Note to Dan Brown: You really should write a novel about this year’s election. It’s got everything you need and more: intrigue, treachery, even witchcraft. But most important for you, it has a secret society.
Actually, there are several. They have different names, though their sinister members are pretty much the same. In this thinly-disguised fictionalized account, the real-life US Chamber of Commerce would be called the N.A.B.G., or “National Association of Bad Guys.” Dan might find it difficult for his society to be taken seriously. For instance: N.A.B.G.’s budget of $75 million for campaign ads might seem a little over the top.
But it’s not the top—it’s the tip, actually, of a money iceberg. Altogether, the projected expenditures are estimated at $150 million when you add in the even more ominous organizations.
One in particular would be run by a man with a remarkably mild face that masks intense malevolence. Strangely enough, he puts his covert stealth on public display. He even has regular TV gig on an extremist television network, where he brags about his dark exploits.
He is either revered or reviled, but he thrives on intimidation. His nihilism is inspired by Machiavelli: “… anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.”
Your book’s title: The Rovian Code.
It’s set in a time when five members of an equally obscure tribunal, a so-called Supreme Court, decree that it’s permissible to open the Watergates of covert campaign contributions using certain kinds of cartels as conduits. Identity theft is impossible. These shell organizations are impenetrable, not even susceptible to hackers.
That’s because in your not-stranger than-truth narrative, these syndicates are governed by a strict Omerta that shrouds all the mystery backers. Anybody who tries to expose them is bought off or mysteriously disappears. That way, they can remain unseen as they invest in their crusade to wrench back control of government from the progressive infidels.
Just two years earlier, they thought it would be more effective to co-opt those promising change than to oppose them outright. So they hedged their bets. Still, the reforms—mild though they might be—were beginning to irritate them. Now the big hedge fund guys are surreptitiously betting their hedges on the passions of a new, louder band of more easily manipulated puppets.
Their passion for anonymity would be a little difficult to explain. It couldn’t be that they’re ashamed of themselves; usually, they’re shameless. Even when caught in their deceptive investment manipulations, they defiantly just keep at it.
For character models, look no further than the banking industry, at those who brought down the world economy with their deceptive investment instruments. Now they they seamlessly slide over to foreclosure cheating. Obviously, they’re not worried about getting busted. They’re too powerful for that. The laws don’t apply to them. But still they insist on operating in the shadows.
Obviously, the light causes them to recoil. Literature is replete with Twilight figures like that—to say nothing of movies and TV. This is a natural for you, Dan, even though it doesn’t have an overt religious theme. Come to think of it, of course it does: the worship of money.
Think of all the story lines, all the bizarre figures. The plots and subplots would feature scores of men and women, but no sex whatsoever. Not these people. (Thank God.)
The nonfiction version of The Rovian Code is playing in political theaters everywhere, and on television in the form of nonstop negative ads. It runs till November 2nd. But have no fear; a sequel is already in the works, scheduled for release in 2012.
(Bob Franken is a syndicated columnist for King Features and Hearst. Formerly with CNN he now appears on several networks)
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