What went wrong?

The November issue of Commentary carries David Frum’s interesting review of Al Franken’s number-one best-seller Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. The review is “Inside joke.” Frum carefully weighs the book’s merits, both substantive and satirical, and essentially finds none. But it is his consideration of the meaning of the book’s popularity among liberals that makes the review worth reading.
Frum finds the book’s popularity to be symptomatic of liberals’ downtrodden state of mind. He writes: “Today’s Democrats are looking not for answers but for villains and scapegoats. This is the need that Al Franken’s book satisfies–like Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men, Eric Alterman’s What Liberal Media?, and Joe Conason’s Big Lies before it and like many more that are sure to follow. All of them propound a single message: ‘We Democrats did not lose power because of our own mistakes. We lost because we were cheated. We lost because the other side lied–and because it controls the media that allow it to lie and get away with lying.’…
“‘What went wrong?’ is the question with which the eminent scholar Bernard Lewis titles his book about the intellectual history of the Muslim Middle East. How had the once-wealthy and all-conquering Muslim world been overtaken by the despised Christian West? Al Franken’s Lies can be read as one Democrat’s attempt to grapple with an analogous problem. Unfortunately, like the enraged Muslims whom we meet in Lewis’s book, Franken repudiates both self-examination and self criticism. It is all somebody else’s fault. The faithful have nothing to learn from anybody. The solution to their problems is not reform, and it is certainly not self-criticism. It is a return to the fundamentals of the faith–and war against the unbelievers. ”

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