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J LHLS Archives: February 2004
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
By James Carville
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2003)
Reviewed by Lynn Loper
You donít go to the supermarket to buy a car, and you donít go to Auto Row to get a can of pineapple. If you do, youíre just plain stupid. And if you go to James Carville for anything besides what he has to sell you, you wonít get it and you wonít deserve to. Carville isnít a political philosopher. He does what he does and he does it well.
James Carville doesnít make any secret of what he is, and if you donít know what he is by now, you havenít been paying attention. Carville reduces complicated problems to easy phrases. And I have no reason to believe that he doesnít do it from his heart. His heart is 100% true-blue go-get-the-dirty-bastards Democratic. Mine too. I wish I had the skill and speed to argue with people the way he does.
In his new book, 'Had Enough? A Handbook for Fighting Back', Carville lays out all the areas where the second Bush administration is fouling up, and tells them how to fix it. He gives us a problem, like 'Money is replacing ideas as the currency of politics' and a solution like 'Get politicians out of the money business Ė periodÖ'.
It sounds good on a stump, it galvanizes people, it makes them laugh, and it makes them feel like solutions are achievable. These are all good things. We donít get enough good things these days.
And if George W. Bush had had a James Carville in the 2000 campaign, by now heíd be Secretary of Something, or hold an important embassy in his hands. Thatís a hell of a thought.
Carville has no concealed agenda. What he wants is right out in the open. He isnít the 'Committee for Better Government', or an impartial commission, or an independent evaluator. Carville comes with the donkey tattooed on his forehead. In times like these, where the concept of spin has pretty much subsumed the idea of content, thatís a relief.
But isnít there something in psychology about people unconsciously promoting values and ideas that theyíd strenuously object to on a conscious level?
Early in James Carvilleís new book 'Had Enough? A Handbook for Fighting Back', he tells us all ĎA Homeland Security Taleí, the fable of King Bubba, King George the Second, and Turdblossom. King Bubba had been in charge, see, until King George the Second and his assistant Turdblossom took back the throne. Get it?
Whatever. Hereís the paragraph in the fairy tale that stopped me cold:
'ÖGeorge II and Turdblossom had reclaimed the family throne from King Bubba, and while the villagers had loved King Bubba, he had made the village so safe and so wealthy that they figured King George couldnít screw it up too bad. Plus, King George seemed to want to give them a lot of their money back, which the villagers liked.'
King George wanted to give them their money back? Who took it? Why, those tax-and-spend Democrats, like King Bubba! King Bubba took their money! Just took it!
The Republicans have told us so often and so loudly that itís okay to vote your baser nature Ė vote your racism, your fear, your money Ė that, like any other vile environmental poison, itís in our bones and blood. First we have to recognize it, and then we have to act on it, try to remember that sometimes the good guys and good ideas do win. And reading a book like Carvilleís isnít the worst way to remind ourselves of that. Read the book, and if nothing else let it make you a little happier and more hopeful about what we can do to change the world.
Posted by Lynn Loper @ 10:23 PM PST [Link]
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