Profiles in Ignorance: How America’s Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber

Avid Reader. Sept. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781668003886. $28.99. POL SCI
Readers may laugh, cry, or swear under their breath (sometimes all at once) with this scathing survey of the seemingly increasing ignorance of American politicians. Borowitz, a writer of page and screen and satirist for The New Yorker, humorously examines the ever-increasing, lowering-of-the-bar expectations of presidential candidates’ knowledge and beyond in this book that is perfect for fans of The Daily Show or John Lithgow’s “Dumpty” series. Beginning with Ronald Reagan, the author identifies “the Three Stages of Ignorance: Ridicule, Acceptance, and Celebration” and carries readers through the Trump era. All the while, he provides interesting tidbits and oft-underreported information, such as the various subjects’ academic leanings and reading habits (or lack thereof). He also highlights the specific qualities that politicians have that made their successes possible, despite their lack of knowledge, such as Reagan’s acting ability and what he calls Trump’s “island of competence.” For readers who have ever looked at the political landscape and asked how or why, this is a book that will inform and infuriate.
VERDICT Though the chapters are long, the copious notes, footnotes, and index add to this amusing but maddening book’s wealth of information.
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