was something cool about being a conservative in the 80s

    Yes, I remember, which actually means the people like some of us
    who resisted the conservative political correctness were the real cool ones.

  96. 96
    gogol's wife says:

    @TG Chicago:

    Yes, A. Whitney Brown was actually mildly amusing, which O’Rourke never was.

    I heart this thread.

    The Egan piece was disgusting — as was pointed out to me, it equates listening to a boring commencement speaker with actual torture perpetrated by the W. administration.

  97. 97
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Bobby Thomson: he was certainly one of the highlights of the pre-Stewart Daily Show, back when Stephen Colbert was called “The New Guy”.

  98. 98
    Culture of Truth says:

    Heck for $20,000 I’ll give a full hour of right-wing bullshit mythology with a side of wingnut victimization and a sprinking of assholenes.

  99. 99
    linda says:

    @Schlemizel: When people thought Reagan was a savant.

  100. 100
    MikeBoyScout says:

    von Neumann has a sad or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wingnut

  101. 101
    Culture of Truth says:

    Sorry, I see TG Chicago beat me to it.

  102. 102
    JGabriel says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    there was something cool about being a conservative in the 80s

    Yes, I remember, which actually means the people like some of us
    who resisted the conservative political correctness were the real cool ones.

    If I remember correctly, it was less resistance than it was revulsion and disgust. The members of the conservative movement were just such unbelievable moral and ethical assholes that temptation was never really an issue.

  103. 103
    Culture of Truth says:

    O’Rourke was never even remotely funny. But he was able to convince some of the right he was “funny,” when it was a bunch of smug hippie punching, and convince regular Americans and the Broderites he must be “funny”, because he was the only Republican who even seemed to understand the concept of humor.

  104. 104
    chicagodyke says:

    @Comrade Jake:

    oh, hohohohohoho! “cool” about “conservative” people in the 80s?

    oh, seriously, get me my smelling salts. this one takes the cake. who is this writer and why is he such an idiot, to make such a claim?

    if he was in any way alive and with the “cool” set in the 80s (hint: probably not, 80s trendsters did not use that term very often, it was too “60s”) he obviously wasn’t hanging with the “cool” kids.

    wow. i’m going to save this one and file it under “prime examples of projection, cluelessness, and hatred of people who got laid more and still do than the author.”

  105. 105
    JGabriel says:

    @Bobby Thomson: Count me as another thumbs up for A. Whitney Brown. I’m surprised he didn’t have greater success after SNL.

  106. 106
    Tehanu says:

    @BruceJ:
    He wasn’t funny back when he was a “comedian” and he’s not insightful now that he’s trying to be a “humorist.” Mark Twain and Will Rogers have nothing to worry about.

  107. 107
    randy khan says:

    O’Rourke goes on about how he did research, and then says this:

    “What intrigues me is that there are 31.1 million Americans between 18 and 24, and 21.8 million of you—70 percent—are going to college. It is not possible that 70 percent of you are among the 50 percent of you who are above-average in intelligence.”

    So I looked it up. Both of these numbers are actual statistics from the Department of Education, but that 21.8 million figure is the number of people going to college (including grad school), not the number of 18-24 year olds going to college. The actual percentage of 18-24 year olds in college – which is on the same web page as the other two numbers – is 42.

    Shocking, I know.

  108. 108
    Kay says:

    @Linnaeus:

    You know, why don’t they let young people create their own version of “liberal” or “Left”? How about that? What’s the worse that could happen? They can’t be worse at it than the 1980’s and 1990’s liberals, can they? It wasn’t exactly a stellar record of achievement for liberals, 1980 thru 2000. Let someone else have a crack at it- see how they do.

    I can’t stand this tone, this scolding. I mean, I could stand it if there hadn’t have been that twenty year period where conservatism was ascendent, but are they really in a position to lecture younger people about effective liberalism?

  109. 109
    SatanicPanic says:

    @JGabriel: Disco is awesome. My belief that everything in the 70s was awesome and everything in the 80s was terrible only has a few exceptions- Rap in the 70s was terrible, Guns and Roses and the GoGo’s in the 80s were awesome.

