Since coming to prominence in 1973 as the White House lawyer who exposed Richard M. Nixon and his circle to a Senate committee during Watergate, John Dean has established himself as a cloth-coat conservative who’s willing to cry foul on the betrayal of democratic principles; his 2004 book, Worse Than Watergate, was an incisive critique of the Bush administration’s cloak of secrecy. In his latest, Conservatives Without Conscience (Viking Adult), Dean moves beyond the familiar complaints against Bush and Cheney to make a much broader and deeper statement about an American right wing that pays lip service to freedom and democracy while behaving in ways that more closely resemble fascism. Drawing on social-science theory and empirical data to probe the mind-set of today’s authoritarian politicos and their followers, Dean comes to the conclusion that they simply don’t like democracy–its insistence on civil liberties and principled debate threatens their own deep-seated need for rigid ideologies and all-powerful leaders. Dean is forthright in contending that these Republicans are not really conservatives at all, but radical extremists–and that their political activities pose an unprecedented danger to democracy in this country. Wed 7/19, 7:30 PM, Borders, 2817 N. Clark, 773-935-3909.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dennis Cook.