President Clinton's ex-campaign manager, whose refusal to condemn his old boss led to nationwide indignation last year,
returns to make a case for the moral virtue of loyalty.
Though Carville (We're Right, They're Wrong, 1996, etc.) accurately notes that few books have been written on loyalty since
Josiah Royce, and though his own Ten Rules of Loyalty are surprisingly penetrating (people tend to be loyal to other people, not
to the ideas or principles those people hold; untested loyalty is nothing but a platitude), let's be honest here: Nobody's going to
be reading this screed for moral instruction. They'll all judge this good old boy, whose bulldog loyalty to the embattled president
threatened to give loyalty a bad name, on the basis of his entertainment value. And here Carville delivers in spades. Waxing folksy
as a hog caller at a county fair, he reminds us that loyalty is at heart "the law of the playground" and cheers wimps who might
think loyalty is for sissies by pointing out that loyalty for is also loyalty against, licensing each partisan's most vicious instincts
("Stick with your friends. And stick it to your enemies. . . . In a fight, the opposition always sucks at everything"). He also
rallies his troops by lambasting Newt Gingrich and Kenneth Starr. Acknowledging that his own rogues' gallery (all registered
Republicans) is as lopsided as William Bennett's, he pointedly observes he's set up shop as a partisan political adviser, not an
arbiter of civic virtue. True enough, Carville is no great shakes as a moral guide—his passing reference to the punishment of
sinners in Dante's Inferno, for instance, would have been a lot more telling if he'd looked just one circle deeper—yet he's
guaranteed to make you proud of whatever loyalties you've got, and get you wondering just a bit about why you've got them.
An irresistible gift, especially for card-carrying Democrats with long memories when it comes to bearing a grudge.