  110. 110
    danielx says:

    @Ash Can:

    No there wasn’t. It was fashionable, but “cool” and “fashionable” are not necessarily the same thing.

    Correct. It may have been fashionable to spend lunch at “Limbaugh hour”* in a bar, but the people doing it were totally still douchebags.

    And yes, there actually were places that would put signs out front advertising – actually advertising! – that they featured that Nazi gasbag on television or radio at lunchtime, and there were people that actually responded favorably. I leave it to others to judge the cool/hipness quotient of people who would actually go out of their way to spend lunchtime listening to that asshole. Would have put me completely off my appetite, but then I must not have been cool at that point in time. Small blessings….

  111. 111
    scav says:

    @randy khan: Let alone what the fuck he thinks any magical 50% has to do with anything. Does the value of education and training and learned habits of (critical) thought cut out or even invert if one tests below the 50th percentile on a standardized test? Is he imagining some sort of educational game of musical desks where half the chairs disappear at certain points leaving only the worthy?

  112. 112
    william says:

    @NotMax:
    He was part of the original national lampoon group. Then for some reason he was put in charge. It was a real cognitive dissonance for me. Ok it’s in NL and their stuff is usually funny but maybe there is some deeper thread going through it. Then I figured out that it was just racist, misogynistic B.S. and I stopped buying the magazine.

  113. 113
    moe says:

    I had Reagan ear once. Hurt like a bitch.

  114. 114
    randy khan says:

    @scav: Well, that too.

  115. 115
    David Koch says:

    Reagan has been out of office for 26 (!) years.

    If you were 10 to 15 years old when he left office, you were at most a sophomore in high school and today, at age 36 to 41, you have no first hand memory of him,

    According to the census, 61% of the country is under the age of 45.

    Most of the country has no connection to Reagan and 80s.

    They might as well be talking about Pacman and Walkmans, the subject matter is so out of touch.

  116. 116
    Mike G says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I can remember a time when P.J. O’Rourke was funny.
    Yes, I am really, really old.

    I thought he was funny in the late 80s.
    But then, because his audience was conservatives who have the subtlety of a dumptruck, who much like Christians overpraise the most mediocre cultural products from their own tribe, he lazily flogged the same schtick overandoverandover with decreasing amounts of wit until he was an unbearable party hack. The dead giveaway was his refusal to take even the tamest digs at Dan Quayle, the easiest target in a generation for a political satirist.

  117. 117
    Kyle says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    The demographic who think “Ronald Reagan won the Cold War by growling ‘Tear down this wall,'” and ingest a steady diet of Fux News, probably shouldn’t sneer about laziness of thinking among today’s college students.

  118. 118
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Linnaeus: yeah. start with the premise that any reactionary backlash is the fault of pushy lefties, and the articles just roll out of the pen. I can’t see why liberals would be upset by that. I mean, our elites have created such a great world, and when there was hope and the chance of change, pretty much put a stop to that before it even got started.

  119. 119
    Culture of Truth says:

    @randy khan: But why would ORourke assume the default is 50% go to college and 50% don’t? It doesn’t make sense.

  120. 120
    Culture of Truth says:

    @SatanicPanic: I agree. I have a theory that American bascially peaked in the 1970s, but it’s kind of an outlier, I concede.

  121. 121
    Chris says:

    @aimai:

    There is something truly insulting and even pathological about the assumption that many commencement speakers have that being the speaker means that they get to take the students “down a peg” for their “arrogance” and their illusions about themselves.

    This is why David McCullough’s “you’re not special” speech that’s had seemingly the entire nation swooning for a couple years fell completely flat for me. Granted, I was never able to make it through the whole thing. All I heard was yet another pretentious asshole (whose main claim to fame before the speech, apparently, was being somebody’s son) who thought that because he could condescendingly stretch a line he heard in The Incredibles into a graduation speech, he must’ve been saying something important.

    As if the oodles and oodles of student debt that come with college these days because someone decided education should be about profit and not education, and the months and months of unpaid labor leading nowhere because so many employers decided that the purpose of internships should be to supply a revolving door of free labor rather than mentoring people to come and work for you… didn’t already knock the message into these students hard enough.

