National Press Club

O'Rourke skewers both sides of the political divide at his book event

March 17, 2017 | By Eleanor Herman |

P.J. O'Rourke signs copies of "How the Hell Did This Happen: The Election of 2016."

P.J. O'Rourke signs copies of "How the Hell Did This Happen: The Election of 2016."

Photo/Image: Craig Shearman

P.J. O’Rourke, The New York Times best-selling author of twenty books and former editor-in-chief of National Lampoon, gave an equal-opportunity skewering to all sides of the political spectrum while discussing his newest book, "How the Hell Did This Happen: The Election of 2016." at a National Press Club book event March 16.

“Imagine playing a round of golf with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,” he said “The scorecard would end up on Hillary’s email server. Trump would nudge the ball with his foot to create an alternative fact.”

“Hillary,” he said, “carried more baggage than her Boeing did when she was Secretary of State. She had Julian Assange set up her email server. She was worried her husband might slip his leash and get up to old tricks running up interns’ pant legs.”

O’Rourke called President Trump “The One Stooge,” and wondered where Moe and Shemp were. “A plague on all your hotels and resorts!” he cried. “When people are afraid, they turn for help to the big stupid bully at the back of the class, and that’s how we got Trump as president.”

O’Rourke sees Hillary Clinton’s loss as part of a global revolt against political elites, while few are concerned about “the deeply sinister actions of Vladimir Putin, who’s taking measurements for a new Iron Curtain.”

President Barack Obama, O’Rourke said, irked a lot of people by lecturing them as if he were “a teacher talking to not very bright kids. It’s a cheap explanation to say dislike of him was racism.”
He feels Hillary Clinton’s biggest single mistake was her use of the term “basket of deplorables. You never insult the voters like that.”

Ironically, for all of President Trump’s wealth, he seemed more like a regular guy to the voters because, O’Rourke said, “There’s nothing elite about the way he sounds. Which is like the rest of us after we’ve had several drinks.”

Journalists, too, O’Rourke pointed out, became elitist after Watergate, when they decided they would “save the world.” Before that, blue-collar men who didn’t want to get up early to lift heavy boxes had two choices of career: the priesthood or journalism. “So they could choose either liquor or women and liquor,” O’Rourke quipped.

The satirist explained that news people could have learned a lot about Trump by watching his show, The Apprentice. But few did because “no journalist wants to hear the words ‘You’re fired!’”

O’Rourke believes that Donald Trump’s election is “an anomaly, a trashing of American culture. People will tire of the trashiness, unpredictability, and alternative facts.”

The former die-hard Republican admitted to voting for Clinton despite her flaws. He would have voted Libertarian, he said, “Except Gary Johnson thought Aleppo was a brand of dog food.”

In response to a question about what happens now, O’Rourke speculated, “Does the Administration self-destruct? It doesn’t seem inconceivable. Washington is a huge amoeba which may surround this guy and digest him.”