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Stand Up Fight Back: Republican Toughs, Democratic Wimps, and the Politics of Revenge

Dionne, E. J., Jr.

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ISBN 10: 0743258584 / ISBN 13: 9780743258586
Published by Simon & Schuster, 2004
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243 p. Notes. Index. Can the Democrats find their voices again? Can the politics of revenge give way to something better? Yes, says Dionne, in 2004Us essential political book. Very good in very good dust jacket. Signed by author. Bookseller Inventory # 63389

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Stand Up Fight Back: Republican Toughs, ...

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: 2004

Binding: Hardcover

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

About this title


One of our most visible, trenchant, and witty political commentators, the author of the bestselling Why Americans Hate Politics, offers a tough critique of President George W. Bush and the Democratic opposition on the eve of a landmark presidential election -- and points to a way out of cynicism and defeatism.

With passion, clarity, and humor, E. J. Dionne describes today's political atmosphere as the bitterest he can remember. Never have Democrats been as frustrated by their inability to move the debate. The party of Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Clinton, Dionne says, is lost in pointless feuds, outdated strategies, and old arguments. Democrats have lost track of what they stand for so they don't know what they're fighting for and besides, they've forgotten how to fight back.

In describing how Democrats, moderates, and liberals have failed to match Republicans and conservatives in commitment, resourcefulness, and clarity, Dionne invents what is likely to become a popular parlor game among the politically committed. In "The Wrong Stuff," he lists ten futile arguments -- big versus small government, for example -- that Democrats keep having with themselves. "The Right Stuff" focuses on ten arguments they should start making about taxes, business, and the role of government.

Dionne zeroes in on how a floundering Bush administration used September 11 to politicize national security issues for partisan advantage. Enraged but intimidated by ruthless opponents, the Democratic party failed to find its voice on security issues and was soundly beaten in 2002.

Drawing on some lessons from the 2004 primary campaigns, Dionne argues that anger and frustration have in fact awakened progressives to the need for innovation in organizing, in approaching an increasingly conservative media, and in formulating politically useful and plainly stated ideas. Learning from the conservative movement's successes, liberals have begun the work of reconstruction.

The politics of revenge, Dionne argues persuasively, can give way to something better: a progressive patriotism built on hope and optimism about America's role in the world and its capacity to renew social justice at home.


One thing all can agree George W. Bush deserves credit for is creating a groundswell of bestsellers in the run up to his 2004 reelection campaign. Most of the anti-Bush tomes of the time are marked by a sense of outrage and anger. It says something that even E. J. Dionne, Jr., a radio and print columnist noted for a generally placatory left-center tone, allows a clear sense of outrage to creep into his take on the Bush II era, starting with the title. Indeed, Dionne's discontent grows more pronounced with each page, though ultimately Stand Up, Fight Back maps out practical responses to what the author sees as the two maladies that infect contemporary politics--resolute conservative maliciousness and irresolute liberal defensiveness. The Washington, D.C.-based scribe chronicles the three-decades-long ascendancy of the right in response to Democratic complacency. The key for the G.O.P. was its "clarity of purpose and a certainty about the moral superiority of their creed." Dionne, however, finds gaping holes in right-wing morality, notably when chronicling the 2000 Florida debacle and the "grotesque" Supreme Court decision that handed the presidency to the second-place finisher in the popular vote. Dionne wraps things up by outlining a program to stall the precipitous shift to the right. It would be engineered by a moderate and liberal alliance that emphasizes fairness, compassion, justice, and the common good. Not particularly original, and certainly there are bolder perspectives on the current political landscape, but by navigating the practical path, Dionne may have penned one of the season's most influential reads. --Steven Stolder

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