My favourite loopy leftie; my favourite right-wing nut

PJ OâRourke

Not my words, but all the more amusing for that. They were the description — by the friend of a friend — of the two participants in Thursday’s extended LNL interview. A sufficiently decent interval has now passed, I think, for me to once again risk such a promo.

Phillip spent the whole hour talking to P.J. O’Rourke about his new book, “On the Wealth of Nations.” What a delightful surprise. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the few O’Rourke books I’ve read but didn’t expect such a low key, cultured, quietly intelligent (but still very funny) performance. Much ground was covered, from Smith’s two major works to how badly he’s often misunderstood and misrepresented. As well as a few forays into contemporary politics.

Highly recommended.

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18 Responses to My favourite loopy leftie; my favourite right-wing nut

  1. Thanks for mentioning it Ingolf. I didn’t think of the interview as highly as you, but enjoyed it and was glad I listened. It gets three and a half stars from me!

  2. Jason Soon says:

    O’Rourke is more (and this is a word that send me into a bit of a cringe because it is overused and abused) nuanced than his writings at first appear. Take account of some poetic licence when you read his work.

  3. Fred Argy says:

    Yes Ingolf, it was interesting – yet a little disappoining because O’Rourke was not in top form and Adams was too restrained. I would have liked to see Adams challenge O’Rourke a bit more than he did to liven up an otherwise flat interview. That said, I learn a lot.

  4. As Jason says, ‘nuance’ sure is doing the rounds these days.

  5. harry clarke says:

    I didn’t see the interview but I’ve read the new book – I think it is very well-written economics by a non-economist. He has worked hard at it – isolates major themes – and probably done a much better job than an economist would.

    I am a bit partial, nuance or not, I’ve enjoyed everything that I have read by O’Rourke. Humourous, acid-tongue and in terms of spotting hypocrisy and stupidity in the world about him, as perceptive as anyone I know.

  6. Ingolf says:

    Three and a half is probably fair, Nicholas, but I think I’d still sneak mine up to four. It’s the first time I’ve listened to O’Rourke, so — unlike Jason and Fred, and regrettably by the sounds — I’m not in a position to offer a truly informed judgement.

    Agreed, Harry. As you say, he certainly has a way of disembowelling cant.

  7. “My Favourite Loopy Leftie”

    Philip Adams? You mean “my favourite pompous, boring, establishment, pseudo-left ALP supporter”, don’t you? At least he’s over that bloody ‘Gladys’ rubbish.

    I’m listening right now, but for O’Rourke, not for Adams.

  8. James Farrell says:


    Adams has his place in the establishment if you insist on holding that against him. He is an ALP supporter, but is transparent about it. I’ll take your word for it that he’s pseudo-left, since you obviously know about such things. Whether he’s boring is a matter of taste, but I myself think he invites a fascinating parade of guests and interviews them skillfully. (Whom do you regard as an interesting broadcaster, by the way?)

    But pompous Adams is not. If you say that, you either don’t listen to the program or you need to look the word up.

  9. zoot says:

    I’ll second James Farrell’s comments. And David, maybe you should listen to LNL more often. On Tuesday Adams opened his show with the words “G’day Gladdies and Poddies …”. You can hear it here

  10. Just Me says:

    I can take or leave Adams, he has his place, but the diversity and quality of guests LNL pulls is pretty damn impressive, as is the diversity of subjects covered.

    I thought the O’Rourke/Adam Smith episode was pretty good. 4/5.

  11. wbb says:

    I love the cliched invective that is always aimed at Phillip Adams in places such as this, and which seems to be the admission price to be paid when entering the blogosphere.

    It’s nowt but the tall-poppy syndrome (or Oedipal Complex as it’s called in Europe).

    For a great many “progressives”, who (btw) don’t know of the brave little blogosphere, Adams is a favourite outlet for intelligent and informative broadcasting. And has been for years.

    I don’t like the gladys thing either, or the theme music, but have for many years found the other bit – and that’d be the content – is great listening.

    He unites bloggers of all stripes. The rwdbs hate his extreme leftism and the leftists hate his supposed sham leftism.

    Maybe we need a companion thread on why we are allergic to Phillip Adams.

  12. Well this can be the thread Wbb.

    For me, I like PA. The things I like are that he’s often quite funny, he’s very relaxed. He’s pretty well informed on many things and where he’s not he’s still pretty curious. He’s up front about his biases but able to have good discussions with those with whom he disagrees strongly. Michael Duffy is also the true Right Wing PA in that sense. The one thing he’s neither very astute or very curious about is economics – which is a pity for me, but there you go.

    Dislikes are that when he’s (occasionally) not interested in the person he’s interviewing or otherwise in bad form he can be a bit silly without being very funny. But that’s fairly rare. He has some low key charisma that makes him good to listen to – and he has a great range of guests.

    Oh and I like the music (both JSB and the current theme) and gladdies and poddies is better than Gladys.

  13. wbb says:

    The one thing he

  14. James Farrell says:

    Maybe not too many good economics topics, but there was quite a good interview about four years ago with some bloke from Melbourne who was promoting a scheme for an independent fiscal authority.

  15. wbb says:

    there was quite a good interview about four years ago with some bloke [on some dusty economics topic].

    Enough chit chat about economics, we get. I look at blinky every night at the end of the news. That does for me. Or is the business news not quite what you mean by economics?

  16. Finding this post got me thinking: I’ve never listened to LNL. Not once. The only time I’ve ever listened to Radio National is under sufference (in a colleague’s car) and when I’ve been on it. Before I went to university, I hadn’t even heard of it.

    Maybe it’s a function of class and age, but I’ve never been able to get into talking on the radio, with the exception of the ABC’s sporting coverage (cricket, footy and the like). Funny how things go, I suppose.

  17. Rockie says:

    Shorter skepticlawyer: I’m only really interested in listening to radio that mentions or quotes me (channelling Elle).

  18. Yep – at least I’m honest about it ;)

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