So, Ace of Spades has been having a lot of fun knocking around the new book Christian Nation. The book, which apparently reads like a lefty treatise on the horrors of the right, is actually, quite possibly, one of the most subversive books against the current president. However, to get such a thing published, it was required to be disguised, a la Animal Farm. Only, instead of casting pigs and donkeys, the author decided to cast as his villains someone that the target audience already villified.
Let's take some of my thoughts in turn.
1. The Death of McCain represents the end of the centrist Obama. After the early years of Obama's presidency, Obama pitched to being more ideological, eschewing the trappings of moderateness that helped him secure the election. The book posits McCain dying in office and Palin becoming president. After that, she begins to abuse executive power, much like Obama has issued executive orders to subvert Congress' authority. His appointments without congressional approval, for example, have been found unconstitutional, and he recently had an order overturned by the courts.
2. The bombing of the Castro neighborhood is the logical extension of Obama's original policy of allowing drone strikes on American citizens. What seems like, at first, the chilling thought of a crazy Palin killing homosexuals she hates strikes a chord when we realize that it wasn't the far right loonies who were advocating the right of the country to murder its citizens. Rather, it was the eminently reasonable Barack Obama who needed to be pulled off that ledge. This is the first of many examples of how the book takes a fictional event to parallel a real event, but changes the actors to help bring the reader to realize that certain actions (targeting of American citizens) are horrific.
3. The Purity Web is the end result of sites such as Attack Watch, the email campaign to email@example.com, and other actions that the current government has used to gather information and attack political opponents, such as the current IRS scandal and the crackdown on reporters it views as the opposition.
4. The F3 network is the logical extension of the journolist and the fact that people like Greg Sargent and Media Matters share too cozy a relationship with the White House. Think about it, even when Bush was president, Fox was critical of him on several points, with several hosts taking objection to various parts of compassionate conservatism. Compare that to the nearly monolithic boosterism from MSNBC, where Olberman's attack on Obama for ineptness during the BP oil spill was a rare moment of intellectual honesty from the network.
5. The discussion of cognitive dissonance is true about almost every political actor, and chooses to use big government conservatives as a safe target, as opposed to the sitting president, to make the tale more salable. Imagine the same piece being written about Obama's position on wire taps, the NSA, the War on Terror, abuse of the IRS, abuse of executive orders, etc. The piece would never see the light of day. By simply casting a new, already hated villain, you can get your message (politicians are slimy bastards!) out without having to face political fire. Not exactly a profile in courage, but certainly smart. For example, change this quote: "If Barack Obama were in the White House and 7/22 happened exactly as it did, the Christian right would be screaming bloody murder about martial law. But since they’re in charge, it’s OK. It’s that simple. Surely you understand that much" to "If Barack Obama were in the White House and [the IRS Scandal] happened exactly as it did, the Christian right would be screaming bloody murder about [abuse of power]. But since [Barack Obama is] in charge, it’s OK. It’s that simple. Surely you understand that much."
So, I think we need to relook at the thesis behind the novel Christian Nation. It may at first appear to simply be a piece of ugly fiction, designed solely to attack the right, but perhaps it is just the most subversive book in recent American fiction. Too bad every review mentions it is written pretty atrociously, or I might actually delve a bit deeper into it.