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Dead Right Paperback – April 7, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Published in conjunction with the 100th day of the congressional season, Frum's book looks at the future of conservatism.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Why did the hoped-for new Republican majority never materialize despite the party's electoral success in the 1980s? Drawing on interviews with party leaders, pollsters, direct mail specialists, and journalists, Forbes columnist Frum paints a picture of a party that forgot its historic conservative message in order to position itself in the middle of the American political road. Noting that the government grew apace under Reagan and Bush despite rhetoric to the contrary, Frum takes Reagan to task for letting entitlements get out of hand and criticizes Bush's federal aid programs as more big government. Frum contends that the GOP's job is to reduce federal bureaucracy to the minimum size feasible under present political conditions. Aiming at that goal will spell success for the party. Philosophically deep and politically cogent, this is recommended for academic and larger political science collections.
Frank Kessler, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (April 7, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465098258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465098255
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,415,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Hunter Baker on April 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
David Frum is a conservative not afraid to give blunt, constructive criticism to his fellows. In "Dead Right", he questions whether the Republican coalition has actually made any progress toward reducing the size and scope of the federal government. In spite of good intentions, he determines very little progress has been made because the GOP is unwilling to incur the pain of telling people what they don't want to hear, which is that moving from a self-reliant nation to a welfare state has damaged our national character.
The contrast between self-reliance and welfarism is the key insight of the book. Frum points out that negative behaviors like divorce, single parenthood, promiscuity, drug abuse, and chronic unemployment are now subsidized by the state and therefore have ballooned to nearly unmanageable proportions.
He realizes that actual budget and program cuts carry a heavy political price. Regardless, he believes conservatives should pay the price of unpopularity and speak the truth in hopes of someday winning a real victory, rather than a pyrrhic one where office is held, but nothing can be done.
In an interesting sideline, Frum takes time to survey the thinking of isolationist "paleoconservatives" who resent the current influence of the liberal-turned-conservative internationist "neo-cons" who changed allegiance during the Cold War. The intramural dispute is very interesting and extremely current with today's events.
Frum is one of the few writers who combines statistical analysis with insider history of the movement to create a dazzling policy book. This is one analysis that doesn't read like a stale pamphlet full of bullet points you've heard a million times. Besides that, Frum is probably the most talented conservative writing today. Pick up "Dead Right" and "How We Got Here: The Seventies" to see for yourself.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John G. Hilliard on October 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
There were two reasons I read this book. The first is that if you read a lot of political books covering the last 20 years then there is a good chance this book as come up in the text. It always gets good reviews and is held out as the book that will tell you exactly how the far right thinks. The second reason was that I heard the author speak recently and found him interesting and oddly engaging. To offer full disclosure I lean a bit left of the moderate political line so my reading of the book was not to reaffirm my beliefs but to explore the views of the author. Even though I disagree with a number of the authors stances on items I have to give him credit, he is up front about all his views. In reading the book you really get a sense of the man, maybe even more so then the conservative movement he is describing.

So the topic of the book is looking at how the Reagan and Bush 1 administrations, although based in conservative thought, moved to a moderate governing style. The bench mark he primarily bases this theory on is that the size of the federal government has increased over the 12 year Reagan / Bush terms. The author basically tells us what we know. And that is it is very difficult to obtain political popularity if you are dishing out harsh medicine. Of course the Reagan / Bush administrations kept the pork barrel and program growth going, hey it pays the popularity bills. What I found so stark about this section was just how up front the author was. Most politicians talk about curbing growth or eliminating waste, key words to do nothing, but Frum goes out there and lays out all the items he would get rid of.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric Mayforth on April 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
I purchased a copy of "Dead Right" back in 1997 but the recent fights over the size and scope of government brought the book to mind.

The book discusses the different factions that made up the Right in the 1990s and the failure of the Reagan Administration to cut government spending as much as it should have.

We have been warned about the consequences of debt for years, but the failure of our political class to cut government spending may soon have even more serious consequences, with our AAA debt rating at risk if we do not get serious in the coming years.

High taxes and big government are nothing but a transfer of wealth from the productive to the unproductive, and the book discusses how an overbloated welfare state can allow people to make irresponsible choices--as Dennis Prager likes to say, "the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen".

High tax rates also hurt the economy in that they discourage achievement. For example, if doctors become mere "health care providers" who are salaried government workers liable to criminal charges for honest mistakes, who on earth could blame young people if they decide to go Atlas Shrugged and not go through the arduous process necessary to enter the profession? There are plenty of other ways to make a living that do not involve those types of sacrifices for not near enough reward. And who can blame those wealthy Americans who flee high-tax jurisdictions such as New York City or Maryland for low-tax states such as Texas? And those familiar with American history recall the famed "capital strike" of the 1930s.
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