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After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery


Looking for real hope and change?

The man Hardball host Chris Matthews calls “the legendary R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.” has done it again. Tyrrell, author of such tours de force as New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: The Political Biography, The Liberal Crack-Up, and The Conservative Crack-Up, serves up an insightful and delightful exploration of the past, present, and future of American conservatism, or what he terms, “America’s longest dying ...

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Looking for real hope and change?

The man Hardball host Chris Matthews calls “the legendary R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.” has done it again. Tyrrell, author of such tours de force as New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: The Political Biography, The Liberal Crack-Up, and The Conservative Crack-Up, serves up an insightful and delightful exploration of the past, present, and future of American conservatism, or what he terms, “America’s longest dying political philosophy.” And its future is bright.

Tyrrell begins with a sparkling distillation of conservative theory and history, complete with personal anecdotes from his decades in the movement, inspired by its luminaries, bored by its dim bulbs. He explains the nature of the conservative temperament—its “political libido”—and how it plays out in today’s curious political culture; examines the vital role of a true “political culture” and solidarity in opposing the left and then offers a comprehensive agenda for the future of the movement that every political player on both the right and the left will have to read to grapple with in 2010 and 2012.

Tyrrell also considers American Liberalism—its excesses, quirks, and near suicidal instinct. Far from offering mere indictment, however, Tyrrell also delivers a unique perspective on Liberalism’s strengths, such as its intramural ecumenism and rare ability to rally around shared causes, explaining how conservatives could learn and profit from the example.

It goes without saying that through it all Tyrrell’s famous humor crackles and lifts the spirit. Conservatives looking for perspective on the current scene, a richer understanding of their shared past, and hope for the future will find After the Hangover as refreshing as it is restorative.


“The legendary R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.”CHRIS MATTHEWS

“No columnist, no author, has had a greater influence upon the course of American political history over the past decade than that ribald contrarian, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. Even the slain giants die laughing.” ―TOM WOLFE

“Washington would not be the same without Bob Tyrrell and neither would the American conservative movement. While dilettantes come and go, the relentless and irrepressible Tyrrell is forever.” ―DAILY TELEGRAPH (LONDON)

“Tyrrell is the master of a particular form—taking broken shards of silliness, deviance, hypocrisy, crime, and treason, shaping them into Erasmian examples of human folly, and doing so with style and flow.” ―ARAM BAKSHIAN

“Tyrrell alerts us to the dangers our political system faces . . . and he does it with the insight, wit, and style that mark him as a great American writer.” ―BOB BARR

“R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. has written a stimulating book which should cause many Americans to rethink positions they have taken in the debates of the past decade.” ―HENRY KISSINGER

“For a man I disagree with as much as Emmett Tyrrell . . . I must say that I enjoyed the sheer hell out of his book.” ―NORMAN MAILER

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595552723
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/20/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of the famous and feared TheAmerican Spectator. The author of several books including the New York Times best-selling Boy Clinton, Madame Hillary, The Liberal Crack-Up, and The Conservative Crack-Up, Tyrrell's syndicated column is published weekly in such papers as the New York Post, Los Angeles Times,and the Washington Times.

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Read an Excerpt



Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2010 R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-59555-272-3

Chapter One


The Premature Obituary of America's Longest Dying Political Movement

The 2008 presidential election has now been interred in history's cemetery for over a year. The little candles that once flickered around its gravesite burned down months ago. The election ended in a Democratic victory, not a landslide but close enough for the political pundits in their slovenliness to call it one and return to composing what through the decades has been a staple of mainstream journalism, the conservative movement's obituary.

The journalists' deathwatch began two years earlier with the Democrats' takeover of the 110th Congress, a takeover hastened by the Republicans' abandonment of fiscal restraint and by the scandals perpetrated by various minor Republican Congressional members and their political operatives. For the next two years, the political community produced murmurings of the conservative movement's "decline," its "fragmentation," its "exhaustion," and-without attribution-"the conservative crack-up." I say this without attribution because I coined the term in an American Spectator symposium devoted to the troubled condition of conservatism during President Ronald Reagan's second term. Supposedly, conservatism has been cracking up for decades, and always conservatism's obituarists have been there in the parking lot, waiting for the hearse to pull up.

