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Chairwoman of the Board: Arianna Huffington plots a new strategy for beating Bush in 'Fanatics & Fools.'

On the Bush Beat

Kevin Phillips and Arianna Huffington have their eyes on the president in two new books


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ARE Kevin Phillips and Arianna Huffington Bush-bashers? Personally, I think not, but you can find out for yourself, as they're both coming to Menlo Park. Phillips, author of American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush (Viking), reads at Kepler's Books on Thursday, while Huffington hypes her new book, Fanatics & Fools: The Game Plan for Winning Back America (Miramax Books), at the Menlo Park City Council chambers on Friday.

With American Dynasty, Phillips provides a scholarly and damning indictment of the Bush family dynasty. Beginning all the way back with the president's great-grandfathers George Herbert Walker and Samuel Prescott Bush, Phillips argues that the dynasty has corrupted U.S. politics through a web of cronyism, hereditary privilege, the military-industrial complex, incestuous relationships with oil and energy companies and secret back-alley dealings and alliances with the intelligence community and right-wing religious fundamentalism.

However, the book is not a tree-hugging liberal tirade by any stretch. Phillips is a former GOP strategist and an accomplished historian. American Dynasty is not like the other anti-Bush books recently infiltrating the bestseller list. It's in a league by itself. The scariest chapter might be the one exploring the rise of the religious right in the Bush presidencies. Phillips documents how George W. Bush--a newly sober prodigal son redeemed by Billy Graham a few years earlier--was the appointed liaison to the Christian right during his father's 1988 presidential campaign--a fact largely ignored by the Washington press corps. In the 2000 election, Bush won an unprecedented 84 percent of the evangelical voters.

Huffington's book, on the other hand, offers a more comical assault on both the left and the right. She blasts the fanatics of the current administration and the fools of the Democratic Party who allowed the right-wing fanatics to succeed. She argues that merely bashing George W. Bush won't get the Democrats anywhere. They have to come up with a comprehensive moral vision that reignites the idealism of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Bobby Kennedy.

Fanatics and Fools is divided into four parts. Part one psychoanalyzes the fanaticism of the Bush administration: "an intolerance of dissent, a doctrine that is riddled with contradictions, the belief that one's cause has been blessed or even commanded by God, and the use of reinforcement techniques such as repetition to spread one's message." Personal beefs aside, part two deals with Arnold Schwarzenegger's rise to power and its relevance to what's at stake this November. Part three slams the Democrats, calling them spineless cowards who let the fanatics' agenda bear fruit. Titled "The Other Side of the Mountain," part four is Huffington's agenda for a better America. She offers a 10-point plan, including energy independence, putting people above corporate profits and restoring integrity to the political process.

Kevin Phillips appears Thursday (April 29) at 7:30pm at Kepler's Bookstore, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. Free. Arianna Huffington appears Friday (April 30) at 7:30pm at the Menlo Park City Council Chambers, 801 Laurel St., Menlo Park. $30 admits one with one free copy of the book, $35 admits two with one free copy of the book. (650.324.4321)

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From the April 28-May 4, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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