A Pulitzer Prize–winning showman and “reformed Liberal” rants about the precarious state of the nation.
In 39 short essays, playwright, screenwriter and director Mamet (Theatre, 2010) discusses many of his least-favorite things, including taxes, sloth, foreign aid, the notion of global warming, big government, taxes, the present Democratic administration, liberals, taxes and “social justice” (quotes his). Did we mention taxes? With the mood of serious discussion, the author weights this jeremiad with stilted argot and copious footnotes that are simply more of the same arguments in reduced typeface. But Mamet is sharper than the conventional scold, and, like his most memorable stage characters, he offers a mashup of notions, some commendable, supported by reference to very selective history. Unabashed in making blanket, unfounded assertions, the gifted dramatist erects nincompoop straw men easily demolished with clever, impassioned rhetoric. Detection of undeniable flaws in liberal logic, rightly derided, gives way to ad hominem argument, post hoc reasoning and faulty classification—it’s disputation, not evidence. In a monolithic, elitist Left—one surely not as cohesive and close-minded as Mamet depicts, one more liable to agree with him on, say, the benefits of capitalism (albeit, perhaps, with more legal safeguards—he sees hypocrisy. Surely, community values and the unfettered marketplace of ideas are important to liberal and conservative alike. Sweetened with personal history, a couple good jokes and some pointed insights, Mamet’s polemic yields no secret and scant knowledge. He does, nevertheless, raise the volume with incontestable dramatic talent.
A Manichean analysis from a strident new voice from the Right—for liberals, something intended to ignite antagonism; for the like-minded, a buttress against the opposition.