In 1992, I published a book titled The Conservative Crack-Up in which I pondered the conservative movement's troubles during the Reagan administration's last years. I also laid down a thesis about conservatives that was as true then as it is today: the conservative political animal is so fundamentally different from the liberal political animal that the two might be drawn from different species. Politically speaking, the conservative is more domesticated, less feral.

Liberals seemed to like the idea. In the New York Times Book Review, the book received a page-2 review, the Review's silver medal for the week's literary competition. To review the book, the Times's editor chose a former Reagan speechwriter, the conservative personality Peggy Noonan, whose review was more a psychoanalysis of me than a review of my book. She was almost Freudian in her analysis of my vocabulary, language admittedly more complicated than a speechwriter's, but then consider my clientele! Peggy's sly disparagement validated another of my propositions about conservatives, namely: conservatives, particularly conservative writers, have remained marginalized by the political culture and left with only one expedient to stardom, which is to snipe at fellow conservatives. Sometimes it has worked, as in the spectacular rise of the early George Will. Sometimes it has proved futile, as in the ongoing, muddled career of Tucker Carlson. As we shall see in the pages ahead, for three decades the rat race has continued.

In my 1992 book, I dated the crack-up of the late Reagan years from July 1, 1987, when President Ronald Reagan stepped to the microphones and with ill-considered joviality nominated Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. Throughout the subsequent confirmation hearings, the conservatives were utterly feckless in protecting Bork, despite the presence of a card-carrying member of the conservative movement in the Oval Office.

What ensued was a perfect example of the Liberal-conservative species variation. The Liberals snarled and clawed. The conservatives looked bemused. Bork's antagonists transmogrified him from the sensible, thoughtful federal Court of Appeals judge that he was, into a creep. Senator Edward Kennedy declared that "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, school children could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens." Senator Howell Heflin was less verbose. He simply called Judge Bork "some kind of rightwing freak," who led "a strange lifestyle." Ironically, Senator Heflin was a conservative Democrat from Alabama, who, when "down home," defended the right to bear arms and opposed both gay rights and abortion-that last issue being the chief stimulant that agitated Liberal neurosis over Bork.

Besides being a well-known judge, Bork had been a distinguished scholar at the Yale Law School. The conservatives' inertness in defending him exemplifies another of my propositions regarding conservatives: they do not do politics as well as Liberals. They can be energetic, resolute, unprincipled, and ad hominem, but rarely as energetic, reso lute, unprincipled, and ad hominem as their Liberal opponents. Illustrative of the Liberals' political artistry is that they have convinced large numbers of ordinary Americans that the conservatives-not the Liberals-maintain a brutal "attack machine," and are adepts of "politics of personal destruction." Looking back at the Liberals' grotesque demonization of Bork, one has to be impressed by their powers of misrepresentation. No conservative with any claim to the respectability of a Kennedy or a Heflin has ever in modern times uttered slanders of such virulence. Any who attempted to would not survive in public life.

Historians may dispute me and date the conservatives' late-1980s adversity from the Iran-Contra unpleasantness, which made headlines on November 12, 1986, or from the 1986 midterm elections, when President Reagan's Republicans lost the Senate. Still, whatever history's judgment might be, from the late 1980s into the early 1990s the conservative condition remained parlous. Moreover, out on the hustings another Liberal miracle worker was making his way to the White House, cast in the heroic role originated by Franklin D. Roosevelt and updated by John F. Kennedy in 1960. This miracle worker, Governor Bill Clinton, was to vanquish President George H. W. Bush by using the same script developed by Roosevelt and edited by Kennedy. Both were models for what has become the prototypical Liberal president: always youthful, charismatic, bold, intellectual, all in all fundamentally irresistible. It is a model that has rather amazingly endured for eight decades.

