Al's Reviews > Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right

Pity the Billionaire by Thomas Frank
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's review
Jan 15, 2012

really liked it
Read from January 15 to 17, 2012

An attempt to explain the post-crash turn rightward, when all previous history suggested that a turn to the left was inevitable, this book is pretty boilerplate Thomas Frank. If you're a super-fan, like me, that's fine, even if many of the themes - market dogma, the right's attempt to dismantle government, the boondoggling of the middle class into voting against their apparent best interests - are familiar from his other work (One Market Under God, The Wrecking Crew, and What's The Matter With Kansas, respectively), but that's what we read him for. A doctor of history, Frank clearly emulates the populist progressive prose of the depression & new deal eras, and his work is always peppered with citations and references to the luminaries of that time. There were two points discussed here that I found really salient and of interest to a wider audience of readers. The first is his discussion of the appeal the resurgent right holds for small business people. I won't try to replicate his argument here, but it's the first serious explanation of this issue that I've really encountered. The other is the final chapter, in which he ultimately pegs the "blame" as it were for the right's post-crash resurgence on the visionless technocracy of the Democratic establishment. Essentially, while the right responded to the crash with a grand ideological/utopian vision, the Democrats apparently wanted nothing more than a return to the halcyon (for them) days of the Clinton era - not really the way to whip up public sentiment.
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