It’s not that I didn’t find things to laugh aloud about in Christopher Buckley’s new political satire, Make Russia Great Again. It’s that so much of what he conjures up in his imitable style is, well, just so plausible. The book is set in the present moment and in the voice of a Roger Stone-like operative who was once one of President Trump’s chiefs-of-staff but now finds himself writing from a federal prison.
The plot is clever, closely tied, as the title suggests, to intrigue surrounding Russia and its relations with the United States and what might account for Mr. Trump’s affinity for Vladimir Putin.
Buckley fearlessly lampoons a thinly-disguised Kellyanne Conway (Katie Borgia-O’Reilly) and Sean Hannity (Seamus Colonnity) and their defense of the Trump brand. But he saves his sharpest blade for the Lindsay Graham character, Senator Squigg Lee Biskitt, who had called “Mr. Trump just about every unpleasant name under the sun” in the 2016 campaign, Buckley writes, including “lower than alligator poo.” But now, Buckley continues, “Squiggley’s ability to adapt was beyond even Darwin’s imagination.”
There’s no covid in this book but there are plenty of other ripped-from-the-headlines scenarios. One candidate, for instance, suggests “the issue of Confederate statues could be solved by covering them with white hoods and robes.” And yes, there’s even discussion of whether November election results will be accepted by you-know-who.
The president, of course, is the book’s main target. He, for instance, insists that his briefing on a newly-elected head of state be held to 25 words or less. His attention span, you see, is limited. Except when someone is praising him.
I’ve really enjoyed other Buckley satires, especially Boomsday and Thank You for Smoking. And I enjoyed Make Russia Great Again. The problem is that Buckley didn’t have to dig very deep into his imagination to create it.