After the Democratic victory of 2008, critics of the conservative movement warned that the Reagan model so often invoked by Republicans was now a thing of the past. Yet Liberals have been relying on the prototypical Liberal presidency for more than two generations. From time to time in this book, I shall propound the theory that Liberals remain petrified in a mythic past while conservatives have been intellectually dynamic, discarding ideas and prejudices held by earlier conservatives-say, President Herbert Hoover or Senator Robert A. Taft-and adopting alternatives, some once championed by the likes of Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

For instance, conservatives have moved from the isolationism of their political ancestors to what historians at the middle of the twentieth century called internationalism. Some conservatives have actually become evangelists of democracy, following the path of Kennedy and Roosevelt. Others remain more restrained in their foreign policy goals, standing only for the defense of American national interests. The split became apparent as the war in Iraq continued. At any rate, there are few isolationists numbered among American conservatives today. Nor are there many who remain in Senator Taft's tradition of strict budget balancers either. Most contemporary conservatives stand for growth. Taft's followers have been replaced by supply-siders. Yet the charge leveled against conservatives by Liberals is that they are slaves to orthodoxy, to an unchanging fundamentalism.

Over the years a few winsome attributes have been added to the model of the prototypical Liberal presidency. Amusingly, these additions require exertions from their presidential candidates that are often injurious to themselves and occasionally life threatening. By the 1970s the prototypical Liberal presidential candidate had to be physically fit and given to exercising in public, a requirement that almost killed Jimmy Carter during his only known 10K race. A decade later, the candidate also had to display military prowess, which explains why the diminutive governor Michael Dukakis allowed himself to be photo graphed popping out of the portal of an M1 Abrams tank, looking like a large toadstool, his tiny head topped by a huge helmet. The stunt ended his candidacy in an ambush of laughter.

Then in the early 1990s, Governor Clinton had to embrace all of the above, along with an implausible enthusiasm for rock music and for the more vulgar aspects of adolescent culture. He played a musical instrument onstage, and to an MTV audience of pimply-faced teenagers, confided his preference in underpants. Impelled by yet another requirement of the prototypical Liberal president, ethical purity, Clinton went over the top, promising "the most ethical administration in history." Almost immediately the skeletons began clattering in his closet, inspiring investigative reporters to pursue his history of dodgy land deals, recklessly financed gubernatorial campaigns, and, of course, his famed scortatory projects.

Clinton's arrival in the White House occasioned yet more prophecies of the conservative movement's demise. This would be the third round of obituaries for conservatism since the modern conservative movement's birth in the early 1950s. The first round came in 1964 (Goldwater). Then came the obituaries of 1974 (Nixon). Now we have blubbered through the Republican defeat of 2008 and the fourth round of obituaries for conservatism, which make it the longest dying political movement in American history. Yet the movement is still around, and oddly enough, the political center toward which Liberal political candidates claim they are running is more clearly shaped by modern American conservatism than by Liberalism.

When Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush each ran for the presidency, they forthrightly claimed they were for conservative policies, for instance, lower taxes and limited government. They publicly opposed abortion and promised to defend social issues and a strong foreign policy. When Bill Clinton and, later, Barack Obama ran for president, both were vague on these matters. They intoned the Liberal pieties-"Hope" and "Change"-but they certainly did not say they favored higher taxes and usually danced around the question of extending government's growth.

In other words, whereas Reagan and Bush spoke forthrightly, Clinton and Obama practiced deception. For their forthrightness, the conservative candidates were accused of ideological extremism. The Liberals' deference to the conservatively influenced center continued for President Obama even after his victory. As he presided over the largest peacetime expansion of government since the New Deal, he actually declared in his February 24, 2009, address to a Joint Session of Congress that he had done so "not because I believe in bigger government-I don't."

The obituaries for conservatism that followed Clinton's election brought the term conservative crack-up back to life. Happy Liberals used it freely. Google the term and you will find that in the aftermath of the 1992 election, the term took on new life, usually employed by gloating Liberals but occasionally by conservatives. Even that famously sensible conservative, Charles Krauthammer wrote, "The conservative crackup is near."

Actually, the long-standing pessimism accorded conservatism's prospects has always been unjustified and was for a certitude unjustified in 2008. As I just pointed out, conservatism has been a powerful force over the last few decades in shaping the middle of American politics. More over, from the last quarter of the twentieth century on, the Liberals have had more reason to feel endangered than conservatives.

From its overwhelming preponderancy at the end of the New Deal, Liberalism has had to witness a growing conservative movement that has at times routed Liberals. Even in 2008 the strength of conservatism forced the Democrats to draft moderate-to-conservative candidates to campaign in the South, the Heartland, and the West. The ascendancy that Liberals achieved with Clinton's election lasted only two years before the Democrats suffered a loss of historic proportions. Republicans captured both houses of Congress for the first time in four decades. Talk of conservative demise or crack-up subsided, not to be heard again for a dozen years. A dazed President Clinton was forced to declare, "The era of big government is over," a declaration as famous as his line "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky" though less precise.

