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Conservatives without conscience
John W. Dean
Adult Nonfiction JC573.2.U6 D43 2006

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In his seventh book, Dean, the former Nixon legal counsel whom the FBI has called the "master manipulator" of the Watergate coverup, weighs in with a rebuke to Christian fundamentalists and other right-wing hard-liners. A self-described Goldwater conservative (indeed, Goldwater had planned to collaborate on this book before his death), he rails against the influence of social conservatives and neoconservatives within his party. Suffused with bitterness stemming from the controversies in which he has been embroiled, Dean's book paints a thin social science veneer over a litany of mostly ad hominem complaints. Purporting to show that social conservatives and neoconservatives are, on the whole, demonstrably authoritarian, bigoted, irrational and amoral, Conservatives Without Conscience offers helpful hints such as "Conservatives without conscience do not have horns and tails," and evinces a telling fascination with politicians' shady book deals. Though there is clearly much to condemn in the policies and tactics Dean deplores, assailing everyone from French political theorist Joseph de Maistre to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to the chairman of Yale University's conservative association as "Double High" social- dominance-oriented authoritarians undermines his journalistic credibility. Dean's lurid accusations may be entertaining, but they add little to the reasoned debate that Washington so sorely lacks today. (July 11) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In a book that will likely bring the full force of the Republican Party, the Bush White House, and Christian conservatives down on his head, Dean (former counsel to President Nixon) argues that some leaders of the Republican Party and of the conservative movement generally are authoritarian personalities without conscience. Having planned to coauthor a book with Barry Goldwater, Dean continued after Goldwater's death to read works such as T.W. Adorno and others' The Authoritarian Personality, Stanley Milgram's Obedience to Authority, and Bob Altemeyer's updates to such earlier research. Critics will contend that Dean is not qualified to discuss such complex material, but he successfully summarizes sophisticated social psychological and political science research for the average reader. Essentially, Altemeyer has identified people whose high scores on a battery of questions qualify them as "Double High, Right Wing Authoritarians," which means that they are highly dogmatic and excessively deferential to authority and admit that "moral issues of right and wrong behaviorare irrelevant to them." Dean applies these theories to many VIPs on the Far Right and, in a final chapter, provides examples of the harmful effects wrought by "conservatives without conscience," e.g., Gingrich, DeLay, Frist, and Cheney and, by implication, the President. Though the book has its weaknesses-the writing is sometimes ponderous and the conversational footnotes are distracting-its thesis is clearly and logically established with endnotes that provide thorough documentation for the author's arguments. Very highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/06.]-Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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