Jack Cashill's "What's the Matter with California?" Hits the Presses
I've long admired the work of investigative journalist Jack Cashill, whose series of articles on the Sandy Berger affair (a certain Clinton administration holdover with classified documents literally coming out of his ears, and his socks, and his pants) I blogged about earlier this year.
While the incident in question certainly had an air of the ridiculous, far more serious issues surrounding the war on terrorism look to have been at stake. In light of the disclosure that 2008 presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has, once again, brought Berger into the fray, the information contained in these articles is more relevant than ever.
So too is Jack Cashill's book just out this past week, What's the Matter with California?: Cultural Rumbles from the Golden State and Why the Rest of Us Should Be Shaking. Tackling the third largest and, in some respects, most dysfunctional state in the nation, Cashill's book provides a valuable service.
It was initially written in response to Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, a book in which Cashill, the entire population of Kansas (Cashill, in fact, lives in Missouri), and mainstream Americans in general were skewered for their, apparently, inexplicable conservative tendencies.
Cashill could easily have responded in kind, but instead he took the opportunity to contribute something of value to the so-called culture wars. Far from being a simple right vs. left polemic or a cheap shot at my ever-perplexing home state, Cashill's book proffers forth a cultural history of California and, in the process, a cautionary tale for the rest of the country.
I said much the same thing in my short review of What's the Matter with California?, which, I'm proud to say, is excerpted on the back cover of the book itself. Shameless self-promotion aside, I'm happy to have done the honors and to have met Jack in the process. And for all those trying to figure out what ails California, his book is a good place to start.
Update: Larry Kelley reviews the book in much more detail at Human Events.