The conservative movement's revival in 1994 was for a decade seen as irreversible-an indelicate little matter utterly forgotten after the Democrats' 2008 victory. It began with incoming Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's seductive Contract with America. Though the Contract was only partially implemented, conservatism was strong enough to vanquish Clinton's vice president, Al Gore. Running on his boss's record of peace and prosperity, Gore should have won, but he was beaten by a relatively unknown governor, probably because Gore broke with his boss's centrism and veered too far left in the 2000 race. His opponent, governor George W. Bush, campaigned as a full-blown conservative, though in a gesture that demonstrated conservatism's lingering controversiality (at least, in the media), Bush confected the dubious label "compassionate conservative." The term was an early presentiment of Bush's political tin ear that would become evident as the Iraq War dragged on and his popularity declined. Nonetheless, the conservative tide remained on the rise in his first two years of office. In 2002 Bush became the first president since FDR to gain congressional seats in his first midterm election.

By Bush's 2004 reelection, conservatism was so strong that the term conservative crack-up was now flung back at Liberals as a taunt. In 2005, Jonah Goldberg, the cheeky National Review writer, chided those few Liberal dreamers who might still be pondering "whether a 'conservative crack-up' is nigh." Goldberg boasted that since my introduction of the term conservative crack-up, "conservative ideas [had] won under a Democratic president and [now] Republican politicians inexorably claimed majority party status in this country." He dismissed warnings from John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge in their then current book, The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America, that conservatism might become "too Southern, too greedy, too contradictory."

Goldberg also dismissed the possibility that rivalries within the movement, namely between traditionalists and libertarians, might bring on fragmentation. For conservatives this rivalry was a long-standing concern. It was there in the movement's earliest days in the 1950s, as I shall relate in later chapters. I myself mentioned the rivalry in The Conservative Crack-Up. Such a potential for fragmentation has been a staple of conservative obituarists since the movement began. Goldberg was right to dismiss it. As I explained in Crack-Up, these rivalries never impeded conservative voter turnout any more than Liberal rivalries-say, between Big Labor and environmentalists-impeded Liberal voter turnout.

Unfortunately, toward the end of the Bush years, with scandals mounting, Republican fiscal laxness apparent, and Bush's leadership failing, the premonitions uttered by the authors of The Right Nation gained plausibility in political circles. By 2008 their warning that conservatism was catering to the rustics would become a fashionable critique of conservatism. After Senator John McCain tapped the evangelical governor of a rural state to be his running mate, their warning rose to the epistemological category of Washington "conventional wisdom," which for mainstream journalists and believing Democrats is Irrefutable Truth.


Excerpted from AFTER THE HANGOVER by R. EMMETT TYRRELL JR. Copyright © 2010 by R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Introduction A Point of Clarification....................ix
1. Pronounced Dead The Premature Obituary of America's Longest Dying Political Movement....................1
2. Pinched by Crabs Among the Benedict Arnolds, Backstabbers, Bruti, and Bums....................29
3. Ascended and Stalled Adrift on the Zephyrs and Gusts of the Zeitgeist....................51
4. Smeared by the Smog The Zeitgeist, the Kultursmog, and the Sidelining of Conservatism....................87
5. Forged in Flames The Battles That Gave American Conservatism Its Definition....................125
6. Founded on Ideas Principles and Policies as Equipment for the Journey....................165
7. Planning to Prevail An Agenda for a Conservative Future....................199
Afterword For Real Hope and Change....................227
About the Author....................257
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2010

    This book puts it all into perspective!

    You don't have to be a political junkie to enjoy the newest book released by the founder and editor-in-chief of American Spectator.

    In fact, if you aren't a political junkie but want to get up to speed, I would highly recommend reading "After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery," by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

    Tyrrell walks the reader through the ups and downs of the conservative and Liberal movements (you'll understand why he capitalizes the "L" after reading the book). At the end of the book, he wraps it all up with a chapter titled "Planning to Prevail: An Agenda for a Conservative Future," addressing hot button issues such as national security, economic revival, health care reform, and other domestic policies.

