Texas political consultant Jason Stanford reviews Patriots on his website:
Frum renames Texas’ big daddy “Garth Pappas” and gives him a back story as “a star receiver for Texas A&M in the 1980s” who “parlayed fame into business success, first as a car dealer, then as a subprime mortgage lender,” basically casting him as a lying corporate shill.
The Perry/Pappas character is only a funny afterthought in Frum’s novel. Patroits skewers a Republican Party that has been taken over by operatives such as Grover Norquist who thinks every deal is a moral failure wrapped in an ethical compromise inside of ideological weakness. Norquist is head of Americans for Tax Reform that bullies Republican candidates into signing pledges never to raise taxes. Ever. Nope, not even then.
The Norquist character—Elmer Larsen in Patriots—is a humorless pope in a holy war with Democrats as well as certain Republicans. “You win by fighting—and yeah, by punishing those who break ranks in the face of the enemy,” Elmer tells a protégé. “Words are the ordnance of political warfare. Use them sparingly, always aim. Before you say anything, ask: Why am I speaking? Will these words advance my mission? Hurt my enemy? If not, shut up.”
As the guy who conjured the phrase “Axis of Evil” to sell a war on fictitious terms, Frum is well-positioned to explore the ways the orthodox fiscal conservatives bend truth to push their narratives. Frum, who became persona non grata when he scolded conservatives for lying about Obamacare, is no longer welcome on Fox News, renamed in his novel as “Patriot News.”
“Patriot News told a strong, clear story. The story might change unexpectedly. The story might depart from reality in all kinds of ways. But the story always cohered. It was as if everyone at Patriot News had absorbed the joke Catesby had told me about how the British cabinet system worked: ‘It doesn’t matter what damn lie we tell, so long as we all tell the same damn lie,’” observes Frum’s protagonist.
As another character observes about Fox/Patriot News, “It’s not fiction. It’s myth. And this myth happens to be true.”