Adventures in the Absurd by Tim

As the child of a noted wordsmith, a man who is credited with being the most important contemporary intellectual of the American conservative movement, Christopher Buckley''s literary DNA is self-evident. Aside from his keen wit, Buckley’s experiences growing up within the political power circle of Washington D.C. have provided ample material for his works of satire.

His most popular book, 1994’s Thank You For Smoking , features a slick, shameless spokesman (Nick Naylor) who, on behalf of the Academy of Tobacco Studies, leads the charge against the kinds of anti-smoking campaigns that characterized the ‘90s. Buckley uses the book to skewer the self-righteous forces of political correctness alongside the standard corrupt figures of politics and business. The novel’s satirical nature is perfectly depicted via Naylor’s weekly luncheon with representatives of the alcohol and gun industries, affectionately dubbed the M.O.D. (Merchants of Death) Squad.

In Boomsday , America is on the edge of a financial crisis as the Baby Boomers start to retire. A twenty-something blogger, appropriately named Cassandra, warns of the impending doom and offers a solution in jest: in return for perks such as estate tax breaks and free Botox, Boomers can agree to commit suicide, thus easing the country’s economic obligations. Not willing to let a chance to score a cheap point (or a camera) slip away, an attention-depraved senator grabs the issue and runs with it in an attempt to ride the wave of the dissatisfaction.

The absurd idea of appointing a TV judge like “Judy” or “Joe Brown” to the Supreme Court comes to life in Supreme Courtship . In this ultimate piece of satire, the president, frustrated by the Senate’s unwillingness to agree to any of his nominees for the high court bench, nominates a “shoot from the lip” reality show judge named Pepper Cartwright. Against all odds, Cartwright is confirmed and leaves her show and her husband for Washington. Her ex-producer, soon to be her ex-husband, convinces the president’s main opponent in the Senate to star in a political drama (POTUS) on television as the president. As one should expect from Buckley by now, this propels the Senator-turned-star to fuel his ego by mounting a real-life run for the presidency.

Although John Stewart and Stephen Colbert are widely seen as the modern standard bearers of political satire, Christopher Buckley’s place among their ranks cannot be discounted. Do yourself a favor and check out his works.

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