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Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist

Carol Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of the editorial board. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. [go to Liebau index]

How to Beat the Cheaters
Hugh Hewitt’s “If It’s Not Close They Can’t Cheat”..

[Carol Platt Liebau] 8/17//04

If It’s Not Close They Can’t Cheat [Nelson Books]
by Hugh Hewitt

It’s always difficult to review a book by someone who has shown you great kindness. When the author is Hugh Hewitt, that fact could be a problem, because there is no more generous man in public life. Hewitt is constantly introducing some new blogger or encouraging young(er) people who are trying to build careers in the field of political commentary (including me). And he was one of the earliest supporters of this web site.

For these reasons, it would have created a real conflict if his new book -- If It’s Not Close They Can’t Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It -- had been a bomb. Luckily, it isn’t – not even close.

If It’s Not Close They Can’t Cheat, currently ranked #19 on, is a difficult book to classify. Part theory, part history, part political analysis, part strategic directive and all advocacy, it is a compelling brief for the Republican Part in general, and the reelection of George W. Bush in particular. Certainly, it’s a jolt of energy for the committed and a wake-up call for the undecided.

The book begins with an overview of the national security debate and the stakes in the upcoming election, moving on to provide a “brief history of Democratic cheating,” wherein Hewitt enumerates the Democrats’ shameful electoral hijinks beginning back in 1789. Readers then gain an understanding of the key roles of two much maligned aspects of current political life – parties (and the factions within them) and money. The book concludes with advice on message delivery, topics of potential political danger for Republicans and conservatives, and a reminder about the importance of proper tone and focus in spreading a political message.

In one section, Hewitt addresses the unique challenge of the media bias that confronts Republicans, comparing them to a “thoroughbred having to carry more weight in a particular race because of his past record of excellence” (p. 160). If It’s Not Close They Can’t Cheat is refreshing in that it recognizes the existence of potential setbacks and difficulties without surrendering to bitterness or despair about them. And it offers concrete tips about how to level the media playing field dominated by Democrats, emphasizing the importance of good calls to talk radio shows and the ever-increasing importance of weblogs to the political debate.

The beauty of Hewitt’s work lies in its dualities. If It’s Not Close They Can’t Cheat covers a wide variety of subjects in reasonable depth in a relatively short and highly readable 220 pages. It combines a dedication to principle with the recognition of the pragmatic choices that are central to political success. And it has a simple message that is itself far from simplistic.

Just as only Nixon could have gone to China, only someone as personally kind and cheerful as Hewitt could have written a book so unremittingly tough and wholly partisan without descending to sniping or invective. Truly, this book takes no prisoners.

On his web site, Hewitt urges readers to “[b]uy one for yourself and two for the undecided or Democratic voter in your life.” It’s good advice – and buy a fourth to give to your local library. The more people who read If It’s Not Close They Can’t Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It, the better for all of us – Republicans and Democrats alike.CRO

Columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and editorial director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.

copyright 2004


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