Book Review: No He Can't by Kevin McCullough

This review is a bit overdue, but it had to be done. The subject is Kevin McCullough’s recently released book, No He Can’t. (Available at the link from Amazon.)

Before starting, by way of disclosure any regular listeners of The Ed Morrissey Show know that Kevin and I have a bit of a history and it hasn’t always been the smoothest one. There are more than a few areas of political ideology where we’re simply never going to agree, but it hasn’t stopped us from chatting cordially on occasion. With that said, I went into the project of reading the review copy of Kevin’s book I received fully prepared not to like it.

What followed was probably more of a surprise to me than anyone else. While the author forcefully espouses a number of positions which I would still debate, the first thing I would note is this: the guy can write. What I appreciate most in authors is the ability to master the language and employ it gracefully to paint a picture, tell a story and get their point across. That’s why I don’t need to agree with an author to enjoy their work, and I consider George Will and James Wolcott to each be among the greatest writers of our time, though they couldn’t be further apart in their political views. I’m not putting McCullough on the same shelf with those two, but he writes powerfully and engages the reader. We have seen too many cases of television and radio personalities who wake up one day and simply decide that they’re going to make some cash by writing a book. All too frequently the result is a sad, unreadable mess unless they hire a ghost writer. Not so here. Kevin wrote this book himself and I must begrudgingly tip my hat to him. He is an author, and a skilled one.

No He Can’t will be an interesting read for anyone who approaches it with an open mind, whether you completely oppose the current president or are one of his biggest fans. Kevin digs deep back in history, examining the defining moments of Obama’s life and political career, finding the roots of what he believes to be the key episodes which shaped the future actions of Barack Obama.

The structure of the book also makes it a pleasure to read, even if you only wish to consume it for the purpose of engaging the author in debate. After each chapter of history, he concludes with a section called, “Time for a bit of clarity,” where he summarizes the material just covered and ties it into one continuous thread covering a span of decades.

One of the few areas where Kevin and I frequently agree is economic policy, and chapter 3 of the book, “Punishing the Wealthy, Despising the Poor,” paints an unflattering picture of the subject, but one which carries the ring of truth. A short sample:

Unlike many who exist in the pundit space of America’s greatest debates today, I do desperately believe there are correct answers to the biggest challenges facing us. When I speak at worldview conferences each summer, I particularly enjoy seeing the young college-age and high school minds come alive as I put them through rounds and rounds of problem solving, some of which are on the issue of poverty. And it was only a few years ago when clarity on this issue struck me cold in the dead of night: punishing the wealthy always hurts the poor.

I could go on with this for some time, but it would get repetitive. This review was written by a reader who, upon first receiving the book, joked, “Now I can prop up that short leg on my shop table.” My mind has since changed. Give it a look and you probably won’t be disappointed in the investment.