The Strange and Scary Tribes that Run Our Government
By Dana Milbank
Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385517508, 288pp.
Publication Date: December 26, 2007
Washington’s most acerbic (and feared) columnist, the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, skewers the peculiar and alien tribal culture of politics.
Deep within the forbidding land encircled by the Washington Beltway lives the tribe known as Homo politicus. Their ways are strange, even repulsive, to civilized human beings; their arcane rites often impenetrable; their language coded and obscure. Violating their complex taboos can lead to sudden, harsh, and irrevocable punishment. Normal Americans have long feared Homo politicus, with good reason. But fearless anthropologist Dana Milbank has spent many years immersed in the dark heart of Washington, D.C., and has produced this indispensable portrait of a bizarre culture whose tribal ways are as hilarious as they are outrageous.
Milbank’s anthropological lens is highly illuminating, whether examining the mating rituals of Homo politicus (which have little to do with traditional concepts of romantic love), demonstrating how status is displayed in the Beltway’s rigid caste system (such as displaying a wooden egg from the White House Easter Egg Roll) or detailing the precise ritual sequence of human sacrifice whenever a scandal erupts (the human sacrificed does not have to be the guiltiest party, just the lower ranked).
Milbank’s lacerating wit mows down the pompous, the stupid, and the corrupt among Democrats, Republicans, reporters, and bureaucrats by naming names. Every appalling anecdote in this book is, alas, true.
How Homo Politicus Sees Dana Milbank:
“The (Bush) Administration’s least favorite journalist. And it’s not hard to see why.”
—The American Prospect
“Taking trash journalism to new heights.”
—Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
“Many of us do believe Dana is rabid…there is probably nothing human, at least, that could balance Dana. I have suggested a close examination of various reptiles, and it may be that we need to go to the Galapagos Islands to find something appropriate.”
—Tom Edsall, former Washington Post colleague
“The most anti-Bush reporter currently assigned to the White House by a major news organization.”
“Washington PR folks, who would normally auction off their right arm to get the Washington Post to cover their boss’ press conference, know by now that having Dana Milbank show up is probably more of a curse than a blessing.”
“A wonder at the anthropology of this town and understanding the way the sociology of Washington works today.”
—Chris Matthews, host of Hardball
Wonkette poll—Dana Milbank is…
…emblematic of the deterioration of the American media. 12.1%
…the savior of American journalism. 13.5%
…a publicity whore. 74.4%