Book review: Conservatize Me

28 Mar
moe.jpgI read a new book every couple weeks or so, and though I used to hold high hopes of reviewing each book for this site, that goal never came to fruition. I just don’t have the right to actually critique a book. I mean, writing 500 words on any subject of my choosing pretty much wipes me out for the night. Who am I to judge?
So when I tell you I enjoyed John Moe’s debut novel Conservative Me, don’t expect any grand enlightenment as to my reasoning. It was an enjoyable book. That’s it. That’s all I have to say. I enjoyed it. Enjoyed the book. I think you will too.
Summary: the author, an NPR host and lifelong liberal (redundant, I know), decides to attempt to become a conservative for 30 days. He sets a few ground rules for himself and off goes the experiment. The book recaps his monthlong attempt at party line-crossing — doing such things as visiting a Wal-Mart, test-driving an SUV, attending a Toby Keith concert, visiting the Reagan museum, etc — all written in Moe’s familiar casual lingo. One sentence may contain a lengthy, eloquent vernacular, and the next will use “like” or “totally” or something similar.

While most of the book is loose and light, poking fun at both parties while refraining from heavy discussion on political policy (thank god), Moe also passes on a few interesting lessons. So without further ado, What I Learned from Conservatize Me:

– Former White House press reporter Jeff Gannon is a tool. Trust me on this one. He uses a fake name, and received his press credentials not because he was a journalist – his highest post was a damn sports editor for his college newspaper, which means he has the exact same expertise as me, which should tell you all you need to know about his writing ability – no, he was actually hired because he was a known conservative on message boards across the ‘net and the administration was looking for jackasses such as “Gannon” to help provide unquestioning, biased reporting to help promote their agenda. Super.

– The three basic tenets of conservatism: (1) free-market economics with small government and low taxes; (2) social conservatism, which seeks to preserve fundamental traditional values; (3) strong defense system. Anyone who doesn’t see eye-to-eye on all three of those points is not considered to be a true conservative. John McCain doesn’t agree with the religious right, so conservatives have a problem with him; Buchanan isn’t a free-market guy, so he’s not wholly welcomed either. Which means many of your Republican friends probably aren’t true conservatives. This is neither good nor bad, but fairly interesting.

– Almost 70 percent of black children are born out of wedlock, which is an incredibly depressing statistic. On the other hand, so was I, and look how great I turned out; I’m only 26 years old and already I’ve got a blog and a failing liver! I very much hope others follow my lead.

– Target Corporation donated more money to Republicans than Democrats during the last election cycle. That disappoints me.

– The “SUV Loophole” is one reason liberals claim conservatives & Republicans are all about helping the rich get richer.

– Fox News, ever the centric network, once featured a segment about a new museum devoted to teaching that God created everything and that dinosaurs were created on the 6th day, along with people.

– One funny excerpt from Moe, regarding upholding the Constitution: “Even when they did spell something out, you were stuck with something like the Second Amendment and its lumping in of gun ownership with the maintaining of a state militia. Either they were really lousy writers on that one or they were deliberately fucking with us, condemning us all to argue, while armed, about this thing forever. Verily, we hath been punk’d.”

– Have you ever heard of the “reductio ad absurdum” argument strategy? It goes like this, “you take a position for the sake of argument, arrive at a ridiculous result, and then use that ridiculous result to discredit the original position. The same way that conservatives argue that if The Gay are allowed to marry, before long people will be marrying logs and buildings and the 1975 Steelers. It would be ridiculous to marry the Steelers, therefore it’s ridiculous for two consenting adults in a long-term stable relationship to decide for themselves that they want to get married.” I’m not saying that one party employs this technique more than the other, but I do think the conservatives are much better at it. (And parents, what with that whole “would you jump off a cliff if your friends did it” scenario.)

– Nixon actually did a lot of great things while President: established the EPA, signed the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, lowered the voting age to 18, proved it was possible for ugly people to be President, eliminated the draft and played a huge part in NASA’s development.

So while the book rode a predictable storyline arc, I found it to be an enjoyable, humorous and surprisingly educational read. But again, what do I know.

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