Maya Moritz reviews Congressman Steve Israel’s The Global War on Morris, a satirical piece centralized around America’s war on terror.
If the U.S. Presidential debates have become more worrying than comical to you, turn to The Global War on Morris by Congressman Steve Israel to distract from your woes, whether you are red or blue.
Published last year, The Global War on Morris is a clever satire concerning the war on terror. Though the book finishes with a chapter featuring President Obama, most of the comedy is set in the Bush-Cheney era, capitalizing on post-9/11 panic in the United States with an unconventional hero.
Morris Feldstein is the cliché bridge-and-tunnel (meaning living near Manhattan but not on the island for you Brits) middle-class man. He is a pharmaceutical representative, baseball and Tuner Classic Movies devotee, and non-spectator of the news or any world events. His comfortable domain is adventure enough for him.
The world around him is less complacent. At home, his therapist wife and activist daughter seek to expose corruption and fix the world. At work, receptionist Victoria longs for a man to replace her horrid ex-husband (and revenge his cheating ways). In Florida, a terrorist cell longs for their day of martyrdom and works blue-collar jobs in the meantime. But the biggest drama is in the White House.
There, the menacing Karl Rove and conniving Vice-President Dick Cheney launch an intrusive computer program to weed out terrorists in the American population. Aides to these villains know better than to vocalize any moral qualms and learn to simply abide by the bureaucratic nightmare that surrounds the supercomputer NICK. NICK is a Sauron-esque eye, often personified with human frustration and concern, that discovers a terrorist living among us in the suburbs of Long Island; namely, Morris Feldstein.
Not surprisingly, the whiff of prestige brings a whole host of other players to the table. Local police agents, the FBI, countless government agencies with a barrage of acronym titles, and the media hop onto the bandwagon as an affair threatens Morris’s marriage and (more importantly) his peace. The book is funniest when small cameos by Morris’s rabbi in a bathroom mirror and Morris’s paranoid neighbor in his house-fort break up a multitude of incorrect misunderstandings between the befuddled characters. The confusion, of course, does not stop a single one from carrying on with whatever war they are waging. Though the book will sometimes descend into been-there, bad-SNL-skit shenanigans, the reader is usually surprised by whatever Steve Israel thinks up in each chapter.
As an American, I cannot promise that those who do not enjoy our level of freedom (looking at you, Scotland) will catch every hyperbole and biting quip. Regardless, Congressman Israel teases his profession with reckless abandon, taking us into the thoughts of Cheney, Obama, and other news figures that are (hopefully) far less drastic than the caricatures of the novel.
Whatever direction you lean politically (and I am no Bernie Sanders fan), the humor is universal enough to force even the most ardent gun wielding pro-life capitalist to laugh at the state of the world and the U.S. political system. Whoever you plan to vote for in the primaries, pick up The Global War on Morris on your way to the polls.