Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Say It with Satire

Politicians - love them or hate them, they have been inescapable over the last several months.

 There are many ways to stay on top of the latest political news, but perhaps the most subtly eye-opening is through satire. Political satirists turn modern day politics on their head, making their audience laugh as well as think. Few political satirists were as well known for this as Art Buchwald (1925-2007).

Born in Mount Vernon, NY, Buchwald had a difficult childhood. His mother was institutionalized for a mental illness, and his father, a curtain manufacturer, whose business failed during the Great Depression, sent Buchwald and his three older sisters to an orphanage.  They were bumped around in foster care for several years before returning to their father.

In 1942, at age 17,  Buchwald dropped out of high school and illegally joined the Marines. (He paid a drunk stranger to pose as his legal guardian.) He spent two years fighting in the Pacific. After three years at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles (he did not receive a degree since he had not finished high school), in 1948, Buchwald went to Paris to develop as a writer. His first job was as a correspondent for Variety magazine. Shortly thereafter he began his career as a columnist producing social columns for the International Herald Tribune.

After 15 years in Paris, Buchwald decided to return to America. He moved to Washington, D.C., and began writing a political column for the Washington Post. While many had thought him crazy to leave the Tribune, his new syndicated column for the Washington Post was a tremendous hit that was, for many years, carried in 550 newspapers nationally. As a political satirist, Buchwald took aim at all political situations and politicians of all parties.  He received the Pulitzer Prize for Outstanding Commentary in 1982.

Beyond politics, Buchwald’s column became noteworthy as the prolific writer struggled with his impending death from kidney failure, his unexpected recovery (during which he wrote a book, Too Soon to Say Goodbye) and his passing in January 2007.

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