Sore Winners (and the Rest of Us) in George Bush's America
By John Powers (Doubleday, 272 pgs)
Any nuanced survey of the Dubya years that, albeit anti-Bush, also bitch-slaps milquetoast Democrats (paging Sen. Daschle!) and robotic radicals (is there a Dr. Chomsky in the house?) seems destined to be ignored in the stampede toward partisan fervor. Which is too bad, because John Powers' Sore Winners is wickedly funny. The title refers to a diverse array of gloating tendencies exacerbated by the culture engendered by George W. Bush. Examples include the NFL, where 49er Terrell Owens scores, signs the ball and hands it to his financial advisor; and publishing, where Random House CEO Peter Olson shamelessly catalogues to a New York Times reporter the reams of people he's fired. As Powers says, "Bush Culture has become one long schadenfreude spree." While this book is no more likely to partisanize a swing voter than the endorsement of Bea Arthur, it serves as an irreverent scrapbook of a culture ruled by a man who thought Friends was a movie yet still manages to convince many of us that he's a man of the people.