Ed. here. In "Hellery Clinton's 'Mannequin Challenge' campaign fail" (WWW 5/8/17 - includes video), Walt promised you a review of Insane Clown President, Matt Taibbi's book on the 2016 presidential election (Spiegel & Grau, 2017). This is it.
It's a pity that the original -- make that unique -- Doctor of Gonzo Journalism, Hunter S. Thompson, offed himself before US politics sank to the dpeths of the 21st-century campaigns for the presidensity. How he would have enjoyed last year's down-and-dirty slugfest between The Donald and Crooked Hillary. "Fear and Loathing in the Beltway, 2016" would have been a great title for one of HST's no-holds-barred tirades against the swine that comprise the American political and media establishments.
Matt Taibbi covers politics for Rolling Stone, and, when he's in form, is capable of just as much indignation and rancour as HST. In Insane Clown President, Mr Taibbi reveals a blind spot when it comes to Barack Hussein Obama, who, he reckons, will be adjudged a great president, compared with those who preceded and followed him. QED.
Although he makes mock of the "Mannequin Challenge" -- see above, Mr Taibbi also averts his gaze, for the most part, from the glaring defects in Hellery Clinton's campaign and the manifest flaws in her character. He seems unsurprised by La Clinton's answer to a question about why she took $675,000 for casting a few pearls before select groups of bankers. What Crooked Hillary said was "Well, that's what they were offering." So that makes it OK, then.
Very little of Insane Clown President is about Secretary Clinton or President Obama. Most of the book -- a collection of articles written for Rolling Stone, with some footnotes and hindsightful comments -- deals with the Republican primaries of 2016 and the subsequent campaign which resulted in the election of President Donald J. Trump.
Matt Taibbi's average as a prognosticator was not nearly as good as Walt's (lifetime pct .986). Mr T batted only 1 for 2. He called the primary result way back in February, labelling Mr Trump as "unstoppable". But he drank the lamestream media Koolaid on the election itself, believing right to the end that there was no way a majority of Americans would vote for the "lunatic Trump". He was wrong, and, to his great credit, admits it.
Mr Taibbi provides a cogent analysis of how he, the DNC, CNN, MSNBC etc etc blew it -- by ignoring the opinions and feelings of the American people in the flyover states between the Blue Coasts. It is from that analysis, contained in the introduction, that I excerpted the bit about the "Mannequin Challenge". It's worth repeating.
As a metaphor for an overconfident and incompetent ruling class that was ten miles up its own backside when it should have been listening to the anger percolating in the population, the "Mannequin Challenge" is probably unsurpassable. Here was a planeload of effete politicos making a goofball video when they should have been frantically bailing water to stave off maybe the most disastrous loss in the history of American presidential politics. If those people had known the election was even going to be close, they would have outlawed smiling on that plane, let alone making nutty souvenir videos. But they had no clue what was coming.
There's a lot of very serious commentary in Insane Clown President, but it's leavened with humour, dripping with sarcasm, and larded with LOL put-downs like this description of "Rudy Giuliani...his eyes spinning and arms flailing like a man who'd come to a hospital lost-and-found in search of his medulla oblongata."
I laughed, loudly and often, at the invective the writer hurls at everyone except the Prez and Hellery. But our laughter at the clowns who dominate American politics and media should be tempered by recognition of the ugly truth that we are being led (laughing all the way) to the end of the "American era" -- the time when the US of A was arguably the best country on earth. I've selected two more excerpts from Insane Clown President which should sober you up, no matter whether you're a "progressive", like Mr Taibbi, or a conservative-cum-libertarian, like Your Humble Servant.
[We are] facing a future in which national elections will no longer be decided by ideas, but by numbers. It will be a turnout battle between people who believe in a multicultural vision for the country, and those who don't.
Every other issue, from taxes to surveillance to war to jobs to education, will take a distant back seat to this ongoing, moronic referendum on white victimhood.
Way back in February...I thought Trump had a real chance at the presidency. But later I made the same mistake most every other reporter did. I listened to polls and media outlets, instead of people. I thought Trump's maladroit and ridiculous general-election campaign, in which he went back on virtually every major primary-season promise while being revealed through seemingly hourly scandals as one of the world's most corrupt and personally repulsive individuals, would do him in. He would lose and lose huge, ending up a footnote to history, having served no purpose beyond the destruction of the Republican Party. Conventional wisdom said so, and wasn't conventional wisdom always right?
Not quite. We journalists made the same mistake the Republicans made, the same mistake the Democrats made. We were too sure of our own influence, too lazy to bother hearing things firsthand, and too in love with ourselves to imagine that so many people could hate and distrust us as much as they apparently do.
Summary: If you're only going to read one book about the 2016 election and how The Donald became President Trump, don't waste your time on self-serving trash like La Clinton's What Happened (already reviewed for you right here on WWW). Make it Insane Clown President. You'll laugh and you'll think, and what more can you do, now that it's happened.
Footnote: The illustrations for Insane Clown President were done by Rolling Stone artist Victor Juhasz. Just as Matt Taibbi is no Hunter S. Thompson (and admits it), Victor Juhasz is no Ralph Steadman. The drawing above is supposed to show Mr Trump emerging from the anus of an elephant. Subtle enough for ya? But that's quite in keeping with the spirit of '16.