Right Is Wrong : How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe
With her trademark passion, intelligence, and devastating wit, Huffington Post editor in chief Arianna Huffington tackles the issues that are crucial to this year's presidential election and, even more so, to the fate of the country.
Huffington makes the case that America has been hijacked from within by a radical element--the "lunatic fringe" of the Right that has taken over the Republican Party. Despite holding views at odds with the majority of Americans, these zealots have given us an endless war in Iraq, a sputtering economy, a health care system on life support, a war on science and reason, and an immoral embrace of torture.
But they haven't done it on their own: they have been enabled by a compliant media that act as if there is no such thing as truth and are more interested in cozying up to those in power than in holding them accountable, and by feckless Democrats who have allowed themselves to be intimidated into backing down again and again.
Both a withering indictment and a hopeful call to arms, Right Is Wrong is an explosive, boldly incisive work that will help set the national agenda.
Columnist Huffington unleashes her pen on the "far-right cowboys" and "lunatics" who, she says, are "running the Republican asylum" and--with the media's help--threatening global safety, American security, health care and civil liberties. Her contribution to ongoing political debates offers well-rehearsed analyses parsing right-wing spin on the Iraq War, the justification for torture, global warming, immigration, stem cell research and health-care reform. Huffington's sallies have no trouble finding the chinks in the armor of the Bush administration, neocons like Bill Kristol or right-wing media stalwarts like Ann Coulter. While this is a serviceable election-year playbook, Huffington's populist stance may strike some as shaky given her relationship with the media she decries (she lambastes a television show for giving Ann Coulter a platform without adequately accounting for her own presence on the same program). Moreover, her distinction between the current radical right-wing leadership and Ronald Reagan's GOP fails to account for the strong continuity in terms of policies and personnel and has more rhetorical appeal than historical merit. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 28, 2008
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Excerpt from Right Is Wrong by Arianna Huffington
The Radical Takeover
The most sweeping takeover of the new millennium didn't take place among the telecoms or the big oil companies, or in Silicon Valley. It took place in Washington, but we can see and hear and feel its effects nationwide on our televisions, radios, and computer screens. And America is much the worse because of it. I'm talking about the takeover of the Republican Party by its own lunatic fringe, and the Right's hijacking of America.
Ronald Reagan's GOP has been replaced by the dark, moldering, putrefied party of Bush, Cheney, Rove, Limbaugh, and Coulter. Morning in America has given way to Midnight in America.
Yes, the Republican Party has always had its far-right cowboys, its Jesse Helmses and Spiro Agnews. Yet they were removed from the party's more sober core.
But these days, judging by the opinions and actions of the Republicans in office and the party's candidates for president, it has become impossible to tell where this core stops and the fanatical fringe begins. Just look at what the party is endorsing.
We have a Republican Party that continues to back the White House's delusions about Iraq at the expense of our military, our trea- sure, our safety, and our standing in the world.
We have a mainstream on the Right that supports torture, that confirmed an attorney general nominee who is officially agnostic on torture, and that rallies behind a president who refuses to define what the very word "torture" means.
We have a mainstream that supports--even applauds--the behavior of thuggish Blackwater mercenaries, that supports the gutting of our civil liberties, that opposes universal health care, and that has views on immigration that wouldn't have been heard outside a John Birch Society meeting ten years ago.
It can no longer be denied: the right-wing lunatics are running the Republican asylum and their madness has infected the entire country and poisoned the world beyond.
And just look who the GOP settled on as its 2008 standard bearer: the most hawkish candidate in the running, who has said he wants the United States to stay in Iraq somewhere between one hundred years and ten thousand years--John McCain.
Despite an avalanche of evidence showing that McCain the Maverick has long ago been replaced by McCain the Pandering Pawn of the Party's Right Wing, the press refuses to believe its own eyes. Right Is Wrong will show how the "Straight Talk Express" and its conductor have completely and cravenly gone off the tracks--and how the media steadfastly refuse to notice.
Even those bastions of the so-called liberal media, The New Yorker and The New York Times, have continued to portray McCain as a moderate who, in the words New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza, has "the rare opportunity to reinvent what it means to be a Republican."
Let's see, over the last few years McCain has bowed to the party's lunatic fringe on tax cuts, immigration, the intolerance of religious bigots, and torture . . . so you might wonder how is he reinventing what it means to be a Republican?
During the primary campaign, I waited in vain for one of the leading GOP presidential candidates to step away from the twitchy ideologues who have taken over their party, but instead they all held hands with Kristol, Rove, and Limbaugh and jumped. To a man, every one of the top-tier candidates--Giuliani, Romney, McCain, Thompson, and Huckabee--seemed intent on competing to see who could out-Bush Bush. Not a single one of them tried to put any distance between himself and the president--especially on foreign policy, the area of Bush's most catastrophic errors. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee made a halfhearted attempt to speak out against an "arrogant bunker mentality" at one point and was called out by Mitt Romney to apologize. Huckabee promptly shut up, putting an end to any further rebellious attempts to amble off the reservation. As conservative pundit George F. Will put it, "They are, if anything, to the right of [Bush] on foreign policy. There's a bidding war to see who can be more hawkish toward Iran."
The reign of Bush and Cheney and the rise of the neocons and the "nea-cons" (the "neanderthal conservatives") have alienated traditional conservative intellectuals like they have Bill Buckley, the godfather of modern conservatism. In April of 2007, writing about Iraq, Buckley called public opinion on the war "savagely decisive" and concluded, "There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican Party will survive this dilemma."
And Michael Gerson, once Bush's top speechwriter, offered this gloomy 2007 assessment of the state of the GOP: "The party is in a funk. There is a lack of creativity, very little domestic policy energy. I think it's going to be a problem." Of course, along with being one of the party's brightest thinkers, Gerson is a Bush loyalist, so his calling it "a problem" can be translated as "a disaster."