Bernard Goldberg, Crazies To The Left of Me, Wimps To The Right
Harper Collins Publishers – 2007
Available at all major books stores - Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Walden, Schuster, etc.
Type of Book:
Non-Fiction. A solid book that will appeal to ANY fed up liberal, moderate or conservative who feels that their principals and ideas have been sold out on BOTH sides of the isle when it comes to the Democratic and Republican parties. A quick and short read that properly tars both parties – Republicans who are afraid to be conservative and Democrats who have gone beyond the pale with liberal nuttiness.
Per Harper Collins Publishing, Goldberg is the number one New York Times best selling author of Bias, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America and Arrogance. He has won eight Emmy Awards for his work at CBS News and at HBO, where he now reports for the acclaimed program Real Sports. In 2006, he won the Alfred I. E. duPont-Columbia University Award, the most prestigious of all broadcast journalism awards. A more complete history of this author can be found in the Wikipedia.
Mr. Goldberg starts off his book with a bang, chapter one lays it all out, “Just My Luck, I’m on one side and they loose their minds…I go to the other side and they loose their cojones”.
He spends the early part of the book giving some historical background to his own situation. Growing up in the 50’s in the Bronx New York to a middle class family where everyone was a Democrat and no one had ever met a Republican. He notes the terms liberal and conservative hadn’t come much on the radar yet. He discusses how his grandfather and his father were all staunch Democrats – the party for the little guy, the working man if you will, the party that gave rise to great men like FDR, JFK and others. The party that made little money, but always took care of the wife and kids and kept a roof over their heads. Blue collar backbone was the Democratic party and everyone was darn proud to be part of it.
He notes, Republicans were heard about, but no one had actually ever met one. They were known for big business, like General Motors, snooty country clubs, expensive meals at fancy restaurants and high powered jobs. Republicans didn’t represent Goldberg, his family, his friends or even the country he knew and loved.
Bottom line - Democrat good. Republican bad.
In the early 60’s, Goldberg notes how the Goldwater Presidential race impacted him as a young college student. He and his Democratic friends all talked about leaving the country if he won the election. They felt he would blow up everybody in Vietnam, drop nukes on the commies and work against civil rights. This man was conservative crazy as far as they were concerned. Fortunately, Goldwater lost and all the young Democrats so hot to trot were able to stay in the U.S.
Goldberg notes looking back at this time, he realized it was an early warning to him that Dems were becoming less and less tolerant – something this party had prided itself as one of it’s important main characteristics. What he and his friends had been saying was that not only did they know better then everyone else, but they were better then the rest too.
He notes that for the next 20 years he kept his Democratic credentials, but realized in hindsight he had just been going through the motion of being a true blue Dem for many years. As elections passed, Humphrey, McGovern, Carter and so on, he realized Democrats had been changing in fundamental ways. They were becoming elitists. By 1972, it appeared the affluent, well educated liberals – the new elite - were in and the blue collar, hard working man from the factory was out. Goldberg believes Democrats – primarily liberalism – took a hard left turn around the time of Vietnam. It wasn’t enough for liberals to protest the war. No, they had to go one step further and actually demonize the American Military and The U.S. He understood even then it was one thing to be against the war and another thing altogether to be against your own country. He also said the feminist movement went beyond the norm – asking for equality in ways that bordered on crazy. The country was in turmoil and liberals – the new kind – were angry. They were becoming closed minded and forgot how to be liberal altogether. They went from being a party that made real things – cars, steel, houses, food stuff, drilling for oil, fixing automobiles, and so on, to being a party of fads and fashions - actors, actresses, directors, singers, artists, professors, and the like.
Goldberg says he stayed true to the Dems through the 80’s and 90’s as he worked at CBS News. He felt it was still in his DNA. He said as he got older and wiser, he realized it was nurture not nature that kept him allied with this party. It took the events of 9/11, leaving CBS News and writing his first book Bias about the media that made him see the light by the late fall of 2001. That’s when his break with the left took place. He said he couldn’t take the darkness, the constant cynicism, the toxicity over Bush and the constant anger of the liberal party any longer. He said growing up, liberalism was something to be proud of in the Democratic party. The terrain of the modern liberal landscape was unfamiliar and growing more uncomfortable by the day. Thus, it was time to move on.
Goldberg moves into the next chapter dealing with his conversion to conservatism (although he notes that he’s heavily libertarian on many important issues over-all). His liberal friends felt he had gone to the dark side. He notes, “The whole idea strikes them as preposterous, too crazy to be taken seriously. After all, they figure, I’m not a racist. I can read and write. I’m not married to my sister. And I don’t drool on myself. So, how in the world could I possibly be conservative?”
With tongue in cheek, Goldberg notes it’s a good thing liberals remain open minded and hate stereotyping.
He notes he felt more attuned as he grew older to the conservative movement as it appealed to him on many levels; smaller government, restrained spending, closed borders, being left alone and operating more efficiently at the state level, keeping the family unit intact, being allowed to practice or not practice your faith of choice, etc. He liked their honesty, integrity, intelligence and faith.
Unfortunately, over the past few years, Goldberg notes his turn to the party of restraint has been no easy task either. Too many Republicans forgot how to be conservative and sold out their principals in recent years for political power and personal gain. Over-spending, not cracking down on open borders, not standing up on affirmative action and marriage issues and more have caused him serious frustration.
