Not Your Mother's Book Club: It's the Demagogues' Winner's Circle

Not Your Mother's Book Club: It's the Demagogues' Winner's Circle
a walking taco (via

Imagine a book club discussing Oprah's pick of the month, Machiavelli's The Prince. This club's members: Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Rodrigo Duterte, Nicholas Maduro, and Kim Jong Un.

They immediately all start going off, talking over one another, talking down to each other, egos writing checks their bodies can't cash. There is no patiently waiting to speak until one's turn, passing the conch shell on. It's utter, incomprehensible madness coming out of the mouths of all--all, except for one. Kim Jong Un, after bemoaning, "I was told Dennis would be here," disengaged rather quickly and retreated to a quiet corner of the room.

Now, Kim had also been told that there would be cake (and that he could eat it, too). Disappointed to find that to be a lie as well, Kim:

  1. diplomatically holds back from declaring, "FAKE NEWS!" to avoid triggering the bullies, Putin and Trump (but Kim later privately shares this wisecrack with his assistant so that he can get credit from someone, anyone), and
  2. despondently soothes himself with his second mid-afternoon snack (Fanta, Toblerone, and pork rinds dipped in mild salsa) instead.

Said assistant had actually packed a Quest bar and La Croix for Kim, but acknowledged that when the supreme leader gets like this, there is just no reasoning with him. The assistant worried about the long flight home, as Kim’s snack supply was dwindling suspiciously fast. Not pictured: Maduro dipping into the snack bag during bathroom breaks and saving snacks to smuggle home, where there are literally no snacks to be had.

Three hours later, we establish that half of the book club members haven't actually read the book (guess which ones). Two claim to have seen the movie (a movie whose existence is unconfirmed). Yet, oddly, they all felt fine both:

  1. insulting each other's takes, personalities, and body mass index, and
  2. asserting slightly different and slightly wrong conclusions about the book, which their chiefs-of-staff had gleaned for them from Wikipedia and Drunk History not twenty minutes before the meeting commenced.

Kim, between bites of his fourth mid-afternoon snack (a walking taco, which Dennis had introduced him to last time), suggests that they find something else then to talk about. After offering this, his only two cents of the meeting (and notably, zero snacks to share with his peers), Kim quickly moves onto silently wondering how the walking taco, as messy as it is to eat while sitting, could really be intended to be eaten while walking. Americans must be skilled multitaskers, he muses. This must be what they mean about American Grit.

The other members agree to move onto something else and of all topics they could have truly examined with some expertise (demagoguery, systematic oppression, narcissism, sociopathy, rigged elections, snacks), they land on something perhaps the one topic they know probably the least about, but feel plenty comfortable deciding anyway: who gets to have nuclear arms and what kind.

Because they all want it, see. And why shouldn't they. So shiny, so powerful, so devastating in the wrong hands. But all of their hands are the right hands, they reassure one another. That's why they're part of this Winner's Circle book club.

And if we want it, why can't we have it!, Trump wonders. Someone else can figure it out the "how" stuff later. Just get it. Have to just make sure we get it. And we get it first. And best. Everybody's saying so. First and best. Everyone says so. Everyone.

Looking up from his seventh mid-afternoon snack (old fashioned cake doughnut and guava-flavored Jarritos), Kim's ears perk up at, "Nuclear --".  He exchanges a knowing look with his assistant and re-engages with his peers. This nukes stuff he knows. He didn't blow the entire morning playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare for nothing after all.

The assistant nodded in acknowledgement, before stepping back and clutching his stomach. These weren't hunger pangs like those of insatiable his supreme leader. Nor were they the hunger pangs of all his people back home. It was the sinking, resigned realization that, This is our world now. 


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