The Republican Playbook by Andy Borowitz is a satirical look into the political tactics of the Republican Party. Formatted to appear as a guidebook giving real advice to Republican candidates, the book lampoons many elements of the American political system.
While some open minded Republicans might find some laughs in this book, for the most part the book is best enjoyed by non-Republicans. If the phrase non-Republicans is not clear enough for you, here is a list of groups that will enjoy this book: Democrats, Socialists, Communists, Independents, Libertarians, Mennonites, Librarians, Cannibals, and Pirates. If you belong to one of these groups you should definitely check this book out.
Andy Borowitz is a very funny and witty writer. For evidence of this one need only visit the Borowitz Report (http://www.borowitzreport.com). (Skip the parts promoting this book and just go to the archive to read some great satirical news content.)
There are moments of genius in this book. (For proof, check out this excerpt from The Republican Playbook.) Under one of his “talking points” sections he explains why the Democratic Party is bad. “If the Democrats get their way, the only people in this country who would be allowed to own guns would be gay cowboys.” (p. 19)
This quote could be interpreted as a spoof of the way Republicans view Democrats, or it could be a spoof of the way that Democrats think, or it could be both. We’ll never know. As far as an appearance of even handedness, this quote was one of the very few examples.
Not surprisingly, the book slams Republicans. One hilarious example of this is found on page 21 under the section about the magical power of lying. “When you are filling out your income tax return, do not list any household employees, even if you have three illegal Dominicans who have worked for you for the past twenty years and if one of them is CEO of five of your dummy corporations.”
While there is a smattering of funny snippets like this throughout the book, much of the satirical material is not very inspired and reads more like standard Democratic Party line than anything insightful or even whimsical. Some examples are references to Iraq, Dick Cheney and Trickle-down Economics.
Other criticisms do not have to be directed at Republicans alone, since they could just as easily apply to Democrats. For example there is a fill in the blank worksheet to help a Republican Candidate in generating a personal interest story to relate during a local speech. This could just as easily apply to Democrats, as both parties in our modern political landscape rely so much on trite pandering tactics like this. Also, all the references to lying could be just a bi-partisan.
In the end, this book satirizing and criticizing the Republican Party gives a back-handed complement to the organized political machine they have built. After all, there is no way one could effectively write a similar “The Democratic Party Playbook,” since as Borowitz points out in this book through the voice of the ghost author, the Democrats have not significantly updated or improved the infrastructure of their political party for a long time.
Final analysis: If you are liberal and are looking for a few laughs, you will most likely love this book.
Final Grade: On a scale of 1 to 10 I give this book a Solid B+
by Cameron Hatch
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