‘Gosnell’ and Hugh Hewitt’s ‘The Fourth Way’: The Power of the Book

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In these days of new media, you might be tempted to think books don’t matter. Looking at the impact of two recent releases — Hugh Hewitt’s “The Fourth Way: The Conservative Playbook for a Lasting GOP Majority” and “Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer,” by spouses Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer — that’s just not the case.

I recently got an email from McElhinney and McAleer announcing that their book, put out by conservative imprint Regnery Publishing, was sold out on both Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble’s Website. It’s listed as a #1 Best Seller in the Abortion & Birth Control section on Amazon, and has 92% five-star ratings. You might say that’s just because it’s being bought by abortion foes, but books have long lives, and there’s no saying what hands they might wind up in.

The release of the book — on the heels of President Trump’s Inauguration and the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling — was well-timed, and saw McElhinney especially doing a round of interviews for the book across conservative and Christian media.

According to some of the reviews on Amazon, it seems worth it (Full disclosure: I’ve received a copy but haven’t had a chance to read it yet, hence I’m not giving an opinion on it):

“In this historic book, Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer meticulously record the harrowing true-crime story of Kermit Gosnell’s barbaric abortion and infanticide business. Every American needs to read Gosnell, because the atrocities he committed, with the knowledge and support of public authorities, demand that we answer what we really believe about human dignity and the law’s equal protection for the most vulnerable.” —David Daleiden, the undercover reporter behind the Center for Medical Progress videos that exposed Planned Parenthood’s baby parts business

“Hollywood could not conjure up a villain more barbaric and cold-blooded than true-life serial killer Kermit Gosnell. Investigative journalists Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer take you face to face with Philadelphia’s baby butcher in this gripping exposé. But the story is especially chilling because he did not act alone. The true horror lies in Gosnell’s ghoulish gallery of enablers—feckless government bureaucrats, abortion radicals, and an AWOL media. McElhinney and McAleer are unflinching torchbearers of truth. This book is a public service.” —Michelle Malkin, author of Culture of Corruption and Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild

For me, this telling of the Gosnell nightmare is the first salvo in the fight for our very souls, and a diminishing chance to avoid us being judged barbaric. It is not okay to set aside fundamental moral principles (by either omission or commission) in the pursuit of blindly furthering an ideology. And, it’s never acceptable to contrive distorted truths and false claims (rationalized that it’s ‘for the greater good’) as a justification for the darkest of human behavior. — reader Mark Fine

But like the Gosnell case, which had a hard time catching the attention of the mainstream media, I’m not sure how deep this is penetrating beyond those who might already be in favor of restricting or outlawing abortion. Already, as I noted previously for CatholicVote, the movie McElhinney and McAleer have made of the story is having a tough time finding a distributor.

But this isn’t necessarily an entirely bad thing. A book may or may not change the minds of an abortion supporter, but it might inform and stiffen the spine of an abortion opponent.

That seems to be a chunk of the plan that radio host, author and practicing lawyer Hugh Hewitt had in mind, with the help of publisher Simon & Schuster, for the rollout of his new book, “The Fourth Way: The Conservative Playbook for a Lasting GOP Majority.”

I have had time to read this book (partly because it’s briskly written and not too long, if you omit the appendices). As a regular Hewitt listener, a lot of it was familiar stuff. I like Hewitt because he’s not a screamer or a partisan hack, nor is he a 30,000-foot philosopher. Interviews take up more of his show these days than listener calls, and both take up more time than Hewitt just holding forth, so he’s not just about hearing his own voice, and he occasionally makes real news.

Having worked in both government and the private sector, and dealt with government agencies in his law practice, Hewitt is at heart a policy wonk. But, he has the ability to go into the policy weeds while still speaking English and telling a compelling story.

He’s also witty and fun, which can’t be said of most policy wonks, whichever side of the aisle they’re on. As a bonus, he’s also a Mass-going Catholic.

“The Fourth Way” is partly a to-do list for the new GOP majority — on everything from tax policy to SCOTUS to rebuilding the Navy — and half a wish list. To listen to him in the last few days, he’s saying it’s now becoming prophetic … but that may also be the relentless self-promotion of an author on the stump.

While some equally wonky civilians will devour Hewitt’s book, they’re not his core audience. Hewitt’s primary goal seems to be affecting the thinking of the sitting members of Congress.

Working his contact list, he sent the book to as many legislators’ home addresses as he had (knowing if he sent it to the office, it might get lost in the shuffle). When the GOP lawmakers recently met for a retreat in Philadelphia, Hewitt worked with Simon & Schuster and some political pals to get the book placed in the hotel rooms of all the attendees.

When he did a phone interview with Tennessee’s Sen. Lamar Alexander, and the senator said he’d not only seen the book but read half of it, Hewitt was audibly thrilled to pieces (here’s the audio).

Every lawmaker guest got grilled whether he or she had received the book and read it. Hewitt knows that, while his book may not change any Democrat minds, he may be able to move the needle with his fellow Republicans, energize them and keep them pointed in the direction he wants.

Too often, we get focused on the margins and forget to make sure the center holds. So, when you’re evangelizing, don’t forget to encourage the faithful as much as enticing converts.

Image: Courtesy Simon & Schuster/Regnery Publishing

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The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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About Author

A native of the Adirondacks and Saratoga Springs in northern New York State, journalist and fiction writer Kate O'Hare now lives in Los Angeles, where she's on a neverending quest to find a parish in the L.A. Archdiocese with orthodox preaching, excellent traditional music and parking.

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