At The Wall Street Journal, Vice managing editor and former Reason staffer Michael C. Moynihan surveys the “clotted sentences and cringe-inducing sex scenes” that almost invariably follow when politicians attempt to write fiction. Among the worst offenders, Moyhihan observes, are former Defense Secretary William Cohen and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich:
If these books by authors from different sides of the aisle share a common thread—besides turgid writing—it is a desire to use the novel to write ideological history. In "Blink of an Eye," Mr. Cohen spins a fantastical tale of a nuclear device that devastates Savannah, Ga., forcing a too-good-for-Washington president and his indefatigable aide to fight the forces of reaction—those knuckle-dragging American religious fanatics desperate to pin the attack on Iranian religious fanatics. You can probably guess the rest....
Mr. Gingrich is capable of howlers as well. Indeed, two pages into Mr. Gingrich's "Days of Infamy," his 2008 novelization of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the reader finds President Franklin Roosevelt ruminating on Hirohito's act of aggression: "Our civilization must not lose this war, or it would be, indeed, as Winston Churchill said, 'a thousand years of darkness.' " Perhaps Mr. Gingrich's FDR possessed the power of time travel, for the quote attributed to Churchill was actually spoken by Ronald Reagan in 1964. But to Mr. Gingrich it is the didacticism anchoring his books in specific moments in history—especially those periods or episodes viewed as morally unambiguous, like World War II or the Civil War—that matters most. The Gingrich novel-by-committee is thus more Captain America than Flashman.
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