Monday, September 29, 2008

The Book That Follows a Masterpiece

I feel sorry for Christopher Buckley's new novel, Supreme Courtship, because it follows Boomsday, which is his masterpiece.

Supreme Courtship is enjoyable, like Florence of Arabia and Thank You For Smoking. It just doesn't have lines like Boomsday's motto of the Association of Baby Boomer Advocates (ABBA): "Ask not, what can your country do for you. Ask, what has your country done for you lately?"

The U.S. President in Supreme Courtship is that rarest of Buckley characters, a good man. "Faced with a national debt mind-boggling even by Washington standards, Donald P. Vanderdamp had rolled up his shirtsleeves on his first day in office, unscrewed the cap of the presidential veto pen, and gone to work. He wrote No on every spending bill that the Congress sent to his desk." He is not well-liked by anyone in government, and so has trouble getting his supreme court nominees approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. After nominating two judges with "impeccable credentials," indeed, one who "seemed to have been put on earth precisely for the purpose of one day becoming a justice of the United States Supreme Court," and seeing them thrown out because one wasn't enthusiastic about seeing To Kill a Mockingbird in elementary school and the other offered to marry a woman he'd gotten pregnant, Vanderdamp gets mad. He nominates a television judge who is so overwhelmingly popular with the public that the Judiciary committee can't find a way to sabatoge her nomination. She becomes a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and then gets to decide the result of the next U.S. presidential election.

It's wonderful satire; I enjoyed it and recommend that you read it this fall, during the final months of the presidential campaigns. But if you're going to read only one novel by Christopher Buckley, let it be Boomsday.

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