    But before that, Tyrrell presents an analysis of what has gone wrong for both the conservative and Liberal movements. He makes it clear, though, that conservatives have historically emerged stronger after suffering through wilderness years.

    The problem for Liberals, he says, is that there is only one principle that they agree on without fluctuation, and that is their solemn belief that it is "fundamental to the progress of our nation that Liberals disturb the peace."

    Overall, he writes of journalistic mediocrity, an intellectual decline in national political leadership, and a mediocrity in presidential politics since at least the early 1990s that is occasionally leavened by "sheer weirdness."

    Just when you think your stomach can't handle anymore of the gory details, Tyrrell pens something that is sure to put a smile on your face. And without realizing it, you will often find yourself nodding your head in agreement with the words on the page.

    Consider this observation from Tyrrell regarding the McCain-Obama election. While Tyrrell says McCain probably would have been a better president than his opponent, he goes on to say that "it is now clear that Senator Barack Obama is the most ill-prepared man to become president since Abraham Lincoln's abrupt successor, Andrew Johnson, who at least had the alibi of being a drunkard."

    Whatever you do, don't write the conservatives' obituary just yet.

    As Tyrrell writes toward the end of his book:

    "Viewed from the perspective of history, the Liberals have been in a long, slow, but apparently unavoidable decline since the 1960s, when for them history stopped. From their excesses in the early Obama administration, it is clear that they completely missed the 1980s and 1990s. They have become fantasists. They believe all the legends they have created for themselves. As one after another is defeated at the polls, it might be difficult to get them to vacate their offices. Special counselors may have to be called in."

    ABOUT THIS BOOK REVIEW: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2010

    After the hangover.

    I had a chance to review this book through Book Sneeze a program by Thomas Nelson.This book kept me on my toes and was a wonderful page turner. It was interesting to get inside politics and see where they went wrong. I am not normally one for politics but this one was very interesting. I would also say that I have a little better insight on how things run now on the Democratic and Republican sides. I would give this over all five stars, and especially if you are into politics.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    After the Hangover, The Conservatives' Road to Recovery by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

    If you've ever felt confounded by the terms, "liberal," and "conservative," as they are currently used in the media, Tyrell's book will give you lots to think about. The author proves both knowledgeable and entertaining while tracing the history and present state of the conservative movement in America.

    Tyrrell says: "Conservatism is a temperament to delight in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, including in that pursuit the desideratum that John Locke mentioned in his original variation of this theme, the acquisition and exchange of property. Modern conservatism is a temperament, not an ideology or an anxiety. It is a love of liberty, not a misdemeanor."

    Not everyone will agree with his definition, but anyone interested in learning more about the history of conservatism will profit from reading the book.

    Tyrell distinguishes between contemporary American Liberals (capital L) and liberals who are known to history as classical liberals or nineteenth-century liberals. In deploying the capital "L" he follows a precedent set by William F. Buckley, Jr. at the beginning of the modern conservative movement in the 1950s.

    Great tribute is given to Buckley throughout the book. Tyrrell devotes an entire chapter to Buckley's influence on conservatism, although he criticizes Buckley's son, Christopher, for exposing unnecessary details of his father's declining years in his book, Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir published in 2009.

    Tyrell posits that the conservative movement of the 1970s and 1980s emphasized intellect and libertarian ideas about tradition, the Constitution, and free markets. But by the 1990s, intellect was "on sabbatical" and fundamental ideas of individual liberty and limited government were being ignored. Republicans abandoned fiscal restraint and minor Republican Congressional members and their operatives were tainted by scandal. He notes that conservatives don't do politics as well as Liberals and conservatives are more susceptible to squabbling and competitiveness among themselves.

    While Sarah Palin's nomination was seen by many as a reflection of conservatism's intellectual decline, Tyrrell says intellectual decline is everywhere within America's national political leadership.

    "Kultursmog," a term widely used in the book, is defined as the endless repetition of falsehood and misrepresentation of those who don't share Liberalism's values. He decries the inaccuracy of oft-quoted "facts" regarding Medicare and the hysteria toward Communism in the 1940s.

    The book is critical of the present Obama government, deficit spending and increases in government control. Tyrrell believes conservatives can recover their intellectual base and present an agenda for economic growth and national security in the future.

