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The Conservatives Have No Clothes: Why Right-Wing Ideas Keep Failing
 
 


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The Conservatives Have No Clothes: Why Right-Wing Ideas Keep Failing [Hardcover]

Greg Anrig
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Greg Anrig's wide-ranging and perceptive book looks beyond the ideology of the right and offers a persuasive account of the many policy failures that have emerged out of the conservative movement. Anrig has put the Bush administration and the right to a test that they themselves have carefully avoided. He has held them accountable not for their ideas, but for their performance."--Alan Brinkley, Allan Nevins Professor of History, Columbia University

"Ending the conservative era requires organizing, yes, but also hard thinking and shrewd analysis. When progressives of the future look back at how they triumphed, one of the people they’ll thank is Greg Anrig. Drawing inspiration from the work of the early neo-conservatives who demolished public support for liberal programs, Anrig casts a sharp eye on conservative ideas and nostrums and shows that many of them simply don’t work because they are rooted more in ideological dreams than in reality. Facts are stubborn things, Ronald Reagan once said, and Anrig makes good use of them in this important and engaging book." --E. J. Dionne, syndicated columnist and author of Why Americans Hate Politics

From the Inside Flap

Tax cuts that produce gargantuan budget deficits, an ill-conceived war that has diminished America's ability to defend itself, the quiet evisceration of laws that protect public health, safety, and the environment—after six years of virtually absolute conservative rule, the results of nearly every right-wing policy, program, and initiative can be summed up in a single word: failure. How could a vast, carefully constructed political movement, which so recently patted itself on the back for winning "the war of ideas," be so utterly feckless when it comes to governing the nation?

In The Conservatives Have No Clothes, the respected policy expert and journalist Greg Anrig offers a scathing indictment of right-wing ideology and reveals point by point how and why the conservative agenda produces terrible government. In a series of devastating critiques, he examines ideas and policies espoused by the right and assesses the degree to which they have delivered (or not) on promises to make America stronger and safer, and our government smaller and more efficient.

According to Anrig, conservatives have developed an unusual—and unusually disastrous—method of governing. The first step is to drown out attention paid to a genuine policy problem, like abysmal inner-city schools or Osama bin Laden, with alarms over an imaginary crisis like the failure of all of America's public schools or weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The second step is to trump up reasons why the imaginary problem requires weakening the government's domestic capabilities, as with private school vouchers, or exerting unilateral force abroad, as with the Iraq invasion. The third step is to make up stories explaining why the failure isn't really a failure. The fourth and final step is to leave it to the Democrats to solve both the original problem and the new one created by the conservative policy.

Anrig documents the impact of this sophisticated sabotage on the performance of numerous government agencies, including FEMA, which reverted from a model praised by both parties in the 1990s back into a "turkey farm" for political loyalists under the managerial practices promoted by conservative think tanks. The disastrously inept response to Hurricane Katrina was the result not just of incompetence, but of the right's ideology. Anrig also shows how movement conserva-tism's ideas have inflicted damage on state and local government, causing Colorado's national rankings in education and health care to plummet to the bottom under the constraints of Grover Norquist's holy grail, the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights.

Despite their decisive defeat in the 2006 elections, right-wing ideologues show no sign of calling off their war on American government. The Conservatives Have No Clothes offers more than a powerful condemnation of their past offenses; it is a field guide for assessing and responding to whatever they come up with next.

From the Back Cover

Why conservatism equals terrible government—and always will

"Ending the conservative era requires organizing, yes, but also hard thinking and shrewd analysis. When progressives of the future look back at how they triumphed, one of the people they'll thank is Greg Anrig. Drawing inspiration from the work of the early neoconservatives who demolished public support for liberal programs, Anrig casts a sharp eye on conservative ideas and nostrums and shows that many of them simply don't work because they are rooted more in ideological dreams than in reality. Facts are stubborn things, Ronald Reagan once said, and Anrig makes good use of them in this important and engaging book."
—E. J. Dionne, syndicated columnist and author of Why Americans Hate Politics

"Greg Anrig's wide-ranging and perceptive book looks beyond the ideology of the right and offers a persuasive account of the many policy failures that have emerged out of the conservative movement. Anrig has put the Bush administration and the right to a test that they themselves have carefully avoided. He has held them accountable not for their ideas, but for their performance."
—Alan Brinkley, Allan Nevins Professor of History, Columbia University

"In this well-researched and witty book, Anrig critiques 'right-wing ideas' by examining what the policies and programs that embodied them have wrought over the last three decades.While giving several conservative ideas their due, he finds their record to be mixed at best."
—John J. DiIulio Jr., political science professor and first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

"With fastidious research and unimpeachable facts, Greg Anrig establishes the sound proposition that competent governance is incompatible with disbelief in government. The odd combination of the religious right dictating personal morality, 'neoconservatism' preaching unilateral interventionism, and radical libertarian tax cuts have cast our Republic adrift from its moorings. Restoration of common sense to government is long overdue."
—Gary Hart, Former United States Senator

About the Author

Greg Anrig is Vice President of Programs at the Century Foundation, a progressive think tank, and former Washington correspondent for Money magazine. He has written online for the American Prospect and Mother Jones, coedited volumes of essays about civil liberties, immigration, and Social Security, and is a regular contributor to the liberal blog tpmcafe.com.

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