- - Monday, October 15, 2018


By Tucker Carlson

Free Press, $28, 244 pages

Tucker Carlson, an experienced journalist and host of the highly successful Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” sees the election of Donald Trump as a gesture of defiance by those millions of productive Americans who built this country and made it run, “a gesture of contempt, a howl of rage, the end result of decades of selfish and unwise decisions made by selfish and unwise leaders. Happy countries don’t elect Donald Trump president. Desperate ones do.”

In this social and political tour de force, often seeming to have been written without taking a breath, Mr. Carlson assails the leaders of what he calls America’s ruling class — Democrats and Republicans, left and right alike — who have sacrificed any pretense of serving the public good to preserving their positions of power and influence.

In politics, this means a desperate trolling for votes and a consequent deterioration of the national debate into a cacophony of shrieking voices celebrating sexual aberrations and racial differences, and demanding various remedies and punishments peculiar to their own odd conditions. The result, writes Mr. Carlson, is a tribalism in which “every group finds itself at war with every other group. It’s the perfect perversion of the American ideal: ‘Out of many, one’ becomes ‘Out of one, many.’”

There may be temporary political advantage in exploiting identity politics. But the long-term results could be disastrous. “In a country where virtually every nonwhite group reaps advantages from being racially conscious and politically organized, how long before someone asks the obvious question: why can’t white people organize and agitate along racial lines, too?”

In chapters with titles like “Elites Invade the Bedroom” and “They Don’t Pick Up The Trash Anymore,” Mr. Carlson focuses on the strange new aberrant moralities and the corruption of the once non-political concept of environmental conservation and protection. And in “Importing a Serf Class,” he does the same to the current hypocritical and misleading debate clouding the vital issue of immigration.

He begins with his own California memories of Cesar Chavez, his United Farm Workers union and the celebrated boycott of grapes. Chavez, a national folk hero, fought the growers to a standstill. But he also fought illegal immigrants, streaming across the border and threatening the gains made by his union. And when the federal government failed to secure the border, he and his followers took unilateral and often violent action to stem the flow.

Chavez’s actions were applauded by Democrats, who at the behest of the pre-deplorable unions that supported them, generally advocated anti-immigrant attitudes and policies. Joe Biden, for instance, introduced legislation to curb Vietnamese immigration, and other Democrat leaders and legislators warned of the effect on American workers of an influx of our former allies.

The definitive statement of the Democratic position on immigration, writes Mr. Carlson, was made to Congress by President Bill Clinton in his 1995 State of the Union address: “‘All Americans, not only in the states most heavily affected but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by U.S. citizens or immigrants. The public services they use impose burdens on our taxpayers.’”

As Mr. Carlson observes, “Pat Buchanan never put it more succinctly.”

From both Clintons, through a generation of Democratic spokesman and their media allies like The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (“‘We’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.’”) tough immigration policies were de rigeur. Until, in 2008, when suddenly they weren’t. “The Democratic Party now endorsed unrestrained mass immigration.”

This is a compact book, bulging with big and interesting ideas, presented succinctly with wit and precision, each chapter a potential book in itself. In a sense, it reflects how and why Mr. Carlson’s television show is so highly successful — quick intelligence, precision with words, the rat-a-tat style that today’s television demands. But there’s also more, perhaps a throwback to the days of such programs as “Firing Line,” featuring a willingness to debate real issues in depth against all comers.

But back to the beginning. Why was President Trump elected? “In retrospect, the lesson seemed obvious: Ignore voters for long enough and you get Donald Trump. Yet the people at whom the message was aimed never received it. Instead of pausing, listening, thinking, and changing, America’s ruling class withdrew into a defensive crouch.”

And in a democracy, it’s never possible in the long run to govern from a crouch.

• John R. Coyne Jr., a former White House speechwriter, is co-author of “Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement” (Wiley).

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