    It really didn’t surprise me that it happened. Or how many people rushed to applaud the speaker as “brilliant,” “brave,” and other things – giving people medals of honor for repeating conventional wisdom is practically all the media does these days. It did blow my mind a little how many students I knew, and not just the College Republican kind, who thought it was the greatest thing they ever heard. We really are filled to the brim with born serfs.

  122. 122
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: Come on, for a good sized chunk of the punditocracy, contrarian equals brave and insightful.

  123. 123
    Linnaeus says:

    @Kay:

    You know, why don’t they let young people create their own version of “liberal” or “Left”? How about that? What’s the worse that could happen? They can’t be worse at it than the 1980′s and 1990′s liberals, can they? It wasn’t exactly a stellar record of achievement for liberals, 1980 thru 2000. Let someone else have a crack at it- see how they do.

    Yeah, it’s really annoying. I think there’s a subtext to what Egan, Goldberg, etc. (with whom I often agree, btw) are writing. It has to do more with liberal anxieties about the fracturing of the old New Deal coalition, the conservative recrudesence of the last 30-40 years, and how many liberals (though by no means all) embraced or at least accommodated a political and economic paradigm that was in some significant ways opposed to the one they’d created back in the 1930s and expanded in the 1960s. Now that we’re seeing some of the consequences (particularly economic) of that shift that can’t be swept under the rug, there are some in the liberal class who are finding it hard to reassess what they did in the 1980s and 1990s, so they punch leftward instead.

  124. 124
    DougJ says:

    @Alexandra:

    He is kind of an English, bearish Alex P. Keaton.

  125. 125
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Chris:

    Slightly OT, but it always amazes me how many people misunderstand The Incredibles. It’s about teamwork, you idiots! The supers have amazing powers, but none of them can succeed by themselves (and the ones who tried all end up dead). Nomanisan Island? How much more obvious did it freakin’ need to be?

    Ahem. Just needed to say that.

  126. 126

    @DougJ: I cannot believe that the bearded bore was ever considered cool. Must be the accent.

  127. 127
    jl says:

    Haven’t read the O’Rourke pretend speech yet. It seems insufferable from the excerpt.

    But, hello, wrong about Friedman and his book. There is not enough solid economic analysis, or statistics, or history, in ‘Capitalism and Freedom’ to belong in an economics class.

    You will learn about the useful stuff Friedman did that was actual economics. Let’s see: floating exchange rates, how speculation could be a stabilizing factor for prices, quantity theory or money. Now, if you go to a school where any Keynesian theory is tolerated in the macroeconomic curriculum, you will still learn about the permanent income hypothesis. Even if you go to fresh water school, you will learn about mathed up generalizations that sometimes work like the permanent income hypothesis.

    (Edit: and some of these Friedman ideas worked great, and other bombed, and some were ‘meh, maybe’, BTW)

    Which brings to mind, if this O’Rourke were peddling this BS at a university in its function as a place of learning and intellectual investigation, someone in the audience could ask him some questions that would call him out on his BS.

    But, no, this is O’Rourke pretending he is giving a commencement speech, a purportedly honored and distinguished guest of the university, helping to administer an official university activity. And if you knew he was peddling BS, all you could do would be to disrupt and heckle, just make trouble,, maybe get hauled off by the campus fuzz. Which would prompt more BS from some commencement speaker putz like George Will or Fournier Brooks or Gawd knows what loon, next week at a different campus.

  128. 128
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Linnaeus: I do think there is a difference between liberals and leftists. Liberals, in my view, believe in the system and want to reform it in order to advance goals like justice and equality. Leftists, otoh, don’t particularly believe in the system and simply want to advance goals like justice and equality.

  129. 129
    Chris says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Oh yes. I love the movie too and am vaguely sad at the number of conservatives, libertarians and Objectivists (I know, I repeat myself) who think it’s a manifesto for them. (No, it’s not Atlas Shrugged, you idiots. Ayn Rand would’ve hated every minute of it).

  130. 130
    jl says:

    @jl: And if you do want to teach ‘Capitalism and Freedom’ type stuff in an econ course, plenty of other books with that wrong headed nonsense, but done better with more econ theory by other economists, that I can assure you are taught all the time.

