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Book Review: The Rude Guide to Mitt by Alex Pareene

It struck me only after finishing the eBook and skimming it for notes that The Rude Guide To Mitt was dedicated to Seamus. Oblivious to the allusion during my initial read, the irony of the dedication seemed fitting in retrospect. You see, Seamus was the one time dog of Mitt Romney, that is, until Seamus wisely ran away after Mitt strapped Seamus to the roof for a 12 hour nonstop car ride which literally scared the shit out of Seamus. Alex Pareene effectively uses the anecdote in the introduction to highlight the basic premise of his eBook, that Mitt Romney is one helluva strange guy.

The Rude Guide To Mitt is another edition to a relatively new medium called the eBook that affords publication of material much longer than a magazine length but shorter and less dense than a typical book. The strength of eBooks is that they can address transitory topics that are currently relevant in a timely manner that full books cannot, in this case it’s Romney’s bid to be President. The Rude Guide To Mitt functions quite well in that respect, and is basically what the title purports, a guidebook to who Mitt Romney is, or more apt, his shocking emptiness of being.

Pareene splits the book into eight chapters with each detailing an aspect of Mitt’s life and experiences, from his childhood, to his family’s Mormon roots, and on through his business and political careers. Throughout the book, and Mitt’s life, Pareene highlights Romney’s awkward wooden personality through several hilarious anecdotes. In fact, The Rude Guide to Mitt would probably serve well as a full season’s worth of Saturday Night Live skits, except it’s all real! Here’s Mitt in 2008 on Martin Luther King Day:

As he squeezes in to the otherwise all-black group, he says, apropos of nothing, “Who let the dogs out? Woof, woof!” He seems to have been told that “small talk” is mostly made up of cheerfully delivered non sequiturs.

On a more serious note, The Rude Guide To Mitt also highlights Romney’s political “beliefs” and how they’ve been shaped. To put it bluntly, they’ve all been shaped to fit some preconceived notion of what a modern day social conservative Presidential nominee should be, despite those beliefs not reflecting Mitt’s tenure as Governor or being anywhere close to his father’s political philosophy. Pareene mentions how this unprincipled, focus group driven assemblage of positions “seems to inspire more hatred from Republicans than…liberals.” Indeed, it is hard to see any personal aspect of Mitt’s motivations outside of a seemingly invisible hand pushing him to run and win the Presidency for winning’s sake. The only aspect or trait that seems ingrained in Mitt is his penchant for “succeeding”, which is not necessarily a bad thing except that his wins mostly seem empty or phony. Obviously I have no ear to Mitt’s inner voice so I qualify by using “seem”, however, I have no doubt that if asked about his successes Romney would not answer in a sincere fashion but in what Pareene characterizes as a Disney-esque corporatized filled lingo meant to bathe him in a warm glow of positivity.

The Rude Guide To Mitt serves as a very good primer on the man running for the most important position in the world. At around 60 pages it can be read in one sitting and the author’s snarky humor helps propel it along nicely despite being overbearing at times. The book will no doubt be characterized as leftist, or a hit piece on the GOP candidate; however, I would caution readers to give it a chance no matter one’s ideology. The “alien weirdness” of Mitt Romney transcends ideological bounds and should be witnessed by all.