Reince Priebus, John Kelley, Mark Mulvaney, Mark Meadows and now Herb Nutterman, all Chiefs of Staff for President Donald Trump. All are real, except for Nutterman who is the central character of Christopher Buckley’s hilarious political satire entitled, MAKE RUSSIA GREAT AGAIN. If one follows the office of Chief of Staff during the Trump administration it appears to be a merry go round or a game of “whack a mole” as they resign, are fired, or only plain fade away. In Buckley’s rendition of the office and the official who heads it the American people are faced with a somewhat comical situation; however, it reflects a presidency that is chaotic and exists to meet the personal needs of the president which is not humorous at all.
Buckley’s plot, apart from his review of Trump’s, how shall we say idiosyncrasies that have led to an uncontrolled pandemic, racial unrest, an economy collapsing, along with his constant tweeting of “alternative facts/reality” is quite simple. It appears that the CIA has a computer that hacked the Russian reelection of Vladimir Putin producing a victory for the Communist candidate Anatoli Zitkin. The CIA computer program, entitled Operation Placid Reflux is designed to respond in kind to anyone or organization that interferes with an American election, hence the Communist victory. Trump’s intelligence community and political staff refuse to tell the president because of how he might react. A second plot develops around a Russian oligarch, Oleg Pishinsky whose business manufactures Novichok, a nerve agent designed to kill people, which Buckley affectionally describes as “oil of Oleg.” It appears Pishinsky has a thumb drive that dates back to the 2013 Miss Universe contest which Trump attended and personally “examined” each of the eighteen contestants. Later when one of the women complained it seems that “oil of Oleg” was used in her demise. When the contents of the thumb drive are leaked, Nutterman and company come clean with the president who comes up with a new slogan, “Keep America Hard.”
Buckley possesses a keen sense of humor, at times a bit understated, at times somewhat sarcastic, but always funny. Humor is a gift to all in our current Covid-19 world and perhaps Washington politicians might want to consult Buckley’s narrative as a means of breaking the political ice and make a real attempt to address the nation’s problems, rather than play the ego games that are a detriment to the American people.
Buckley’s commentary concerning Trump match the descriptions offered by people no longer serving in the administration. Buckley describes Trump’s behavior during intelligence briefings or other important meetings as simply having no patience. “He liked his briefings short, crisp, and to the point, and above all, without briefing books or even short memos. Mr. Trump’s eyes had some sort of membrane that caused them to glaze over. He attributed this to his ‘lightning-fast brain,’ not to attention deficit disorder. The one exception was if someone was praising him.”
Buckley introduces numerous characters which are easily identified. Katie Borgia-O’Reilly is obviously Kelly Ann Conway; Senator Squiggly Lee Biskitt of South Carolina is Lindsay Graham; Stephen Miller is Stefan Nacht von Nebel the author of THE FINAL SOLUTION TO THE MEXICAN PROBLEM; Secretary of the Treasury Minutian is actually Steven Mnuchin; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is President Attajurk; Vice-President Mike Pants; Beula Puckle-Peters as Sarah Sanders; Cricket Singh, former UN Ambassador and governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley; Seamus Colonnity, alias Sean Hannity; and of course Jored and Ivunka, one of which “looked like his own Madame Tussaud’s waxwork.” Others whose real names are used include Attorney-General William Barr, Vladimir Putin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Paul Manafort.
As each character is “poked,” it should cause the reader to shake one’s head. An excellent example is the description of a state dinner for Turkish President Attajurk at the White House. Kim Kardashian, of Armenian descent is seated on his right, and First Lady Melania Trump seated on his left leans over and asks about Kim’s Armenian heritage leading to an uncomfortable situation with the Armenian Genocide as backdrop. Attajurk is repulsed and leaves, returning immediately to Ankara while Melania smiles.
At times, the book reads like a Kurt Vonnegut novel taking place in “Cloud Cuckoo Land.” Be that as it may it is worth a quick read to make one laugh, which most doctors agree is the best medicine for people who suffer from excessive stress – which we all seem to be experiencing in our current environment. The book has its absurdities, but too many of them are too close to reality, but at least Buckley has made politics funny again!