Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Book Review, Sunday, April 22, 2012: Drift: Rachel Maddow Does It Again

Dear Readers,

What does Rachel Maddow do again? She blows us away with her intelligent, thorough, and thoroughly witty analysis of an important issue of the day.

The book is "Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power," and it has received rave reviews from right- and left-wing commentators alike. That's partly because she has chosen a topic of concern to everyone on every side of the political spectrum (yes, even Ron Paul and his pseudo-libertarian followers), and then, of course, because, again, as she does on her MSNBC news commentary show, her approach is fair and balanced.

(And who else in the whole wide world would write a dedication like this? Rachel writes: "To former vice president Dick Cheney. Oh, please let me interview you.")

Some tidbits from the book, some little-known facts and some items that may jog your memory, if you're old enough, or at least give you pause, if you've never heard of them before:

---It all started, Rachel says, with LBJ's decision not to send the National Guard and Reserves to fight in Vietnam, which "tore the military from the heart of the country, and it tore the country from the heart of the military."

---James Madison wrote that the framers of the Constitution gave war-declaring power to Congress instead of the president because "the History of all Governments demonstrates that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it."

---The Congressional Powers Resolution of 1973 was passed to ensure that if the president executed any military operation, he would have to get authority from Congress within 30 days or end the operation after 60 days.

---Even John Wayne objected to Reagan's demagoguery about the Panama Canal, sending him a private letter "offering to show him 'point by ****** point in the treaty where you are misinforming people' [and adding,] 'If you continue to make these erroneous remarks, someone will publicize your letter to prove that you are not as thorough in your reviewing of this treaty as you say or are ***** obtuse when it comes to reading the English language.'

---In the Iran-Contra debacle, "[of] the nearly $40 million that was raised toward Contra aid, only about $17 million found its way to the brave freedom fighters."

Rachel never claims that the erosion of our national military force and its importance in American lives is the result of some kind of conspiracy. Rather, she writes, "Rational political actors, acting rationally to achieve rational (if sometimes dumb) political goals, have attacked and undermined our constitutional inheritance from men like Madison. For the most part, though, they've not done it to fundamentally alter the country's course but just to get around understandably frustrating impediments to their political goals."

The book is available at and other booksellers for about $15.00. It's in your local library, too, though you'll have to put your name on a wait list. Also, Madame L will be happy to loan her (heavily underlined, marked, and dog-eared) copy to any of her Dear Readers who would like to borrow it from her.

1 comment:

AskTheGeologist said...

I hope someone is turning down page corners for her slow-reading husband...