  131. 131
    Tom Q says:

    @scav: I think he’s taking more or less an “It’s not enough to succeed; others must fail” position — the point of college to him is to select elites who can spend the rest of their lives feeling superior to most everyone else. In other words, he’s today’s Republican.

    I never found the guy particularly funny even in the Lampoon days. He was a bit of an affirmative action hire in a field (humor) that was dominated by liberals certainly from Nixon on. And these days he’s just repellent.

  132. 132
    Hungry Joe says:

    Very late to this thread, but way back in (I think) the late ’80s I reviewed PJ’s book “Holidays in Hell,” in which he traveled to a number of third-world, Communist, and war-torn countries in order to ridicule the lives of the sad people who lived there. It was a smug, hateful collection of essays by a smug, hateful son of a bitch.

    In fact, if I were to re-write the review today, that would be it, in its entirety: “A smug, hateful collection of essays by a smug, hateful son of a bitch.” Now, THAT’S a blurb.

  133. 133
    jl says:

    Damn, horrible speech full of bitter nonsense by a very self-satisfied but very bitter man. Was O’Rourke always this awful?

  134. 134
    Chris says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    Very late to this thread, but way back in (I think) the late ’80s I reviewed PJ’s book “Holidays in Hell,” in which he traveled to a number of third-world, Communist, and war-torn countries in order to ridicule the lives of the sad people who lived there. It was a smug, hateful collection of essays by a smug, hateful son of a bitch.

    I’ve never read PJ O’Rourke, but that sounds like the essence of conservative humor distilled into one book.

  135. 135
    randy khan says:

    @Culture of Truth: I think he was trying to say that 70% of all 18-24 year olds go to college, and that they can’t all be of above-average intelligence. The joke, such as it is, doesn’t work very well when it turns out that the 70% actually is 42%, so that they all *could* be above average. (Also, as a technical matter, you have to assume one other fact for the joke to work even if he has the numbers right, which is that intelligence follows a normal distribution and isn’t skewed like income to one end.)

  136. 136
    jl says:

    Parts of his pretend speech is hilarious.

    ” she saw the job through to the end of the fraught and divisive George W. Bush presidency, making moral and ethical decisions of such a complex and contradictory nature that they would have baffled Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle (of whom I suppose, perhaps naively, you have heard) put together. ”

    I cracked up and almost fell on the floor just pasting that sucker into the comment box. Almost bust my gut putting quotation marks around it You’re killing it, PJ!

  137. 137
    Linnaeus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    There is a difference, although I think it’s more of degree rather than kind, particularly since liberalism borrowed from more leftist perspectives during the 20th century. But that depends, I suppose, on how one defines terms like “liberal” and “leftist” in varying contexts.

  138. 138
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Hungry Joe: Wow, in no way does that sound entertaining or could I imagine it reflects well on him as a person. The world does not need an anti William Vollman

  139. 139
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    The ultra-liberal James At 15 (or was he 6 at the time?) lost his virginity to a Swedish exchange student- and got v.d..

    Ahh, liberals- the ultimate circular firing squad.

  140. 140
    jl says:

    @randy khan: But PJ SAID he did complicated mathematical analysis for his speech. Is he a making a good example for our precious youth? Maybe being insulted by a rage-aholic asshole bragging about how smart he is, throwing out total BS and bogus numbers picked off a web page almost at random will teach these youngins some humbility. David Brooks would approve.

  141. 141
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): The ultra-liberal James At 15 (or was he 6 at the time?) lost his virginity to a Swedish exchange student- and got v.d..
    Well, there’s yer soschelized medicine for ya!

    @jl: I sense he’s trying to be funny there about Rice’s tenure and/or the Bush presidency, but I”m not gonna go hunt for the context. I do remember late in the Bush years when, on the NPR show, they were quoting Kucinich on the war and PJ bellowed something along the lines of “See? Bush does bring the left and right together, i completely agree with Dennis Kucinich!”

  142. 142
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    I had a moment of wondering if “Holiday in Cambodia” was because of that book, but it turned out that O’Rourke wrote the book almost 10 years after the song. So it was prescient, I guess.

