We sent the following message to Breitbart.com today:
Ordinarily, when a book is criticized in the press, it is right and proper that the authors come forward to respond to the critiques presented. The pseudonymous columnist “Hamilton” at breitbart.com has now published what purports to be a critique of our book America 3.0. But to respond to that column, it would be more appropriate to send it to the Land of Oz and ask the Scarecrow to pen the reply. The column is so stuffed with strawmen that a direct reply would require more expertise in that area than either of the authors can properly claim.
“Hamilton” (we respect the actual founder too much to apply his name without quotes to this pretentious hack without cringing) appears to base his entire column on the perceptive review of our book by Michael Barone in the Examiner, recently picked up by realclearpolitics.com. Hamilton seems perplexed as to why Barone, whom he claims to respect, seemed so favorable to the book. Perhaps, (and we are going out on a limb here) it is because Barone actually read the book, whereas it is perfectly obvious that “Hamilton” has not so much looked at a page of it, and actually didn’t read Barone’s summation of it with enough attention to pass a sixth-grade reading comprehension quiz.
Rather, he seems to have used it in a sort of word-association exercise whereby he must have had somebody read words at random from the Barone piece, blurted out the first association that came to his mind, and then constructed a rant loosely formed around the associated words.
It is almost impossible to pick out any sort of coherent counter-argument or critique of what we actually said from what he has written. So we will content ourselves with a few points. If anybody is interested, they are welcome to read “Hamilton’s” column, and then go to the America 3.0 page at Amazon, where substantial amounts of the book can be viewed for free, along with a number of perceptive reviews, and make up their own minds. However:
Hamilton claims we are out to “Balkanize” America, apparently because one of the policy remedies Barone mentions includes making more use of the historical and constitutional process (followed in the statehood of Maine and West Virginia) of allowing large states divide themselves into smaller, more coherent, units. Perhaps he didn’t notice that we are not talking about secession from the United States, (Barone made that perfectly clear, as do we, which he would have seen had he read the book) but about making states more responsive to their citizens. Maine and West Virginia don’t have their own foreign policies today, and there’s no reason to believe any others formed on that model would either.
Like the true hack that he is, he drags out the race card at the first possible opportunity, conflating decentralism with pre-civil-war states’ rights arguments and somehow dragging John C. Calhoun into the discussion, although had he read the book he would have looked in vain for any endorsement of concurrent majorities or praise for the Fugitive Slave Act (which was in fact a rather egregious violation of decentralism). Had he read the book he would have in fact found a substantial discussion of slavery, the legal issues of emancipation, and the role of the Industrial Revolution. All rather favorable to the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, in fact.
Most centrally, had he read the book he would have found a substantial discussion of the Arsenal of Democracy, America’s role in World War Two, today’s defense industry, and a fairly detailed program for insuring that the US continue to have a strong and capable defense capability, including a domestic defense industry. We even caution that it won’t be cheap, and explain why, although we also discuss why defense procurement reform is critical to making it affordable at all. We are guilty of saying that the first task of the US is to lead an alliance to maintain the freedom of the seas and skies – something that we are lax at today — and to rethink the scope of our alliances and interventions. We have reasons for that, and “Hamilton” is welcome to critique them, but (and here we run the risk of becoming tiresome) that would require reading the book first.
We are accustomed to finding intelligent, informed, and fair-minded writing at Breitbart.com. We are disappointed to find them publishing something about our book that fails to meet their usual standards. But that would require, at minimum, reading it first.
James C. Bennett
Michael J. Lotus
Authors of America 3.0