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The American Spectator | 1987 | P.J. O'Rourke

Posted on 10/11/2002 11:49:22 PM PDT by general_re


Review of Everything to Gain: Making the Most of
the Rest of Your Life by Jimmy and Rosalynn
Carter, Random House, 1987

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, who used to be employed as a live-in couple in Washington, have written a book. Actually, it's more than a book. Around my house Everything to Gain has become a complete home-entertainment center. Using the Carter opus, I've developed no less than five swell new parlor games. They are better than Trivial Pursuit, charades and nude Scruples combined. The rules are printed below. Try them yourself.

D-U-M Dumb

The object of D-U-M Dumb is to find the dumbest sentence in Everything to Gain. And, let me tell you, it's a toughie. The book is passed around and each player notes a passage. The winner is determined by the amount of laughter in the room when the quotation is read.

In the case of a tie, handicap points are subtracted according to the "dumbness potential" of the section of the book from which the quote was drawn. E to G is divided into little bits and pieces, some written by Jimmy and Rosalynn together, some by Jimmy alone and some by Rosalynn all by herself. Of course, the dumber the section, the easier it is to find a dumb quote in it. Professional help seems to have been applied to the parts written in duet. These get a handicap of - 1. Dim Jimmy gets a handicap of -2. Learning-impaired Rosalynn gets -4. Cover blurbs and dust-jacket copy, written by actual literate humans, get no handicap.

There are two game categories, "Form" and "Content."

Overall winner of the first D-U-M Dumb tournament and undefeated champion to date in the "Content" category is Ms. D.B., a New York TV executive. Even though D.B. was working with a Rosalynn quotation and, hence, a -4 handicap, no one has yet been able to top the gem she found on page 59:

I have worked with the problems of the mentally afflicted for years, ever since I first became aware of the needs while campaigning for Jimmy for Governor.

D.B.'s victory was, however, marred by a rules protest. A fellow contestant held that this sentence properly belonged in a third, "Honest Confessions," category. D.B. replied to the challenge by offering an alternative Rosalynn quote, "We need people for shelving [which I learned was putting books back on the shelves] . . ."

I myself am a top competitor in the "Form" category. I won my last match with this topic sentence:

Their search for a new life over the next few years led them eventually to Koinonia Farms, a nonprofit farm that uses its income to help the needy, not far from Plains.

That nosed out another - 1 handicap entry backed by my lawyer:

And having our mothers close by to call or visit every day was a particular joy.

D-U-M can be played with children, even preschoolers, since the Carter prose style makes advanced reading skills unnecessary.

Finish That Thought

The object of this game is to find a Carter thought (be sure to allow adequate time!) and take it to its logical conclusion. Examples are given below with the contestants' additional material marked in italics:

It was good therapy . . . to be able to go to my shop and design, cut, fit and finish a piece that was useful, permanent and sometimes beautiful - or just to bang on something the way I used to bang on the economy.

We savored the different seasons of nature and gathered wild fruits, such as plums, blackberries, mayhaws, grapes, blueberries, and persimmons that grow along or near the rural trails, paths, pathways, tracks, walks, passages, bypaths, lanes, roads, and routes.

I even surprised myself with some of the things I could write. Words, for instance. All spelled out and everything.

When together for meals . . . our family almost invariably had freewheeling political discussions or arguments on controversial issues of the day. Quite early Amy learned to join in and that's how we figured out what to do about the Iran hostages.

Sometimes an unpleasant or even catastrophic event can transform one's life and reveal opportunities that could never have been envisioned. Take Hiroshima . . .

That night when we called [Amy] to dinner and she didn't come, we found her outside in a tree eating bananas with Abbie Hoffman.

So often, the best therapy for a mentally ill person is just knowing that someone cares. So Jimmy and 1 gave John Hinkley a call.


