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William O'Rourke
WILLIAM O'ROURKE is the author of The Harrisburg 7 and the New Catholic Left (1972), Signs of the Literary Times: Essays, Reviews, Profiles (1993), and On Having a Heart Attack: A Medical Memoir (2006), as well as the novels The Meekness of Isaac (1974), Idle Hands (1981), Criminal Tendencies (1987), and Notts (1996). He is the editor of On the Job: Fiction About Work by Contemporary American Writers (1977)and Notre Dame Review: The First Ten Years (2009). His book, Campaign America ‘96: The View From the Couch, first published in 1997, was reissued in paperback with a new, updated epilogue in 2000. A sequel, Campaign America 2000: The View From the Couch, was published in 2001. He has been awarded two NEAs and a New York State Council on the Arts CAPS grant. He was the first James Thurber Writer-in-Residence at the Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio and is a professor of English at the University of Notre Dame and was the founding director of its graduate creative writing program. He wrote a weekly political column for the Chicago Sun-Times from 2001 till 2005.

He blogs at

Entries by William O'Rourke

Pensive Pence

(0) Comments | Posted July 19, 2016 | 6:02 PM

On July 7th I tweeted this: My pick for GOP veep is Newt, since he's the only one whose career won't be ruined, since it's already ruined. A lot of commentators were picking Newt, right up to a few days before The Donald picked Mike Pence, my governor. I have...

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The Birther Business

(1) Comments | Posted July 1, 2016 | 12:02 AM

A number of publications have been running President Obama assessment articles, given that he is nearing the end of his second term. And the campaign of Donald Trump is also fomenting retrospectives on the Obama administration, given The Donald's role in the "birther" controversy during the president's second...

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Bye Bye Bernie

(8) Comments | Posted June 17, 2016 | 11:58 AM

In the early 1960s I was a big Ann-Margret fan, first associating her with the film version of the musical Bye Bye Birdie. Before that I was a Brenda Lee fan, who came to town to star in a road show production of Bye...

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Clinton Exhaustion

(0) Comments | Posted May 27, 2016 | 1:07 PM

Many recall "Clinton Fatigue," one of the reasons Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign faltered and fell. Now people are tired of even bringing up that old fatigue excuse, though, of course, it still pertains. I am not a fan of counter-factual examples, but one that seems pertinent is what this...

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Transforming The Donald

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2016 | 1:00 PM

Transformations within the Trump candidacy are ongoing. Unfortunately, the one that is the most worrisome is how the national press is treating him. With respect, that is. This first turned up with the photograph MSNBC uses of Trump on primary nights, the headshot that goes up beside his...

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Ted's Excellent Mansplaining

(0) Comments | Posted April 29, 2016 | 1:57 PM

I was exercising at my university's faculty gym when Ted Cruz was laboriously mansplaining why he was choosing Carly Fiorina as his virtual Veep for his holographic future presidency. It was a classic case: I, Ted Cruz, a man, will now tell you why I have the good judgment to...

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The Haunting of Hillary

(7) Comments | Posted April 20, 2016 | 6:24 PM

One thing that made the Clintons so mad about the 2008 presidential election is that Hillary would have won in a walk. That knowledge alone can account for Bill Clinton's anger back in that campaign over the realization that Barack Obama would be getting the nomination. Bill had

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Revenge of the Sixties

(1) Comments | Posted April 7, 2016 | 11:35 AM

Ted Cruz, the Dump Trump movement's great white hope, is the kind of guy who gave high school debate teams a bad name. A hectoring know-it-all who favors Chautauqua -- not Hillary Clinton's Chautauqua -- stage gestures and oratory. Ineffably smug. But the oddity is that the Democratic number two,...

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Accidental Presidencies

(1) Comments | Posted March 10, 2016 | 9:54 AM

Donald Trump isn't the surprise frontrunner he's made out to be. He is the result of a long trend line, heading downwards, in American politics. I wrote a book on the '96 presidential campaign (Campaign America '96), about the second-term election of Bill Clinton running against Bob Dole. Clinton, himself,...

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My Hillary Problem -- And Yours

(0) Comments | Posted January 28, 2016 | 11:31 AM

For close to a year I have expected Bernie Sanders to embarrass Hillary Clinton in the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. It now looks as if he well may injure her.

Most Democrats, I assume, thought Bernie would be a salubrious tonic for Hillary, keeping her honest, more or...

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Barney Rosset U.

(0) Comments | Posted March 1, 2012 | 1:10 PM

Upon his recent death, I realized I had matriculated in the Barney Rosset School of Literature, or, more correctly (since I didn't know who Barney Rosset was when I started), The Grove Press University of the Arts. I also went on to graduate school at New Directions...

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Contraception Wars and Woes

(8) Comments | Posted February 23, 2012 | 3:36 PM

I share at least one attribute of the Catholic Bishops, now at war with the Obama administration: I don't want to talk about contraception, either.

I've taught for over three decades at the university which some characterize as the place where the American Catholic Church "does its thinking." Well, here...

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Not Saving Social Security, Again

(33) Comments | Posted February 15, 2012 | 3:13 PM

The Republicans, once again, have "caved" on allowing the extension of the payroll tax reduction -- if you consider furthering their anti-Social Security strategy an act of caving. Among the many stories the media has misreported over recent decades, Social Security is one of the most egregious. I have been...

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Halftime in Pink America

(0) Comments | Posted February 8, 2012 | 4:36 PM

The Super Bowl was, well, super. The game had its moments: the first "free" touchdown in the big game that was, supposedly, not meant to happen (but once a running back turns around in a sitting position on the goal line, he's only gonna fall in backwards, pushed by all...

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A Primary History Primer

(0) Comments | Posted February 2, 2012 | 11:32 AM

Let me be blunt: When Republicans run against an incumbent Democratic president, they usually choose a damaged war veteran as their candidate. The '96 election set the pattern: Bob Dole v. Bill Clinton. (A less caustic analysis is that they pick someone who has run before in primaries and lost....

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Our Post-Satirical Primaries

(0) Comments | Posted January 25, 2012 | 1:40 PM

One thing is clear: Newt Gingrich is not running as Ronald Reagan, but as Margaret Thatcher, at least the Thatcher caricatured by Spitting Image, the Brit satirical television show, circa 1984. Gingrich has often been lampooned as a puppet, one in particular, the malevolent horror-film character Chucky, but Spitting Image's...

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