cover image Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future

Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future

James Carville, Paul Begala. Simon & Schuster, $24 (349pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-7752-5

An intelligent, carefully outlined strategy to seize power from the Republicans and restore it to its rightful place slightly left of center, this book (despite Carville's ""Ragin' Cajun"" claim to gonzo liberalism) is remarkably reasonable and cleverly calculated to appeal to a broad spectrum of Americans. Carville and Begala have a solid grasp of the issues that concern the majority of citizens: moral values, political corruption, taxes, health care, energy issues and, of course, the war in Iraq. They are most persuasive when arguing for seemingly common-sense policies: their energy plan-conservation, environmental remediation and making a ""real commitment to alternative fuels""-is based on the handling of the energy crisis of the 1970s that saw the U.S. cut energy use and oil imports while growing the GDP. Regarding health care, the authors argue for allowing employers to buy into the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, which offers 180 different plans to 9 million government employees. Some of the authors' arguments are harder to swallow; for example, the extremely speculative notion that had Al Gore been elected president, 9/11 could have been averted. And criticism of Republican leadership often devolves into name-calling and mudslinging. (Jack Abramoff, in a stroke of timely luck, receives his own section titled ""The King of Republican Sleaze."") That aside, Carville's and Begala's book is a refreshing entry into a field long overcrowded by polarized, pedantic screeds.