Book Review: Taibbi Divines How We Got Insane Clown President

In memory of the legendary Wayne Barrett (1946-2017)

The process.  People would rather watch Netflix than listen to politics, said Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi.

And he’s exactly right because all it is is listening to bought politicians regurgitate talking points designed to distract them.  People had completely lost their taste for it, whether it was conservatives ranting about the welfare class or liberals taking up some strain of rights against an openly militarized police.  And so, someone came in who challenged all of the boogeymen.

Journalist & Author Matt Taibbi at DUMBO’s PowerHouse Arena Bookstore

“What gave Trump’s speeches power was that he mixed in his absurd behavior with truth,” said Mr. Taibbi.  “I remember watching him in New Hampshire talking about the anti-trust exemptions that insurance companies enjoy.  He went into a long dissertation about it, not in a very smart way, but at least he talked about it, and that’s something that politicians never talk about in public.  And the conspiracy of financial interests that dominate both political parties, and how the media is tuned out to what real people are going through.  He kind of steals from the truth in order to give his thing energy, and that’s something that people have to acknowledge.”

Mr. Taibbi’s new book, “Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus,” was released on Tuesday by Random House, and an event in DUMBO’s sprawling PowerHouse Arena bookstore on Thursday evening featured a book reading and signing to celebrate the release.

The book chronicles the rise of Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign and has the potential to be the next big campaign journal competing with the likes of “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72,” by Hunter S. Thompson.

“It’s hard not to be conscious of the whole Hunter S. Thompson tradition,” said Mr. Taibbi before a packed audience of 150 guests. “It’s the gold standard of this kind of writing, and the ’72 campaign was really his best moment, that book just fascinated me on a lot of levels, I think of it more as a novel, more like The Castle, or The Trial, because it’s this gigantic, horrible journey that builds up for hundreds of pages where he’s constantly searching for truth and justice and for the good guy to win out, but it’s always elusive and it never quite happens, and it’s always around the corner, and it ends in this spectacular defeat.  So I hate making the comparison because it’s never a winning thing to do for any political writer.”

In his new book, Mr. Taibbi writes, “It’s an Alice in Wonderland Story, in which a billionaire hedonist jumps down the rabbit hole of American politics and discovers a surreal world where each successive barrier to power collapses before him like magic.”  This book is pure gold.  Mr. Taibbi is one of the few high-profile writers out there who won’t give you what Eckhart Tolle would call the pain-body.  My smart, liberal, activist students outside of the classroom read contemporaries such as Bensonhurst’s Ned Vizzini (1981-2013), they find solace in Rex Pickett, or the engrossing reads of Sylvie Germain.  Thing is, Mr. Taibbi with a tinge of pain writes about hedge fund managers running off with the loot, and yet politicians work for big business interests so there are never any handcuffs and kids keep reading the Beats.  Mr. Taibbi was born in the wrong era.  He breaks his back exposing sociopathic financial fraud, and yet unlike different moments in modern history, nothing ever happens.

About 150 people showed up at the reading in DUMBO.

But yeah, the new president is going to be corrupt, divide, and disempower various groups, and you’ll see progressive indifference, anger, or resignation, reticent or corrupt office holders, etc., while we all essentially become impoverished kindling in the pyrrhic victory of a waning empire, and the fat cats walk off with all the money.

But hey, we still have our heroes a la Messi.  And yet, Messi doesn’t have Muhammed Ali’s personality, that’s the problem.  He does endorsements for Bimbo bread, WHITE BREAD, for the love of God.

Insane Clown President is a great conversation between the author and reader.  We’re all searching for answers now, so this masterpiece takes it a step further.  But really, most people in this country who are poor will stay poor, just because of the good ole predator/victim mentality of the financial services industry: thievery, dishonesty, laziness, inefficiency, graft, corporate freeloading, exploitation, etc.

The new administration, run by Goldmanites, will be like watching one of those FAIL videos where the badass skateboarder lands on his groin over and over again.

Mr. Taibbi, unlike Dr. Thompson, isn’t the original.  But he’s the next best thing, and the greatest writer out there now in the public discourse.  Don’t let a blithering idiot disabuse you of your illusions.  Read Taibbi.

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