First off, it should be said right up front that the title of this book is a little misleading. Despite what it suggests, this is not the sort of neo-conservative diatribe you might find on Rush Limbaugh's radio program or on FOX News about how and why liberals and Democrats are the scourge of society.
Rather, this is a well thought out, if somewhat lengthy, essay on how the modern day liberalism born out of the anti-war and civil rights movements of the sixties has essentially been sold out. Stephen Marshall – who I would have to assume was at least at one time a card carrying liberal himself – exposes how the values that once defined liberalism as a movement have been compromised in recent years as America's position in the world has become less secure in the wake of events like 9/11.
He makes a compelling argument.
Think about it. It's often been said that if you want to get a political job done — especially one that involves getting down and dirty — going to a Republican is going to be your best bet. I certainly know I felt that way when our own beloved Seattle Seahawks were about to be shipped out of town by then owner Ken Behring a few years back. Just when the situation seemed hopeless, some civic leaders here enlisted the help of Republican senator Slade Gorton.
Now Slade has never been one of my favorite people. The guy's face resembles that of Skeletor, for one thing. But as soon as Slade was on board, I knew that that the type of deal brokering required to keep the Seahawks in Seattle was a foregone conclusion. There was no longer any doubt the Seahawks would remain in Seattle with "Skeletor" driving the corporate boat.
The Republicans likewise had no problems with investigating the crap out of Bill Clinton for everything from his travel agent to his real estate dealings — eventually impeaching him over the little sumptin' sumptin' he was getting on the side. Meanwhile, we currently have a Democratic majority in congress, elected by the American people at least partially in the hopes of bringing an end to an unpopular Iraq war that looks increasingly like a quagmire — that doesn't seem to have the teeth to get the job done.
So the question becomes not so much who plays "good cop" and who plays "bad cop," as who gets the job done?
Marshall gets to the crux of the problem quickly here. Pointing directly towards early support for the war from some of the leading lights of liberalism in the name of combating a post 9/11 "threat of terrorism," he more correctly identifies the need to maintain and spread corporate interests in the world in the name of good old fashioned American capitalism as the true culprit.
Early on, he attends an event where liberal academics Paul Berman and Michael Ignatieff defend the security issue as a valid reason to go to war with Iraq, as being the least of the evils available in the way of options. Which, at the very least, makes one ponder in retrospect our post 9/11 rush to war in the wake of what we now know. Likewise, it makes you almost embarrassed for the current Democratic presidential candidates running — frantically in some cases — from that initial support for the Iraq war.
In later chapters, Marshall goes after everybody from Gore Vidal to such sacred cows as Bono and Bob Geldof, and the way their Live 8 show to raise money for starving people in Africa also featured a lily-white cast of performers.
This is a book that almost makes you wonder how the draft card burning radicals of the sixties anti-war movement — the group which most defines modern day liberalism — would have approached these times. While I don't necessarily agree with everything said in this book, I certainly did find it thought provoking.
Published — probably because no one else would dare touch it — by the ever-subversive folks at the Disinformation Company, who are responsible for such books as Everything You Know Is Wrong, I'd recommend this book to any and all "enquiring minds who want to know."
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss?