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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Jarding and Saunders provide a credible, well-reasoned, and easy-to-read critique of recent Democratic campaigns, along with suggestions for significant improvement.

"Foxes in the Henhouse" begins by dissecting the '04 Presidential election into numerous dimensions, showing that Bush had improved over '00 results in about every way possible - concluding that the problem was not that eg. "Bush was a wartime President - very difficult to beat" but that Kerry, et al, had run an ineffective campaign.

Kerry's last mistake was ending up with $15 million in the bank, and 75,000 votes short in Ohio that he possibly could have won had the money been used. His first mistake - conceding the equivalent of 27 states (Bush campaigned everywhere) and their 227 electoral votes - 84% of the total Bush needed to win. Most of the 27 states were in the South, fastest growing area in the U.S. and an area Saunders had recently demonstrated as winnable via Democrat Warner's 2004 victory in the governor's race.

The authors assert that character assassination is now a conventional weapon for Republicans, and Democrats need to fire back. Kerry, for example, should have immediately gone after Bush on the Swift Boat attacks, and called for a debate on military matters (current issues and past service), and held it in the South. They also believe that '04 Democrats mistakenly focused on the economy instead of the war on terror, and added Wesley Clark or Bob Kerrey to the ticket. (Another possibility was Sen. Graham with a 70% approval rating in Florida. a state with 27 electoral votes - enough for Kerry to win.) Instead, Kerry let himself look foolish on the topic by being framed with the "I voted for the "87 billion in spending before I voted against it."

"Foxes in the Henhouse" claims that data show voters in the South and rural America increasingly voting primarily according to issues of patriotism (eg. anti-flag-burning) or morals (they also attend church more often). Republicans have taken advantage of this by using these polarizing issues, without even being burdened with pressure to deliver tangible goods. (Possibly part of the reason Bush II feels free to fill positions with little regard for competence.) The "key" to winning the South is utilizing means to connect culturally with its masses.

The authors believe that the best way to start connecting is NASCAR - eg. sponsor a car. Another is country music - eg. rewrite a popular song to endorse a candidate and have it played regularly by a popular hillbilly band. A third is via other sports - eg. hand out pins with the school and the candidate's name at football games. A fourth suggestion is to get a leading sportsperson to get out the word (eg. at gun shows) that the candidate is not going to be taking away their guns (helps also if the candidate can shoot well).

Finally, Jarding and Saunders offer specifics on rebutting claims that Republicans are the party of family values and God (eg. abortion rates rose 25% under Bush), fiscal conservatism (enormous spending increases; letters from Harvard Business School professors and Nobel laureates in Economics criticizing Bush's "accomplishments," and national defense (serious blunders in setting Iraq troop levels, insufficient armor, trying to short-change veteran's benefits and reduce "combat pay).

Bottom-Line: "Foxes in the Henhouse" ought to boost the morale of any Democrat, and boost all their candidates.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2006
I am a Southern Democrat, proud and true. This book is for ANY AND EVERYONE associated with progressive politics or the Democratic party. Not only does it outline just what went wrong the past years, but it tells us how to get our butts in shape to get things back on the right track. Real people are being affected by bad policy, and are being douped into buying into the system that is screwing them over. It's time to listen to Mudcat and get movin in the right direction.
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25 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2006
Foxes in the Henhouse should be required reading for any Democrat or Independent who loves this country and is unwilling to let it continue on the Republicans' disasterous course. (Any writers willing to say that Reagan couldn't carry LBJ's jockstrap are aces in my book!)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2008
Too much of this book is spent on telling Democrats how they can win back the White House, and, more importantly, the voter's trust. Nice premise, but it lacks imagination. While they make a good case that Republicans lie their way into wars they can get out of and give taxpayer money to wealthy associates, authors Steve Jarding and Dave Saunders spend a lot of time complaining. This is probably what makes the Democrats. Democrats whine about everything and agree on next to nothing. There is no sure thing if you're a Democrat (nominating a decorated war hero for president to oppose a clueless draft dodger) didn't accomplish anything. Of course John Kerry had the charisma of a fence post, but that's another issue.

One area of concern is the author's ability to gloss over reality. Take the opening sentence to chapter 5 on page 105. How many blacks or homosexuals, or any other left of center group could identify with the statement that "several generations of Americans had witnessed firsthand the power and compassion of a government dedicated to equality, justice, fairness, and opportunity[?]" Jarding and Saunders seem out of touch, way out of touch, with the plights of many Americans who likely would associate themselves with the Democratic party. The bulk of the book impl;ies that the best way to reach out to voters is to take a page out of the Republican's book. Isn't that what's gotten us into this mess in the first place?

