Time for the #NoApologyBookClub

This is our first ever Crawdad Hole Book Club post. I’m so excited!

First, some housekeeping. We have a Book Club page where you can find any links related to our Book Club. That way we can keep the Book Club discussion going alongside our usual all-politics-all-the-time threads.

On to THE BOOK!

No Apology: The Case for American Greatness by Mitt Romney was published in March 2010.  
In the introduction, Romney writes (emphasis mine):

“This is a book about what I believe should be our primary national objective: to keep America strong and to preserve it’s place as the world’s leading nation. And it describes the course I believe we must take to strengthen the nation in order to remain prosperous, secure, free.

There are some who may question the national objective I propose. I make no apology for my conviction that America’s economic and military leadership is not only good for America but also critical for freedom and peace across the world.”

Romney makes his case very methodically. First he describes where we are now, where we used to be, how we got here, where we should be headed, what the obstacles on the road are, and how to overcome them and get to our goal. I think I will call it Mitt’s Master Plan (just to freak out the progs).
The book is so comprehensive I don’t think there is any way we can cover it in one post & thread. So I am breaking it down by chapter.

Here are the chapters and my shorthand notes about them:

    1. Pursuit of the Difficult – where we are & how we got here
    2. Why Nations Decline – historical analysis of the dangers of isolationism and short-term thinking
    3. The Pursuit of Power – China, Russia, Jihadist step into the vacuum of America’s retreat
    4. Pathway of American Power – soft power, hard power, 5-pts for strong defense, alliances
    5. A Free and Productive Economy – innovation, creative destruction, government’s role
    6. The Worst Generation? – entitlement nightmare, political shell game, sustainable entitlements, mountains of debt
    7. Healing Healthcare – the Massachussetts experience
    8. An American Education – education is a civil right, home (single parents), teachers
    9. Running Low – energy policy
    10. Culture of Citizenship – the American people and our values
    11. America the Beautiful – American greatness
    12. Epilogue – 64 point agenda for a free and strong America

Phew. I had to type all that. I was thinking we could dive right into chapter 1, but maybe it’s a better idea to stop here and talk about the book in general first, and then I could put up additional posts for us to discuss a couple of chapters at a time.
So, who’s read or is reading the book? What do you think so far? Any suggestions or violent objections on how to discuss it?

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40 Responses to Time for the #NoApologyBookClub

  1. votermom says:

    I am actually going to ask peeps to please stay on topic for the book club threads (shocking).
    🙂

    Edit: Being “on-topic” is very broad: Romney’s book, the book club in general, whether you have or have not read the book, etc, are all on-topic.

  2. votermom says:

    If you haven’t yet read it, you should definitely read Lola’s review of No Apology from the 1st of this month that inspired this book club.

    http://peacocksandlilies.com/2012/10/01/no-apology-the-mind-of-mitt/

    I’m hoping she’ll write up more posts about NA to lead chapter discussions.

    Also, there is no way I can do justice to all the topics in No Apology, so please be inspired to pick a chapter that you can do a guest post on and lead that discussion.

  3. elliesmom says:

    Mitt Romney graduated from high school just as I was starting it. We are of the same generation, and yet in some ways we’re not. Mitt grew up at a time when full out American patriotism was considered good and normal. Four years later, the idea that America sometimes oversteps her “place” was beginning to seep into our culture. The ideas in his book are not a hard sell to those of us who remember the times of marching bands and flags waving every secular holiday, American Legion Fourth of July chicken barbecues, and flag etiquette being taught in scouts before they taught you CPR. But he has his work cut out for him to convince the generations who have been taught the United States tries too hard to be “the world’s police force”. Schools are determined to teach our kids “we’re all the same” no matter where we happened to be born, and it’s worked so well the kids really don’t see our nation is any better than North Korea. So we have no right to “tell them how to live”. Same for the Muslims. We’re a nation which should be ashamed of what happened to the indigenous people of North America while the Italians should take great pride in the rise of the Roman Empire. Kids aren’t taught bacteria and viruses, not guns and arrows, killed off most of the American Indians. American slavery is a blight on our history, but not on other countries, most of which have slavery in their histories, too. It was just “part of their culture” at the time (or even still).

    I’m enjoying Mitt’s book. I have great respect for him. But he’s got a hard row to hoe to sell this to younger people.

    • I don’t know about that hard row to hoe, Elliesmom. I grew up with that constant, repetitive message of America’s terribleness and how we should surrender our superpower status, and I internalized for a brief period of time in my youth. But I don’t buy it now. Before, I just had an unease with that kind of talk, but couldn’t really explain it. Romney’s first four chapters helped me to understand my own dis-ease with that rhetoric, and gave me talking points to use in discussions. So maybe, once he’s elected, this will be an easier sell for some people. He’ll never convince the zombie Obamacrats, but persuasion doesn’t work on dead, rotting brains.

