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IN BRIEF

Fiction

November 12, 1995|CHRIS GOODRICH

THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE: A Cautionary Tale by Jeff Greenfield (G.P. Putnam's Sons: $22.95; 288 pp.) It's a high-concept novel, however uncinematic: What would happen if a U.S. President-elect died before the electoral college ratified him, and a few Joe Blow electors realized the Constitution gave them power, legitimate power, to broker the presidential vacancy? "The People's Choice" unfolds pretty much as you'd expect, but the premise does provide Jeff Greenfield--a lawyer as well as a political commentator--with many ripe targets for satire: partisan operatives attempting to stage-manage an unprecedented crisis, media types trying to appear all-knowing despite knowing virtually nothing, back-room deal-makers playing public figures like pawns, youthful hackers using new technology to outfox the cynical Old Guard. Greenfield won't get any points for characterization or subtlety, but his scenario is scarily plausible, since the electoral college system remains perfectly valid law, however arcane. If nothing else, "The People's Choice" will cause a few people to re-read Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution and wonder: What were those Framers thinking?

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