Thursday, August 07, 2008

The roll out of Thomas Frank's new book

I mentioned Thomas Frank's new book The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule in a recent post yet he and his publisher are going all out in promoting it. And that's a bonus for us. I find his own writing in Salon titled How conservative greed and corruption destroyed American politics: Abramoff, DeLay, Norquist, oh my! The spectacular misrule of the GOP was not an accident. Rick Perlstein also interviews him via Salon in a piece titled Thomas Frank on the Bush administration: Sabotage by design.

Let's start with Mr. Perlstein. He writes:

Here, for example, is a splendid bit Frank pulled from the Journal of Commerce from 1928 about why it's best for business to wreck the state: "The best public servant is the worst one. A thoroughly first-rate man in public service is corrosive. He eats holes in our liberties. The better he is and the longer he stays the greater the danger. If he is an enthusiast -- a bright-eyed madman who is frantic to make this the finest government in the world -- the black plague is a house pet by comparison."

The guy who wrote that was a military contractor and former head of the national Chamber of Commerce. The genius of today's conservative movement, however, is that it doesn't need barons of commerce to say these things anymore. Conservatives have won over a species of the bright-eyed madmen -- kids writing for college newspapers, who can call themselves "principled" conservative "idealists," fighting the "battle of ideas" while carrying the water of corporate America.

Wow! There's plenty more yet let's shift over to Frank's own writing. He shares:

Its leaders laugh off the idea of the public interest as airy-fairy nonsense; they caution against bringing top-notch talent into government service; they declare war on public workers. They have made a cult of outsourcing and privatizing, they have wrecked established federal operations because they disagree with them, and they have deliberately piled up an Everest of debt in order to force the government into crisis. The ruination they have wrought has been thorough; it has been a professional job. Repairing it will require years of political action. ...

But this is only the beginning of the story. As we make our rounds of conservative Washington, we glimpse something much greater than single acts of incompetence or obstruction. We see a vast machinery built for our protection reengineered into a device for our exploitation. We behold the majestic workings of the free market itself, boring ever deeper into the tissues of the state. Ultimately, we gaze upon one of the true marvels of history: democracy buried beneath an avalanche of money.

I love the idea of his contrasting older books and sources with today's ideologues and approaches to governing. I can't wait to actually read the book. John Gunn

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