Would Washington, D.C. be different if women ran the government? This is the central premise of Nicolle Wallace‘s trilogy of political thrillers: Eighteen Acres, It’s Classified, and Madam President.
Ms. Wallace was Pres. George W. Bush’s communication director. She worked on John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008. She was a co-host on The View for a season, and I watch her every day on MSNBC’s Deadline: White House. After the 2016 election, she rejected the Republican party and became an Independent.
Eighteen Acres was published after her stints as Pres. Bush’s communications director and before her failed stint on The View.
I loved the fantasy of women running the government and was fascinated by the behind-the-scenes intrigue which is probably more fact than fiction. Charlotte Kramer is POTUS; Melanie Kingston is her chief of staff. Dale Smith is a political reporter/weekend anchor who is having an affair with the First Husband.
As Charlotte’s first term is drawing to a close, her vice president retires. She reaches across the aisle to pick Tara Meyers, New York’s attorney general to be her running mate. Since V.P. Meyer’s character was inspired by Sarah Palin, I wonder whether Ms. Wallace is revealing her wish that Sen. McCain had picked Sen. Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Melanie’s character mirrors Ms. Wallace’s personality and life experience. And, I wonder whether Charlotte is based on Hillary Clinton with Dale based on Monica Lewinsky. I can’t fathom Sec. Clinton being as charitable or generous as Charlotte.
It’s Classified picks up after the election. I’ve heard Steve Schmidt and Ms. Wallace exchange snarky remarks about the strain of containing Sarah Palin on the campaign trail. Chief of Staff Melanie Kingston and VP nominee Tara Meyers had similar tensions during the campaign, and Melanie quit on election night.
Charlotte lures her back to become Secretary of Defense. Dale Smith is offered a job of communications director for the VP, who has serious mental health issues and an abusive, controlling husband. The book is loaded with intersecting romantic and political intrigue.
It’s Classified sets the stage for the final book in the trilogy, Madam President. It was likely written during Ms. Wallace’s failed stint on The View and after her son was born. . .nobody dreamed Donald Trump would be in the White House.
Charlotte Kramer has a new female Democratic VP, Maureen McCoughlin, who had been Speaker of the House. Melanie Kingston is still Defense Secretary, married, and pregnant. Dale Smith has been appointed press secretary and has a new love interest, Warren Carmichael. Charlotte is re-united with her husband Peter.
The book centers on one day in the life of Pres. Kramer filmed by a CBS anchor duet Richard and Lucy. The day blows up when terrorists repeat 9-11 in Miami, Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. A series of somewhat confusing flash-backs and flash-forwards flush out the story. Ms. Wallace drew heavily on her own 9-11 experiences in writing the book.
The trilogy is pure Nicolle Wallace. If you love her show on MSNBC, you’ll love the books. They are delightful blend of feminist attitude, political intrigue, and the importance of relationships. I highly recommend reading them together which is what I did to distract myself from what folks in Seattle are calling “Snow-mageddon.” Typically, the snow falls, everyone takes photos, kids make snowmen before it melts like a gracious visitor who knows when it is time to leave. This week the snow isn’t melting, and we have two more rounds of snow and frigid weather in the forecast.