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10/17/2005 Archived Entry: "Bovard on Attention Deficit Democracy"

BEING A FREEDOM WRITER IS LIKE BEING THE CIRCUS EMPLOYEE whose job is to circumcise the elephants: "The pay's not much, but the tips are big."

One of the perks of this occupation is occasionally reading a Really Good Book in pre-publication form, months before the rest of the world gets to see it. That happened recently with Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntire's Spychips. Now just this weekend I read an uncorrected proof copy of Jim Bovard's upcoming Attention Deficit Democracy. ADD is scheduled for publication in January 2006 -- "strategically timed to miss the Christmas book buying season," as Jim cheerfully explains (although copies may be available in early December).

In some ways, ADD is pure patented Bovard -- rapid-fire accounts of one well-documented political abuse after another, leavened by wit and illuminated by lightning-sharp insights. For example:

"Democracy multiplies the number of people with a vested interest in delusions about government."

"Girl Scouts can now earn a 'Partners for Trust in Government patch' for identifying 'local government programs that benefit their communities.' There are no patches awarded for Girl Scouts who expose government coverups."

"The burden of proof must be on those who insist that lying political candidates automatically become trustworthy elected officials. In the same way that the howls of medieval mobs did not prove that accused women were actually witches, the votes of contemporary mobs do not convert scoundrels into honorable men."

"Just because a president's comments are insipid does not mean they are innocuous."

ADD is a bit different than other recent Bovard books, however. Instead of taking on the misdeeds of a given administration or policy (like the war on terror), Jim backs up and takes a larger, longer view -- how politicians in general decieve and manipulate us and how (and to a certain extent why) Americans increasingly don't seem to give a damn.

It's a vital subject. Even with Palgrave Macmillan's weird post-holiday timing, Attention Deficit Democracy should succeed in a nation that may finally be ready to face its own responsibilities.

Posted by Claire @ 12:37 PM CST

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