SMOKE by Alexander & James Ridgeway Cockburn


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Except for an occasional one-liner and some nicely deadpan swipes at Jerry Brown and his swamis, this tiny book offers political satire at its most strained and/or obvious: 'tis the eve of the 1980 election, and Jimmy Carter's reelection is endangered--or is it boosted?--by anti-nuclear terrorists who arrange total energy black-outs in big cities. Carter here is a super-hypocrite offering a prayer for every occasion, Mondale's a stooge, Defense Secretary Schlesinger is an atom-happy loony (""What glory days those had been at the old AEC!""), Jody Powell dresses funny, the Supreme Court has stifled freedom of the press, Israel has ""temporary settlements"" in Turkey, etc. etc.--an unconvincing mÉlange of caricatured present and doomsday future. But despite all the requisite nastiness, the well-informed authors (who write a column for N.Y.'s Village Voice) never exhibit either passionately committed anger or freewheeling lunacy in these lackluster episodes of White House deals and radical conspiracies; without one or the other, this sort of name-dropping, issue-heavy sketchpadding never takes off. Like Jimmy Carter saying about Ted Kennedy, ""If there's one thing I'd like to do, it's to screw that sonofabitch once and for all""--it neither rings especially true nor especially funny.

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1978
Publisher: Times Books