    In short, he sees conservatives on the road to recovery!

    I received and reviewed this book as part of the Thomas Nelson BookSsneeze program.

    Carole Ledbetter
    May, 2010

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery by R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.

    Just being honest, I think a hangover might be more enjoyable than this book. I guess it's accurately titled because that's exactly how it left me feeling, like I had just finished an 8 hour hangover.

    But, you may like it. If you're a total political junkie you would most likely eat it up. Especially if you lean to the right.

    I keep up with and pay attention to major politics, but I'm no political guru. This book flew right over my head as a result. From the lingo to the "plots" and historical references, I was lost from the start.

    With all of that said...

    R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is without question well versed in his subject matter. You don't even have to know what he is talking about to know that he certainly does.

    So, I can't really say that the book was bad. It was just a bad idea for me to take it on. I stuck it out (because I had to), but I know few people who would have.

    If you can't ever get enough to scratch your political itch, buy this book! It's for you! If your dad still reads book, buy it for him! It's for him!

    Sorry y' just wasn't for me.

    (This review was written in exchange for a copy of the reviewed book, through Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program)

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    After the Hangover

    homas Nelson (through provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for the following review.

    I tried to enjoy this book. I went into it as a true liberal wanting to learn more about the conservative point of view- but I think my personal opinions got in my way.

    I thought there was very little accountability taken for the issues the republican party has caused. I thought perhaps that this would be a more honest point of view.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    After the Hangover

    I had hoped that After the Hangover would provide a look inside American political history and those involved in shaping it, but I found little insight into American conservatism. The book is more about Mr. Tyrrell and individuals he knows.

    In an effort to sound l intellectual, the author leaves the average book lover scrambling for a dictionary. My eyes glazed over in several sections and I was tempted to start skimming. I thought the writing was so dry that it was difficult to finish, but I did.

    One section of the book has a long entry about his friend William F. Buckley. Unfortunately, he used his book to express a strong dislike for Mr. Buckley's son where he details the son's bad behavior at his father's funeral. Mr. Tyrrell's tirade was rude, unpleasant, and the entry served no purpose except to air Mr. Buckley's family "dirty laundry". He did a disservice to his friend.

    The end of the book is the author's proposed agenda for the future of conservatives. He agrees with Steve Forbes' flat tax, an altered Social Security program, and health care reforms. Quite honestly, his agenda is simplistic and rather mainstream.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 3, 2010

    I've Got A Political Hangover

    I've Got A Political Hangover
    I just had an epiphany. I am a liberal in the true sense of the word. I hope my daddy doesn't read this and have a cerebral hemorrhage. What I mean is that I am a liberal in the sense that R. Emmet Tyrrell Jr. describes them in his new book After the Hangover, The Conservatives Road to Recovery.
    In his new book, After the Hangover, Mr. Tyrell takes us through the conservative theory and history by way of explaining how he progressed through his own conservatism roots. He explains that conservatives are what used to be considered liberals and that the New Liberals (his capitalizations not mine) are no where near their namesake's ideology. Mr. Tyrrell takes us through the history of conservatism, neo-conservatism, liberals and Liberals, all the while causing me to run for my Webster's Dictionary. He throws out hundred dollar words like they were pennies.
    He uses antidotes from his years in the conservative movement including wonderful insights into people such as William F. Buckley, Al Regency and Bill Kristol. He explains the events of the last 4 decades of neo-conservatism's rise and fall and the Liberals all too soon eulogy of the movement.
    I have to reiterate that more than once Mr. Tyrrell sent me scrambling for my well worn dictionary to look up words such as pulchritudinous and zeitgeist. I have to say thank you to him for that. You see I happen to agree with his and Bill O'Reilly's opinion that America is becoming dumbed-down. They both site that Americans are lazy in their learning. We are no longer interested in discovering and uncovering the truth for ourselves. We instead are content to listen to mainstream media spew out it's Kultursmog of half-truths and made up political dramas. We as a nation tend to believe whatever the popular celebrity-politician on either side of the line spits out in sound bites.
    I would recommend this book to liberals, conservatives, New Liberals and neo-conservatives. It is thought provoking, with a unique perspective on the strength and weaknesses of both movements. Now go out there and practice your egalitarianism and challenge your thoughts and beliefs unraveling the mystery that is our political dogmas.

