If metaphors were cigarettes, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd would be a chain smoker. Through many years and countless columns spent chronicling the fall of George H.W. Bush and the ascension of George W. Bush, Dowd has employed analogies to feudalism, The Godfather
, Mini-Me, traditional "mommy" and "daddy" roles, and scores more. In this, her first book, Dowd compiles well over a hundred columns and summarizes the Bush dynasty under a single comprehensive analogy: an alternate universe called Bushworld
("It's their reality. We just live and die in it.") Dowd, who as a reporter was assigned to cover the elder Bush, seems to have a soft spot for the guy even as she describes a president with no plans to do anything but remain president. But she is alarmed by the younger Bush whom she sees surrounding himself with dangerous ideologues and starting a poorly thought-out war with disastrous consequences. Each column is relatively short, and Dowd never shares much new information, but instead offers the kind of informed skeptical perspective that's essential when interpreting the public statements of policymakers. Dowd's cleverness sometimes gets in the way of clarity, and one occasionally wishes she'd quit kidding around and say something substantive, especially since the reader of Bushworld
will likely be several years removed from the news that inspired a particular column. Cleverness can be a virtue for a writer as well, getting a laugh while perfectly illustrating a point, such as when she says of the notoriously cloistered W. "All presidents are in a bubble, but the boy king was so insulated he was in a thermos." Or when she says of the Iraq War's aftermath "for the first time in history, Americans are searching for the reasons we went to war after the war is over." --John Moe
From Publishers Weekly
As scathingly funny as she is zingingly succinct, New York Times
op-ed columnist Dowd has been riding Bush & Co. since his presidential campaign first gathered steam in 1999. Her approach has less to do with party than class: since winning the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for her commentary on the Clinton impeachment, Dowd, originally from working-class, Washington, D.C., has become the unlikely mouthpiece of broad-swath middle-class anger at corporate bosses, the conservative very rich and hawks of all stripes. The book collects five-plus years of pieces whose titles ("Bomb and Switch"; "Weapons of Mass Redaction") draw one into Dowd's weirdly high-low tabloid rata-tat-tat: "The Boy Emperor's head hurt. All the oppressive obligations of statecraft were swimming through his brain like hungry koi." The best of them synthesize out loud what the punditocracy e-mails to each other in private as the news day progresses. That real-time quality, with Dowd riffing out loud in medias res, doesn't always work in book form. But with events having unfolded so rapidly in the last five years, this compendium, Dowd's first, serves as a kind of summa for the mochaccino set's political grievances. Others cover the same waterfront, but Dowd's keen dramatizations of complex situations, uncannily biting caricatures and merciless re-spinning of spin set her far apart from the pack. The results remain devastating, even after the fact: "Gorzac: works to counteract nausea that occurs when you turn on the TV and see Al promising to 'let it rip'...."
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