“FEELING YOUR PAIN” by James Bovard


The Explosion and Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton-Gore Years
Email this review


Another of Bovard's harangues against the power of the federal government, this time focusing primarily on the Clinton administration's domestic policies and programs.

Washington journalist Bovard (Freedom in Chains, not reviewed, etc.) charges fervidly that President Clinton has "exploited and expanded the dictatorial potential of the U.S. presidency." To back up this assertion, the author examines numerous government agencies (DOJ, FBI, HUD, EEOC, FEMA, EPA, ATF), programs (AmeriCorps), and policies (farm subsidies, the war on drugs, gun control, affirmative action, trade agreements)—and finds evidence of bad thinking and abuse of power everywhere he looks. AmeriCorps, he claims, is "little more than social work tinged with messianic delusions," and FEMA's "lackeys throw federal checks at everyone they see." Bovard's use of name-calling, exaggeration, loaded language, and colorful images—he describes the DOJ and the FBI as "competing for the best imitation of the Keystone Kops" and Clinton's trade policy as "slave to almost any pressure group that caterwauled on the White House steps"—are designed to stir emotions, not to promote reasonable discussion of controversial issues. While Clinton is seen as the worst abuser of government power, Republicans are also criticized, with the hapless Newt Gingrich receiving the brunt of Bovard's ire for his inability to deliver the goods that were ordered in the elections of 1994. The various news media are also heavily criticized for complicity and cowardice. But the author sees the problem going much deeper—and we are all part of it. Americans, Bovard says, must stop being subjects and become the self-reliant citizens the Founding Fathers envisioned.

Replete with quotable lines, a diatribe well-timed to bring heat but little light to this fall's campaign.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-23082-6
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2000