Young people, Tucker Carlson points out, have a “hair-trigger instinct for moral outrage.” I’m young and so—predictably—find Carlson’s politics morally outrageous. I approached Politicians, Partisans, and Parasites with a watertight closed-mindedness. I wanted to hate it. And—again, predictably—I did.
Yet, alas, I couldn’t put it down. Carlson is hilarious. On George W. Bush: “He dresses like someone who just got back from an afternoon of shoplifting at Sears.” On Jesse Jackson: He’s an incorrigible fibber who “has not had the decency to fade from public view.”
“Ugh,” I wrote in the margin. But I laughed. For 192 pages.
Of CNN executive Ted Turner’s ultimatum that the word “foreigner” be replaced on the air with the politically correct “international,” Carlson writes that there’s no “real substitute for ‘foreigners’ . . . as anyone who has watched British soccer fans kick one another to death or seen a Kenyan villager wash down lunch with a cup of hot cow blood can tell you. This isn’t international behavior. It’s foreign. . . .”
Cringe. And a smiley face in the margin.
To be fair, Carlson is just that—fair. Rarely do his stories degenerate into partisan proselytizing. The book is, appropriately, less about politics than about politicians. Jesse Jackson, Jim Traficant, Ralph Nader, Bill Bradley, John McCain, George W. Bush—Carlson has amassed an apparently endless catalog of anecdotes about politicians and their cronies. Some are the objects of his fawning admiration, others, both right and left, the butts of his irreverent jokes.
Which is not to suggest I didn’t hate his book. Carlson is a conservative talking head in a medium that favors badgering over deliberation, generalization over nuance. But I’m going to read the book again. And maybe again. Just, you know, to make sure I still hate it.