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  • Posted May 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    From Drunkards To Rogues In Charge

    If you read no other political book this year, by all means go for this one! I know both politics and the author--in fact I spoke with him today about this new book. I have known Mr. Tyrrell and read his work for over 40 years. This is among his best.

    The book was not churned out as an election-year potboiler. However it does connect with today's political alienation which has been most evident with the "tea parties". But "Hangover" is much more.

    With his trademark wit and iconoclastic style, the author traces how conservatism got lost in the Republican big-government thicket, and how it can find its way. The first clue is in the title which presents images of punch drunk (as in the punch of Washington tax dollars) politicos enamored of power. That power came to a crashing end with the elections of 2006 and 2008 and liberal pundits were celebrating the death of conservatism. But, was it conservatism which was repudiated and finished?

    For the reader who might be unfamiliar with conservative thought or, only understand it as it has been characterized by leftist sources, Tyrrell's book makes clear that modern conservatism is about freedom and liberty. At its core it is about the proper scope of government and its relationship to its citizens. It recognizes the freedom to be left alone--the freedom from government. Tyrrell knows his history and his politics. And he has had the courage to fight against the popular currents. And he is amusingly funny.

    This might seem like new stuff to the CNN watchers and USA Today readers. It will also be heartening to those conservatives (myself included) who despaired over George Bush's efforts to ingratiate himself to the leftist establishment by trying to redefine conservatism with a moniker which emphasized the adjective in a way that denigrated the noun: "compassionate conservatism". Yuch!

    Bush was not alone in this, he was just the most visible and established. I recall reading an article from 2003 in a mostly-conservative magazine which was titled "Big Government Conservatism". There is nothing more antithetical! But a lot of the "reformed conservatives" drank that Kool Aid.

    Thus drunk, they pulled up the anchor and abandoned the mooring of modern conservatism. That political philosophy was rooted in 18th Century Enlightenment thought, embraced by America's founders, with the added experience of recognizing socialist failures of the 20th Century. Now these Republican politicos and their coterie were adrift without anchor or rudder on a sea of endless government. And they were replaced.

    What Tyrrell has to say about the replacements is both a source of amusement and anger. I laughed at his descriptions of Obama's ineptitude and was angered by what is at stake. It's serious stuff that the author has always been most facile at treating with a decidedly Menckenesque derision.

    Tyrrell recognizes what is great about America. He points out the failures of those we entrusted to safeguard our freedoms. And, he makes a compelling and current case for a conservative ascendency against the current rogues in Washington. Conservatism's obituaries were premature.

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  • Posted April 29, 2010

    Tyrrell Swings and Misses

    America is at a cross roads. Not a unique historical cross-roads, as many would argue. Rather, we are in the middle of a once-in-a-generation paradigm shift. Our social contract isn't being re-written. Our politics is simply shifting. This is not the first, nor will it be the last time in our nations history we undergo a political paradigm shift.

    In this context, "After the Hangover" by R. Emmet Tyrrell, Jr. (Provided complimentary from Thomas Nealson) is simply tone deaf. Sounding the alarm as if America, as country, will fail lest true Conservatives rise up and retake government misses the entire paradigm shift currently taking place. This, true conservatism or "Movement" conservatism Tyrrell insists upon is simply not representative of a broad swath of Americans.

    There will always be a place for the Willam F. Buckley's of the world, that's not the argument.

    To say, however, some of the smartest voices of the center-right like David Brooks, David Frum and Ross Douthat are "Reformed Conservatives" and therefore somehow sellouts to the original, pure conservatism may win short-term gains during emotional mid-term elections, but it surely will lead to the ruin of the political right in the long run if espoused as a bedrock principal

    "The Davidians" as Tyrrell calls them don't represent the devolution of Bill Buckley's movement, they are similarly intellectual, inquisitive and conservative. Conservatives, in my view, would do well to read more Books and Douthat and less American Spectator.

    Tyrrell simply misses with, "After the Hangover". He miss reads who's smart and who isn't and moreover, misreads where smart conservatives are going.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    After the Hangover by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

    Thomas Nelson (through provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for the following review.

