It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein
This book is not good, to put it very mildly. It is, however, a type of bad book that deserves attention because it is bad mainly because of its horrific bias. According to the authors, the dysfunctional state of the contemporary American political system is all the fault of extremist (read: constitutionalist) conservative politicians and activists who have threatened to undo the New Deal “consensus” pork-barrel politics of corruption and bloat through various means, and the authors have their panties in a wad about it. This book is so biased that the authors cannot think of any extremist Democrats to blame to even give the pro forma appearance of impartiality that most books about political balance do. For some reason, politicians who urge a return to basic principles are the problem, and the authors cannot cite a single example of extremist leftists who are a problem even though this book was written after the horrors of Occupy, when such examples were (and remain) easy to find. It takes a special kind of ignorant person, someone who is so blinkered by political partisanship, to make this kind of laughably bad book that only plays well to fans of MoveOn and the Daily Kos, or whatever extremist “Democratic” socialist de jour is trying to gain popularity on any given day.
At least this book is mercifully short at just over 200 pages, as it would be intolerable as a longer book given its extreme bias. The authors begin with an introduction and then divide the remaining seven chapters of the book into two parts. The first part of the book consists three chapters that seek to present the author’s woeful case for the problem of division in the contemporary political world, discussing the new politics of hostage taking, where hostages include leftist judicial choices and misguided bills (1). The authors then seek to uncover the seeds of dysfunction (2) and look beyond the debt ceiling fiasco (3) to a future full of fighting over the cost of politically popular but economically ruinous entitlement programs. After that the authors offer some laughable and misguided solutions, including some bromides to avoid (4), some ways to “fix” the political system (5), some discussions on bad ideas for reforms of the political system (6) that typically favor leftist activists who want to throw away the Electoral College to further their interests in vote fraud, and then some ways to navigate the current electoral system (7), after which there are acknowledgments, notes, and an index.
Beyond all of the bias in the book, there is something fundamentally wrong with this book, and that is the way that the authors assume that it is a bad thing when Congress doesn’t get to do very much. Is it a bad thing when bureaucrats have less time to make bad laws, or when it takes longer for mediocre to bad laws to pass Congress so that fewer of them can be passed? Not in the least. The authors assume that an active Congress that is writing lots of laws is in fact doing something good, when the best thing that Congress could do is often nothing at all. There are already too many bad laws on the books, already far too much influence in the writing of laws and policies by lobbyists of one kind or another, and in such a case we are all better served by a government that does, at all levels, as little as possible and passes as few laws as possible, and gets rid of a great many of the laws and regulations that we now have. For the authors, though, this sort of sensible viewpoint is anathema, and as a result the authors are in panic that their ideals will be threatened by Congressmen who actually want government to show some restraint.