Karl’s message is clear: Trump was bad news, but it could have been much worse.

BETRAYAL

THE FINAL ACT OF THE TRUMP SHOW

In the follow-up to Front Row at the Trump Show, the ABC News political correspondent delivers fresh news on the last months of the Trump presidency.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Karl called John Kelly and asked whether Trump, having lost the election, would leave office when his term expired. Kelly answered, “Oh, he’ll leave. And if he refuses to leave, there are people who will escort him out.” What emerges in these pages is that while quiet patriots coaxed Trump to acquiesce, there were also plenty of enablers who encouraged him to stay, from “the crazies” in Rudy Giuliani’s retinue to the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol. Karl breaks plenty of news. For example, while it’s true that Trump was the rare president who didn’t attend his successor’s inauguration, it’s because Mitch McConnell specifically disinvited him. Trump caught wind beforehand and, in his last tweet, announced that he would not be attending of his own will, which earned him a permanent suspension from Twitter on the grounds that the tweet “was being interpreted by his supporters as a message that he still didn’t consider Biden’s victory legitimate.” Furthermore, although no one will go on record confirming it, members of the Cabinet almost certainly discussed how to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office (Trump, of course, vigorously denies it). William Barr, the attorney general who seemed to be Trump’s chief legal enabler, emerges as someone who, at the end of his time in the job, resisted Trump; the same is true of Mark Milley and the heads of the armed services, who Trump assumed would back his power grab. In addition, Trump was itching for a war with Iran as yet another excuse to stay in power. “You really can’t make it up,” the author remarks—an irony, considering the cloud-cuckooland the Trump administration inhabited.

Karl’s message is clear: Trump was bad news, but it could have been much worse.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18632-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

LIBERALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS

The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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