Sunday, June 15, 2008

Book Review: Right Is Wrong by Arianna Huffington

Right Is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe
Arianna Huffington
politics, current affairs. republican party, george w. bush, john mccain

Huffington is the founder of one of the most widely read political blogs, The Huffington Post. She is a native of Greece, but has been an enthusiastic participant in politics in this country for many years. She started as a Republican, and one of the more interesting parts of Right Is Wrong is her discussion of why she was Republican and what changed her. She was a Republican because she believed in limited government, that private sources were the best remedies for society's ills. She was always concerned with issues of helping the poor, and thought that many Republicans were as well.

She left the Republican party after Newt Gingrich heard her ideas on helping the poor and said that they were the kind of ideas Republicans needed. It wasn't long before she realized that he was not actually interested in helping the poor but in the appearance of doing so. She also "...came to recognize that the task of overcoming poverty is too monumental to be achieved without the raw power of annual appropriations." (p. 9)

Since then, she says that many of her friends who are Republican have become bewildered by the direction of the Party. So the book is about how the fringe elements took over the GOP and hijacked its principles.

After a couple of chapters on the pitiful state of the media now (including an honor roll of the few journalists who were right, and reporting what they knew, in the run-up to the Iraq war (which fits well with the episode of Bill Moyer's Journal called "Buying the War"), Huffington goes into a litany of the insanities of the George W. Bush administration. She covers everything from a bad energy bill to the politicization of science to the Iraq war to the failure in Afghanistan, to torture, to immigration, to the recession, to the state of health care, to the end of the ban on assault weapons. It is sickening, but not all that new. Her main point for repeating all of this is to reinforce it in the public's mind in this crucial election, and to show how electing John McCain would be a continuation of Bush's failed policies. It seems that the policies and behavior of McCain since he decided to run for President this time have been a major disappointment to Huffington. She has known, worked with, and admired John McCain in the past, but lays out how his positions have changed to pander to the people who can make him President. Most tragic of all is his change of position on torture, from saying that one of the things that kept him going during his own torture was knowing that his country would not do anything of the sort, to his recent vote to not extend prohibitions on torture to the CIA.

It is an important book and an important message. Presidents don't always act in office as they promise on the campaign trail. George W. Bush is an example, he ran as a moderate in 2000 and then governed from somewhere right of the Neanderthals. But we can't take a chance on a McCain presidency for so many reasons, starting with the composition of the Supreme Court under a President McCain.

One of the interesting pieces to me is in her discussion of the politicization of the Justice Department and the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys. Four of the eight fired were looking into corruption charges against Republicans. This is an interesting bit on Rove's involvement:

"Unraveling the cover-ups revealed that the the evidence trail on the firings went all the way to the White House. In an interview with MCClatchy newspapers, Alan Weh, chairman of the New Mexico Republican party, admitted that, in 2005, he asked a White Hose staffer who worked for Karl Rove for help in getting rid of New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias. Weh, unhappy that Iglesias refused to rush a showy investigation of Democratic officials in time for the 2006 election, followed up directly with Rove in 2006.

According to Weh, his conversation with the Boy Genius went something like this:

Weh: is anything ever going to happen to that guy [Iglesias]?

Rove: He's gone." (p. 300)

The 2008 Presidential election is the most important in a generation. Arianna Huffington is doing what she can to see that citizens go into the voting booth knowing the stakes involved.
Knopf (2008), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 400 pages
0307269663 / 9780307269669

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