Goldberg feels strongly that Democrats AND liberals have reached a point where they have lost their minds.
Goldberg also feels strongly that the current Republican party foolishly tried to hang onto power by cashing in on their traditional values. In a nutshell, they wimped out.
He feels that true conservatives still believe in important and critical things and that may be the redeeming factor for this nation in the long run.
He wonders if Election Day 2006 was a wake up call for everyone. Perhaps it was well past time to take a look at the baggage of our personal histories and decide what stays and what goes.
The rest of the book is short chapters of say 4-5 pages that talk about current issues and events of importance and how each party differs on the issues. Such as Don Imus saying dumb things, Sharpton, the NAACP and our status on affirmative action, Fox News Derangement Syndrome, Ann Coulter free speech limits, San Francisco style liberal actions, Mel Gibson drunken videos and religious movies, other political issues like immigration, abortion and English as our unifying language. He remains tough on both parties when they falter and supports them when they remain stable and sane.
Goldberg is able to produce some sassy little zingers now and then to keep things moving along such as:
”There’s an old line about how politicians are like diapers. They both need to be changed, a lot, and for the same reason. This of course, is unfair. Diapers serve a useful purpose”.
“Republicans like to spend like crazy, but not raise taxes. Democrats like to spend like crazy and raise taxes. Why do I keep thinking of the Jim Carrey movie Dumb & Dumber?”
“Without hard questions it’s too easy to fall back on the old feel good liberal platitudes about how “racism” is the root of all our troubles and about how more “diversity” is the solution. The only way to put an end to this cycle of dishonesty and denial is to begin asking uncomfortable questions and speaking uncomfortable truths.”
“As for liberal intellectuals, they think that because they’re well educated and supposedly enlightened, then by definition they can’t possibly be bigots. That’s what makes them so dangerous. They hold important positions at important universities and because of that they have the power to make bigotry (at least seem) more legitimate. If it’s coming from some goober in overalls, that’s one thing. If it’s coming from a professor at prestigious university, well, that’s something else entirely”.
“Real men say kill every last one of those bastard terrorists and I don’t care how you do it. Thus, real men vote for Republicans”.
Goldberg ends his book pondering the 2008 election.
Will Democrats stay hard to the left and keep being who they are and thus, show the rest of America how insanity really looks? Or will they morph again and take advantage of another open opportunity they didn’t earn, but were wise enough to take advantage of as they did last fall? Better yet, will they get in touch with their roots from 50 years ago and represent again a hard working class of Americans from all over the U.S. and not just the elite coasts as they did from our father and grandfathers generations? Time will tell.
Will Republicans seize a new opportunity and remember what they stand for, what is their core beliefs and not allow themselves to be compromised? Will Republicans be smart and savvy enough to take advantage of Democratic weakness and as Rush Limbaugh notes, “you can always count on the Democrats, at some point, to revive conservatism in this country by being just who they are”. Or will Republicans continue to sell out their principles and thus, take another “thumping” in the poles and give the Democrats all three houses of government? Time will tell.
My Personal Review:
I was looking for something political to read without the usual destructive grenade tossing so early into a pre-election cycle. The title alone captured my attention as what better to read than someone with enough perspective to poke a little light fun at BOTH parties, their current strengths (few) and weaknesses too (many).
I’m confident many will relate well to Goldberg’s journey from Democrat and Liberal to Conservative/Libertarian. His background, evolution and growth will resonate with many I’m sure. I would recommend this book to anyone open to light political reading.
I'm sure some far left, overly sensitive liberals will cry and weep in horror that they are made to look bad (“where’s my protest sign, it’s time to march, you’ve said mean things to us”!).
Far right, overly aggressive conservatives will reach for the second amendment as they are made to look equally bad ("sir, we need you to step away from the vehicle and drop your weapon...”).
But, come on, that’s half the fun of the book. Being mature and wise enough to REALLY see the good points and the bad points to each party and trying to figure out where each of us stand. Not just where your family stood on politics, faith and our nation, or where your college professors influenced you to stand, or where the local cable, t.v. and newspaper outlets want you to believe, but where YOU stand after extensive research, reading and soul searching. Anyone who has taken a journey of self discovery will appreciate this book.
I give Goldberg kudos because he gets his point across crisp and sharp without a lot of fluff in the middle. I like a guy who gets to the point and doesn’t put a lot of tail spin on important issues. He speaks from experience and the heart and thus, his points are well taken. Even if you don’t agree with all his conclusions, he reminds the reader we can all have discussions and agree to disagree without going bonkers. He points out so well that, “We no longer speak the same language, liberals and conservatives. We don’t listen to each other. We have different ‘facts’, which we use to come to different conclusions. Maybe it’s always been like this, but it feels worse now than ever”. I concur.
Maybe a book like this, one that provides with sharp clarity what’s wrong with each party as much as what’s right, is perfect for the current election season. It might make some curious and interested people take a new look at what they really think. And, maybe change some minds along the way too. At a minimum, those who have taken his journey (and I'm sure they are in the millions) won't feel so alone. (I include myself here!)
I give him 3 ½-4 stars (3 1/2 for writing style and length of articles, 4 for content) out of 5.
Editor, The Local Area Watch