  143. 143
    joel hanes says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    if I were to re-write the review today, that would be it, in its entirety: “A smug, hateful collection of essays by a smug, hateful son of a bitch.”

    Amazon Reviews awaits your input. If you were to write that there, it would actually get read,
    and might affect the buying decisions of a few people.

  144. 144
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’m not sure if this cover is any good, but I love the concept:

    Foo Fighters feat. Serj Tankian — “Holiday in Cambodia”

  145. 145
    jl says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: OK, O’Rourke is very self-satisfied and very bitter, but he is not completely insane, there is that.

    If that pretend speech is O’Rourke’s SOP, I do not understand what he thinks he accomplished by his writing. Venomous (edit: but hilariously ill-informed) sarcasm for the refined and very special tastes of his in-crowd? What?

    Seriously, anyone know what that that piece was supposed to be, what it was saying, what the real jokes are supposed to be?

  146. 146
    NotMax says:

    @Mnemosyne

    Should anyone want to read a well-crafted (and really humorous) book about the same topic, highly recommend Baghdad without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia by Tony Horwitz.

    Good fun and light enough fare for airplane reading.

  147. 147
    jibeaux says:

    Christopher Buckley’s as funny as conservatives get, IMO. And he’s not all that conservative and not uproariously funny either, but hey, he pissed his dad off and that counts for something.

  148. 148
    Chris says:

    @Ruckus:

    That is/always has been conservatism. Way before the 80s. And it hasn’t changed. Buckley could speak better and didn’t rant and rave so people listened. But what he said was no different than what conservatives say today. Just was not as loud.

    The funny thing is that the wild animals ranting and raving about conservatism and how wonderful it is are doing better for themselves than Buckley ever did. Buckley might’ve been a better and more articulate speaker, but movement conservatism was still much more out of the mainstream in his day than it is now. Apparently, dumbing yourself down pays off.

  149. 149
    ruemara says:

    I picked up my first PJ O’Rourke book, back when I was 17. I thought it was hilarious. It’s been nothing good ever since. What an utter fuckface.

  150. 150
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @ruemara: Which book? A college friend gave me Bachelor’s Home Companion when I got my first place. It was funny.

  151. 151
    JustRuss says:

    PJ spoke at my college in 83 or 84. He was quite a bit funnier and less get-off-my-lawn back then. I still think Parliament of Whores is a great book.

  152. 152
    Citizen_X says:

    “something there is that doesn’t love a wall” (blah blah blah blah you can’t name the poet who wrote it)

    Hey PJ, want to see something funny? I’ll post that quote to Free Republikaner, say it’s by immigration activist Orlando Gutierrez (I just invented him), and fifty Ameros says it’ll have Fox News and half the Republicans in Congress frothing at the mouth by Thursday.

    Ha ha ha ha ha fuck you.

  153. 153
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    Do you know Milton Friedman graduated from Rutgers? Do you know who he is? Won the Nobel Prize for economics.

    Nope.

    There is no Nobel Prize for Economics.

    There’s a Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, set up by the Swedish central bank to legitimize a discipline which is only marginally a science, and which often consists of political ideology and fashion disguised as objective reasoning.

    You can set up a McDonald’s Restaurant Prize in Gourmet Hamburgerology in Memory of Alfred Nobel, or a Prize for Homoepathic Excellence in Memory of Alfred Nobel, or a Discovery Institute Prize for Creationist Science in memory of Alfred Nobel as well if you like. But they wouldn’t be Nobel Prizes either.

    Seeing as people with money like the idea of plutocrat-friendly ideology being seen as an objective science, it gets blurred in with the ACTUAL Nobel Prizes.

    But it ain’t one.

  154. 154
    xenos says:

    @gene108:

    An interesting thing about your comment is the fact Gen X’ers aren’t bitching much about millennials. The “OMG! Kids today suck, compared to when I was a kid” doesn’t seem to be getting handed down.

    Gen Xers did not, by and large, experience a generation gap. Our parents were silent-generationers, and like them we were pretty conservative. Our kids, the later millenials and whatever buzz-word that comes next, are again pretty conservative in many ways, but politically aware and utterly ignoring the bullshit obsessions with conformity and rebellion that arise from boomer-greatest generation struggles.

