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'Deciding the Next Decider'

Calvin Trillin offers a delightful record of the 2008 presidential campaign in verse.

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For those of us suffering from Post-election Political Blog Withdrawal Syndrome, Calvin Trillin’s Deciding the Next Decider, a chronicle in verse about the just completed presidential race, is an irresistible shot of instant nostalgia.

Trillin started writing political poems for The Nation in 1990, setting the bar high for himself with “If You Knew What Sununu.”

Since then, he’s punctured the pretensions of politicians right and left, wielding iambic pentameter and inspired rhymes in the service of insightful, hilariously entertaining liberal-leaning commentary. His dogged doggerel has been collected in “Deadline Poet” (1994), plus two volumes about the Bush administration, “Obliviously On He Sails” (2004) and “A Heckuva Job” (2006).

One may wonder where Trillin will find humor in a no-drama Obama administration, but as these pithy poems about the 2008 presidential race show, he never has to look far for political punching bags: Trillin is an equal-opportunity critic.

His 26th book begins with the 2006 midterm elections and takes us through Iowa, New Hampshire, Super Tuesday and on, across the bridge to nowhere to Joe the unvetted plumber, the economic meltdown, slime ads, and Democratic neuroses, right up to Obama’s victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park: “Yes, here’s how presidents are meant to talk.”

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