Although the George W. Bush administration is famous for being "on message," delivering a consistent and polished political perspective no matter what, such consistency apparently does not extend to every member of the conservative universe. In Where the Right Went Wrong, veteran pundit and occasional presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan offers up scathing criticisms of Bush's policies, the arrogance and boorishness of which, he warns, could ultimately dramatically destabilize the United States' superpower status. The problem, in Buchanan's eyes, is the rejection of traditional Reagan-era conservatism by an administration under the sway of the so-called "neoconservatives," who favor a pre-emptive military strategy and big government and don't mind running up dangerously huge budget deficits to support it. The war in Iraq, fought without direct demonstrable threat, alienates America in the eyes of the rest of the world, says Buchanan, squandering the global goodwill earned after the 9/11 attacks and creating exponentially larger numbers of terrorists who will threaten the U.S. for generations to come. The zeal over free trade among elected officials, a feeling notably not shared by Buchanan, Ross Perot, and Ralph Nader, is costing America jobs, Buchanan theorizes, and leading to a de-industrialized service-sector-only economy, an end to American self-sufficiency in favor of a reliance on global corporations, and a looming economic crisis. Refreshingly, and unlike pundits of his day, Buchanan crafts his arguments by examining world history, offering detailed analogies to the Roman Empire, the Civil War, and pre-Soviet Russia among others. Conservatives alienated by the Bush administration will find an eloquent champion in Buchanan and even liberals, who may not have known there was a conservative argument against war in Iraq, stand to learn something from a right side of the aisle perspective so different from that found in the Bush White House. --John Moe
From Publishers Weekly
In his indictment of the current Bush administration and its "neoconservative" policies, pundit and occasional presidential candidate Buchanan likens the American condition to that of Rome before the fall, citing "ominous analogies" such as "the decline of religion and morality, corruption of the commercial class, and a debased and decadent culture." According to Buchanan, the blame for this state of affairs rests squarely in the lap of "neoconservatives," who are mere liberals in sheeps clothing. These neocons, the author contends, have wrestled control of the Republican party out of the hands of true conservatives such as himself, Barry Goldwater and, of course, Ronald Reaganwith disastrous results. Buchanan takes issue with Bushs policies on, among other things, immigration, terrorism, imperialism, the Middle East, free trade and the deficit. What may come as a surprise to readers is Buchanans position on the war in Iraq, which he believes was an enormous error in judgment. "By attacking and occupying an Arab nation that had no role in 9/11, no plans to attack us, and no weapons of mass destruction, we played into bin Ladens hand," Buchanan writes. But liberals wont stay on board with the books message for long, especially when it comes to issues of culture and social policy. Buchanan is against affirmative action, abortion and gay rights, to name a few, and he believes immigration poses a serious threat to the American way of life. At times, Buchannan obscures his arguments with ill-chosen words that many will read as xenophobic, if not racist. In a discussion of illegal Mexican immigrants, for example, he calls California "Mexifornia" and adds, "Ten years after NAFTA, Mexicos leading export to America is stillMexicans. America is becoming Mexamerica." Whether or not one agrees with these conclusions, Buchanans book is provocative and will certainly ruffle feathers on both sides of the party line.
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