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The Politics of Meaning
Author: Daniel Graham, Jr.
Publisher: Preview Press
Discovered at: Thrift store
The Cover Promises: Punch-and-Judy puppet violence between Bill Clinton and Joan Rivers. The back cover is more clear about this feeble satire of Arkansas politics: “From college days to the pinnacle of power, Jim Potter and Leslie Rhodes lay waste to their enemies (and friends alike) as they pursue The Politics of Meaning. But can they keep their political marriage alive?”
Representative Quotes: “‘We’ve got a shot at real power, big bucks, and all the personal freedom a man or woman could ask for. What do you say? Until now, we’ve only been on the outside looking in. Marry me and you’ll have your first shot at the inside, where you can make policy'” (page 44); “Leslie admired the muscle tone of Hebe’s arms, legs, and back, combined with the feminine roundness of her breasts and buttocks.” (page 59).
Today, at the dawn of a new Democratic administration, it’s worth a moment to recall how the last one fared . . . especially from the perspective of the “movement” conservatives who hated Bill Clinton so damn much you’d think he’d given their sisters herpes. (It’s also worth noting that it was these same conservatives who later picked up the phrase “Bush Derangement Syndrome” to described people who objected to their guy.)
Take the nastiest early Drudge reports, find-and-replace the names Bill and Hillary with “Jim” and “Leslie,” and you’ll have the bulk of The Politics of Meaning, a satire sure to delight anyone who can’t stop giggling about Vince Foster’s suicide. Daniel Graham, Jr., delights in dragging his Clinton analogues through familiar gossip, witlessly accusing them of socialism, lesbianism, murder, and — worst of all — espousing liberal principles despite a personal preference for wealth to poverty.
Packed with silly names (Al Goring, Mac Doodle, Tony Androgynophilus), scenes of Democrats exulting in Marxist economics, and not a single joke that’s funny on the level the author intends, The Politics of Meaning reveals much less about the Clintons than it does about the pettiness of that vast right-wing conspiracy. Graham, Jr., attacks Hillary’s “broad ass” and Bill’s astro-turfed sex-mobile, and devotes page after page to the low-rent chicanery of Whitewater. Written before Clinton’s second term, the conclusion imagined here is much less bizarre than the Clintons’ real-life fates: impeached for a blowjob! Defeated in the primaries by a black man! Damn it, right wing abusers of vanity presses! You have to imagine harder!
* “Hillary” envies the organizational skills of the Watts rioters.
* “Bill” talks like a hard-boiled, left-wing Charlie Brown: “Good Grief. You can’t radicalize a bourgeois campus like William and Mary. You’ve got brass balls, Leslie Rhodes. But I like ballsy women.”
* Abbie Hoffman awards young “Bill” and “Hillary” a proclamation “hand inscribed in Vietnamese on rice paper” that reads, “For valiant service rendered to the peace-loving peoples of Vietnam and the world against the aggression of imperialist regimes… ”
* Politics is dirty! The Clintons made questionable investments! Bill cheats! Hillary has ambitions!
* Unfathomably, as part of a spirited bet, “Jim” and “Leslie” hire a hooker in Las Vegas. Then, in a meta-twist, “Jim” tells the whore his name is “Bill.”
* Governor “Bill” pays for a mistress’ abortion with cash from his legal defense fund.
* Hillary enjoys the company of women. And spa jets. And her lawyer, “Scooter Scott.”
* When “Scooter Scott” breaks off his affair with Hillary, Bill arranges for his murder.
* Bill has “Scooter Scott”‘s body dumped in a state park to ensure that any investigation is handled by the “road-kill detectives” of the Department of Fish and Game. Here, Graham, Jr., describes the corpse’s discovery:
“Jumpin’ Jehosephet!” the ranger bellowed. “This man kilt himself!” He took off his Smokey-the-Bear hat and held it over his heart in a moment of reverence for the dead.
Astonishing Detail: After “Hillary” pelts “Bill” with ashtrays, a crystal dolphin, and two shoe trees, “Bill” suffers a heart-attack. Instead of calling for help, “Leslie” tells just watches him die, announcing “But for the record, [Bill], I do not feel your pain.” She then becomes governor in his stead.
Highlight: Graham, Jr., forgoes a traditional dedication. Instead, he acknowledges that nobody wants to be on the receiving end of such a book and invites the reader to choose a suitable dedicatee. He even provides a handy blank.
I thank him for the opportunity.
BONUS CRAP! Part one of a new “Studies in Crap” series: What You Get When You Donate Enough Money to Win a Major Party’s Gratitude, But Not So Much That They Invite You To Draft Legislation Concerning Your Particular Industry.
Item: Framable, laser-printed tribute to those heroes of the late ’90s, “The 13 Courageous House Managers Standing Up for the ‘Rule of Law'” — those conservative Congressmen who, finding few real problems in American to concern themselves with, attempted to oust a president just for the fuck of it.
Discovered at: estate sale
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 20, 2009
More:Studies in Crap