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Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right

Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right - Thomas Frank I don't often read current-affairs books, even when I already know I'll agree with them, because what I see in the daily headlines makes me mad enough. I picked up this one because an article in our local paper pointed out that Thomas Frank wrote much of it in the very Port Townsend Public Library where I checked it out. Now, I've followed Frank since Baffler #6 way back in '95 (and by the way, it's pretty amazing that they kept my subscription live through fires, multi-year hiatuses in publishing, changes of editors, and changes of publishers), so it was a surprise to learn he'd been doing his thing right down the street. We do get a couple name-checks, but that's about it; he doesn't weigh in on our local controversies about parks and paper mills.It's a short book and it covers a pretty specific territory: how in 2008-2011 the GOP and the Tea Party, having learned from the Great Depression, hijacked the left's appeal to the "common man" and redirected it to support their own obscenely rich funders, the very financiers and corporations who caused the financial crisis in the first place. The book's not going to convince anyone new that this happened, not least because if they don't believe it already they won't touch this book with a ten-foot pole, let alone read it and change their minds. But it does show, step by step, the strategic and rhetorical moves that the right-wing ravers used to turn things their way, and at least a few of the myriad opportunities that progressives missed to stop them.It's far from over, but the worst of the damage is already done: the Tea Party took over the House in 2010, even Obama's watered-down health-insurance reform is on the ropes, and financial-industry regulation is off the table. Obama will be re-elected this year only because the Republicans are so fractured and pathetic, but four more years will not be enough for him to claw actual progressive policies back from the libertarian capitalist ideologies which have taken over American politics. Assuming he would want to, anyway.It's a good book; Frank displays his usual wit and thorough research. But the kind of people likely to read it are liable to end up depressed and apprehensive about the future.