Book Review: So You Want To Be President?

So You Want To Be President? By John Warner

Tom Gibbons
3 min read
Quiz to the White House
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This is a multiple-choice review. Mimicking So You Want to Be President?, a book of political humor from John Warner (editor of the literature and humor site McSweeney’s Internet Tendency), your knowledge of the presidency will be tried. Even if you fail, you’ll still know enough to be vice president.

1) The dust has settled from the 2008 election and the big job has gone to:

a. Barack Obama

b. John McCain

c. The Supreme Court (in a repeat of Bush v. Gore)

Now that the election is over, you can start preparing for your own journey to the White House as soon as possible. Warner is ready to help.

Anyone who has paid even the minimum amount of attention to the election knows that national polls, weekly media cycles and whims of public opinion are unpredictable to a schizophrenic degree. Warner mines the process for laughs and peppers his satire with exercises, quizzes and many, many, footnotes for the potential candidates of 2012 and beyond.

2) According to Warner, any candidate for President of the United States must have:

a. Ego

b. Bankroll

c. A cohesive vision and a powerful, inspiring message for persevering through the next four years of war, recession and urban rioting

d. Moral flexibility

e. a, b and d

Yes, glancing at the picture of the cover for the answer constitutes cheating, but according to Warner, such behavior is encouraged.

Shameless pandering to the base during the primaries is also encouraged, as is using baseless attacks to attract undecided voters in the general election. “These are the people who are in front of you at Arby’s, staring endlessly at the overhead menu, gap-mouthed,” Warner writes, "even though every asshole on the planet knows that when you go to Arby’s, you eat the damn roast beef.”

Choosing parties is another major decision, and the rules for pandering and self-debasement vary depending on whether you’re a Democrat or Republican. Giving the best answers for each policy issue nets you more electoral votes.

Warner asserts acceptable answers for Democratic candidates seeking to address the poverty issue include appearing in a photo op under a bridge with smelly homeless people, replacing your campaign staff with said homeless people and eating "
government cheese." Republicans should endorse "abstinence-only" policies and lead by example during their administration.

A scorecard is provided in the back of the book, and every correct answer yields a certain amount of electoral votes. The end result grades your capacity for self-degradation and evasive verbalizing, determining whether you are ready to be the next leader of the free world.

3) Sadly, there is no mention of future vice president:

a. Sarah Palin

b. Joe Biden

c. Dick Cheney, again

So You Want to Be President?
was published in April 2008 and Warner couldn’t have imagined how much his advice played in the 2008 election. An addendum twice the size of this book could be written on Warner’s influence on this election cycle. (Palin, we’re looking at you.)

If you expect to see your favorite (or least-favorite) 2008 candidate trashed for 169 pages, you will be disappointed—go to the blogosphere for that and much more.

4) But, in So You Want to Be President? you will get:

a. A coffee table book

b. A bathroom book

c. A shameless anti-American diatribe posing as a book

And you’ll be ready to run in 2012.
Quiz to the White House

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