    Very proud of the kids at Rutgers telling off the corrupt, log-rolling jerks who run their world.

  155. 155
    ruemara says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Parliament of Whores. & Eat the Rich. I had no idea he was a conservative for years later.

  156. 156
    Judas Peckerwood says:

    @My Truth Hurts: Thank you for so eloquently stating what I’ve been trying to tell my (Boomer/Gen X-cusp) peers for fucking ever. Is it wrong to wish the majority of your age cohort dead and buried?

  157. 157

    To commenters wondering whether O’Rourke ever really was funny: yes, he was; he had rough but genuine talent, which adds to the repulsiveness of what he’s become.

  158. 158
    rapier says:

    Friedman’s monetarism has become the negation of markets. Not just shaping the economic debate but the economy. Our banking and financial markets have nothing to do markets. They are managed and manipulated. The resultant mis allocation of capital explaining in part our economic situation.

    The other part is the disappearance of cheap abundant petroleum. Still, history will judge Friedman as one of histories great fools.

  159. 159
    Aimai says:

    @Chris: of course this asshole started by cribbing the david mcollough speech and telling us thats where it came from!

  160. 160
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @gene108:

    An interesting thing about your comment is the fact Gen X’ers aren’t bitching much about millennials. The “OMG! Kids today suck, compared to when I was a kid” doesn’t seem to be getting handed down.

    They’re not? I assumed that most of the whiny “why millennials are the spoiledest and laziest generation ever who refuse to work for a dollar a day” articles you see in business magazines were written by 45-year-olds.

  161. 161
    brantl says:

    The worst thing about Wait, Wait, don’t tell me is P.J. O’Rourke. I wish they would dump that twit.

  162. 162
    Matt McIrvin says:

    there was something cool about being a conservative in the 80s, at least within the imaginations of producers of popular culture.

    I was just thinking about this in connection with that Reason cover painting we were laughing at, that took the GTA 5 ad and put the gamer thug in a suit.

    I suspect that, if not the artist, then the people who greenlighted the ad actually thought that painting a suit on him made the guy look cheeky and cool, instead of an even bigger jerk. And it might have actually worked, in the same context as Alex P. Keaton and P. J. O’Rourke’s initial burst of celebrity. In those days it was possible to push cheeky greedhead conservatism as a kind of youth counterculture; going around in dark suits where you might expect jeans and a T-shirt was one of the symbols of it, and whether there was any social reality to it or not, the mass media would help you.

    Now, it’s something that only makes sense to people who read Reason magazine. And they don’t really realize it.

  163. 163
    JoeC says:

    Spirit reference ?

  164. 164
    Avedon says:

    @My Truth Hurts: Actually, P.J. O’Rourke bashed Boomers in the ’80s and ’90s, if I recall. It was what he was famous and supposedly “cool” for. He sounded exactly like this to other Boomers. And he still does!

    I never understood why this guy was supposed to be funny. Making fun of old people and making fun of aging hippies in ignorant ways just sounded lame to me, and now he’s doing it to “the kids” and sounding just as lame.

    So, there was this period of time when the media told me that guys in bowties who said stupid things about politics and culture were cool. Now the media can’t get away with trying to sell that story anymore, but it was never very convincing.

  165. 165
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @My Truth Hurts:

    If all you know about the younger generations are cliches then you don’t know anything at all about them or even what you are talking about. The boomers were bashed in the 60′s and ’70′s,

    In the early 80s I recall listing to my betters (AKA Boomers who weaseled out of Vietnam) going on about kids my age didn’t have the guts to fight for the country, when something like 75% of my highschool friends joined the military.

  166. 166
    Alex Bollinger says:

    I’m pretty sure Milton Friedman is better known among economists for his “monetary history of the US” book, the one that got him the Nobel, but “capitalism and freedom”? Uh, ok.

  167. 167
    Matt McIrvin says:

    …Yeah, there was an obliviousness to it from the beginning.

