Michael Savage's Government Zero

Talk show host Michael Savage’s latest book Government Zero: No Border, No Language, No Culture, published today, will delight his legions of fans.  It is primarily a survey of much that is wrong with what America has become under President Obama, with a closing chapter on what approaches and specific measures Savage sees as saving America.

The prose is uniquely and unmistakably Savage, flowing, soaring, digressing, meditating, reflecting, and swooping back to the original subject at hand. For those who listen to his weekday show heard on over 260 stations, this approach is familiar and comforting, an excursion into the multifaceted causality of what we have become. While the radio Michael Savage experience is close to a stream of consciousness, mercurial and at its best almost dreamlike, the print version retains the variety and breadth, but is just a bit tighter in organization, and of course brings with it footnotes for documentation and more precision.

Michael Savage has achieved the status of the bad boy of contemporary conservative media, often angry and cutting, never hesitating to criticize sharply those with whom he disagrees. His targets have included most of the other major talk show hosts and the on-air talent at Fox News, as well as the panoply of liberal/left media and political actors. He has his radio show, The Savage Nation, introduced as “unprotected talk,” and the label fits well.  It and the book are full of hard-hitting terms and imagery, sometimes blunt -- Nancy Peosi is “the most despicable woman in American politics,” -- and sometimes striking in its imaginative metaphors: Barack Obama is a

“…rogue president [who] tramples every institution, divides the people by race, sex, religion, and political orientation. He set out to transform the beautiful nation, and in so doing, he’s causing irreparable damage.

"Like a stoned plastic surgeon, he botched the operation and created a mutilated face and an ugly body politic."

As a result of his acerbic prose and willingness to take on fellow conservatives (Bill O’Reilly and Greta Van Susteren come in for blistering criticism in Chapter 11, "Zero Liberty”), he never gets invitations to appear on Fox News or any of the other cable news outlets [he briefly had an MSNBC show, only to be fired abruptly after telling a homosexual caller to die], and generally is regarded as persona non grata by the rest of the media despite his standing as one of the most popular forces on conservative talk radio with millions of passionate fans.

I suspect his latest book will not receive many reviews, certainly not in the New York Times or Washington Post, and very few in the right-leaning media, either. Savage also has, as he mentions in the book, the distinction of having been banned from entering the United Kingdom, allegedly for stirring up hate. This is a scurrilous charge and a heinous act, for Savage never encourages violence, but he is a severe critic of Islamism, and almost certainly the UK authorities banned him as a sop to Muslims when they simultaneously banned some Islamist preachers from entering Britain and stirring up violent jihad.

The book is organized into 13 chapters, each but the last incorporating the word “zero” along with a subject area. The final chapter, with proposed solutions, is entitled “Saving a Nation with Nationalism,” Savage’s prescription to trade in the label and concept of conservatism for outright nationalism, which he sees as making possible considerable outreach to people who consider themselves Democrats.

In the first chapter, Government Zero, he defines the concept as “absolute, unchecked government power and zero representation of the people.”  The problems with such hyperbole are obvious. “Zero representation” means no elections, and so far it appears that no coup has cancelled them. As for “unchecked government power,” we may have a Supreme Court that is willing to go a long way to accommodate Obamacare and other activities the founders would blanch at, but the checks and balances of the Constitution are still in place, even if shamefully unexercised by the political class of Democrat and Republican elites. With this book, you have to understand that bombast is part of the package.

It is also a little confusing that with the expression “Government Zero” Savage means maximum government, while in most of the other chapters, he means zero to indicate the opposite: minimal, as in Chapter 2, “Zero Leadership,” Chapter 3, “Zero Strategy Against ISIS, Chapter 4, “Zero Military,” Chapter 5, “Zero Education,” Chapter 6, “Zero Culture,” Chapter 7, “Zero Immigration” (here, he reverts to the title’s usage), Chapter 8, “Zero Religion: Lenin’s Pope,” Chapter 9, “Zero Science,” Chapter 10, “Zero Business Sense,” Chapter 11, “Zero Liberty,” and Chapter 12, “Zero Police.”  

The chapter headings do not in the least constrain the subject matter discussed in each. In Chapter 8, for instance, Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change is rather insightfully discussed, and the broader topic of climate science introduced in some detail. Yet, the following chapter, “Zero Science,” also continues that subject, presented in the context of an earlier massive scientific scandal, Lysenkoism in the USSR under Stalin, in which genetic sciences were corrupted just as badly as climate science today. Throughout the book, Savage does not hesitate to bring in the lessons of history, and quite often the narrative is both enlightening and entertaining. With his three graduate degrees including a doctorate from UC Berkeley, as well as a lifetime of reading, Savage is able to draw on a very wide knowledge base in making his points, and never lets himself be constrained by the formal organization of the chapters.

My favorite of the chapters was number 4, “Zero Military.” Despite having no background serving in the military, Savage has done great work chronicling what he (accurately, I fear) terms the “purges” of senior military officials who disagree with the agenda of the Obama forces, more concerned with issues like integrating transgender troops than with military effectiveness, and unwilling to even mention the word “Islam” in formulating strategies.  There are many names worth knowing in this chapter.

The concluding chapter 13, “Saving a Nation with Nationalism,” was the weakest in my eyes.  The list at its end of “40 Actions to Save America” contained no consideration whatsoever of any details. For example, Number 4 was “Repeal the “Anchor Babies” law. Of course, there is no law per se, there is the 14th Amendment and the way it has been interpreted to date.  Perhaps Savage knows this, and a discussion of the 40 Actions will be the basis of his next book. But as presented quickly at the end, the plan was more a set of broad goals than an actual action agenda.

What Government Zero lacks in rigor, it makes up in breadth and imaginative prose. Who else but Michael Savage would treat readers (in Chapter 2) to a discussion of two of his dreams, one of them about a white owl, the other about a black woman? But then, Michael Savage is a unique figure on the American media landscape, and has from his first days broadcasting local talk radio on San Francisco’s KSFO ignited passionate support, deep scorn, and almost never indifference.