      • elliesmom says:

        Before you can change someone’s mind, you have to get them to listen to you and also to believe you. I don’t know if in your role as teacher, you have ever had to confront deeply ingrained misconceptions. Kids came into my class believing if they tossed a ball straight up into the air while they were sitting in the front seat of a moving car, the ball would come down in the back seat. Even after showing them that the ball would come down right back into the hand they used to toss the ball, a lot of them still denied it. Try teaching those same kids the Theory of Evolution, which is harder for their eyes to see, if they have been taught Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden 6000 years ago is an absolute truth.

        You were ready to believe. That makes a huge difference. Today’s “youth” (anyone under 40) wants to believe that America is a bad country. They’ve been taught that, and they have internalized it.

        • I agree, but the trajectory of globalized beliefs/misconceptions can be changed when the right events happen at the right time. That’s how we got to the moon, for example. I don’t think will Romney will cure all our ills, but I do think he has the ability to bring American exceptionalism back into vogue to an extent. That happens through long exposure, repetition, and sensible, persuasive rhetoric. Even some flat-earters eventually change their beliefs when they are exposed to enough questioning. No doubt about it, though. Persuasion is hard work.

        • votermom says:

          Check out Agenda item 59 from the epilogue:

          Teach our children to love America by teaching our history, by describing our patriots, and by extolling America’s greatness as the defender of liberty.

          (Item 48-59 are explicitly about education reform)

        • elliesmom says:

          That would mean completely re-writing the national curriculum guidelines for teaching history in grades k-12, re-educating our under 45 year old teachers, and kicking most of the people who sit on school boards off. While the boards who fight to keep evolution out of the classroom make the news, they are a small minority. There are many more “American is a mean country” people there than right-wing religious types.

          I’m not trying to be Eeyore here. I just think that it’s sometimes easy to read a book, and get all excited about how what’s in the book can change things, or how one person can. This is a systemic problem. A can of Drano won’t unclog the pipe.

        • votermom says:

          It’s definitely a long-term plan.
          But when did the leftward anti-American trend in education start anyway?

  4. thanks for doing this votermom—–it’s a GREAT idea!!!!

  5. I must say that this case was made quite forcefully by an extraordinary ad on TV this morning:

  6. myiq2xu says:

    I didn’t know there would be homework.

  7. tommy says:

    Honestly, I’m not too big on reading any book authored by a politician. They always write great and lofty stuff but change stripes once they gain power, according to political expediency. Only if he or she ascends to the Presidency and displays a spark of greatness do I consider buying their book. In this regard, the only book I bought was My Life by WJC. Hey, now that proves that I am not as bad a political junkie as most of my fellow commentors. Lol

  8. yttik says:

    One thing I’ve learned, power and greatness do not have to be abusive, dominant, oppressive. One of the worst things you can do is to have authority, power, and either deny you have it or claim you don’t deserve it and constantly apologize for it. This is true for parents, bosses, and entire countries. Once you have power, authority, anything you do or don’t do is going to send a message and influence people.

    Kind of like a parent, whether we want it or not, we got it. America is a huge and powerful nation. We lead, we have authority. What we do or don’t do is going to influence others. I don’t believe America is anything like a parent to the whole world, but I do think we’re like a dance partner. If we don’t stand up on our own two feet and embrace who we are, nobody else can dance with us.

    “America’s economic and military leadership is not only good for America but also critical for freedom and peace across the world.”

    That’s why I now believe in American exceptionalism and embracing our role. We don’t make things better for anyone when we apologize for who we are and the influence we have.

    • myiq2xu says:

      OTOH – Just because you have power doesn’t mean you have to use it. Sometimes you have to let your kids stand on their own two feet. There are also limits to what power can do.

      Whether to use power or not should be a conscious and informed choice.

      • yttik says:

        I think once you have power, you really do have to use it. Using it doesn’t have to mean invading countries, but even refusing to get involved is making a statement, it’s wielding power.

  9. DandyTiger says:

    Great idea! Let’s do more of these. I might even think of some books when I’m awake too…

  10. wmcb says:

    I look forward to reading it, hopefully will get to it and be able to participate. I could echo much of what elliesmom said regarding patriotism and American culture. In our zeal for multiculturalism, we have decided to denigrate our own, and I’m tired of it.

    As I have watched the slow decline of the USA on the world stage for a couple of decades now, one thing is clear: *someone* is going to try to be a superpower. We do not live in a fantasy world where if the US steps down, all the nations will just happily negotiate, all on equal footing. Sorry, but that’s nuts. China, or Russia, or the Islamists, or SOMEONE will grab that power vacuum and become Big Dog on the Porch. We are not going to live in a world of “no superpower.” Not gonna happen. Not economically, not militarily. It’s only a question of who it will be.

