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The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of the Democrats' Desperate Fight to Reclaim Power [Paperback]

Byron York
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Book Description

Jan. 24 2006
“We ARE building a Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.” With those words, the influential left-wing blogger Daily Kos confirmed the argument of National Review’s Byron York in this fascinating and meticulously reported book. The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy provides a startling behind-the-scenes look at the well-oiled (and well-funded) political machine built by Democratic operatives, eccentric billionaires, liberal activists, and assorted celebrities. And in this newly updated paperback edition, York exposes how this powerful movement is redoubling its efforts for the 2006 elections, with its eye on the ultimate target: the White House in 2008. The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy is a stunning look at how the Left is radically remaking the American political scene.

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From Publishers Weekly

Democrats raised an unprecedented level of funds in their attempt to elect John Kerry to the White House, and not just through contributing to directly to Kerry's campaign. Led by George Soros and his multimillion-dollar donations, money flowed to liberal groups like MoveOn that tried to push hard on President Bush's record. They failed, York argues, because rather than bringing new voters into the party, the activists perpetuated "closed loops" that preached solely to the choir. When such emotionally zealous activists made their way into Democratic inner circles, their scorn for anyone who held opposing points of view, York contends, may well have hurt efforts to reach out to swing voters. A detailed financial breakdown takes aim at the hype surrounding Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, demonstrating its failure to reach significant audiences outside the bluest parts of the blue states. York, the White House correspondent for the National Review, hits the Democrats particularly hard on allegations that they tried to skirt campaign finance laws by blurring-perhaps even crossing-the lines between the presidential campaign and issue advocacy groups prohibited from endorsing candidates. He largely refrains from taunting the liberals for their electoral failures, making his analysis of the flaws in the left-wing's self-insulated power structure valuable to readers on either side of the political fence.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Although the Left was unable to unseat President Bush in the last election, it was hugely successful at building the foundation for stronger institutions and platforms in the future, according to York, White House correspondent for National Review. York details how the Left--angry and frustrated by Clinton's impeachment proceedings and the hotly contested 2000 election--mounted a campaign that tapped innovative ideas from movies and Web sites as fund-raising tools. With supporters from MoveOn.com, filmmaker Michael Moore, comedian Al Franken, and billionaire George Soros, the Left has bypassed political parties to reach voters and launch a counterattack against what they see as the evils of the Right. York offers a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of MoveOn; the rising use of "527" organizations, which have evaded campaign-reform laws; and a host of figures and events that promise growing strength for the Left as it prepares for future elections. Political junkies will love this fascinating look at how the Left is regrouping. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrible danger facing America July 16 2006
By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
At first glance the title may seem a bit over the top, but as the author explores the network on these pages, it becomes clear that his warning is as apt now as when the book was first published. Each chapter examines a leftwing group and its modus operandi. The real action started after the Democratic defeat of 2002 and York shows how the strange coalition of leftist operatives tried to circumvent the McCain-Feingold Reform Bill through the use of 527 organizations. They had much more money, but mercifully these far-left 527s only reinforced the beliefs of the converted and if anything, alienated centrist voters.

Another failed tactic was the Michael Moore mockumentary Fahrenheit 9/11. York examines the income it generated and comes to the conclusion that it had high attendance figures only in the liberal urban areas. In the rest of the country it was a monumental flop. Its rival at the time, The Passion Of The Christ, was far more successful and will stand the test of time. And then there was Talk Radio. By now everybody knows that the leftist Air America has gone belly up. It has disappeared off the radar even in places like New York City.

The people behind this cultish coalition includes eccentric billionaires like George Soros, hosts of Democratic Party operatives and politicians, groups like MoveOn and America Coming Together, academics, Hollywood celebrities and think tanks like The Center for American Progress. Of course, they had no clear policies or original ideas. A trenchant quote from a disillusioned activist sums it up: "Just getting larger amplifiers doesn't make the music any better." Exactly!

York tries to make sense out of Soros' behaviour from many interesting angles. Ultimately the weirdo billionaire gave away $27 million for nothing.
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Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  48 reviews
130 of 146 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A warning for conservatives Aug. 9 2005
By just bein' Frank - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I am confused by the reviewers of this book who act as if "The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy" was a polemical attack on leftist ideology. Liberal reviewers denounce the book, and some conservative reviewers are gloating about it. Did we read the same book?

Byron York's "The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy" is a detailed political analysis of the Left's unprecedented organization in the 2004 election. The most committed elements of the American Left came together like never before to defeat George W. Bush. Independent activists like George Soros, Michael Moore, MoveOn.org, America Coming Together, Air America, and the Center for American Progress emerged and circumvented the traditional party structure in order to ensure Bush's defeat.

In spite of the money and effort poured into the cause, Bush, of course, won the race by 3 percent. York's diagnosis is that the new players -- MoveOn, ACT, etc. -- essentially were preaching to the choir, while the whole time thinking they were forging a broad, national, anti-Bush consensus.

Drawing from interviews with key operatives, York documents the inside story of the 527s and other new groups that emerged in 2004. He demonstrates how MoveOn.org grew from an idea into a powerhouse of the Left; how America Coming Together grew out of MoveOn; how George Soros became interested, got involved, and legitimated MoveOn and ACT; and how these fringe groups found themselves at the center of the Democrats' run for the presidency. He also documents how these groups stretched the campaign finance law that they had so vigorously supported.

But the scary part is this: York, a columnist for National Review, notes that in the wake of conservative icon Barry Goldwater's landslide defeat to Lyndon Johnson, conservatives took decades to build the institutions of the conservative movement that we know and love today (a network of think tanks, grassroots issue-based groups, talk radio shows, etc.). Now, the 2004 election could be for liberals what that 1964 election was for conservatives: a turning point. But conservatives took decades to overcome the Democratic majority (at least in Congress). Conservatives today don't have that big a majority and the Dems are nevertheless organizing to re-establish a sizeable political majority of their own. Just today (8/7/05), there was a Washington Post story about rich liberals pouring money into creating new "progressive" think tanks.

"The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy" is a warning for conservatives, one which they would be wise to take seriously.
178 of 218 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific read May 17 2005
By Bonnie Fitzpatrick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is a fascinating look behind the scenes look at the Democratic Party's efforts to unseat President Bush in the 2004 election. But, the slightly hysterical title aside, the book is as objective as one could hope. It discusses how the Democratics, frustrated with being out of power in Congress, the White House, their anger at the Clinton impeachment and the 2000 election results attempted to regroup. Using a copy of Karl Rove's "get out the vote" plan they attempted to regroup and energize the American voter to their way of thinking. What they came up with was the Moveon.Org internet site, 527's (several of which, the author argues, ignored campaign finance laws), the movie Fahrenheit 9/11, Liberal talk radio and think tanks. What I found especially interesting was the author's contention that when all was said and done the people behind it all were talking to the choir and made little impact on anyone outside their "loop". For example, the hype (and the box office) indicated that Fahrenheit 9/11 was a phenomenal success and it was expected to go a long way to defeat President Bush. But by breaking down the by region box office York is able to show that the film was really only popular in the areas (and with audiences) that weren't going to go for the President anyway. It made no impact in the swing states. During the election Moveon.org was so popular that they people behind it thought they were touching the average American. It turns out they weren't and were, in fact, only talking with other similar minded people. (Interesting, this same "talking for the average American" is something Richard Poe talks about in his book "Hillary's Secret War: The Clinton Conspiracy to Muzzle Internet Journalists". I wondered as I read this if both sides are wrong and they are both talking to their respective choirs. But I digress). The think tanks started were very limited in scope (seemingly dedicated to only defeating the President instead of developing new strategies that aren't necessarily tied to any particular political party -as the more successful Conservative think tanks have done and what the Democratics were trying to duplicate). While they raised unprecedented sums of money in a losing effort, they've changed the way they're looking at political campaigns and will attempt to strengthen and sharpen these new tools for future elections. Republicans should be prepared.
52 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Researched & Informative May 30 2005
By Bruce - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm someone who is fascinated by the human capacity for nonrational thinking, mob behavior, self-delusion, and the success of well-engineered social movements. If you are a student of human behavior, particularly of how social movements are packaged and sold, and how ideologies can spread like diseases through a population, you'll find this book insightful and illuminating. The title of the book is more provocative than the material inside, which is well-researched and not particularly inflammatory (except to the most thin-skinned among us). The book chronicles how the American Left is re-making itself to become competitive in today's highly communicated and regulated political world. It could be viewed as diagnostic and prescriptive for both Left and Right, in the great competition for hearts and minds that defines modern American politics. My favorite chapter was the one the author almost left out: "From Fringe to Mainstream." This chapter captures how unimportant and irrelevant actual evidence is in demonizing one's political enemies, showing how accusations are virtually as good as evidence when denigrating the other side. "If it might possibly be true, then it most probably is true," seems to be the creedo of the modern viralized ideologue. Also fascinating is how humans feel they can plumb their opponent's inner psychology--in the absence of any formal training--discovering that the opposition is perpetually driven by sickness and evil impulse, while the motives of "my side" are pure and honest and moral. This book is certain to increase the cynicism of all readers, whether from Left or Right. And that's not a bad thing. Our republic depends upon our citizens' ability to recognize and resist emotional manipulation, which this book chronicles in fascinating and informed detail.
28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reality check April 15 2006
By Algoa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Note to reviewers - the title of the book was a play on Hillary claiming that there was a "vast right wing conspiracy" against her husband in the Monica scandal - she and others stridently argued that the attacks on her husband were due to a right wing conspiracy (right up until the stains on the little black dress ruined everything).

This is an excellent non-polemical book that sets out the steps taken by the left to unseat Bush. I watched from Canada and monthly visits to the US (business) and the book accurately reflects what was going on (rightly or wrongly) at the time.

It describes how a loose linkage of the media, Hollywood, pop stars, MoveOn.org (Soros), academia, Kerry spinmeisters and the intelligentsia on the left and right coasts self organized to bring down Bush and the GOP.

It is a good read and ties together many of the disparate threads into a reasonably accurate picture. Perhaps the book can be faulted - hence only 4 stars - because there certainly was strident activity on the right too. Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly, of course, doing their thing although not with the power of the mainstream media and Hollywood behind them.

For me the interesting theme he points out is the self organizing nature of the endeavour driven by an almost irrational loathing of Bush. Recall many Hollywood gliterrati threatening to move to Canada if Bush was elected.

I'm editorializing here - but it does seem strange that some reviewers - notably one from the UK - use this site as a platform for gross anti-US, anti-Bush remarks rather than taking the time to actually critique the book in question.
200 of 269 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yo, fellow liberals, this is not a polemic.....! April 11 2005
By Celeste - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It's written from a critical, conservative perspective, but despite its sensationalist title, it's clever, well researched, and doesn't drastically trash anyone. Get a grip, guys. Read the thing before you start shrieking. Otherwise you look....well....dumb. There are LOTs of books and authors out there worth attacking. (Books by, say, Ann Coulter, John E. O'Neill, Brent Bozell and Mark Levin, to name a few.)

This isn't one of them.
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