Columnist Maureen Dowd snagged the cover of the Sunday Book Reviewwith her sarcastic whacking of"The Lost Symbol," author Dan Brown's much-anticipated follow-up to "The Da Vinci Code." Perhaps the Washington-centric plot and setting of the book led the Times to the puzzling decision to run a review of a review-proof piece of fiction on the cover (the book debuted at #1 on the Times Best Seller list last week). The spoofy nature of Dowd's review let her make safe cracks at sinister Republicans while speculating why the conspiracy-loving Brown went soft on the Masons.
Brown skitters away from giving us the book we expected: one that might have clued us in on which present-day politicians are still Masons and what mumbo jumbo they're up to.
That job was left to Eamon Javers of Politico, who uncovered a list of Freemasons in Congress that reads like a vast right-wing conspiracy. Joe "You lie!" Wilson is a member of the Sinclair Lodge of West Columbia, S.C. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House minority whip, who's trying to suffocate President Obama's health care plan, is a member of a Richmond lodge his dad and uncle belonged to. Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, who chimed in against "death panels," urged Javers: "Don't judge us by the funny hats we wear."
Dowd left out the Democratic names on Javers list of Masons in Congress - he named four of them, along with five Republicans -including Democratic Senators Jon Tester of Montana and Robert Byrd of West Virginia.
In the end, as with "The Da Vinci Code," there's no payoff. Brown should stop worrying about unfinished pyramids and worry about unfinished novels. At least Spielberg and Lucas gave us an Ark and swirling, dissolving humans. We don't get any ancient wisdom that "will profoundly change the world as you know it" - just a lot of New Agey piffle about how we are the gods we've been waiting for. (And a father-son struggle for global domination, as though we didn't get enough of that with the Bushes.)