A Pirate/Abortion/Nuke/Fashion Epic, by Ralph Reed
Remember Ralph Reed, shameless leader of '90s boy band “the Christian Coalition” and smooth-faced huckster for Casino Jesus? Your book reviewer doesn't spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about Ralph Reed, but he occasionally wonders, “How does Ralph Reed spend his time when he’s not manufacturing rube hysteria and gobbling up Jack Abramoff lobbying fees to fund his large tacky house in the Atlanta suburbs? Really, what are his hobbies?” Book scientists can now confirm he “writes” novels. Who knew?!
Reed just dropped a hot new pile of slash fiction called The Confirmation. When your reviewer first saw the title, he expected a comic murder mystery set in an Assembly of God confirmation class, with comical down-home dialogue along the lines of, “Why ain’t Pastor Slaughter got a head no more? Looks like the Lord needs tah provide uh private detective!” Alas for the universe, it turns out The Confirmation is a roman-à-clef about Latinos on the Supreme Court and Iranian nukes. And Somali pirates. And sinister ships carrying Iraqi “yellow cake” across the sea. And feminists being all angry about some Catholic Mexican on the Supreme Court. And a horny Democratic senator who regularly mounts young interns and staffers. And a hot leader of Israel’s Likud Party. All of human life, basically.
At the beginning of the story, we meet newly-elected president “Bob Long,” which when translated into Kenyan means “Barack Obama.” NO JUST KIDDING, Bob Long is white. He was governor of California, and he's recently been elected as an independent after losing the Democratic nomination; the American people were tired of “partisan bickering,” or something. Long is well known for changing his position on abortion, from pro-choice to pro-life. Hmm, how PROVOCATIVE, Ralph Reed! We should thank Money Jesus for Ralph Reed, who gives us so much to think about ....
Why not Marco Diaz, a Latino who happens to be a member of fashionable Catholic self-mutilation club Opus Dei? Marco is strongly opposed to abortion, and this really gets the womenfolk riled up. Before long the Demoncrats are conspiring against him. The main villain among the anti-Diaz forces is a senator named Joe Penneymounter (haha, mounter of Penney?), who is by far your reviewer’s favorite character. Even though Penneymounter is a lecherous scumbag, he’s a million times more vivid than President Long (who’s nothing more than a cipher) and prospective Supreme Court feller Diaz (who’s nothing more than mouthpiece for Awesome Wingnut Ideas).
Penneymounter tries hard to seduce his female aides. Here he is trying to woo a lady named Christy Love:
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me, Christy,” said Penneymounter. He moved in closer, their bodies brushing. “I appreciate fine things. Good wine, art, intelligent conversation, a classy lady,” he said, his breath against her cheek. “I’d like to show you that other side of me.”
“Senator,” said Christy, her posture stiffening. “I don’t play in someone else’s sandbox.”
Anyway, Penneymounter and the Democrats try to frame Marco Diaz (President Long’s nominee to the Supreme Court, in case we forgot) as a hypocrite who actually loves abortion.
The nominee's ex-girlfriend is recruited to testify before the Senate about this one time Diaz allegedly forced her to get an abortion. But she winds up dead in a hotel room. Overdose. OR IS IT?
Meanwhile, Marco’s pregnant wife Frida is in the hospital. The slur campaign against her husband eventually stresses her out so much that she has a miscarriage. There’s a truly ghoulish scene where Marco and his wife talk about how Democrats have, in effect, killed their child. Or as Marco says:
“They took my daughter from me. I’m going to spend the next forty years on that court paying them back.”
Get ‘em, dude!
Oh God, and there’s so much else. The most interesting thing about this book might be the fact that Ralph Reed is downright obsessive about clothes and jewelry:
The president-elect stared into the mirror and struggled to tie the knot in his two-thousand-dollar silver Brioni tie ....
As usual, Felicity looked like a million bucks. She wore a sleeveless teal, turtleneck, ribbed sweater; black pants with aqua threading that made her look even taller than her five feet, eight inches, black zippered Dior heels; and a stunning five-carat David Yurman black onyx and diamond necklace with matching earrings and popcorn bracelet ....
A fire-engine-red Chanel dress ....
She wore a black contrast jacket with white boot-cut jeans and black-toed patent leather pumps.
And much more in that fashionista vein.
Another virtue of Ralph Reed’s writing: He has no time for glib and easy clichés! Here he is describing the habits of “attractive Likud candidate” Hannah Shoval during a visit to the White House:
Sipping intermittently from a bowl of matzo ball soup, she spoke in crisp paragraphs ....
Is there really anything else you need to know about Ms. Shoval?
The sub-plot of this rambling thing involves the Iranians getting the Bomb from Somali pirates (who in turn get it from an Iraqi container ship carrying “yellow cake” uranium, just like in pretend recent history), so you can imagine President Long has a lot to deal with. Your reviewer’s favorite passage in all the book has to do with Waziristan, though:
It was just after two in the morning when an unmanned, remote-controlled Predator drone dropped out of the clouds and floated above a safe house on the outskirts of Makeen .... The drone launched two laser-guided Hellfire missiles, lighting up the sky. They streaked to the target at a thousand miles an hour and exploded in a pillar of fire and smoke. Inside the house were several militants and family members, known associates of Rassem el Zafarshan, the mastermind behind the assassination of Vice President Harrison Flaherty [reviewer’s note: this was apparently an event in an earlier Reed novel called Dark Horse]. Everyone in the hut was killed instantly.
But Zafarshan gets away, presumably to meet with Somali pirates and Iranian nuclear scientists.
So there you have it, sort of (your reviewer can only do so much justice to such a sprawling and ambitious novel). Between Christy Love, Hannah Shoval, and the Predator drone tableau, The Confirmation is the most titillating book of 2010.
The Confirmation by Ralph Reed, Fidelis Books, 408 pages, $11.51.
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