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08.12.09

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Phaedra

Boxer Bound

By Michael S. Gant


WHAT DO our elected representatives do with their spare time (if they have any)? Sen. Barbara Boxer writes novels; her second, Blind Trust, co-written by Mary-Rose Hayes, is political payback masquerading as a thriller. Heroine Ellen Fischer Lind is a California senator (write about what you know) presiding over confirmation hearings for the new secretary of Homeland Security, an old Republican nemesis named Carl Satcher. Suddenly, Ellen is sucker-punched by a leak claiming that she and her husband have abused their blind trust; more scandalous revelations about her trusted aide follow. Who's behind these scurrilous attacks? Could it be Craig Fulton, the Cheney-esque vice president at the center of a plot to stage a phony terrorist attack on the nation to ensure a Republican hegemony for generations to come? Or Satcher, who has designs on the White House?

Clearly, Boxer has more than a few axes that she's been dying to sharpen. The biggest target is one Sam Slaughter, an odious right-wing talk-show host, whose program, The Slaughterhouse, is really a clearing-house for unsubstantiated attacks on well-meaning Democrats. He is "mean-spirited, inaccurate, provocative, disgusting." Take that, Rush. Luckily, after some transparent plot turns, a semblance of decency is restored—because, dammit, liberals need fairy tales, too. The writing is serviceable, although occasionally veering toward parody: "Listen," says Ellen's politico husband, "ever since I saw you across that room, fighting for your children's bill with every nerve in your body, I've loved you and wanted you and I can't stand the thought of losing you." So, it's not exactly a bodice-ripper; maybe budget-ripper is closer to the mark. Here's hoping that Boxer is devoting most of her waking hours to salvaging the public option in the Obama health-care plan. Now there's a thriller with no clear climax in sight.


BLIND TRUST by Barbara Boxer; Chronicle Books; 234 pages; $24.95. Boxer appears for a booksigning event on Saturday (Aug. 15) at 1pm at Barnes & Noble, 3600 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose.


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