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BOOK REVIEW: WHERE THE RIGHT WENT WRONG * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars out of 4).

18 March 2005

I’d never been a fan of anything Patrick Buchanan had to say. But his latest book, Where the Right Went Wrong : How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency was gripping and insightful. We’ve all heard the criticisms of the Iraq war from the liberal point of view. But Buchanan very eloquently and devastatingly critiques it from the right, pointing out that it is not in any way “conservative” to start a war with a country that posed no threat to us and did not want war with us, and that by lying in order to do so, we have made enemies of all the peoples of the Middle East, except for Israel.

Where I was sure that I would part ways with the pro-life, anti-gay, anti-affirmative-action Buchanan was the second half of the book, when he discusses social policy. Instead, I was captivated and captured by his well-reasoned arguments against the policy-making decisions of the Supreme Court over the last 50 years. His well-taken point is that it started with the 9-0 decision in Brown v. Board of Education. This case, outlawing racial segregation in schools, was so hard to argue with on policy grounds, that people have been reluctant to point out that the Court exceeded its power in that case. And over the years, the court has gotten more and more bold and more and more specific in inventing rules out of thin air, notably in Roe v. Wade, in which the Court made very specific legislative rules regarding what can be done in which trimester– the sort of policy decisions that we expect to come from a legislature.

I don’t agree with Buchanan’s politics at all. But his book is very interesting and persuasive.

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