Review: Our Plan for America–Stronger at Home, Respected in the World

2 Star, Politics

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

2.0 out of 5 stars Shallow Undocumented Platitudes with No Budget Math,

November 12, 2004
John F. Kerry
This is an extraordinarily shallow–even glib–book, one obviously written by a committee that combined the worst of all worlds: the intellectual runts from the Clinton Administration who allowed terrorism to flourish on their watch, and the last gasp “spinmeisters” of the Democratic campaign staff. Kerry (more so than Edwards) failed the smell test during this past election, and this book documents how he failed on substance.

It consists of 123 double-spaced pages of shallow material, 16 pages of photographs that range from the goofy to the staged, and a remaining two thirds of the book reproducing old speeches with little in the way of substance and nothing in the way of math (as in a balanced budget).

Kerry’s writing committee opens the book by claiming his plan is rooted in values-obviously a majority in America did not buy that, and I do not either.

The book is organized in three sections (not counting the old speeches), on Security, on Opportunity, and on Family. All three consist of so-called “policy” points that cannot be called anything other than platitudes. They are completely lacking in coherence and they have no budgetary or documentary basis in fact.

Within the security section, the four new “imperatives” are alliances, modernize an already over-funded military, deploy soft power (diplomacy, intelligence, economic, values and ideas), and free America from its dangerous dependency on Middle Eastern oil. There is nothing about environmental security and the book displays absolutely zero understanding of the points made by such distinguished commentators as J. F. Rischard in HIGH NOON: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them, or E. O. Wilson in The Future of Life. The security section is pedestrian and incredibly ignorant. It fails to mention even the most basic redirection of resources toward peacekeeping and preventive investments in aid. The section on energy (as a security issue) fails to discuss hybrid cars, solar power for neighborhoods, or meaningful conservation.

The section on opportunity focuses on the middle class and is disrespectfully oblivious to the working poor-indeed, I suspect that neither Kerry nor any of his advisors have read Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickle and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” or David Shippler, “The Working Poor: Invisible in America.”

Finally, and this is where I believe the Democratic Party really lost it this year, there is not a word in this book about electoral reform-about measures that are needed in order to make every American’s vote count, such that we might one day aspire to having a government where Independents, moderate Republicans, Greens, Reforms, Libertarians, and agnostics all have a “fair share” of elected representation. As a moderate Republican, I was prepared to vote for an alternative to the Bush regime, but as a common sense person, I ended up rejecting this option because Kerry-and the decrepit isolated Democratic Party-failed the smell test. This book documents their shallow insularity and the breadth of their inadequacy.

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