Reading is fundamentalist

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  December 22, 2009

Despite the success of these books, most mainstream publications — including the Times itself — have generally ignored them, declining to even publish reviews. That's understandable: after all, Where's Waldo? books have also sold well, and Coulter's Guilty and Goldberg's A Slobbering Love Affair are barely more worthy of the intellectual consideration.

But ignoring these bestsellers altogether is to miss out on what's driving today's conservatives — and in turn, the Republican Party.

The message these books carry, in fact, is that the GOP is failing to fight hard enough against the liberal agenda. The Republican Party, according to the authors, acquiesced in the growth of the federal government; failed to cast Obama and his associates as the dangerous, corrupt radicals that they are; and shied from calling for the rollback of the progressive gains of the past century.

And these bestsellers reserve much of their harshest criticism for moderate Republicans — Levin dubs them "neo-statists" — while almost every one of their authors proclaims his or her independence from the party.

This has the GOP running scared. The "Tea Party" outgrowth of the MCM now outpolls the Republican Party. At least two MCM personalities — Palin and Lou Dobbs — have raised the possibility of an independent presidential run in 2012. As this audience has become the dominant force within the GOP, party leaders have been forced to adopt, or at least tolerate, the nutty ideas used to sell products in the MCM.

So those paying attention to the MCM were not surprised this summer upon learning that millions of Americans believe that Obama is foreign-born, and thus, according to the Constitution, ineligible to hold his office. That's because this "birther" theory is argued at length in last year's number-one bestseller The Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi.

Catastrophe, meanwhile, set the table for some of what you saw in this summer's town hall meetings. That book, which hit the top spot soon after its June release, devotes a chapter to Obama's secret "plan to ration health care." Its authors, Morris and McGann, warn that, if health-care reform passes, "bureaucrats . . . will literally determine whether you live or die." In early August, Palin turned this into the coinage "death panels" on a Facebook post. Democrats then spent the next four weeks dealing with the fallout. If they don't want to be constantly playing catch up, liberals will have to expand their reading lists.

0912_commonsense_mian
THEY PONTIFICATE, YOU DECIDE: The eight best-selling conservative books contain no original reporting or research.

Sowell's seeds
Looking for the most influential thinker among movement conservatives? Thomas Sowell is cited in five of the eight top-selling conservative books of 2009: Common Sense; Arguing with Idiots; A Slobbering Love Affair; Going Rogue; and Liberty and Tyranny.
Justify my hate
The eight top-selling conservative books of 2009 range from ideological treatises to personal memoir. But despite their differences, they have much in common.

Clearly, these books sold so well because they carry a message that many movement conservatives want to hear. What these books provide, in my judgment, is justification for the intense anger, hatred, and fear they feel toward Obama and the federal government — feelings that were deliberately stoked throughout the presidential campaign, primarily by the MCM. There are four steps in that process of justification.

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