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06.11.08

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Phaedra

Right Is Wrong

How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution and Made Us All Less Safe (and What You Need to Know to End the Madness)

Reviwed by Richard von Busack


Summing up the Republican Party's defensive strategy, Ariana Huffington cites an old lawyer's adage: "When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. And when the law and the facts are against you, attack the plaintiff." That's how an entrenched White House survived criticism for the past eight years, despite a record that reads like the logbook of the Titanic. Huffington's book is both a polemic and a memory refresher. Years of exposure to the 24-hour-news cycle on TV tends to weaken the process of recollection. Here, then, the author rosters every debacle, from the anti-SCHIP propaganda campaign to the blackout of info on global warming, from the poisoning of pets and children by missing-in-action regulatory officials to the monumental mess of Katrina, Medicare reform, Walter Reed, the selling and bungling of the war in Iraq, et al. Taking on fellow members of the punditocracy, Huffington devotes special sidebars to the toothless Tim Russert and Bob Woodward's supine writing about W: "Praising Woodward for his very-late-to-the-party Iraq pile-on [namely the book Plan of Attack] was like a music critic writing a rave of Let It Be and getting credit for discovering the Beatles." Huffington laments over John McCain's evolution from watchdog to lapdog, particularly in his latest incarnation as salesman for the war, retrieving McCain's 2003 comment that "there's not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shias. So I think they can probably get along." Considering the provocation, Huffington is one of the most amiable of the left-wing pundits. She avoids personal attack in favor of a sober listing of quotes and deeds. Getting personal isn't a strategy she needs, anyway, considering these bad years behind us and before us. (By Ariana Huffington; Knopf; 390 pages; $24.95 hardback)


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