Obliviously On He Sails
The Bush Administration in Rhyme
By Calvin Trillin
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400062881, 128pp.)
Publication Date: June 1, 2004
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Does the Bush Administration sound any better in rhyme? In this biting array of verse, it at least sounds funnier. Calvin Trillin employs everything from a Gilbert and Sullivan style, for describing George Bush’s rescue in the South Carolina primary by the Christian Right (“I am, when all is said and done, a Robertson Republican”), to a bilingual approach, when commenting on the President’s casual acknowledgment, after months of trying to persuade the nation otherwise, that there was never any evidence of Iraqi involvement in 9/11: “The Web may say, or maybe Lexis-Nexis / If chutzpa is a word they use in Texas.”
Trillin deals not only with George W. Bush but with the people around him—Supreme Commander Karl Rove and Condoleezza (Mushroom Cloud) Rice and Nanny Dick Cheney (“One mystery I’ve tried to disentangle: / Why Cheney’s head is always at an angle . . .”) The armchair warriors Trillin refers to as the Sissy Hawk Brigade are celebrated in such poems as “Richard Perle: Whose Fault Is He?” and “A Sissy Hawk Cheer” (“All-out war is still our druthers— / Fiercely fought, and fought by others.”).
Trillin may never be poet laureate—certainly not while George W. Bush is in office—but his wit and his political insight produce what has been called “doggerel for the ages.”
Since 1990, CALVIN TRILLIN has been The Nation’s “deadline poet,” contributing every week a piece of verse on the news. In discussing his political sympathies, he has said, “I am partial to politicians with iambic names that rhyme with a lot of disparaging words.”
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