I put my regular columns here on hiatus to write a book. This took more time than expected due to my editor’s frequent objections, shown in his emails:
Dec. 10, 2010
Your book, The Election of 2012, will make a superb satirical novel satire after one small change. Your fictional Republican Presidential Candidate, Michele Mannbach, crosses the line of satire and becomes farce. She is far too risible and improbable for the former. She is a cartoon character with her claims that God sent earthquakes and hurricanes to get the attention of American politicians, the founding fathers abolished slavery, and the battles of Lexington and Concord were fought in New Hampshire. Having her kick off her campaign by confusing John Wayne the actor with John Wayne the serial killer, wishing Elvis Presley a happy birthday on the anniversary of his death, and asking whether Congress is pro-America or anti-America are over-the-top and not comical.
This mars an otherwise excellent book. Once you make this small change, I think we will have a best seller.
Feb. 2, 2011
Your new fictional candidate, Perry Rick, is more absurd and less funny than Michele Mannbach. A swaggering but moronic Texas Governor is a stale joke. We lived this for eight years. The Perry Rick you created is not only beyond satire, he is beyond farce. Even in slapstick comedy one cannot accept a major party Presidential candidate who does not know the number of Justices on the Supreme Court, the voting age, the age requirement for the president, refers to Kim Jong-Il as “Kim Jong the Second,” and thinks the American Revolution was fought in the 16th century. The debate scene where Perry Rick can’t recall the federal departments he wants to abolish would be excessive in a Three Stooges movie.
I await your next draft.
May 15, 2011
If it bends, it’s funny. If it breaks, it’s not funny. Your latest fictional candidate, Cain Herman breaks. His abysmal ignorance of economics, taxation, and foreign policy is not funny. It is simply ridiculous.
You compound this by having him use campaign cash to buy his own book, propose an electric fence on the Mexican border, question the existence of Palestinians, believe that Cuban is a language, place “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the Constitution, and state “when they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I'm going to say, you know, I don't know.”
Already over the top, you then paint him as a horn dog and serial sexual harasser. That a cretinous African American pizza executive with no political experience and a history of sexual predation could receive the Republican nomination would be inane in a fairy tale.
You fictional candidate must have significant political experience. Make him a Senator, House Majority Leader, or Governor. I know you can fix this.
August 5, 2011
A satirist should use the rapier. To portray your latest fictional Republican presidential candidate Ging Newtrich you used a sledgehammer.
Having him campaign as an outsider after serving as Majority Leader and grifting $1.6 million from Freddie and Fanny for influence peddling is a deft satirical touch. You should simply stick to this theme.
Fictional characters even in satirical novels should be internally consistent. Actions should spring from basic character. But your Ging Newtrich is hopelessly erratic. He lurches incongruously from one asinine act to another. He shuts down the government over disappointment with his seating on Air Force One, demands children of welfare recipients be raised in orphanages, advocates the death penalty for drug dealers, proposes the Moon as the 51st State, was fined $300,00 for ethics violations, makes megalomaniacal statement such as “People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz,” proclaims himself “grandiose” in a debate, and compares himself to Lincoln, DeGaulle, and Pericles.
He serves his first wife with divorce papers while she was in a hospital recovering from cancer surgery and cheats on his second in an eight-year affair with a staff member while leading the impeachment of a President for getting a blow job. Why do you portray your Republican candidates as obsessed with sex? Everyone knows that sex ranks 73rd on the list of favorite activities among Republicans, far below expressing outrage at government spending while depositing Social Security checks or even folding shopping bags FLAT.
Unless Ging Newtrich suffers from multiple personality disorder, these ludicrous episodes do not reflect a coherent and unified character. Even in a fictional world, this man would be placed in a padded cell for the criminally insane along with his third wife who you describe as having “an injected molded thermoplastic face incapable of registering any human reaction, offset by a hair bob engineered from thinly extruded platinum wire, so as to resemble a space alien from the Galaxy Zork-El.”
These characters are simply unimaginable. Try making your candideate a former Governor who believes in nothing other than he should be President.
December 4, 2011
At first I thought we could work with your new fictional candidate, Romm Mittney. In the first half of the book you present him as a robotic fool who believes in nothing other than his own success. You illustrate this with pointed examples of his flip-flops on abortion, immigration, stimulus spending, tax cuts, health care, and even his essential ideology.
If you had stayed with this theme, you would have a good satirical character. Instead, you keep piling on nonsensical details that are incompatable with his basic makeup. Why would someone who believes nothing and wants to please everyone say “I’m not concerned about the poor,” “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,” “Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are, ” “I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed, “ and dismiss speech royalties of $374,000 as “not very much”?
You are mired in contradictions. You write that he reminds everyone of the college goody-goody who was always running for office, sucked up to professors, paid his phone bill the day it arrived to enhance his credit rating, chaired the Honor Board, and ratted on his roommate for smoking dope. Therefore that no one likes him. Yet he becomes the Republican nominee. How is this possible?
You depict him as a soulless, emotional vacant automaton. But what sort of robot would drive from Boston to Ontario with his Irish Setter on the roof of his car, offer to bet an opponent $10,000 during a debate, or utter Bushisms such as, “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that's the America millions of Americans believe in. That's the America I love.”
Finally, you make him a Mormon. Poking fun at religion is fair game, but you must not concoct absurd falsehoods, for example, joking that Mormons believe that the Angel Moroni guided Joseph Smith, a noted charlatan, to buried golden plates. By putting his head inside a special hat along with a magic rock, Smith was able to translate these plates, written in a language he called “Reformed Egyptian,” (a language never otherwise encountered before or after) into The Book Of Mormon. In this sacred scripture, Jesus appears in the Americas some time after his resurrection to minister to remnants of the lost tribes of Israel. The book further describes great cities and great battles in America in the fourth century A.D. fought with metal weapons, chariots, swords, scimitars, and breastplates. This is gratuitous, not credible, not funny and probably libelous.
Please finish this book by creating a comic but still conceivable Republican candidate.
February 22, 2012
Congratulations. Your new fictional Republican candidate Senator San Ricktorum, who would be comfortable as the Grand Inquisitor, is a great comic character. I laughed out loud every time he appeared in the book. The joke about what turns up when one Googles him is very creative.
This is true satire because the Republicans conceivably could nominate a fundamentalist Catholic, although not one as tyrannical, imbecilic, and goofy as Ricktorum. His character is consistent and coherent since his hilarious bigotry, homophobia, and misogyny, as well his self-righteous repression and neo-feudal economics, spring directly from his demented, Vatican-infested, credo. I like your use of a sweater vest as metaphor for Ricktorum’s constricted worldview and philosophical straight jacket.
Please make one small change and we will publish The Election of 2012. You need not explicitly state that Ricktorum suffers from congenital constipation and is sexually fixated on his mother. These traits were obvious from the behavior and attitudes you portrayed. Remember that a writer should always show not tell.
Our promotion people are excited about and have booked you on Hannity, Huckabee, and Limbaugh and are planning a book tour of 25 mega-churches.