'You Hear Me, Barack?'
When the late Andrew Breitbart asked me in the fall of 2009 to start a new website called Big Journalism, the first thing I looked for in potential contributors was a sharp wit and a way with words. Luckily for me, one of the first people who signed on was Steve Grammatico, who quickly carved out a place for himself as our house satirist par excellence – the scourge of leftist cant, pious liberal nonsense and pie-in-the-sky progressivism.
Steve began his rise to punchlines and punditry in a typically 21st-century way, as the commenter “Sagman” on the influential lucianne.com website, where his sparkling insouciance quickly won him a loyal following. Wrote one fan: “writing good political satire involves more than wit and words; it requires exceptional knowledge of personalities, politics, and policies.”
Satire, as the great playwright George S. Kaufman famously noted, is what closes on Saturday night. As someone who, under the nom de plume of “David Kahane,” has written a fair amount of satire myself, I would amend that wisecrack to “bad satire.” Good satire – biting, crackling and always on target, but never simply mean and insulting – is what plays and plays. Because, at its heart, everybody knows its true. And even when it’s not, it is anyway.
If you doubt me, consider this: The Beggar’s Opera, a work of the English musical theater which skewered contemporary politicians, manners and mores has been playing, more or less continuously, since 1728. Yes, you read that right: for nearly three hundred years, both in its original form by John Gay and Johann Pepusch, and in its German incarnation by Bert Brecht and Kurt Weill, “The Threepenny Opera.” And you know what? It’s still funny.
Hence, this book, drawn from Steve’s work for Big Journalism and elsewhere. Chief among these pieces are the series of the Obama War Room parodies, in which all the villains of the administration are given free rein to express their innermost thoughts to a largely bewildered and clueless Barry, with the fun almost invariably ending when Michelle breaks into the room to berate the hapless president, her tirades ending with the words, "You hear me, Barack?”
In short, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wonder aloud, “what the hell were we thinking?” in electing Barack Hussein Obama president in 2008 and again in 2012. “My goal,” he says, “is to get people to laugh, to see my scenarios as a warped and often not so warped reflection of reality. For me, incongruity is at the heart of satire.”
So sit back, relax and enjoy this parade of poltroons, hoist high with their own petards. You’re in the hands of a master.