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The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of How Democratic Operatives, Eccentric Billionaires, Liberal Activists, and Assorted Celebrities Tried to Bring Down a President--and Why They'll Try Even Harder Next Time Hardcover – April 5, 2005

3.3 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Democrats raised an unprecedented level of funds in their attempt to elect John Kerry to the White House, and not just through contributing to directly to Kerry's campaign. Led by George Soros and his multimillion-dollar donations, money flowed to liberal groups like MoveOn that tried to push hard on President Bush's record. They failed, York argues, because rather than bringing new voters into the party, the activists perpetuated "closed loops" that preached solely to the choir. When such emotionally zealous activists made their way into Democratic inner circles, their scorn for anyone who held opposing points of view, York contends, may well have hurt efforts to reach out to swing voters. A detailed financial breakdown takes aim at the hype surrounding Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, demonstrating its failure to reach significant audiences outside the bluest parts of the blue states. York, the White House correspondent for the National Review, hits the Democrats particularly hard on allegations that they tried to skirt campaign finance laws by blurring-perhaps even crossing-the lines between the presidential campaign and issue advocacy groups prohibited from endorsing candidates. He largely refrains from taunting the liberals for their electoral failures, making his analysis of the flaws in the left-wing's self-insulated power structure valuable to readers on either side of the political fence.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Although the Left was unable to unseat President Bush in the last election, it was hugely successful at building the foundation for stronger institutions and platforms in the future, according to York, White House correspondent for National Review. York details how the Left--angry and frustrated by Clinton's impeachment proceedings and the hotly contested 2000 election--mounted a campaign that tapped innovative ideas from movies and Web sites as fund-raising tools. With supporters from MoveOn.com, filmmaker Michael Moore, comedian Al Franken, and billionaire George Soros, the Left has bypassed political parties to reach voters and launch a counterattack against what they see as the evils of the Right. York offers a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of MoveOn; the rising use of "527" organizations, which have evaded campaign-reform laws; and a host of figures and events that promise growing strength for the Left as it prepares for future elections. Political junkies will love this fascinating look at how the Left is regrouping. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Forum; First Edition edition (April 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400082382
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400082384
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #638,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I am confused by the reviewers of this book who act as if "The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy" was a polemical attack on leftist ideology. Liberal reviewers denounce the book, and some conservative reviewers are gloating about it. Did we read the same book?

Byron York's "The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy" is a detailed political analysis of the Left's unprecedented organization in the 2004 election. The most committed elements of the American Left came together like never before to defeat George W. Bush. Independent activists like George Soros, Michael Moore, MoveOn.org, America Coming Together, Air America, and the Center for American Progress emerged and circumvented the traditional party structure in order to ensure Bush's defeat.

In spite of the money and effort poured into the cause, Bush, of course, won the race by 3 percent. York's diagnosis is that the new players -- MoveOn, ACT, etc. -- essentially were preaching to the choir, while the whole time thinking they were forging a broad, national, anti-Bush consensus.

Drawing from interviews with key operatives, York documents the inside story of the 527s and other new groups that emerged in 2004. He demonstrates how MoveOn.org grew from an idea into a powerhouse of the Left; how America Coming Together grew out of MoveOn; how George Soros became interested, got involved, and legitimated MoveOn and ACT; and how these fringe groups found themselves at the center of the Democrats' run for the presidency. He also documents how these groups stretched the campaign finance law that they had so vigorously supported.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a fascinating look behind the scenes look at the Democratic Party's efforts to unseat President Bush in the 2004 election. But, the slightly hysterical title aside, the book is as objective as one could hope. It discusses how the Democratics, frustrated with being out of power in Congress, the White House, their anger at the Clinton impeachment and the 2000 election results attempted to regroup. Using a copy of Karl Rove's "get out the vote" plan they attempted to regroup and energize the American voter to their way of thinking. What they came up with was the Moveon.Org internet site, 527's (several of which, the author argues, ignored campaign finance laws), the movie Fahrenheit 9/11, Liberal talk radio and think tanks. What I found especially interesting was the author's contention that when all was said and done the people behind it all were talking to the choir and made little impact on anyone outside their "loop". For example, the hype (and the box office) indicated that Fahrenheit 9/11 was a phenomenal success and it was expected to go a long way to defeat President Bush. But by breaking down the by region box office York is able to show that the film was really only popular in the areas (and with audiences) that weren't going to go for the President anyway. It made no impact in the swing states. During the election Moveon.org was so popular that they people behind it thought they were touching the average American. It turns out they weren't and were, in fact, only talking with other similar minded people. (Interesting, this same "talking for the average American" is something Richard Poe talks about in his book "Hillary's Secret War: The Clinton Conspiracy to Muzzle Internet Journalists".Read more ›
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I'm someone who is fascinated by the human capacity for nonrational thinking, mob behavior, self-delusion, and the success of well-engineered social movements. If you are a student of human behavior, particularly of how social movements are packaged and sold, and how ideologies can spread like diseases through a population, you'll find this book insightful and illuminating. The title of the book is more provocative than the material inside, which is well-researched and not particularly inflammatory (except to the most thin-skinned among us). The book chronicles how the American Left is re-making itself to become competitive in today's highly communicated and regulated political world. It could be viewed as diagnostic and prescriptive for both Left and Right, in the great competition for hearts and minds that defines modern American politics. My favorite chapter was the one the author almost left out: "From Fringe to Mainstream." This chapter captures how unimportant and irrelevant actual evidence is in demonizing one's political enemies, showing how accusations are virtually as good as evidence when denigrating the other side. "If it might possibly be true, then it most probably is true," seems to be the creedo of the modern viralized ideologue. Also fascinating is how humans feel they can plumb their opponent's inner psychology--in the absence of any formal training--discovering that the opposition is perpetually driven by sickness and evil impulse, while the motives of "my side" are pure and honest and moral. This book is certain to increase the cynicism of all readers, whether from Left or Right. And that's not a bad thing. Our republic depends upon our citizens' ability to recognize and resist emotional manipulation, which this book chronicles in fascinating and informed detail.
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