This article appears in the April 2007 issue of The American Spectator. To subscribe to our monthly print edition, click here.
HERE I AM, now in New York City, having moved from London to launch a TV show for Fox News — and the welcome gift I receive is mycoplasma pneumoniae. I hate New York for this very reason: whenever I’m here, I get bronchitis and my air passages cease to function. My chest cavity stuffed with detritus and muck, every cough flings pieces of Marlboro-stained lung from my mouth — usually in the unfortunate direction of my poor wife.
I hate coughing. It’s not like sneezing — which I love. I have always found sneezing to be a purely selfish pleasure — an expulsion of itchiness followed by a rush of relief. Coughing, however, offers no such joy. Coughing is like Sneezing’s loser ex-boyfriend — causing nothing but trouble while affecting everyone around him. I am coughing a lot — so much in fact that I actually cough while I am coughing — the equivalent of having a snack in the middle of dinner. I should go to the doctor.
But, sadly, going to a doctor in Manhattan often means more than just getting to read Harper’s in a plastic sheath. No, it also involves a lecture about smoking. I get that every time. Here in the land where everyone but you knows what’s good for you, if you smoke you’re not just a Nazi but a Holocaust denier as well, which pretty much cancels everything out anyway — making you Swedish.
Because he asked — I told the doctor my reason for returning to New York, and he appeared aghast at the thought of treating a patient who worked at Fox News. It was as though I had told him I was making beer out of babies. He made a crack about “fair and balanced,” and then he was off to the races. While I coughed, shivered, and dripped, the doctor instructed me on the evils of George Bush, breaking it down into three familiar refrains:p>— He falsified reasons to go to Iraq. br> — Now everyone in the world hates us. br> — Did I mention he’s stupid? /p>
I stared at his family pictures and realized I might have to hit him with them. But instead, as a response, I weakly said something like, “Surely Bush is not as evil as those who are spending every minute of their day trying to kill us.” He dismissed that, saying “extremists are very few in the world,” which is kind of an obvious point — since that’s why they’re called “extremists” in the first place. I began to stare at the prescription pad — trying to will the doctor to shut up and start writing. After ten minutes, it worked — and he wrote a few for codeine, steroids, and some crap I was supposed to shoot up my nose. He also gave me a pile of free samples of a new antibiotic — something those evil drug companies come up with every year or so that radically improves the lives of everyone. God I hate those heartless bastards.
Yet, it bothers me that no one ever makes a movie about them. In fact, no one makes movies about stuff people do that actually helps people in real life. Take Stephen Frears. Please. He’s British, so that makes him smart. And he was nominated for an Oscar for The Queen, which is not about Elton John or George Michael, but should be. Frears says he’s now doing a movie related to the London bombings of July 7, 2005. But true to his nature, he won’t be doing a movie really about the bombings at all — but the real tragedy that occurred days later, when British agents mistakenly gunned down 27-year-old Brazilian national Jean Charles de Menezes, who ran from the cops in the subway — probably a dumb thing to do just after a subway bombing. Doing something dumb doesn’t mean you should die, but it doesn’t need a movie to explain that point to us either.
Yet, somehow, Frears thinks this is a more important story — the death of one man — as opposed to, say, the wholesale slaughter of 50 plus Brits only days earlier — and I think I know why: He’s really into that moral ambiguity thing. And it’s just too easy to say who the bad guy was on July 7 (well, for those of us not in academia). But with the shooting — the bad guy could be YOU or ME! That’s right — our own paranoia, intolerance, and barely concealed racism is really the villain in this mess. And when de Menezes got shot, we all pulled that trigger.
In movies, the bad guy can never be the little guy. That’s the problem with doing movies about the war on terror. Because, in the minds of Hollywood and London, we’re not David — the terrorists are. And that makes us Goliath. And you can’t make Goliath a good guy. (Unless you animate him, and let Robin Williams do the voice.)
YEEHAW!!!! the codeine is kicking in!!!! I am levitating around the apartment — a light-headed zombie floating in space. I know it’s only 2007, but I am declaring myself president of my apartment. I swear this is how Al Gore must feel. My theory on Gore: Losing the presidency meant that he had to be president of something else — something you can’t vote on and something boring and intangible and where every media hack’s assumptions are the same. Gore is officially the President of Global Warming, an office that was there for the taking, since its critics simply don’t have the time or the energy to refute its preening disciples. He should make a movie about it.
Oh wait, he did. It was nominated for an Oscar — which must have thrown many Academy members into a tizzy since it was up against a number of other flicks that also underline America’s horrible place in this world. So which one would the Academy vote for? The one that says, we’re all at fault for killing the planet? Or the one that says, we’re all at fault for starting a war that’s caused the suffering of hundreds of thousands of innocent people?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?