    "After the Hangover" is a political book that supposedly provides insight on how the conservative political movement can come back into power. While I do not consider myself conservative, I am always very interested and excited about a person's political ideas and insights. I was not excited, however, by the presentation of Tyrell's political ideas.

    The book had a us against them attitude. It discusses very rarely the mistakes made by the Republican party and blames everything on liberals. I felt the whole book was combative and accusationary. This writing style alone really shut me off to a lot of his ideas.

    I did enjoy his Sarah Palin bashing, but anyone who knows me, knows that I was offended by the choice of Sarah Palin as a VP candidate.

    If you like Rush Limbaugh (I don't btw), then this is the book for you. I think if it had scavanged even a bit of objectivity, I could have learned or gotten something from it. Unfortunately it didnt.

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  • Posted April 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    After the Hangover by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

    As a blogger for Thomas Nelson's blogger program,, I had the opportunity to review the new release: After the Hangover by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. Written from a politically conservative perspective, this book chronicles the history and timeline of political conservatism: is high points and low points, in contrast to political liberalism.

    This heavily detailed book discusses many of the main politicians and commentators of conservative political ideas. The ironies of the modern political movement are also expressed by Tyrrell. For example, modern liberalism- which is more related to socialism, bears little resemblance, if any to the original liberalism of American history. In contrast, modern conservatism is portrayed as the true descendent of the original ideals of liberalism in early American political history. His philosophies are clear, in which he promotes the ideas of objective truth and objective reality and rejects the philosophical world view of relativity by the liberal movement. This book portrays the dynamic relationship between the politicians and the commentators in American politics, as well as the transformation of political parties and the ideas of liberalism. Very little actual historical background is provided, as the author assumes that the reader most likely is well informed. When key players are introduced, minimal background is offered. Although, this is not a downside, this book may not be appreciated by readers with minimal background in political theory and the issues of liberalism vs. conservatism. I would reccomend this book for any strongly opinionated reader with a significant interest in politics and political ideas. The ideas expressed in this review are my own.

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  • Posted April 17, 2010

    Review for "After the Hangover" by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

    What has been happening to the "longest dying political movement" in the history of the United States?

    Will they finally give up the ghost?

    Using wit and experience gained from years of being involved with the conservative movement, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. dives answers these in After the Hangover. Tyrrell uses much needed humor and witty sarcasm to ease his readers through the sometimes stifling history of the conservative movement as well as his proposed steps to keep the movement up and running.

    I really enjoyed reading this book and found that it flowed nicely. He was able to keep my interest even through the long list of politicians and events he covered from the birth of the conservative's movement in the 1950's to more current events including Obama's presidency. The problem I had with this book was that there were areas that I couldn't understand very well because of my lack of knowledge about politicians. I found that his writing might be over the heads of those just starting to learn about politics and the politicians. Still, I think that this book is worth reading, and if one is interested in objectively analyzing America's modern political movements they could easily use After the Hangover as a dive board into further study.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted April 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Resurrections of the Conservative Movement

    "The Premature Obituary of America's Longest Dying Political Movement" -R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

    Conservatives have an irrefutable history of resurrecting from the dead; and appear to be on the verge of yet another historic comeback with the 2010 mid-term elections looming on the very near horizon. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., legendary founder and Editor-in-Chief of the American Spectator, gives a riveting and well-researched account of the last 40 plus years of the conservative movement, in his insightful book, After the Hangover. He orders a rigorously lucid prescription for conservatives to take to recapture the American Throne. In perfect prose, Tyrrell recounts the key heroes, heroines and villains of the era and highlights the fractious in-party fighting that is the kryptonite of the conservative movement.

    Pros: After the Hangover is well-researched and provides a clear and definitive history of the conservative movement. Far from being a dry textbook affair, the book is brought to life through Tyrrell's often stinging quips on the diverse key players and cultural climate of the period.

    Cons: After the Hangover is not light reading material as it is well seasoned with many obscure and culturally iconic words. For example, the word 'Kulturesmog'; a term coined by Tyrrell is used to describe liberals and their manipulations of truths to the effect that this manipulation alters and pollutes their minds, preventing them from understanding any evidence that contradicts their points of views.

    An enjoyable book and informative read.

    Book Sneeze - I receive books free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I express are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

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    Posted April 26, 2010

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    Posted April 17, 2010

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