Synopses & Reviews
The 2004 Election Was a Circus, and Matt Taibbi enjoyed a Front-Row Seat.
As a correspondent for the New York Press, The Nation, and Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi scoured the political landscape for hard-hitting news stories. But the closer he got to the politicians, the more pompous and vapid they appeared. How could he write anything meaningful about these puffed-up martinets, much less vote for them? Nevertheless, Taibbi forged on and continued his responsibilities as a serious campaign reporter—though not without frequent bouts of blind panic, drug use, and donning a gorilla suit.
Spanking the Donkey indicts the surreal irrelevance of todays mainstream politics with barbed wit and caustic intelligence. Follow Taibbi as he covers the primary for the 2004 presidential election, joining him for a spot on John Kerrys campaign plane, face-to-face encounters with John Edwardss pancake makeup, enough Howard Dean press conferences to memorize the good doctor's stump speech by heart, and—just to spice things up—a two-month stint working undercover in a Republican campaign office in Orlando, Florida. Brimming with uncensored opinions and total truth, Taibbi captures the real American political mind; as a patron at Flos Bar in Manchester, New Hampshire, eloquently puts it: “They all suck . . . whos running?”
“Gonzo journalist Matt Taibbi will do anything . . . to bring political reporting back to life. Spanking the Donkey is all the more necessary in the aftermath of an election that harnessed enough liberal outrage to light the Vegas strip, cost more than a billion dollars, absorbed hundreds of hours we will never get back, and achieved absolutely nothing.” —Salon
Spanking the Donkey is a campaign diary like no other. Celebrated reporter Matt Taibbi turns a withering eye on the kissing contest of puffed-up martinets and egomaniacal fantasists more generally known as the 2004 Democratic primaries. Taibbi's contempt for the whole charade, and for most of those involved (including a generous helping of his fellow journalists), makes for a searing and highly entertaining account. His refusal to take the proceedings seriously leads him to volunteer for Wesley Clark's New Hampshire campaign in the guise of an adult-film director, while his take on a John Edwards press conference in New York City is filtered through the haze of hallucinogenic drugs. Taking up residence in slums and halfway houses as he follows the circus around the country, Taibbi juxtaposes an idiotic dog-and-pony show in which clashes of plainly identical candidates are presented as real controversies, with the quite separate concerns of the ordinary Americans whose lodgings he shares. The gap between the antiseptic exercise in faint patriotic optimism that is mainstream politics and the harsh realities of life for the millions of Americans that the electoral parade simply passes by has never been more sharply, or hilariously, sketched.
About the Author
Matt Taibbi is a roving national reporter for Rolling Stone. Before that he was a columnist for the New York Press and editor of the satirical magazine eXile.