One of the problems with spending an evening in the pub is that I get ideas. Some of them are viable and useful—the core of "Glasshouse" more or less congealed around three pints of Deuchars IPA in The Standing Order in Edinburgh one rainy Tuesday afternoon in early 2003—but others should be tagged "back away from the keyboard, put down the mouse, and nobody needs to get hurt".
Last night's was one of the latter. And so instead of hunting for a collaborator and then trying to pitch and/or write the sucker, I'm going to exorcise it right here on my blog (so that I lose any urge to pursue it further).
There is a niche for high-concept satirical fiction that comes out in an election year. Alas, this niche only works in those countries that have set election cycles—until very recently this ruled out the UK (where an election could be held at 10 weeks' notice at virtually any time), but meant that it was a runner in the USA.
Less commonly, there's a niche for high-concept satirical alternate history SF that comes out in an election year. Or just plain surreal SF, like John Barnes' unjustly-overlooked-for-a-Hugo-award novel Raise the Gipper from 2012.
Now, it occurs to me that the Republican Party over in the USA have a bit of a problem coming up in 2016, namely who to run against Barack Obama's successor. Whoever they are. (Hilary is looking a little old and Al's cardboard has mildew.) But the RNC isn't in good shape. They don't have anybody out front with the charisma of the Gipper (dead or alive), or the good ole' boy appeal of George W. Bush: just a bunch of old white guys in dark suits who're obsessed with the size of their wallets and the contents of every woman's uterus, or vice versa. Guys who make Karl Rove look like Johnny Depp.
And so it occurred to me (after my fifth pint of IPA) to spin my speculative political satire around the fact that there is only one man on the global political scene today who has what it takes to be a plausible Republican candidate for President Of The United States at the next presidential election.
Let me enumerate the ways in which this man makes sense as a candidate. He's only 62 years old—not as youthful as Barack Obama, but still well within the age range for POTUS. He has proven experience of leading an aggressive, declining, former military superpower bristling with nuclear weapons and suffering from eating disorders and a tendency to binge on breakaway republics when nobody is looking. As a former KGB Colonel he understands the needs of the security state like no US president before him, except possibly George H. W. Bush (a former Director of the CIA); he's exactly the right man to be in charge of the NSA, post-Snowden. As a Russian he clearly likes his tea, so he'll go down well with that wing of the party. Nobody can accuse him of being soft on terrorism, or communism, or gay rights. Nobody can question his virile, macho manhood either, not with his state-run press agency circulating photographs of him bareback-riding a bear. He's an instinctive authoritarian, a daddy figure, totally in love with god, guts, and guns—and if anyone says otherwise he'll put powdered Polonium in their soup.
There is just one problem: the part of the US Constitution which bangs on so tiresomely about how the POTUS must be a natural-born American citizen. But that's easily soluble. I'm sure Chief Justice Scalia will figure out a reason why Leningrad in 1952 was actually part of the United States, probably by means of a retroactive amendment to the Alaska Purchase adding a couple of blocks of Downtown St Petersburg to Anchorage. (In his current capacity, Mr Putin should be able to handle the Russian Imperial paperwork side of things.)
Of course, certain people are going to be slightly concerned about any tampering with the constitutional status of Alaska. In particular, Alaska's most famous political export and vice-presidential candidate is bound to take a renewed interest in the sight of Putin rising over the horizon:
Now, here's the fictional angle: what if Vladimir Putin were to woo and wed Sarah Palin?
Sex sells. Sex sells particularly well to people who aren't getting any, and who are deep in denial; it's no coincidence that the Bible Belt states have the highest per-capita consumption of online porn in the US. Given what is known to go on at Republican party conventions, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that Vladimir Putin's manly buns are a thing of fascination to Republican womanhood (and not a little Republican manhood, either), while Sarah Palin positively oozes a lizard-eyed soccer mom sex appeal that makes a particular demographic stand to attention—or at least at parade rest, for the eighty seconds which is all they can manage in late middle age without the assistance of little blue pills.
Would that not be the ultimate Republican two-headed presidential ticket? It would add a new depth and emotional je ne sais quoi (that's Foreign for "fuck me, I'm outa here") to the whole affair. For the first time we'd see a president and vice president who see eye to eye on everything, except when they're doing it doggie-style. (And now you won't be able to get rid of that mental image: share and enjoy!) And it's tantalizingly close to coming true, or just plain coming. Mr Putin is currently newly single after a couple of decades of marriage; I'm sure that if, on meeting, the ultimate Republican political power couple saw magic in each other's eyes, Todd would do the decent thing and remove himself from the picture via an uncontested divorce (if necessary with a little help from the KGB).
Unfortunately my crystal ball cracked asunder at this point in the narrative. Or maybe my beer glass suffered a divide by zero error. Either way, the future became hazy with a low overcast and mushroom clouds in the middle distance, to the tune of "we'll meet again":
Either that or the horror of imagining a political wedding choreographed by Karl Rove, with Rush Limbaugh giving away the blushing bride (clutching her bouquet of M-67s) to a stern-faced presidential candidate in the dress uniform of a KGB Colonel finally burned out my creative glands. I can continue with this idea no further—at least on my own.
So. My question for you is, what are the bullet points of the campaign platform for Putin/Palin '16?