E.J. Dionne, Jr. Book

Last night, I began reading the book "Stand Up, Fight Back", written by Washington Post syndicated columnist and NPR contributor E.J. Dionne, Jr. I have always liked listening to Mr. Dionne's political analysis on NPR. He is a moderate progressive, he articulates his points clearly and he is non-combative. He is often on NPR opposite David Brooks.

Mr. Dionne writes that the biggest failure of the Bush presidency was to not take advantage of the popular support he enjoyed in the aftermath of 9/11. Instead, Dionne argues, Bush used his newfound popularity to push his ideologigical conservative agenda, secure the 2002 midterm elections and wage war in Iraq. Dionne asserts that Bush could have used the time following 9/11 to heal national wounds, some of which dated back to the Vietnam war.

Mr. Dionne is also tough on Democrats. He argues that Democrats have lost their identity, and that they don't know what they stand for. However, with the Republican party now controlled by an administration that has a right-wing conservative agenda, Dionne writes that it falls to the Democrats to "carry the banner" of the moderates, as well as their traditional liberal base.

I agree with everything that Mr. Dionne has written so far, especially his concern about the deeply partisan differences in the U.S. Why can't we seem to have intelligent conversations across partisan lines anymore?

Mr. Dionne gives an analysis of "compassionate conservatism." He acknowledges that this terms was an outstanding political ploy by Karl Rove and George Bush. It enabled candidate Bush to appear interested in the moderate portion of America. However, he has governed, in practice, "from the right". He began pushing his conservative ideological agenda early in his presidency, prompting moderate Republican Jim Jeffords to defect from the party, dealing a blow to the Bush administration, who felt that they could bully the moderate Rupublican's into line. As most people agree, the Bush administration and agenda was in disarray immediately preceding 9/11. The events of 9/11 changed the political dynamic, and allowed the Bush ideological agenda to live another day.

One other interesting note that Dionne brings up is the unconservative tactics used by conservatives to defeat their rivals (enemies?). The Florida debacle (settled by the ideological divided Supreme Court), the Clinton impeachment and the California governor recall are all examples of assaults on American institutions of Government and democracy, and are far from being conservative. With this in mind, Dionne argues that many conservatives are willing to use radical means to justify conservative ends. Interesting.

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