I had a very strange dream last night in which Bill Clinton had died of a heart attack in December 2000, just a few weeks short of the end of his presidency. And before any far-right Republicans in the crowd start writing me mail congratulating me on having what they consider to be a pleasant dream, I should point out that his death came up because some friends and I were talking about how that event had provided an early start to President Gore’s first term in office.
Politics have been on my mind recently, probably because I finished reading a couple of political books recently. The first was Al Franken’s Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, a Christmas gift from a friend of mine. I was moderately disappointed with most of the book, unfortunately. The chapters on Ann Coulter didn’t tell me much that I hadn’t already read on Spinsanity (speaking of which, they have an analysis of the book), and the stuff about Bill O’Reilly wasn’t all that interesting to me since it didn’t tell me anything about O’Reilly I didn’t already know. Furthermore, the bulk of the book was too vitriolic for my liking, with one exception. The chapter on Paul Wellstone’s death and memorial service was outstanding—powerfully written, largely free of authorial vitriol, and in many places quite moving. If the rest of the book had been like that, I’d have loved it.
The second book was Alan Colmes’ Red, White, and Liberal: How Left is Right & Right is Wrong, a text that was far more balanced than the subtitle might suggest. (Think of “How” as “The Ways in Which” instead of just dropping it.) I liked this book much better, although I suspect Al Franken, who refers to Alan Colmes as Colmes throughout his book, might not. Red, White, and Liberal was intelligent, passionate, and was devoid of gratuitous character assassination. Some criticism of behavior and speech, certainly, but there was no name-calling, even with regard people who probably deserved it.
Of course, as an “admitted liberal” (which I hope will get me a lighter sentence, yerhonor) I was pre-disposed to enjoy the book, but reading it also helped me realize why I’m a liberal. Much of it I already knew, but reading the book also brought out some things I’d subconsciously realized or decided, but never brought to the surface. The tone of the book definitely helped. It also made me wonder if there was a similar case being made for the conservative point of view.
So, for those of you on the right who happen to be dropping by, I’d like to make a request. If you know of any books that lay out, intelligently and passionately, the case for conservativism in modern America, and does so without name-calling or character assassination of those on the left, could you please send me your recommendations? It doesn’t have to treat liberals with reverence, obviously. I just don’t have time for a book that says, in essence, “Right-wing thinking self-evidently correct; left-wing thinking is the product of morons and the media elite” for a few hundred pages. In other words, if you were thinking of suggesting anything written by Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh, please don’t bother wasting your time or mine. I’m looking for an author who acknowledges that liberals want what’s best for the country and happen to differ in their approach and ideals. An author who doesn’t center the text around “the liberal media” would be a major bonus, since I don’t accept that the media is inherently liberal. There’s too much evidence to the contrary (and note that I’m not saying the media is conservative, either), although I’m willing to read a chapter or two on why they think it is.
Bear in mind that, due to my temperament and experiences, I am going to be a tough sell on the right-wing point of view. That’s okay. I think it’s important that I at least understand it, and I want to get my information from someone who has that view and can argue it well without demonizing the left.
(Addendum: a commitment to factual accuracy is very important in any recommended book, so please take that into account when suggesting something. I can accept occasional errors, as will any reasonable author, but not a consistent and cavalier disregard for the facts and their context.)