This book just never hit home with me. I like how they paint the National Rifle Association as a radical group that threatens our freedoms more than they support them. They also have a nice collection of quotations on page 197, but the overall impact misses the mark.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2006
I started reading this book with high hopes and expectations and finished it feeling less than satisfied. While the authors presented interesting theories as to how the Democratic Party could make advances in the mostly Republican-held South and Midwest, the number of successful examples they presented were few. They seemed to revolve solely around their participation in the election of Mark Warner for governor of Virginia. So would these proposed tactics work in other states? I think the jury is still out.

What I found more disturbing about the book was the blatant hostility and name-calling the authors decided to include in their text. Their interesting ideas get lost in between the lines of equating the GOP with Satan. At times I felt as though I was reading a book by a Democratic Ann Coulter. I really was expecting a better product than what I read.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2006
This book is a well-written and well-meaning polemic blasting the disastrous stewardship of this great country by Dubya and Company. It even offers a blueprint showing how to regain dominance in red-state America. While it's true that the Democrats have blown some decent opportunities to refute the never-ending barrage of deceitful conservative bombast in the political arena, I think they've got an uphill battle no matter what roadmap they choose to follow. Because if somebody who makes $25,000 a year and lives in a double-wide cannot connect his declining fortunes to the iron grip the Republicans have on virtually every important sphere of government in this country, I don't think Democrats, or any other thinking person with a brain, can do much to understand his "culture." Coming from a family of Southerners, I can tell you that many people in the South still wallow in the ignorance and bigotry sewn by their forefathers. Exploiting ignorance and bigotry is the Republican's stock-in-trade, dating back to their '80s-era "Here come Willie Horton and the Welfare Queens!" to today's "Here come those scary gays--they're gonna burn your bibles and turn your kids into freaks!" You don't have to be an Einstein to see through the Republican's ploy, but it's easy to fall for such tripe if you let your brain be ruled by irrational fear and ancient prejudices. Ultimately, red-state America will fall into the hole it thinks it is digging for the people it perceives as its social and cultural enemies.
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on August 26, 2011
Excellent! Important to review what has happened as we try to rewrite history. Reading this book helped to explain so much and help me recall what was going on. Perhaps if more people read this, we would actually learn from history rather than repeating. Should be required reading for all Democrats who are running for office.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2006
Provides an excellect look at what the problems the south is really facing, and how much of a possibility there is that the Democrats can win back the South. For anybody who is intrested in the problems facing Rural America.
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on January 2, 2008
this is a great book. Good insight into what happened in the "contract w/America." Great reading for anyone of progressive political persuasion
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5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2006
There's no lack of books being written to tell the Democrats how to return to power in Washington and elsewhere. Some are quite clear-headed and factual - I particularly like David Brock. Others are a bit more like the Baptist preacher waving his arms trying to fire up the crowd and raise them to their feet - but without really giving them any solid food to chew on.

Unfortunately, this is one of the latter. The authors are obviously extremely passionate. But after going through this book, it is obvious their emotions have gotten the best of them.

The book is intended as a blueprint to recapture the Southern vote following the Republican sweep in Nov 2004. But frankly, I found the reference to them as "Bubba" as terrible word choice. It is about as complimentary as calling a black man a "homeboy." I don't know a single Southerner that calls himself that.

And while the book goes to great lengths to distinguish between Bubba (he votes) and "rednecks" (he doesn't), the TONE of the discussion makes it clear the authors don't think very highly of either.

The book comes across like an elitist thumbing his nose at the hillbilly hoi polloi, rolling his eyes at their ignorance and checking his watch in anticipation of his return to "real" civilization.

The authors, of course, insist their advice will work. Want the the Southern vote? Go to a NASCAR race! Whoopee, they'll love you for that!

Over and over, the book validates itself by saying essentially "It worked for Mark Warner in Virginia, didn't it?" But I noticed Warner was pretty much the ONLY example ever given, which makes one wonder if Warner was really following a plan or just being himself (probably the most effective campaign plan of all, by the way).

The fact is, Southern voters may not be cognac-sipping, Prada-wearing, Yale grads, but they WILL know when they're being talked down to. And as one of the "uneducated" hoi polloi, I clearly felt like this author was dumbing himself down on purpose to win me over.

The authors basically sound like the stereotyped Democrat: Bush stole the election, the Iraq war is based on lies, Kerry is a war hero, yada yada. Do the authors really think people will vote for a broken record? Ideas win elections, not accusations.

I noticed Amazon.com was offering a discount if this book was purchased with one by Carville. I think I know why.
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