From the author of the landmark bestseller What's the Matter with Kansas?, a jaw-dropping investigation of the decades of deliberate—and lucrative—conservative misrule
In his previous book, Thomas Frank explained why working America votes for politicians who reserve their favors for the rich. Now, in The Wrecking Crew, Frank examines the blundering and corrupt Washington those politicians have given us.
Casting his eyes from the Bush administration's final months of plunder to the earliest days of the Republican revolution, Frank describes the rise of a ruling coalition dedicated to dismantling government. But rather than cutting down the big government they claim to hate, conservatives have simply sold it off, deregulating some industries, defunding others, but always turning public policy into a private-sector bidding war. Washington itself has been remade into a golden landscape of super-wealthy suburbs and gleaming lobbyist headquarters—the wages of government-by-entrepreneurship practiced so outrageously by figures such as Jack Abramoff.
It is no coincidence, Frank argues, that the same politicians who guffaw at the idea of effective government have installed a regime in which incompetence is the rule. Nor will the country easily shake off the consequences of deliberate misgovernment through the usual election remedies. Obsessed with achieving a lasting victory, conservatives have taken pains to enshrine the free market as the permanent creed of state.
Stamped with Thomas Frank's audacity, analytic brilliance, and wit, The Wrecking Crew is his most revelatory work yet—and his most important.
Frank paints a complex and conspiracy-ridden picture that illuminates the sinister and controversial practices of the Republican party in the 20th and 21st centuries. While Frank's assessments and interpretations of key events, players and party doctrines is accurate and justifiable, his overwhelming blame of the Republican Party as the source of everything that's wrong with this county and as the emblem of self-destructing government denies the Democrats and the citizenry their roles in a decaying democracy. Wyman's matter-of-fact delivery hints at the obviousness of Frank's words, but provides enough enthusiasm to make listeners believe he, too, is invested in Frank's message. His emphasis and vigor keep the text enjoyable, long after the rant of Republican despotism has become excessive. A Metropolitan Books hardcover (Reviews, May 26).