In How the Hell Did This Happen?, P.J. brings his critical eye and inimitable voice to some seriously risky business. Starting in June 2015, he asks, "Who are these jacklegs, high-binders, wire-pullers, mountebanks, swellheads, buncombe spigots, four-flushers and animated spittoons offering themselves as worthy of America's highest office?" and surveys the full cast of presidential candidates including everyone you've already forgotten and everyone you wish you could forget.
P.J. offers a brief history of how our insane process for picking who will run for president evolved, from the very first nominating convention (thanks, Anti-Masonic Party) through the reforms of the Progressive era (because there's nothing that can't be worsened by reform) to the present. He takes us through the debates and key primaries and analyzes everything from the campaign platforms (or lack thereof) to presidential style ("Trump's appearance--indeed, Trump's existence--is a little guy's idea of living large. A private plane A swell joint in Florida Gold-plated toilet handles "). And he rises from the depths of despair to come up with a better way to choose a president. Following his come-to-Satan moment with Hillary and the Beginning of End Times in November, P.J. reckons with a new age: "America is experiencing a change in the nature of leadership. We're getting rid of our leaders. And we're starting at the top."
- ISBN-13: 9780802126191
- ISBN-10: 0802126197
- Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
- Publish Date: March 2017
- Page Count: 256
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.85 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2017-01-30
- Reviewer: Staff
For those interested in one more look at the unusual road leading to the unlikely outcome of the unforgettable 2016 U.S. presidential election, humorist ORourke delivers a wry, dry, and occasionally laugh-out-loud take. ORourkes chapter headings are worth a quick glance (A Huck so Unlike Finn); the throwaway lines are good too (John Kasich is a two-word Republican suicide note), and the general content doesnt disappoint (notably Chapter 17, Fashion Notes). ORourke entertains with two ways to replace Americas dreadful election process and offers a breezy roundup of POTUS hopefuls who fell by the wayside even before 2016. (Remember Lincoln Chafee?) However, ORourkes review of first ladies is sometimes cruel (Eleanor Roosevelt), insensitive (Betty Ford), or just plain boring (Laura Bush). In his view, Americas growing discomfort with leaders has led to the selection of someone with no means to lead us. Entertaining as ORourkes quips generally are, its when he gets to the heart of the matter, discussing the mob mentality and the value of individual dignity, individual freedom, and individual responsibility, that his work is most pointed. (Mar.)