Every day political satirists face a problem – how to distinguish their satire from the reality. Art Buchwald said it: “You can’t make anything up any more. The world itself is a satire. All you’re doing is recording it.” Of course, satire embellishes the record with the comedic devices of distortion and exaggeration. Even so, satire rarely has to wander far from the core of the reality.
Consider the subjects of my own Offensive Songs on this site.
First, some of the “hot button” issues that are fought over so furiously: guns, the gender wars, political correctness in the academy, and the grotesque mismanagement of the economy.
Next, the convoluted structure of the American system seen through the travails of our three most recent presidents; the vulnerability of elected representatives to an unending array of pressures; the frenzy of elections; and the politics of the Supreme Court.
Finally, on the global scene, the eruption of war after futile war, the abandonment of constitutional norms, the bungling of espionage agencies, the damage inflicted on the environment, and the Orwellian, murderous world of strutting dictators.
So creating these songs required no great feats of imaginative invention. All I had to do was rhyme the material, see that it scanned properly, and (compensating for my pianistic incompetence) program accompaniments on an electronic keyboard.
And the source material goes on and on. Tom Lehrer, the master of the satirical song format, retired from his career as a satirist on the grounds that satire became obsolete the day Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But, of course, satire did not end there. The nonsensical reality continues remorselessly, with politicians, lobbyists, TV commentators, and the rest of the players in the game of politics providing irresistible inspiration for satirists in every medium.