31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Useful tool, even for critics!,
This review is from: Hardball: How Politics Is Played, Told by One Who Knows the Game (Paperback)
I'll admit it, I'm a progressive. I also think that Chris Matthews is a first class jerk with a completely unethical view on what's acceptable in this world.
However, I'm extremely politically active, too. I bird dog presidential candidates (Bush, McCain, Gore, Bradley), worked on a Congressional campaign, etc. etc. And the truth is, as much as I hate the messenger, Matthews is pretty much dead on here with this book. If you want to know how the game of politics is currently played, or at least get a taste for it, you should read this book. It doesn't mean you have to like it or think that Matthews is a great guy. But don't dismiss him out of ideology. If you do you'll miss out on the opportunity to learn things that you can use to your advantage.
Activists, particularly those on the left, need to smarten up if they want to succeed politically. I certainly don't recommend everything Matthews is suggesting, but he's got some words of wisdom that should be utilized.
For example, there's "hang a lantern on your problem." That means, if there's no upside, there's no way to "hide" your problem, expose it yourself! In the process you can define it in your own terms and look honorable in the process. I've used this in my own political work.
Then there's "Leave no shot unanswered" which means you don't let the opposition nail you without coming back with an effective counterstatement. This, as Matthews points out, needs to be balanced against "only speak if it'll improve the silence." He gives good examples (although at times a little disjointed) on these and several other words of wisdom to the politically active.
I can't say I like the playing field, but it is the playing field whether I like it or not. I can curse it, or use it to my advantage while also applying my own moral standards.
If you're a progressive, slog through the baloney -- the fact that this book received a rave review from George Will should give you some indication of what I'm talking about -- but read this book and learn.