Synopses & Reviews
The end of the Bush era is almost upon us, but that doesn't mean that Calvin Trillin can rest on his laurels. Returning to the form (and forum) that made bestsellers of Obliviously On He Sails
and A Heckuva Job
, the putative Bard of the Bush presidency trains his sights this year's presidential pageant.
From the early primary battles to the general election, Trillin recreates in verse all the lowlights of the endless campaign slog. From Mitt Romney's failed crusade, seen here in all its vacillating splendor (Those Massachusetts views he once embraced —/ The views that had been totally replaced / By views designed to make a case and vector it / Directly to the heart of this electorate) to the happening-in-slow-motion implosion of Hillary Clinton's stalled drive to the White House (Some pundits wrote that Hil's campaign might fare / A little better if Bill wasn't there.)
Though many may be gone, they're certainly not forgotten: The somnambulant Fred Thompson and his misadventures in South Carolina (The pros said, 'That's a state he'd have to take' / And he just might, if he can stay awake.); the pious and pithy Mike Huckabee; elfin Dennis Kucinich (... whose frail appearance / suggested he'd not finished all his spinach.); and of course, the eventual nominees, John McCain and Barack Obama, who fought tirelessly for nothing less than the right to be the target of Trillin's pen for the next four-to-eight years.
Election 2008: Never have so many said so much in the pursuit of so little. And who better than Calvin Trillin to encapsulate in crystalline verse every vainglorious speech, flat-footed gaffe, blatant misstatement, and calculated pandering gesture of the many men (and one woman) who knew in their hearts that only they could ably guide the Free World? It's all here (except for the issue of race, which as everybody knows, is not really an issue in twenty-first century America...). And it's so delightfully off-kilter that even the unhinged candidacy of Mike Gravel (...who seemed to revel / In being just a bubble off of level.) seemed the model of stability by comparison.
"As fun as this is now — especially for Obama supporters — Deciding the Next Decider may prove even more valuable down the road as a concise reminder of this amazing chapter in American history." The Christian Science Monitor
Obama's rhetoric, she said, was lofty
But unsubstantial air, like Mr. Softee.
His party was no longer torn asunder,
And all he'd had to do was knuckle under.
Joe carries many thoughts inside his head,
And often leaves but few of them unsaid.
On Russia's being not too far away
She sounded eerily like Tina Fey.
Displaying the form that made bestsellers of Obliviously On He Sails and A Heckuva Job, tales of the Bush Administration in rhyme, Calvin Trillin trains his verse on the 2008 race for the presidency.
Displaying the form that made bestsellers of Obliviously On He Sails
and A Heckuva Job
, tales of the Bush Administration in rhyme, Calvin Trillin trains his verse on the 2008 race for the presidency.
Deciding the Next Decider is an ongoing campaign narrative in verse interrupted regularly by other poems, such as a country tune about John Edwards called “Yes, I Know Hes a Mill Workers Son, But Theres Hollywood in That Hair” and a Sarah Palin song about her foreign policy credentials: “On a Clear Day, I See Vladivostok.” It covers Mitt Romneys transformation (“Mitt Romneys saying now he should have known / A stem cells just a human, not quite grown”), the speculation about whether Al Gore was trimming down to run (“Presumably, they looked for photo ops / To see what Gore was stuffing in his chops”), the slow-motion implosion of Hillary Clintons drive to the White House (“Some pundits wrote that Hils campaign might fare / A little better if Bill wasnt there”), and the differing responses of Barack Obama and John McCain to the financial crisis (“Though coolness has its limitations, itll / Prevent comparisons with Chicken Little”).
Beginning at the 2006 midterms, Deciding the Next Decider resurrects the nonstarters like George Allen (“He fit whats often valued by the Right: / Quite cheerful, Reaganesque, and not too bright”) and the low-energy Fred Thompson (“The pros said, ‘Thats a state he has to take, / And he just might, if he can stay awake ”). And it carries through to the vote that made Barack Obama the forty-fourth president of the United States.
About the Author
Calvin Trillin, who became The Nation's "deadline poet" in 1990, has also written verse on the events of the day for The New Yorker, the New York Times, and National Public Radio. His political beliefs are so colored by rhyme and meter that he once criticized Hillary Clinton for being "insufficiently iambic" and publicly advised against a presidential run by the governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich. He is the author of Obliviously on He Sails and A Heckuva Job.