THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE by Jeff Greenfield
Kirkus Star


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ABC-TV commentator Greenfield offers an antic first novel with a deadly serious point about the absurd perils posed by the electoral college. Two days after narrowly defeating his Democratic rival, the Republican president-elect of the US dies in the wake of a botched photo op. Almost everyone in the country, including Al DeRossa (a network TV analyst who more or less anchors the set-piece narrative), assumes the departed's running mate will be sworn in as chief executive come January. This prospect appalls professional pols and the public alike since the GOP's nominee for vice president is a blue-blooded boob by the name of Theodore Pinckney Block. As it happens, Teddy Blockhead (as he's widely known) is not a shoo-in because, while nominally pledged to vote for their parties' candidates, the nation's 535 electors are not actually bound to do so. One of the first to appreciate the implications of free agency is Dorothy Ledger, an elector from Michigan who confounds the Republican National Committee and the country when she raises points of order at an open meeting convened to fill the vacancy on the party's ticket with Block. Her stand at what was supposed to be a pro forma exercise unleashes a full-blown constitutional crisis and much behind-the-scenes deal-making. Contributing to the chaos are players like W. Dixon Mason (a charismatic black populist who trades on racial strife), lobbyist Jack Petitcon (""the Hebrew from the Bayou""), and a host of vaultingly ambitious campaign aides. At the close, Teddy Blockhead's good breeding helps produce a makeshift resolution of the succession problem, but not before Greenfield has had a field day with Washington's establishment, the media's feeding frenzies, idealogues whose ethics could most charitably be described as flexible, and other of federal government's less edifying pilot fish. A grand entertainment cum history lesson whose triumphant bad taste, genuine wit, and uncommon sense could and should make it a landslide winner in the marketplace.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1995
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Putnam