With this latest set of incendiary essays, Horowitz (Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes, 1999, etc.) carves out his niche as the St. Augustine of the American Right—a convert from the Left who sees the world as a struggle between the faith he has embraced and the one he has rejected.
According to Horowitz, the cardinal law of American political war is that “the side of the underdog, which is the side of the people, wins.” Democrats have mastered this lesson, along with the art of the devastating soundbite. But Republicans are so inept at this that they have not only lost the last two Presidential elections, but they also have had their clocks cleaned time and again by unscrupulous Clintonites over impeachment, national security, crime, and budget cuts. The last pitched battle over the education budget ended in a typical GOP disaster, Horowitz observes: “they managed to look mean-spirited, stupid, and weak, all at the same time.” After finishing Horowitz, unwary readers might believe that the GOP practices unilateral electoral disarmament. At times, when his broadsides taper off, Horowitz makes points that are not overtly partisan (e.g., Democrats and Republicans share a tendency to censor free speech). He can be properly outraged that a Time columnist tarred him as racist, and he is insightful on the rightward turn his career took after the Black Panthers’ murder of his radical friend Betty Van Patter: “It was a need to escape a death of the spirit that caused me to alter my course.” But more often, the columnist’s self-described “in-your-face” style distracts from his message, as when he charges that “racial ambulance-chasing” has sustained the career of Jesse Jackson.
Politics may indeed be “war by other means,” as Horowitz claims—but who would dare to argue otherwise with an author so addicted to name-calling and the frontal assault?