Sunday, September 24, 2006

"Voting to Kill" - Republican Post-9/11 Success Explained

In "Voting to Kill, How 9/11 Launched the Era of Republican Leadership" (Simon & Schuster, $15.95) Jim Geraghty has created a handbook for how Democrats can regain power (not that many will read it, or take the lessons to heart if they do), or how Republicans can maintain their current advantage. Geraghty, a former mainstream journalist, describes in precise detail both the reasons for Republican success since that awful day in September, and the self-defeating actions of the Democratic party since.

"Page-turner" may be an unusual way to describe what at first glance appears to be a wonky trade paperback about politics, but it applies to "Voting to Kill". Geraghty's relaxed and readable style as he brings to life the history that led up to and followed 9/11 will have readers who thought they knew recent history poring through the book to find out what happens (more accurately, "what happened") next. The author's remarkable access to GOP operatives working behind the scenes during the 2004 election gives his book an undeniable air of authority.

Geraghty's central premise, that Democrats as a party have grossly underestimated the transformative effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was borne out in 2004, when Geraghty went against conventional wisdom to predict a Bush victory on his blog, TKS, and again, with the recent purge of Joe Lieberman. He explains the rise of the left-wing fringe, its struggle with Democratic moderates, and its potential to devastate the Democratic party, making it an electoral loser for years to come.

If there's a weakness in "Voting to Kill", it's that Geraghty is too quick to ring down the era of mainstream media influence, and usher in the Day of the Blog. And Geraghty underestimates both the extent of leftward slant within the mainstream media, and the pervasiveness of its influence in selecting stories and how they are framed. For example, Geraghty leaves unchallenged this quote in his book from Mickey Kaus: "...And [ABC's Mark] Halperin is known as a relatively non-partisan straight shooter." This is the same Mark Halperin who wrote in an ABC memo:
It goes without saying that the stakes are getting very high for the country and the campaigns - and our responsibilities become quite grave...

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.

It's up to Kerry to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.
Some "non-partisan straight shooter".

Geraghty's meticulous dissection of recent history points to tough times still ahead for the Democratic party. Is he right? Is national security still THE issue? We'll find out in the midterms, but the President's recent surge in approval would indicate that Geraghty has hit the nail on the head again.

Geraghty got it right when almost no one else did. "Voting to Kill, How 9/11 Launched the Era of Republican Leadership" explains how he did it.

Recommendation: buy this book, but don't tell your liberal friends about it; it would be too useful for them.