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AND I QUOTE / What Political Books Are Saying : THEY ONLY LOOK DEAD: Why Progressives Will Dominate the Next Political Era, By E.J. Dionne Jr. (Simon and Schuster: $24; 338 pp.)

February 18, 1996|John Balzar

"Politics and government cannot raise children, write love songs, create computer languages, invent the technology after the microchip or discover a cure for cancer. But politics and government do shape the conditions under which such acts of creativity are made easier or harder, more likely or less likely. Politics has everything to do with building a more just, more civil, more open society. Those who rallied to Progressivism, the cause of those who believe that democratic government has the capacity to improve society, always understood this. Their time has come again."

This could be a provocative beginning for Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. Unfortunately, this is the point where he ends what is essentially a long news analysis stuck between hardcovers. This book has one bountiful contrarian chapter, called "Showdown," which forsees an inevitable progressive turn in American politics. But that is plowed up from a mound of otherwise tired soil--chapters titled "Why Politicians Don't Get Respect Anymore," "Why Gingrich Happened" and "Why Americans Hate the Press."

IN CONCLUSION, A mild bedtime palliative for Democrats while the Republican primaries are testing how far right is right enough.

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