This is similar to Finish That Thought, but instead of adding material to different passages, a single passage is read and players compete to see who can come up with the most appropriate response. Examples:

I had so much information written down about the earlier period of my life that I didn't have room to include much of it in my book. For instance, I learned that my daddy's mother climbed out the window at age sixteen and eloped with a traveling salesman named Mr. Smith, who was crippled and twenty-five years older than she was. I'm saving these anecdotes for our grandchildren.

Thank you.

Marriage was not seriously considered with girls known to "go all the way."

Which must have made for great honeymoons.

I've already mentioned that Jimmy also has an amazing capacity to sleep all night, even in times of incredible pressure.

Pressure on what, Rosalynn?
And the nation rested easier, too, knowing the son of a bitch was off duty for at least eight hours every day.

My wife has never been more beautiful than when her face was covered with black smut from scraping burned ceiling joists, and streaked with sweat from carrying sheets of plywood . . .

Okay, okay, we believe you.

We needed a lot more volunteers in 1980!

Pal, what you needed was votes.

You Don't Say

In this game selections of incredibly looney, puerile and ignorant prose are written on a piece of paper. Players then try to guess whether the selections come from Everything to Gain or from something else, such as an Andrea Dworkin tract or the Washington Post editorial page. Here's a sample game card:

On Japanese War Guilt

When I was young and in high school, during World War II, I thought Hirohito was the cruelest man in the world next to Hitler. I blamed the whole Pacific conflict on him. Years later . . . we went to Tokyo and called on a sweet little elderly man, who raised flowers in his hothouse at the palace. . . . This was Emperor Hirohito - as far removed from my conception of him as he possibly could be.

A) The Carters
B) Barbara Walters

On the Sandinistas and U.S. Central American Foreign Policy

A Habitat project was started in northwest Nicaragua in 1985. . . . Habitat volunteers are teaching the local people how to build good homes - without interference.

A) The Carters
B) The Village Voice

On Watergate and Its Aftermath

. . . we were joined by Chuck Colson; whom we had personally never met before, but for whom we had little respect because of his statements and actions during the Watergate years. . . . We were also somewhat cynical about his supposed religious "conversion." . . . We quickly saw that he was at ease about his past. . . . In just a short time our remaining doubts were removed by his enthusiasm and persistence.

A) The Carters
B) Tammy Faye Bakker

On the Need For an Expanded Federal Health-Care Program

By strict disciplinary measures, possible only in a totalitarian society, and using intensive educational programs and trained paramedics who work closely with village leaders, the Chinese have reduced their infant mortality rate, carried out a broad immunization program, practically eradicated venereal disease, and lowered the annual population growth rate.

A) The Carters
B) Mao Tse-tung

On Tibetan Buddhism, Not Heretofore Known to Be Polytheistic

I have memories of prayer wheels, large and small, which spin prayers up to heaven, and of prayer flags that flap their messages to the gods . . .

A) The Carters
B) Shirley MacLaine

On Soviet-American Relations

During the service different members of the Soviet delegation were called on to speak, and each said that though we have different languages, there is room for friendship and peaceful coexistence. The very conservative residents of this north Georgia community listened intently to the interpreter, and, when the speeches were over, spontaneously rose to their feet in a standing ovation.

A) The Carters
B) Tass

If you guessed "The Carters" on all six selections, you win.

I've also invented a great Carter Book Drinking Game. You just open the book at random and, boy, do you need a drink.


So that's Everything to Gain - a perfect icebreaker for any party and enjoyed by family members of all ages. But what - you may be asking - is the book about? It's about 193 pages. Ha. Ha. Ha. Excuse me. Spend a couple hours with Jimmy and Roz and you get silly. I don't know what the hell the book's about. I mean, I read it and everything, but I haven't got the faintest idea. It just sounded to me like a couple of prissy old ratchet-jaw hicks yammering away about nothing until you wanted to stuff them headfirst through the outhouse seat.

