Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme
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Displaying the form that made bestsellers of Obliviously On He Sails and A Heckuva Job, tales of the Bush Administration in rhyme, Calvin Trillin trains his verse on the 2008 race for the presidency.
Deciding the Next Decider is an ongoing campaign narrative in verse interrupted regularly by other poems, such as a country tune about John Edwards called “Yes, I Know He’s a Mill Worker’s Son, But There’s Hollywood in That Hair” and a Sarah Palin song about her foreign policy credentials: “On a Clear Day, I See Vladivostok.” It covers Mitt Romney’s transformation (“Mitt Romney’s saying now he should have known / A stem cell’s just a human, not quite grown”), the speculation about whether Al Gore was trimming down to run (“Presumably, they looked for photo ops / To see what Gore was stuffing in his chops”), the slow-motion implosion of Hillary Clinton’s drive to the White House (“Some pundits wrote that Hil’s campaign might fare / A little better if Bill wasn’t there”), and the differing responses of Barack Obama and John McCain to the financial crisis (“Though coolness has its limitations, it’ll / Prevent comparisons with Chicken Little”).
Beginning at the 2006 midterms, Deciding the Next Decider resurrects the nonstarters like George Allen (“He fit what’s often valued by the Right: / Quite cheerful, Reaganesque, and not too bright”) and the low-energy Fred Thompson (“The pros said, ‘That’s a state he has to take, / And he just might, if he can stay awake’ ”). And it carries through to the vote that made Barack Obama the forty-fourth president of the United States.
likely go with who they thought would win.) Those counting delegates were all aware The math for Hillary was just not there. But Clinton said the race was still quite close, And, close or not, she wouldn’t say adios. She said she wouldn’t buckle, fold, or bend. The role of a contender’s to contend. The Clinton team, an often squabbling crew, Considered “quit” a word that was taboo. The drumbeat played by Hillary stayed steady: She said Barack Obama wasn’t ready. But others in the party
McCain, Then say, “He’s eloquent and all, But damaged. He can’t win this fall.” Republicans seemed sunk before— A grim economy, the war. But now the Democrats make news: They’ve figured out a way to lose. In May, she said she planned to run some more, Although Tim Russert, he who kept the score Of how the delegates were now divided, Announced the end had plainly been decided. On NBC’s Today, he told the host. That Hillary’s campaign at last was toast. The Sabbath gasbags then
designers Of laws that helped Enron, which showed no decliners, Manipulate prices of oil from refiners. (Its stock can be used in your cat box, for liners.) His laws helped the mortgage thieves rook naïve signers Who then lost their houses and can’t afford diners. So now he decides we’re a nation of whiners. Figures. Recession and Obama’s boffo trip Would, pundits thought, permit Barack to zip At once into a double-digit lead. So when that didn’t happen they decreed His lead
you’re slow on the uptake,” my father said. I never found myself in a memoirist gathering that required me to tell the story of Chubby, but, as it happened, I did relate the story in a book. A week or so later, I got a phone call from Sukey. “The collie was not called Chubby,” she said. “The collie was called George. You were called Chubby.” 1998 Geography Geography was my best subject. You can imagine how I feel when I read that the average American high school student is likely to
slide— An attitude Karl Rove could not abide. Republicans will triumph, Rove insisted. Had he hatched plots, nefarious and twisted? One Possible Explanation for Karl Rove’s Confidence About the Midterm Elections One simple stroke by Rove could yet erase The burdens that the GOP has carried: They’d simply say they’d foiled a bombing plot By two gay Muslims who had just been married. But Rove was wrong. The midterm was a rout. Whatever that election was about, Whichever words