    I mean, the Alex P. Keaton character on Family Ties was himself a boomer creation who was mostly supposed to be a figure of fun, and it was ex-hippie Mom and Dad who usually knew best in the episodes. It was Michael J. Fox’s inherent charisma that sold the character as cool, and conservatives ran with that unironically and celebrated him just like they did the chorus of “Born in the U.S.A.”

    And people wrote thumbsucking magazine articles that treated this fictional character as if he were part of a real trend of kids swinging right as rebellion against their hippie parents. But most young conservatives of the Eighties weren’t rebels at all; they were the more vocal children of conservative Silent Generation types. The children of liberals and leftists were mostly liberal themselves, though there was probably regression to the mean.

  168. 168
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @maurinsky:

    Does anyone else remember Reagan joking about bombing Moscow, multiple times?

    I also recall the Soviets thinking Reagen was serious and getting ready to launch their missiles in a mad panic and the CIA telling to Reagen to STFU before he inadvertently started WWIII.

  169. 169
    JL says:

    Didn’t I hear about this in a song:

    “If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Milton, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow!”

  170. 170
    boatboy_srq says:

    @robotswillstealyourjobs: Condescension? Try “EPIC FAIL trying to impress us with your gravitas”. “But that 1989 moment of “something there is that doesn’t love a wall” comes from Robert Frost – and it’s about improving relations with your neighbors and using the chore of repairing the line between your properties to do it. That’s not a “tear down this wall” sentiment – and that’s NOT what happened in ’89.

  171. 171
    boatboy_srq says:

    @maurinsky@Enhanced Voting Techniques: “We begin bombing in five minutes” was a staple of the comic world – once everyone got past the moment of blind panic when we assumed he’d gone and done it. Spitting Image got some great mileage from that and the sentiment beneath it.

  172. 172
    jake the antisoshul soshulist says:

    Somehow this reminded me of the Radio Shack “the eighties want their store back” ads.

  173. 173
    NonyNony says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    I assumed that most of the whiny “why millennials are the spoiledest and laziest generation ever who refuse to work for a dollar a day” articles you see in business magazines were written by 45-year-olds.

    Yes – this shit is going on. The nice thing about today is that those idiotic 40-somethings who are writing the “kids today are so horrible” articles are getting their asses kicked on comment threads and with linked articles on the web from other 40-somethings who are writing “you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about you overprivileged pompous windbag – kids today are awesome!”

    I like to think that had there been an Internet back when the media was pumping up the generational issues between the Boomers and us Gen Xers, there would have been more of a pushback and things might be better off now. While the Boomer-era generation gap struggle may have been a real thing and not a media creation, the Boomer/Gen X generation gap was mostly the media taking a typical adolescent vs. parents thing that happens as kids grow up and parents get a bit resentful of it and turning it into a GIANT EPIC HORRIBLE GENERATION GAP BATTLE between the kids and their parents. Possibly because many of those media figures wanted to relive their days as a rebellious Boomer adolescent and, just like the worst stage parents and football parents, decided to force their kids into the empty shell of a life that they left behind and never grew out of.

    It’s too bad, because I know that whole dynamic has left folks of my generation very bitter at the Boomer generation as a whole, when really as always it’s mostly the elites of that generation who have fucked things up for everyone. I’m hoping we can avoid it with our kids and end this cycle of stupid that the media keeps wanting to go back to because doing new stories is hard and repeating pre-canned conventional wisdom based on stories that you cycle out every five years is so, so much easier.

  174. 174
    Someguy says:

    I’m glad to see at least a few college students getting serious about politics and driving off war criminals and oligarchs like LaGarde from speaking engagements. College is for the impartation of knowledge, not the spreading of ignorance.

  175. 175
    Henk says:

    “Milton Friedman that has been shaping economic debate in this country for half a century.”

    I suggest all you HepCats take him up on it and google Milton and his economic theories, in particular google Milton and Pinochet. The fact that he’s been influencing our economics for 50 years explains a lot about our current situation. Like the top 400 owning more than the bottom half.

  176. 176
    someofparts says:

    If mom and dad were still paying the bills, and didn’t frighten the children by telling them how worried dad was about losing his job, I could see how the 80s might have been fun.