    And you know what? It needs to be us. Because our values and culture are BETTER. There, I said it. Despite the mistakes, missteps, and sins of America, we have done a better damn job of leading the world than any other superpower in history. We’ve been less aggressive, more fair, more helpful, than ANY preemminent power in the world. Think of China, of Russia, of the British empire, of the Caliphate, of all the superpowers that have existed or are trying to exist. Now imagine them with the CRUSHING superiority that the US has has enjoyed for much of its history. Would they be as restrained as us? Would they agonize over using their might, be careful about not being a bully, try hard to be just, and fair, and inclusive, and help the success of others, pour money and effort into helping other nations? No.

    No, the USA has not always lived up to our own ideals. But at least we fucking have them, and make an effort. Which is more than I can say for ANY nation who has enjoyed the kind of overwhelming power that we have enjoyed. In comparison to every other superpower in history, or any current potential ones, we have been wise as Solomon and non-aggressive as possible. At the height of our power, we could have conquered and subjugated half the damn world if we’d chosen to do so. We didn’t, because that is not our values.

    The fact is, there is GOING to be a superpower on the world stage. It’s going to happen, like it or not. Given that fact, it needs to be us. Because we are better at it than any other likely candidate. Not perfect, but much, much better. And that’s reality.

  11. angienc says:

    I’m going to try to pick up a copy today (or tomorrow — I’m a fast reader) & join in..

  12. yttik says:

    I don’t really understand why America gets the blame for all the bad in the world and none of the credit for any of the good? Not long ago we were watching Spain invade the Mayans on TV, and somebody commented, “that was us, we did that to those poor people!” But that wasn’t “us,” it was Spain! “We” didn’t even exist back then!

    I bump into this kind of thinking all the time. It’s almost like some people become addicted to negativity and they need to feel guilty about something. “Look at what we’re doing to the planet! We’re bad people!” “We slaughtered the Indians, enslaved the Africans! We’re evil greedy capitalists. I’m so ashamed!”

    I really believe there are people in America who have become addicted to shame. Trying to convince people to feel good about themselves and good about their country is going to be an uphill battle.

    • wmcb says:

      I really believe there are people in America who have become addicted to shame.

      Yep. And as any theocracy or despot or abuser in history can tell you, shame is a powerful lever of control.

    • The shit some people believe is just crazy. I remember reading Harper’s magazine about 10 years ago and a professor was reporting that when he asked his class who the greatest American who ever lived was, a very earnest 18 year old woman raised her hand and answered: Jesus Christ.

      There are idiots on both sides of the aisle. The idiocy waxes and wanes with the who controls the reigns of power. That’s why I’m so dedicated to Romney. He’s smart, accomplished, and unafraid of hard work or honesty. We need that not only in the presidency, but also to manifest as trends in the body politic. Look at where we are now with the slacker-in-chief and his folder full of excuses…Look at the impact that has had in the body politic.

  13. tommy says:

    Yttik, to foreigners, its collateral damage of being the worlds only superpower. They’ll be envious and jealous because we’re the ones with the big stick. But as soon as they’re in trouble, they’ll beg us for help. Thats the way its been with Europe for quite a while. Amongst ourselves, our sins/crimes/misdeeds have been magnified to such a level by popular culture that being proud to be an American and our history would tar you as being xenophobic, racist, hillbilly, authoritarian etc. This idea of us trying and becoming like the gentrified Europeans is really dumb. Thats not who we are. Infact, the gentrified Europeans (who are jealous and envious of us) need us to protect them, and their way of living. They’ve lost the killer instinct. We’re in the process of losing it. wmcb is right. The world ain’t a pretty place. If theres a power vacuum, the russians or chinese or worse, the Islamists will step in. Then you’ll know what cruelty, territorial greed and invasion (with all its hatred….rape, murder, plunder) really is. If that day ever comes, we’ll be then termed as ‘The compassionate American Empire’.

    • If that’s what you believe, you might want to pick up the book even before he’s president. He spells that exact argument out in more professional language in the first four chapters. It includes angles I hadn’t thought of.

  14. tommy says:

    Hey votermom, I might have digressed from your rules. Your thread, your rules. So I apologize. I was once a regular at talkleft, and they operated the same way. I don’t mean this as an excuse but I’m a tad passionate (not the Joe Biden rabid dog type of passionate, lol), and I run helter-skelter at times. Sorry.

  15. tommy says:

    Come on, Klown. What you avoided as a kid, you got to do as an adult. Its all part of growing up. Man up, soldier!

  16. Pingback: #NoApologyBookClub America’s Strength is Good for the World « The Crawdad Hole

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