Maybe we'd better ask the New York Times. After all, the New York Times is so much smarter than the rest of us. Let's see . . . here we go, the May 31, 1987, issue of the NYT Book Review. Therein a certain Letty Cottin Pogrebin casts an overeducated eye made wide by thought provocation upon the Carter tome and concludes it's "autobiography that is part confession, part pep talk and part handbook for activism . . . an inspiring account of the creation of a meaningful life." I don't know if we should listen to a woman from a family so obviously bad at spelling, but, what the heck, let's take Letty Cottin Pogrebin's word for it. Any questions? I don't want to keep seeing the same hands.

You know; the Carters may be onto something here - autobiography/confession/pep talk/handbook for activism and blueprint for meaningful life. I'd like to try one of those myself and give Jimmy a little of his own back. Let's see if I can do it in twenty-five words or less:

I was born in Ohio. I drink. Hooray for the Red Cross. Send contributions to 17th and D NW, Wash., 20006. Get a job, Goofy-tooth.

We didn't really elect this hamster President of the United States, did we? Naw, get outta here. It was Gerry, Gerry Ford. That was the one we elected. Jimmy, Gerry - easy to get the two mixed up. And you know how vague we Americans are about history. We've just plumb forgot which fellow we voted in.

Whoops. I looked it up. We did elect Jimmy Carter President. Although, I notice, we unelected him as soon as we possibly could.

So now what are we going to do with him, him and his nitwit wife? We can't go on letting them write books. It's too embarrassing. This is an industrialized, Western nation. We can't have things like this in our bookstores. We'll get drummed out of the English-Speaking League. We've got to find some other line of work for these two before they, oh God, write again.

Television evangelists
Permanent guest hosts on "Hee Haw"
Carnival sideshow attractions
Goodwill ambassadors to Sri Lanka

Those possibilities leap to mind. But I have a better suggestion. Let's put them back in the White House.

All right, it sounds insane. But think about it for a minute. We've got all our seventies' debts paid off with cheap eighties' dollars. We've got low mortgage rates locked in on our houses. Now, if we could just get T-bills to yield twenty percent again, we'd be fixed. We're ready for double-digit inflation.

Then there're the Russians. Carter would keep them worried and off balance. When you've got a guy as dumb as this in the White House, hell, he might sit on the button. The Soviets would be shaking.

And Carter has this remarkable peace-making ability. Reading E to G makes it suddenly clear how he managed the Camp David Accord. Begin and Sadat were so bored by the blubber-skulled Carter family that they were willing to do anything to get out of Camp David. It might just work again with Syria,or Jordan.

Plus there's the matter of kick-ass patriotism, which has been slipping in the aftermath of the Iran-contra hearings. With J.C. at the helm, there'd be another disaster such as the hostage crisis. That might be what we need to put some lead back in the national pencil and get us started whooping on creepy foreigners again.

Furthermore there'd be no obnoxious big-government activism in a new Carter administration. This is because of the people Carter would appoint. As soon as they were in office they'd run down to the South African embassy to protest apartheid. And they'd get thrown into jail and wouldn't be able to cause trouble.

The country's editorial cartoons would become hilarious again because Carter is funnier looking than Reagan. Indeed, as Jimmy gets older, he's funnier looking than anyone - a sort of Don Knotts of the undead.

And here, here, is the kicker. If Jimmy comes back, Billy comes back. Damn it, don't we all miss Billy Carter!*

So run right out and buy a copy of Everything to Gain, and write and tell Jimmy and Rosalynn just how much fun you had with it. (I've found my copy is also great for playing fetch with the dog.) Do everything to encourage the fellow. Maybe he'll make a comeback.

It's increasingly clear that nobody in his right mind wants to be President of the United States. Therefore let's, as Rosalynn doubtless says, "go with the flow" and put somebody in the White House with no mind at all.

*Almost all the predicted benefits of a Carter presidency have been, amazingly enough, provided by the Bush administration. The exceptions being twenty percent T-bill yields and, of course, a return of Billy Carter to the public eye. (Also, Bush's political associates tend to run afoul of the law for reasons other than protesting apartheid.)

