Noted conservative doyenne turned noted liberal doyenne Huffington (On Becoming Fearless…in Love, Work, and Life, 2006, etc.) enumerates all the ways in which the GOP has gone astray.
Born in Greece, Huffington knows the meaning of the word apostate. In a sidebar, “My Name is Arianna, and I Am a Former Republican,” she recounts her road to the Damascus moment, which took the hulking form of Newt Gingrich, who appropriated some of her compassionate conservatism and put it in his Social Darwinist blender. “I was seduced, fooled, blinded, bamboozled,” she reports, but not for long. The liberal convictions that followed seem of a piece with the progressivism of her moderate Republican ways, and indeed most of her notions are centrist: her belief, for instance, that ending poverty will call for a combination of public and private effort, and that the government has no business in the bedrooms of consenting adults. Like so many of the time, she has a soft spot in her heart for Ronald Reagan, who opened the door for what she characterizes as the right-wing takeover of the party by the likes of Bush and Cheney—and Coulter (“the right-wing punditry’s equivalent of crack or crystal meth”), Limbaugh, O’Reilly and company—as the radical fringe became the radical core. Huffington chastises the media for allowing this rightist cabal to proceed unchallenged, a charge that sticks but needs more elaboration than she provides. Elsewhere she walks down any number of well-trod paths: the lies about WMDs and the Freudian reasons for toppling Saddam, the right wing’s war on science, the abuse of the Constitution, the quest for saviors in the form of General David Petraeus (for Bush, “a magic word,” though a “thunderingly misguided” commander), the contempt for expertise. John McCain, Huffington ventures, will bring more of the same.
There is little effort at prescription here, but much complaint. Liberally inclined readers will find little that’s new; since anyone else will be unlikely to pay attention, this seems a slightly misguided effort.