Dana Milbank is a correspondent for The Washington Post and author of the just-released Homo Politicus: The Strange and Scary Tribes that Run Our Government.
Jamie Malanowski interviewed him for Playboy.com.
The introduction and opening exchange:
Dana Milbank, a correspondent for The Washington Post, has just published Homo Politicus, a smart and very funny tour of Washington and the people there who run our government. In ths book, Milbank adopts the guise of an anthropologist to examine their culture and behavior, a very clever and revealing way to think afresh behavior we often take as par for the course. Milbank interrupted his coverage of the campaigning in Iowa to answer some of our questions:Read the entire interview.
PLAYBOY: Congratulations on your book! It’s kind of devastating to liken our wise and eminent leaders to guys who wear grass skirts and coconut bras. How did you get the idea for this approach?
MILBANK: As someone who wears a coconut bra most weekends, I never thought of my treatment of Potomac Man as Devastating. I see myself as a foreign correspondent, sending dispatches home to normal Americans about the curious creatures who live in the capital. When Bill Thomas at Doubleday suggested an anthropological twist on this notion and proposed calling it Homo Politicus, I jumped at the idea, in part because I figured the confusion caused by the title could boost sales in places such as DuPont Circle. And while my anthropological skills are admittedly suspect, I think it’s beyond dispute that Washington people exhibit many traits in common with cultures we consider primitive: tribalism (partisanship), violence (political campaigns), and hunting and gathering (inserting earmarks in spending bills).