New book imagines American theocracy by 'President Palin'

Jerzy Shedlock

If Sarah Palin had been elected vice president, one thing's for sure, she'd have far less time for fishing, which according to her Facebook page, she's been doing a lot of this summer. And while an animated website from those heady days in 2008 imagined what a Palin Oval Office would look like, a new book of fiction speculates what would happen if John McCain won the 2008 presidential race and passed away, leaving former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in charge of running the United States. The novel portrays a largely familiar America ... but one that has been upended by religious extremists.

Although the book, "Christian Nation" is a work of fiction, Politico says author Fred Rich is dead serious about what a Palin presidency would mean for the country. Rich, a lawyer living in Manhattan, tells the online outlet that his book explores the possibility, however remote, that a political figure with strong religious convictions could implement sweeping changes if he or she gained enough power.

“How could the federal courts, which are the only defense against all the nonsense you see out of the state legislatures, how could the federal court system be neutralized?" he asks. "What legislative strategies could the Christian right pursue were they in control of the Congress? It shows that it’s not impossible or unthinkable for them to actually be able to implement that agenda.”

Rich says he used to be a Roman Catholic, but now claims to be an atheist, and he used to call himself a Republican, but now he’s an independent. He says the book should not offend most Christians, just "the extremists," for “this book is not intended to be a shrill, bombastic addition to this conversation. It’s intended to be a much more thoughtful piece of work ... What I’m doing is shining a spotlight on the fact that some leading opinion makers -- and the ones that can drive the politics of this country -- are extremists,” the author said.

Palin isn’t the only political figure to play a role in Rich’s alternate universe; he also looks at the 2012 Republican presidential field and argues that all but two or three were motivated by “very strong, very conservative Christian beliefs.”

Two weeks ago, Rich blogged at Huffington Post, noting that a recent YouGov Omnibus poll showed 34 percent of respondents would favor establishing Christianity as the state religion of the United States, in essence creating a theocracy in contravention of the US Constitution. Rich argues that because of poll results like those, the premise of his novel isn't as impossible as it might seem. He concludes: "Everyone -- mainstream Christians, and Republicans and Democrats both -- need to keep a wary eye on our home-grown fundamentalists. The consequences of failing to take them seriously could be fatal."

Fewer eyes, wary or not, have been on Palin lately, but she is resurgent. Fox News let her $1-million-per-year contract expire last year, but starting mid-June, she was back on “Fox and Friends.” The Christian Science Monitor judged her return as a paid contributor to the conservative news network “pretty restrained,” but she did stir up controversy by commenting that the US should “let Allah sort it out” in Syria, instead of ramping up aid to the country’s rebels.

Palin, with one bestseller already, signed a contract to write another book, this one about Christmas, aptly titled “A Happy Holiday IS a Merry Christmas” (emphasis original). Reportedly, it will focus on returning the holiday back to its religious roots. The book’s release is scheduled for November, just in time for the gift-giving season.

"Amidst the fragility of this politically correct era, it is imperative that we stand up for our beliefs before the element of faith in a glorious and traditional holiday like Christmas is marginalized and ignored," Palin said in a statement released to the Associated Press.

In October, People magazine reported that in addition to the Christmas book, Palin was working on a health and fitness book, but said that it was unclear whether she had a contract or when the book would be published. There have been no updates since.

Contact Jerzy Shedlock at jerzy(at)alaskadispatch.com