Just in time for Election Day, Beinhart, re-enlisting in the liberal ranks of Michael Moore, Nicholson Baker, and The Manchurian Candidate, serves up a barn-burning political thriller complete with recipes for how to steal a presidential election.
The key figure, and virtually the only innocent, in the game of hardball politics is David Goldberg, a college librarian who gets eased into a second job cataloguing the papers of billionaire developer Alan Carston Stowe and then suddenly learns that Col. Jack Morgan, of Homeland Security, is sending four underlings to kill him because he’s found out a dread secret. The good news is that David’s alerted to the plot by Morgan’s sexy wife Niobe, somebody he’s already paying special attention to. The bad news is that he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to know and has no obvious way to find out in the five days before the forthcoming election ends the historic contest between hard-riding figurehead Augustus Winfield Scott and his come-from-nowhere Democratic challenger, Sen. Anne Lynn Murphy. Both candidates field organizations bent on decimating the opposition, but Scott’s America-first minions, David gradually realizes, have in reserve “one-one-three,” a knockout punch as diabolical as it is legal. The man-on-the-run plot is proficient persiflage; the bonus here is another dose of anti-Administration satire from the author of American Hero (1993), filmed with its target changed from Bush 41 to Clinton as Wag the Dog. Beinhart lays about him with a nuclear-tipped cudgel, analyzing Fog Facts (“known, but not known”), casting Kenneth Starr as a color commentator for Fox (Scott’s angry post-debate outburst is “such a trivial, innocuous event. After all, it’s not sex”), and watching Morgan worry whether David is “some deep cover, Democratic Party operative, or some Arab terrorist, or spying for Israel.”
Voters in the blue states will find it all irresistible, along with readers from sea to shining sea.