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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right: How One Side Lost Its Mind and the Other Lost Its Nerve (audiobook) by Bernard Goldberg

Published by HarperAudio in 2007.
Narrated by the author, Bernard Goldberg
Duration: 7 hours, 27 minutes.

Bernard Goldberg, who used to work at CBS news until two opinion pieces that he wrote for the Wall Street Journal nearly 10 years ago made him a persona non grata. What was in these two opinion pieces that caused Dan Rather to say he would never forgive Goldberg and Goldberg's boss to accuse him of "disloyalty"?  He said that CBS and the other major media outlets are biased towards the political left in their reporting. Not the kind of bias that involves meetings and sercret cabals. Instead, it is a sort of groupthink. The sort that never even considers asking the questions that the people with a more conservative worldview would ask. So, most of this bias is from a series of "sins of omission" (to borrow a phrase) rather than an overt plot. As a result, Goldberg wrote his book Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News.

Bernard Goldberg

In Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right: How One Side Lost Its Mind and the Other Lost Its Nerve Goldberg goes after both the Left and the Right with thoughtful criticism. Goldberg narrates the audiobook version himself (and does a great job, too) and throws in plenty of humor, irony and satire to leaven the heavy doses of criticism. As he implies in the title, many on the left have gone right off of the edge and many on the right have forgotten their roots and have lost the intestinal fortitude to stand up for what they claim to believe in.

Written in 2006 and 2007, some parts of the book are a bit dated (the discussion of race and politics, for example, seems quaint without reference to Barack Obama), but it is clear that Goldberg predicted the electoral disaster that hit the Republicans in 2008 and he seems downright prophetic when he predicts that frustration with "wimpy" Republicans will cause people to look for other political voices. Clearly, the Tea Party movement was the expression of that frustration.

The heart of the book feels like a series of columns that were re-worked for the book, which is fine because Bernard is a good writer, he organized them nicely by topic and he edited them to aviod repeating himself.

Topics include:

A personal history;

A history of the Conservative movement, including the warts;

The NAACP and George W. Bush;

Ann Coulter (not as a "wimp on the right" but as someone who needs to tone herself down);

Alec Baldwin (actually not about Alec as a crazy man of politics but as a man who could step out and ask for an end of the name-calling since he's been a victim of it himself);

Barry Goldwater;

Religion in politics on the Right and the Left;

Mel Gibson (he makes a good point, but it seems dated with Mel's new outbursts);

Jack Henry Abbot;

A brilliant satire about the coarsening of TV's "family hour";

race-based preferences in hiring and college admissions;

anti-Semitism among the liberal elite on America's college campuses;

Congressional earmark spending;

TSA profiling;

Terrorism by radical Muslims (including a brilliant point about not trying to "understand" terrorists any more than he would try to "understand" the white men who participated in 1950s lynchings;

9/11 Truthers;

The New York Times and CBS News;

Tony Blair;

and just a little too much about Israel (I didn't disagree with it, it just was a bit too much on one topic).

All in all, an entertaining and well thought-out look at America's political culture.

I rate this audiobook 5 stars out of 5. It can be found on Amazon.com here: Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right: How One Side Lost Its Mind and the Other Lost Its Nerve.

Reviewed on November 13, 2010.

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