Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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Invasion of the Party Snatchers: A book review

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]navytron89)

from the  [info]dailykos feed on my lj:

Invasion of the Party Snatchers
How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP
By Victor Gold
Sourcebooks, Inc.
Naperville, IL, 2007

Is the Republican Party we once knew salvageable and, given the damage done by the Bush-Cheney White House and DeLay-Hastert Congress in the past half-decade, is there anything left of it worth saving?

Book Review by DailyKos writer "SusanG":

The facts:
Victor Gold is pissed. Very scathingly and righteously (and lucky for us, wittily) pissed at the takeover of his party by extremists. 
How deep are his GOP roots? 
Well, he was Barry Goldwater’s deputy press secretary for his presidential campaign in 1964, press secretary for Spiro Agnew, speechwriter and advisor to George H. W. Bush (with whom he collaborated on an autobiography) and co-author with Lynne Cheney of a satirical novel. In other words, his conservative creds are pretty much beyond question (but don’t think that won’t stop the "party snatchers" from trying).

And after decades and decades of being an insider, he’s come out with a zinger of a book – raucous, funny, bitter, packed with anecdotes and stinging observations that make for an amazingly addictive read (I swallowed it whole in one three-hour, non-stop sitting). The price for admission as a Democratic reader is the usual stuff you get from at-long-last disgusted Republicans, paraphrased as: Can you believe the current GOP [fill in the blank: spends more, is more corrupt, harbors more croneyism, is more out-of-touch, is stupider] than even Democrats????

But trust me: That price is worth it.

The material is all over the place, jumping around from Goldwater to the current Bush, to Agnew and on to PNAC, but this poses no problem at all; I’d love to catch this read aloud on audio, since the feel to the whole thing is one magnificent cranky wordsmith sitting down in a bar with a bottle of bourbon who’s going to proceed to tell you exactly how the world really works, damn it, and you’re not going to like it much. His verbal acrobatics are stunning, not just in the longer one-breath-held ranty passages, but in his off-the-cuff derisions that spark off the flint of his outrage. He accuses the current president of "empty-calorie leadership," for example, and practicing "symbolism with a tin ear." One of Bush’s think tank soul mates is described as an "academic hit man." An Irving Kristol polemic is characterized as being written "with the insufferable arrogance of an Eastern-seaboard intellectual lecturing what he perceived to be land-grant college yahoos." And so on.

One of the things I’m beginning to tumble to as a liberal reading a lot of books of late is how enormously damaging the whole Terry Schiavo episode was for what remained of the sane Republicans within the party. What looked at the time to Democrats as just one more example in a long line of egregious nutbase overreach was much more to traditional Republicans. Although I didn’t mention in yesterday’s review of The Jesus Machine, Gilgoff detailed the backlash well there, and Gold has plenty of blistering ammo in this book. The real anger that miscalculated fiasco engendered in the rank-and-file Republican may end up being not the straw that broke the camel’s back, but the sequoia that crashed down on it. Gold remarks:

In Tom DeLay’s eyes, as we might have guessed, God isn’t just a registered Republican but an activist who works up wedge issues to keep the party base engaged.... No event or pseudo-event since the rise of the Theo-Cons in the 1980’s better exemplifies their contempt for traditional conservative values than the crass exploitation of the Terri Schiavo case by a Republican White House and congressional majority in the spring of 2005.


Pause here to get our political and, more importantly, constitutional bearings: For point of reference, no Congress in history—not even the most liberal, loose-constructionist Congress of the New Deal or Great Society eras—ever considered ordering the federal courts to take jurisdiction over an individual case involving powers reserved to the states.

Now Gold may open the book with a cheer for the recent Democratic victory in Congress ("You know something has gone wrong in your political universe when the party you’ve worked and voted with for over forty years is getting blown out in a national election and you feel good about it."), but there’s no mistaking that he’s no more in line with our party’s goals and platform than he’s ever been. Like other heretic rebellious-of-late Republicans (think Andrew Sullivan and John Cole), he at best sees the Democrats as the necessary switch for delivering a lot of pain in the old electoral woodshed. In answer to the question he posed in the opening of the review about whether the Republican Party can be saved, he first offers a pessimistic prognosis:

The divide in the Neo-Theo-Con-dominated Republican party nurtured by the Bush-Cheney White House, like the divide that brought down the house of Whigs in the 1850s, is too great to be breached.

Yet he seems to backtrack near the end of the book – or at least forces himself to search for a silver lining in the crapped-out cloud he now sees as the current Republican Party – making use of the "Democrats as punishment" argument:

... The salvage can only come if the patient here dies and is reborn; which is to say, the transmogrified entity now passing itself off as the party of Lincoln will have to pay the price for its masquerade, as occurred in November 2006—and, given the in-denial response to that election by the party’s leaders, will likely recur in 2008.


Nothing, in short, can cleanse the political palate better than a few bitter pills swallowed in losing elections; after which, their perks of power taken away, the Jerry Falwells now inhabiting the house of Lincoln might be persuaded to pick up their psalm books and move to their real political home, the Prohibition Party, while their Neo-Con allies, done in by the Axis of Evil, slouch back to the think tank cubicles from whence they came.

I plan on adding this book to my Amazon list and read it some time this summer and I may even pass it along to my Republican co-workers, who are always saying that there is noting wrong with being a Republican or the GOP. Well it sounds like this book will open their eyes abit.

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