NPR Critic Rips Ralph Nader's Novel: 'An Unconscionable Attack on America's Trees'

October 17th, 2009 4:34 PM

As proof that National Public Radio can't call anyone a liberal, when they decided to review Ralph Nader's new novel "Only the Super-rich Can Save Us!" on Monday evening's All Things Considered, anchor Michele Norris described him only as a "perennial presidential candidate and social critic." Book critic Alan Cheuse was not kind, calling the 700-page book a waste of forest. The good guys are a small group of the super-rich, including Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, Bill Cosby, and Yoko Ono:

America, to all of them, is a land where there's only liberty and justice for some. Point well made. And they want the pledge of allegiance to truly cover all citizens. From a headquarters in Maui -- yikes -- the social critics really know how to live, they established their movement and set up groups to organize labor and some sympathetic businessmen, an attempt to convince a reluctant Congress and president that their path remains the best way to walk the walk. Corporations tried to block them and defame them to no avail.

When Wal-Mart falls in line, you know you're in the true fantasy. And when Rush Limbaugh in these pages known as Bush Bimbaugh loses a live radio debate to Ted Turner, you know you're in the middle of an hysterical fantasy. At 100 pages, the book might've been a bearable fable. At 700-plus, it's an unconscionable attack on America's trees.

Nader also thinly disguises another villain in the book: "Brovar Dortwist." It was discussed with Grover Norquist in The New Yorker:

“I like Ralph, and I have warm fuzzies for him on a number of levels,” Norquist said, recalling how he once invited Nader to one of his Wednesday strategy sessions. (“He was clearly traumatized,” he added.)

I was there that day, in 2001 or 2002. Nader drily remarked that we were a very cold group of human beings (which, of course, drew a laugh.) You can see as the plot is unveiled why a book critic might wince:

In the book, Nader refers to those sessions as gatherings for the “greed and power brigades,” and fashions Norquist as the book’s principal villain, a conservative evil genius named Brovar Dortwist, who is defeated by a torrent of progressive campaigns, including a TV ad featuring a squawking parrot.