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55 of 75 people found the following review helpful
There is no mistaking that Conservatism in the United States is in turmoil right now. A few years after there was a sense of triumph and the idea of a permanent Republican majority in Washington, there was a sort of Gotterdammerung, and the structure came crashing down with the loss of both houses of Congress and the Presidency, in addition to a number of state and local positions, to the Democrats.

However, the death of the Republican party specifically, and Conservatism generally, has been exaggerated, much in the way the demise of the Democratic party was also overstated in the early 2000s. Joe Scarborough, who as a Congressman during the Gingrich as the Contract for America progressed, made a name for himself by being a solid conservative, offers an interesting perspective of the rise and fall of the ideology and practice over the past few decades. It is interesting that during the divided government of Republican Congress and Democratic Presidency, we had budget surpluses. When the Republicans gained complete control, that was not sustained.

Scarborough contends that the Republican party stopped being conservative, and that that was their primary problem. They spent too much, became too adventurous, and too confident of their own abilities to act alone in the country and in the world. As Scarborough said, one can't double the national debt and claim to be the fiscally responsible party. The party needs to be a big tent party again, according to Scarborough, which means it need to have a place for both Cheney and Powell.

Everyone quotes Ronald Reagan, he states, and that ideology is a good conservative one, but the specifics of Reagan's policies won't necessarily work today. It is more of an attitude, Scarborough says - Reagan was not someone who emphasized "hate" in the way that some conservative commentators do today. If the Republicans are to survive, Scarborough contends, then they must be more inclusive and become once again true to their conservative roots. This is an interesting feature - Scarborough admires Ronald Reagan, but he does not deify him. Reagan had many great qualities, but Scarborough refuses to engage the revisionist history that removes all flaws from Ronald Reagan. True conservatism much take Reagan warts and all, realizing that there was much success despite the flaws.

Scarborough is in some ways an outsider to the current conservative trend. His position on the liberal network MSNBC demonstrates this in some respects; his failure to always adhere to party or ideological talking points also demonstrates this. However, this also makes him a more effective critic, as he is far from being a liberal. In the book, Scarborough also addresses a few topics that also show this - he has criticism for the current Obama administration with their continuation of spending policies that are fiscally suspect (without denying the fiscal irresponsibility of their immediate predecessors, as some other conservative commentators often do). He also looks at the economic issues of the Wall Street banking collapse, including the collusion of both Democrats and Republicans over the past twenty years that contributed to an unsustainable housing bubble, whose collapse contributed greatly to this now-worldwide economic recession.

For those who enjoy watching Scarborough on the Morning Joe program on MSNBC, this will be a welcome book. For those who enjoying arguing with Scarborough, this will also be a welcome text. For liberals, conservatives and moderates, there is something here worth reading. We are at a crossroads in American conservatism, and Scarborough's text is an interesting addition to the ongoing debate.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I like Joe Scarborough, and I'm generally relatively conservative. I also like the generally non-partisan way he began the book - admitting that our record deficits, socialist spending sprees, reckless foreign policy, and an economy racing towards bankruptcy were originated by Republican leaders, though now President Obama is making things much worse. Scarborough also criticizes Republicans for holding rabid, unyielding ideologies, and asserts that conservatives must understand they can never again take a laissez-faire attitude towards Wall Street, even though they're opposed to limitations on small businesses.

Such open-mindedness made me hopeful that this would be a thoughtful work. Instead, Scarborough drags readers through a ideological analysis of too many current topics, using just the unyielding ideological approach that he earlier decried. (Ideological tours of current events are for me, a pragmatist, a totally boring and useless approach.)

Bottom Line:: Scarborough's "The Last Best Hope" is just too blah to recommend, and not vitriolic enough to get upset about.
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28 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2009
Last Best Hope ... is a superficial kaleidoscope of cliches, pat thoughts, sweeping generalizations, and short, meaningless phrases that capture the mundane political sound bites all too common and overused these days. Much like one might shake a kaleidoscope and hold it up to the light to see new images, Mr. Scarborough has taken several years worth of the mindless chatter from Morning Joe, slapped it on some paper, and failed to provide any new perspective or vision, which is ironic considering the book's title.

Whether it's phrases like "Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss" or "Evolution Over Revolution" that pepper the book and provide the subheadings to the book's sections, Mr. Scarborough seemingly employees classic rock song titles and phrases reflective of the music used to decorate the segues on Morning Joe. Unfortunately, Mr. Scarborough fails to provide any serious analysis, reflection, or research -- after all, that would take real work and a serious effort. Rarely do the author's paragraphs exceed three sentences in length, and I cannot determine if this is symptomatic of Mr. Scarborough's lack of political insight, a nonexistent attention span, or both.

To summarize this collection of cliches with a cliche, much like his performance on Morning Joe, when Mr. Scarborough IS present, he has "mailed it in."
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2013
Scarborough is anything but a conservative. I'm not sure what the title is suppose to suggest, but Scarborough is a host on a morning show watched by literally nobody. In fact if it weren't for Mark Levin mentioning the morning Schmoe, I would not even know he was still around. I will say this to his credit, he is less ignorant than Al "sharpie" Sharpton.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
After the era of George W. Bush, I started leaning left and was drawn to Obama during the campaign. I voted for him, but now am concerned with his fiscal irrationality and "dig the hole deeper" mentality. I also abhor people like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and think that Newt and Cheney are the destroyers of the RNC.

But in this book, Scarborough clearly lays out the difference between GWB and conservatism. He reminds us that Bush was more liberal than he was conservative on matters of military use, foreign diplomacy, and more socialist on matters of TARP and bailouts. The problem now is that the current republican leaders have bought into the GWB madness too, leaving the party in a state of total disarray and leaving the US with no conservative-intelligent choices.