    For anyone trying to find a job, or stay in school – not so much. Plus shock jocks – that was a fresh joy the 80s brought to us. (None of you can even imagine media without Fox or Rush, can you? Well it existed and it was great.) The best part was that all of it happened before the internet, so good luck finding out why rents quadrupled, wages were smashed to zilch and every company you worked for went out of business within a couple of years.

  177. 177
    PJ says:

    @xenos: I think this varies very much by background and region of the country. I’m a Gen X-er, my parents were born in the 20s and 30s and were pretty liberal for the place where I grew up, which was, at the time, mostly Republican (which it is no longer, but that has more to do with the GOP moving much more to the right than demographic changes). After I left there, I lived in more or less urban places, and I would guess that 90% or more of the Gen X-ers I came into contact with would classify themselves as liberal or leftist. The Gen Y-ers I have known tend to be much more conservative on economic and foreign policy issues, which I attribute to the force-feeding of supply-side economics and Reagan worship in the media since the mid-80s (e.g., the notions that Reagan ended the cold war and that government action in the “free” market is the worst thing ever are widespread.)

  178. 178
    What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    I don’t think he’s remembering Family Ties the way I remember it. Alex Keaton was likeable because he was portrayed by Michael J. Fox, who is one of the most likeable actors ever. But…he was sort of the butt of the jokes on that show – which basically they lampooned his conservative character for laughs. At least, that’s the way I remember it though I haven’t watched a single episode since it was actually on the air.

  179. 179
    McJulie says:

    My impression — as an X-er who graduated from high school in 1984 — is that we don’t get much play for our “kids today” grousing, even when it occurs, because Baby Boomers are still the assumed viewpoint character for America. The assumed “we” has been Baby Boomers for my whole life.

    The conservative pushback of the early 80s was a real thing, but my generation didn’t cause it. We FELL for it. When I was in college from 1984-1988, I saw a lot of people of my generation who were Reagan supporters and thought they were Republican change their minds in a big way. But those were the ones who went to college, right? Not everybody learned better.

    Anyway, when I look at youngish conservatives like Paul Ryan, I see that same phenomenon — people who were raised in the Reagan era and bought the hype then, and still buy the hype.

  180. 180
    cokane says:

    This line was fascinating:

    “Condoleezza Rice was named National Security Adviser in December 2000, less than a year before some horrific events that you may know of.”

    So she was the National Security Adviser during the biggest national security failure in U.S. history?

  181. 181
    Way Uptown says:

    I went to Rutgers
    I took a class from a left-leaning Political Science professor, the likes of whom O’Rourke caricatured in his rant
    We were assigned to read “Capitalism and Freedom”
    This assignment was followed by weeks of wide-ranging class discussions regarding the arguments of Friedman, Keynes, and similar authors, all facilitated by a teacher who was intellectually curious and challenging, regardless of his own political views
    From this I conclude that PJ O’Rourke is a liar. But you knew that.

  182. 182
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @NonyNony: For one thing, GenXers were mostly not even the children of Boomers, at least by my definitions of those terms. Most were the children of the pre-Boomers, Silent Generation or whatever: people born during World War II and the Depression. Which is why Gen X was famously not so numerous.

    (There are exceptions. My in-laws are quite definitely Boomers, though my wife’s older brother is the same age as I am; they had kids early.)

    On the other hand, a lot of things that we think of as iconic Boomer culture actually came from those pre-Baby Boom folks; the Boomers were the kid fans.

  183. 183
    Epicurus says:

    And Friedman has been proven to be a complete and utter hack, so he’s got that going for him. Please, FSM, when will this canonization of Reagan and his flying monkeys cease? Nostalgia, as the man once said, ain’t what it used to be. Is this not the same P.J. O’Rourke who once wrote for National Lampoon? The times, they are a-changin’…and not for the better.

  184. 184
    kuvasz says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    The decline of America can be pinpointed as starting on April 6, 1973, the day Ron Bloomberg stepped up to the plate as the first designated hitter in the “American” League.

    Since then the country and League have gone to Hell.

  185. 185
    Soprano says:

    @gene108: I like your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Comments are closed.