TOPICS: News/Current Events
An oldie but a goodie, from P.J. O'Rourke - in keeping with the spirit of this thread...
1 posted on 10/11/2002 11:49:22 PM PDT by general_re
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To: dighton; dead; Orual; aculeus; BlueLancer; hellinahandcart; Poohbah
2 posted on 10/11/2002 11:51:22 PM PDT by general_re
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To: general_re
One of the funniest things I have read in centuries!

Worse yet, I am one of those idiots who voted for this peanut farmer! Yes, I confess, we democrats would vote for anyone with a D after their names! And at that time, that is what I was, a democrat!
3 posted on 10/11/2002 11:59:15 PM PDT by ladyinred
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To: general_re
Jimmy Carter was jerkin his gerkin looking at Playboy magazines in the Oval Office (For you doubdting folks, Carter was interviewed and admitted this.) He tutored his friend, Slick Willie... what more can one say?
4 posted on 10/12/2002 12:20:36 AM PDT by BulletBrasDotNet
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To: general_re
It boggles the mind that this man should have been given a Nobel Prize, even the CrackerJacks-approved Peace Prize, which somehow always seems to go to a communist. But then, we did elect him President, didn't we?

Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton... the Democrats' record in the past fifty years will get them no points at the great Bar of Judgment.

Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Visit the Palace Of Reason:

5 posted on 10/12/2002 2:18:50 AM PDT by fporretto
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To: general_re
Peanut boy gave away the panama canal, left our American hostages in Iran for over a year then had a keystone cops affair to get them out. What is he trying to do now give Calif, Arizona New Mexico and Texas back to Mexico? What a total dumbass turd.
6 posted on 10/12/2002 3:10:42 AM PDT by Joe Boucher
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To: general_re
I just posted The Most Ridiculous Nobel Peace Price Yet. Those who enjoyed this, will enjoy that, and it's a quick read.
7 posted on 10/12/2002 3:21:11 AM PDT by FreedomPoster
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To: Joe Boucher
>Peanut boy gave away the panama canal,

I have been predicting for the last few years that we will shed the blood of American soldiers re-taking and re-opening the Panama Canal, within my lifetime. I'm early 40's.
8 posted on 10/12/2002 3:24:55 AM PDT by FreedomPoster
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9 posted on 10/12/2002 6:23:02 AM PDT by general_re
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To: general_re
Classic PJ.

I was harrumping peanut man's Nobel Prize yesterday at the office. A few older libs kept saying, 'but he's a good man'.

I'd tell 'em, Forest Gump's a good man, but you wouldn't want him for President.
10 posted on 10/12/2002 6:30:35 AM PDT by TC Rider
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To: general_re; Orual; aculeus; MississippiDeltaDawg; Dawgsquat
Bump for P.J. O'Rourke and the old American Spectator.

A good companion for this review, if you can find it, is Joe Queenan on Kitty Dukakis.

11 posted on 10/12/2002 9:18:46 AM PDT by dighton
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To: general_re; dighton; aculeus
Terrific stuff. I hadn't read it before.
12 posted on 10/12/2002 10:17:37 AM PDT by Orual
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To: dighton; Orual

Amazing the kinda stuff for which they hand out a prize!

13 posted on 10/12/2002 12:24:16 PM PDT by MozarkDawg
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To: general_re
I am weeping here. LOL!
14 posted on 10/12/2002 2:34:39 PM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: general_re
Very deep bump.
15 posted on 10/13/2002 7:02:31 AM PDT by Rocko
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To: general_re

Ace of Spades HQ just linked to this. Thank you for posting this (ten years ago). Hilarious.

16 posted on 10/14/2012 7:13:29 PM PDT by PghBaldy (I am sick of Obama's and Hillary's apologies to muslims, especially after 11 September 2012.)
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