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The Republican Playbook

By Andy Borowitz

Review by Mary Elizabeth Ladd

Reviewed November 26, 2006

Andy Borowitz has written a compact satire of the American Republican Party, published very nicely by Hyperion books just in time for the recent November election upset. Because many are claiming this election wasn't entirely a victory for Democrats but a Republican self-defeat, maybe the need for books like this continues.

It's clean sturdy satire, almost downright "Onion-esque" in spots.which is nothing to sneeze at. Satire in any form is hard to pull off. However, many who are in great need of receiving its often harsh message are aggravatingly immune to it. It's definitely an advanced reading skill. The uneducated don't seem to trust it. They just don't get it. So it often ends up so much more preaching to the choir. And is that worthwhile?

Not that there's not some talented, classic funny-making here: Bush notes in the margins, Mr. Potato Head and Intelligent Design, and the Wikipedia humor is so up-to-date. The book has humorous talking points, and fake forwards from past presidents for past editions. And Barowitz is duly hard on democrats:

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon ordered a team of burglars to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington , D.C. , to steal the Democrats' plans for the upcoming election. While this burglary and the subsequent cover-up became known as the Watergate scandal, the real scandal, from the Republican point of view, was how few plans worth stealing the Democrats actually had. After ransacking party headquarters, the best that the Watergate burglars could come up with was a cocktail napkin with the words "Nominate a Liberal" scrawled on it. All in all, such a "secret plan" hardly justified all the time, effort, and money we put into breaking into the place.

Over the years, the Democrats' plans for victory have gotten no more sophisticated ("Nominate a Liberal from Massachusetts " appears to be the latest incarnation).

After winning back the House and Senate, I'm not so sure the war for America 's soul is over. And the Democrats' problem today is that they try to fight their battles with smarts when the smart guy seems to be badly losing the war. Are books like these just sounding whistles only dogs can hear?

The far-right's suspicions on smarts isn't just concerning, it's alarming. First it's Darwinism, then it's any truth that contradicts the state. It's not really all that funny anymore. And I grew up thinking everything was funny.

I guess my disappointment is more with the powers of humor itself. I wish humor could shame the enemy into being the decent, God-loving people they claim to be. I always thought humor had the power to turn the tables. The past eight years of humorless, right-wing take-over have scared some of the humor out of even me.

Honestly, the book will make a great Christmas gift for your left-wing listers. It's hip, sardonic and quick. And comfort to the losers and the near-losers of the Democrat Party. I just hope it's not true: to the losers go the satires.

More on Andy Borowitz: www.borowitzreport.com

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