Veteran political strategist James Carville has always had a knack for being concise. He is, after all, credited with coining "It's the economy, stupid" while directing the 1992 presidential campaign of Bill Clinton. And as host of CNN's Crossfire, he favored a combative in-your-face approach that stood in stark contrast to the stereotype of the mushy liberal. In Had Enough, Carville, along with co-author Jeff Nussbaum, takes that economic phrasing and aggressive style to offer a handbook for lefties tired of losing arguments and elections. To point out how fundamentally misguided he believes the GOP to be, Carville goes straight to the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. While Republicans can be credited with providing for the common defense, Carville says, they have failed miserably on all other directives issued by the founding fathers on what government is supposed to do, including promoting the general welfare, establishing justice, ensuring domestic tranquility, and securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and posterity. Although the arguments are not remarkably different from those made in a slew of other lefty books (Bush's tax cuts favor the rich, Republicans seek to curtail civil liberties), the book also offers "Had Enough" solutions to pressing issues of public policy that will come in handy for liberals looking to defeat a conservative brother-in-law in a political argument or even hold their own on Crossfire. These solutions always sound eminently reasonable, although that's due in large part to their being contrasted to Carville's interpretation of Bush and company's approach ("Use everything as an excuse to dig, drill, and burn.") Still, Carville and Nussbaum make a cogent, impassioned, and highly entertaining indictment of the Bush administration, which, combined with a smattering of incongruously placed but nonetheless tempting Cajun recipes, makes Had Enough a worthwhile read. --John Moe
From Publishers Weekly
For liberals who think Al Franken and Michael Moore show too much restraint, the Ragin' Cajun launches another no-holds-barred assault on the conservative powers-that-be. Carville's shtick remains intact, so the political commentary is saturated with jokes about being married to a Republican, stories about his family down in Louisiana and recipes for barbecue shrimp and bread pudding. But if you thought he was mad before, wait until Carville tears into George W. Bush and his administration. Not content with merely attacking Bush's Iraqi war strategy, Carville denigrates the entire war on terrorism, reminding readers that Senate Democrats proposed tougher homeland security proposals that the president consistently rejected. He also suggests that not only could Gore have handled 9/11 better, it probably wouldn't even have happened. And he's just getting started at that point, gearing up for tough criticism of tax cuts, school vouchers, tort reform and other GOP policies. But finger-pointing isn't enough; Carville provides a "nice little progressive playbook" of counterstrategies to rebuild economically and socially the way he says only Democrats can. It's hard to tell sometimes whether he's putting on his pitbull act: the "fuel or freedom" tax on SUV owners is probably satirical, but a full ban on contributions to incumbent congresspeople is so radical it's got to be serious. As Howard Dean recently proved, Democratic candidates still turn to Carville for talking points, so don't be surprised to see some of these proposals raised on the campaign trail next year.
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