Just when it may seem like every imaginable story has been written about the 2012 presidential race along comes the fascinating, hilarious novel Taft 2012 which injects needed humor into what has been a pretty depressing campaign thus far.As I talk about with the author in the interview that follows, the timing of this book couldn't be better not only because the campaign needs some new angles but also because Republicans have been struggling for months with the question of who to nominate since few seem to be in love with Mitt Romney.
Enter from stage left, or, maybe I should say stage right (since he was a Republican) William Howard Taft, president from 1909–1913.Taft has, for reasons not entirely clear, never actually died, and he wakes up in 2012 to a world that has changed enormously since he served in office almost 100 years ago.
Jason Heller, in his debut novel, takes the reader on a fun ride through contemporary life and politics while also taking some pokes at Taft, both the nation's largest president and the last to wear a mustache. As for why Heller chose Taft as the former president to build this literary ride on, I'll let him explain that in the interview.
I heard about this book during this piece on NPR and decided on the spot I wanted to read the book and interview its author.
If you want to read a fun book check this out — you'll thank me later. It's especially enjoyable if you like books about politics that have a sense of humor. It's fun political satire.
I wanted to include a few excerpts from the book. I love that Heller has a reporter cut to the quick at one point asking a question that would surely come up if Taft really was found alive near the White House lawn while Obama was president.
"Reporter: Senator, Mr. Taft will also be eligible to receive top medical care at VA hospitals. Doesn't it set a bad example to allow him the same treatment as our veterans when his extreme obesity make him a clear insurance risk? Will the First Lady's anti-obesity campaign be addressing the matter of President Taft's physical fitness?"
Heller has fun with the language of politicians — this comment reminded me of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's classic line about "known unknowns". Heller has James Mackler, the director of national intelligence, on a television show, say the government is convinced the Taft found in 2012 must be the real one because he knows his presidential ID. This prompts this exchange