The RNC needs to do as Scarborough says and adopt green policy. They also need to distance themselves from dogmatic ideologues on all fronts, especially (imo) the evangelical right. If republicans could somehow bring themselves back to being fiscally responsible while not trying to impose ideology on the people, they would be on the road to recovering from the Bush mess.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2009
I have great respect for Joe Scarborough. It can't be easy being the only conservative host on MSNBC.

After reading glowing reviews from Peggy Noonan and Christopher Buckley, I knew I had to get this book. Returning Conservatism back to its Goldwater/Reagan and even Edmund Burke roots has been a personal passion of mine for some time. And while my positions against Medicare Part D, Bush administration management of the Iraq War along with my generally federalist approach to same-sex marriage were against the day's grain, I still wore the R tag proudly.

But this book takes a while to get to its central point. The chapters really didn't tell me anything I didn't know and the positions for the future felt a little vague and generalized.

You're on the right track, Mr. Scarborough. Maybe you were aiming for a more general audience, but I would like a little more depth and specific policy proposals. But if you're planning a 2010 or 2012 run for office, please ignore my recommendations.

Amazon readers, if you're looking for a little more depth and exploration, check out The Conservative Soul by Andrew Sullivan.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2009
If you watch Morning Joe you know that Joe is a like-able but second rate mind. If you are unfamiliar with political philosophy this is a good primer on conservatism. However, Joe's analysis is shallow and weak and his anecdotes are unconvincing if you give them any serious thought. It's an easy read however, and like I said, if you are prone toward conservatism you will enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2009
Scarborough started with an interesting premise for his book but it quickly lost energy and steam. I LOVE joe -- couldnt be a bigger admirer but i felt that this book was slapped together perhaps more quickly than it should have been -- not even an index or references/footnoes in the book which surprised me!
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on December 7, 2014
The author argues that conservatives should be grounded in realistic solutions which upholding their beliefs in restraining an overreaching government. He is sad to be conservatism as represented by increased militarization, Wall Street-ers without control, and those who insist upon placing ideological litmus tests on determining who is a supportable conservative. Scarborough instead believes conservatism should avoid rigid adherence to ideology and use its principles towards guiding modern issue policies.

Scarborough's beliefs have libertarian roots on both economic and privacy issues. He urges for less spending on empire building and on government programs. He calls for more attention to economic soundness. He notes that conservatives need to accept Social Security and Medicare and need to concentrate, not on criticizing these programs, but on making these programs more fiscally sound.

Scarborough calls for a foreign policy designed to protect our strategic national interests. Force should be a last resort should when used it should be decisive and we should exit after victory, he argues. Military power should also be aware of our economic limits.

There were $2.1 trillion in mortgage and securities backed by mortgages owned by publicly supported Fannie Mac and Freddie Mac. This grew to $5 trillion by 2008, representing almost half all national mortgages. Meanwhile, banks were leveraging loans to assets at 40 to 1 rates. In 2008, the economy collapsed due to this excessive debt when much of it could not be repaid. Scarborough warns that using $12.8 trillion of Federal government funds to support failing companies only creates more debt.

Scarborough calls for making car batteries more energy efficient. We need to reduce our reliance on oil from governments that oppose our interests. We cannot continue using 25% of the oil worldwide while possessing 3% of proven oil reserves. The US spent $700 billion to import oil in 2008.

Federal government spending is approaching 40% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), an increase from 34.3% ten years ago. In Eurozone nations, national government spending is 48% of their GDP.

Scarborough warns there are $80 trillion in future entitlement obligations that have no tax credits dedicated towards paying these entitlements. This is six times greater than our entire national economy and 16 times larger than the Federal debt. Scarborough argues these programs are important part of social fabric and that conservative proposals to eliminate them are unrealistic. He argues there should be actions taken to make them economically more stable, such as increasing the age for eligibility, which makes sense since life spans have increased.
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on September 4, 2013
This book (re)re-defines conservatism back to it's original intended form. Smart, restrained conservatives should not follow any stringent ideologies but rather a set of principles, grounded in basic morality and values, that can be infinitely re-messaged to find common sense, workable solutions. Joe Scarborough does not lay out a typical "conservative ideologues" utopia, knowing this to be no more plausible than the liberal utopia fathomed by liberal extremists. Instead, he shows how conservative principles can be applied in many inclusive, realistic ways to accomplish achievable tasks that move our nation forward. In the spirit of Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk he emphasizes that perpetual change and improvement is critical to success when done in a restrained way that does not alter the underlying groundwork of a society quickly. Innovation is necessary but we must not forget those truths that made our nation great. His common sense approach to foreign affairs, energy policy, economic policy and environmental policy, along with an approach to social issues that is as conservative as it is inclusive and non-hypocritical. Conservatives of today should be mindful of joe's advice, especially with rapidly changing demographics and a Democratic Party that has positioned itself extremely well in national elections, and frankly outperformed republicans from a marketing standpoint. As soon as certain members of MY GOP realize that a realistic agenda that can promote conservative principles and ideas in a positive way is better than only being against liberal agendas, republicans will start winning national elections again. And I think it's safe to say that the best place for a conservative to make a difference is in government, not at Rush Limbaugh rallies (no offense to rush). And the only way to govern is to win on a national scale. If they continue to confuse strict ideology with principle that can flex to meet the times, I fear what Joe fears, a Democratic majority that will steer America past the point of no return. Great book Joe, and great show! Thank you
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