Suzanne Fields

In this scenario, liberals replace the Judeo-Christian roots of democracy with wishful Utopian thinking, belief in man in the abstract rather than the flawed human being he is: "We are told we need not produce, but may merely hope, we need not defend, but may hope, we must not consume, but are allowed, somehow, to hope for sustenance, magically, deriving from some unspecified actions of a government, which, all observe, is at best competent, and, more usually, self-serving and corrupt, whoever is in power."

His book comes out just as President Obama's poll numbers have collapsed into his lowest numbers yet, according to the latest measurement by The Washington Post-ABC News. By a margin of two to one, Americans say the economy is on the wrong track.

Mamet doesn't examine this finding, but his critique of the president's 2008 campaign slogans of "hope" and "change" are exposed for what they were, a triumph of advertising. "Hope is a very different exhortation than ... save, work, cooperate, sacrifice."

He compares vacuous appeals of liberal thinking to that of Mark Rudd, the leader of the radicals who seized an administration building at Columbia University during riots in the '60s. "We got a good thing going here," Rudd cried. "Now we've got to find out what it is."

The title of Mamet's book is meant as ironic -- there is no secret knowledge, except the recognition that the federal government in its expanding power is "the zoning board writ large." Mamet's new-found hero is Friedrich Hayek, who observed that man is limited and government should be, too.

Good intentions lead to unintended consequences, whether in urban renewal, affirmative action, welfare or busing. His most scathing criticism lands on liberal education, which he regards as indoctrination in identity politics, with students drugged with self-indulgence. He passionately defends patriotism, tradition, the family (rather than the diluted "family values") and the Bible.

This is a big mess of a book, spontaneous and contemplative, wild and earnest, ferociously eloquent and pugnaciously persuasive, filled with free association, dashes of hyperbole and overwrought arguments posed in angry and edgy Mametspeak. He closes with a remark by his son, offered as something calmer with the clarity of simplicity, on the difference between liberal and conservative: "Then basically, it's the difference between the heavenly dream and the God-awful reality." How true.

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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