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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

August 16, 1992|CHRIS GOODRICH

ABORTION POLITICS: Mutiny in the Ranks of the Right by Michele McKeegan (Free Press: $22.95; 227 pp.) Strange but apparently true: At their convention in 1989, Arizona Republicans passed a resolution sponsored by religious fundamentalists declaring the United States to be "not a democracy" but "a Christian nation . . . based on the absolute laws of the Bible." The resolution is no more than a minor footnote to American politics, but it represents perhaps the low point of the conservative wing's decade-long domination of the Republican Party, a domination largely predicated on the conservatives' ability to create and deliver the pro-life vote. Michele McKeegan, former director of a Planned Parenthood office in Eureka, Calif., argues in "Abortion Politics" that conservative strategists used the pro-life flag to forge a winning coalition from a variety of disparate constituencies. Although this view isn't original, McKeegan does have the factual goods to back it up. She isn't the most objective of reporters--she revels in the numerous sexual scandals, from pederasty to adultery to hidden homosexuality, that have brought down numerous conservative leaders in recent years--but even accounting for bias, it's hard to finish this book without concluding that the conservative triumph of the 1980s was based more on opportunism than on principle. "Abortion Politics," though dense, is brief--thankfully, because it's very depressing, not least because the cynicism McKeegan describes now seems endemic to politics, regardless of party affiliation.

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