- - Monday, April 7, 2014

UPHEAVAL
By Lou Dobbs
Threshold Editions, $26.99, 288 pages

RULES FOR PATRIOTS: HOW CONSERVATIVES CAN WIN AGAIN
By Steve Deace
Post Hill Press, $26, 220 pages

You won’t want to read either Lou Dobbs‘ “Upheaval” or Steve Deace’s “Rules for Patriots” if you are looking for a lift or a joyous evening.

Both are full of bad news — very bad news — about the state of the country, the economy, the political system and the political class in charge of our fate. Mr. Dobbs and Mr. Deace leave no doubt about where they are coming from, what the problems we face are, and, in very different ways, what we should do about them.


Mr. Deace, a popular Iowa-based radio talk-show host identified by pundits as a conservative kingmaker for his role in the Iowa caucuses, wastes no time in telling his readers that America is losing its grip, that American exceptionalism is running out of steam, and that without a plan of attack there is little hope for lasting freedom.

He makes no bones about the fact that America’s greatest threat isn’t the radical left or even traditional liberalism, but from people he labels “Republicrats” — Republican politicians who campaign as conservatives, but govern from the middle-left and are largely undistinguishable in their approach to government from Democrats.

In fact, his stock-in-trade, and the gist of “Rules for Patriots,” is the ongoing battle between conservatives and the Republican Establishment, which he thinks is dominated by his “Republicrats.” The question of whether this essentially intraparty battle for what amounts to the soul of the Republican Party will — even if the “Republicrats” are driven out — result in either electing enough Republicans to enact a conservative agenda or allow a dedicated minority to turn the country around is what is at the heart of the dispute.

Mr. Deace clearly thinks that an uncompromising minority might be able to do the job and, in any event, that minority’s dedication to principle will attract the voters needed to make it a majority.

Maybe, but Mr. Deace also thinks there are other, deeper reasons for the conservative failure. Conservatives are losing elections because they are losing the fight for the culture.

No secret there. But, according to Mr. Deace, conservatives know that, they know what needs to be done to fix the problem, why it needs fixing and who needs to fix it. All we need to know, he says, is how to do it. In this book, he tries to tell us.

Setting Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” on its head, Mr. Deace’s fix is set forth in 10 commandments, all of which make pretty good sense in their own right and are, for the most part, the way a solid conservative would combat the left. Never trust Republicrats. Never accept the premise of your opponent’s argument. Never surrender the high ground. Play offense. You get the idea — be a hard-liner; don’t apologize for what you believe; don’t let your opponent lie, cheat and steal; be true to your political base.

Unfortunately, sometimes his commandments get lost in the commentary that brings up every kind of political point imaginable. In fact, “Rules for Patriots” almost sounds like a radio talk-show transcript, where the host is trying to fill out his nightly three hours.

Writing books and hosting a radio talk shows are two different exercises, but talk-show hosts, probably because they have a built-in audience who they hope will click onto Amazon and buy their book, are prolific authors. (I published a few myself.)

There is an old line in book publishing that most books should be articles (and in magazine publishing that most articles shouldn’t be written). Mr. Deace’s book makes some good points, but like a lot of such, would have profited from a good editor.

Mr. Dobbs was one of the first reporters to join CNN when it started up in the early 1980s, and became a fixture there before leaving, in something of a huff, and eventually joining Fox Business, where he remains to this day.

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