Joking Through the Apocalypse

Mark Steyn is the only neoconservative who can still make you laugh.  David Brooks could, when he and I worked at the Washington Times in the mid-1980’s; he was great with the jokes in person and in writing.  But after Brooks was hired at the New York Times in 2003, he took on the High Seriousness that afflicts the paper.  The other neocons are dullards all.

Steyn’s main stylistic fault is that he doesn’t let up with the levity.  Maybe that’s OK in a column.  But in a 424-page book, I kept muttering, like Gertrude to Polonius, “More matter, with less art.”  I enjoyed Steyn when I started reading his syndicated column in the late 1990’s.  In 2000, he wrote a column about attending a breakfast featuring George W. Bush, then running the soft gauntlet of Republican primaries.  Steyn gushed so much about Bush that I thought, I’m not going to enjoy his writing if Bush wins.  That came true with Bush’s election and became worse after the September 11 attacks.  Steyn, a Canadian educated in England, raved for his liege lord like a royal courtier.  The Afghanistan and Iraq wars made him a Colonel Blimp imperialist cheerleader, though he never served in the military.  He became unreadable.

Steyn’s first book was America Alone: The End of the World...

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