Like the book I read last year by Robert Coover called The Cat in the Hat for President, this book was recently republished, for more or less obvious reasons.
The premise of this book is a kind of Manchurian Candidate meets Citizen Kane in that we have a young senator meeting up with the president on the night of a White House correspondent’s dinner at Camp David. At the meeting the president runs through a list of issues with the current Vice President, including a recent economic scandal and ultimately hints at the idea of this senator being in the running during the next election cycle. In the meantime this senator starts getting his ducks in a row and this includes breaking up with his mistress. As this week or so passes, every one around him basically tells him that he’s not a particularly good senator or candidate and it kind of dumb and kind of lazy, so he begins to question this offer.
His next meeting leaves him horrified. He concludes that the president is paranoid, defensive, erratic, and ultimately “insane”. This all comes from the president’s unveiling of a plan to unify the world in a weird one-world government plot.
And then the book turns into an investigation into the president’s past.
How naive this book seems! There’s this clear sense of gravity about accusations of mental health. But boy has the train sailed on that one. We openly and constant question the president’s mental health and the conversation is less how to avoid such unsubstantiated claims, but more so how better to frame the question because of how offensive connecting the president to people with mental illness has become.