Traveling Through the Boondocks: In and Out of Academic Hierarchy

Terry Caesar, Author
Terry Caesar, Author State University of New York Press $29.95 (203p) ISBN 978-0-7914-4660-7
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
Hardcover - 203 pages - 978-0-7914-4659-1
Ebook - 212 pages - 978-0-585-42927-4
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Robinson, a former Reagan speechwriter (now a Hoover Institution fellow and host of PBS's Uncommon Knowledge), presents ""a travel book, one tourist's notes as he journeyed across the territory of the Republican Party"" in search of what it stands for now that Reagan is gone. Along the way. he looks at the party's history, its fortunes in the South, relations with Hollywood and the press, party loyalties and ethnicity/religion/geography/culture, women and the gender gap, a comparison of Republican fortunes on national and local fronts, and two candidates: George W. Bush and, rather unfortunately, Rudy Giuliani (who has since withdrawn from the New York senatorial race). Robinson is a Reaganite, a true believer who agreed with ""nearly every word Ronald Reagan uttered,"" and this makes his assessment of the party somewhat predictable. However, he also displays what has become a rare quality: healthy partisanship. Rather than simply worshiping whatever can be labeled ""Republican,"" Robinson expresses a desire to improve the party and its chances for success even if that calls for recognizing Republican foibles. He suggests, for example, that narrowing the gender gap is going to require making appeals to the concerns of women, and that this is not all bad; instead of taking an unyieldingly tough line on social issues, ""showing a little heart would do the party good."" He recognizes that at times the party can seem ""absurd"" and ""pigheaded"" without discarding his belief in its central principles, especially standing for ""traditional morality."" Even non-Republicans will find this kind of mild but honest criticism interesting, especially since Robinson professes his ""love"" for the party without insulting anyone not similarly inclined. (Aug.)
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