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Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was…
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Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized By People Who Think…

by Joe Klein

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Some very good anecdotes and inside info, but all too often lost in minutiae with no real theme that brought together the ideas cogently. ( )
  osodani | Jul 26, 2007 |
Klein takes an engaging look at political campaigns and how they have changed over the past forty years. He asserts that the last truly authentic moment in presidential campaigning was in 1968 when Bobby Kennedy addressed a black crowd in Indianapolis and shared his unscripted reaction to Martin Luther King's assassination.

Since then, political races have been increasingly dumbed down by consultants and pollsters. Klein asserts that these "experts" have stripped away any authentic positions or discussion of issues that might damage candidates, provide any real discussion of issues, or, more importantly, provide insight into a campaigners character--which is what American really want. Klein takes a jaundiced view of both parties--though he feels the Gore and Kerry campaigns were both particularly loathsome. Written with humor and honesty. ( )
  ksmyth | Aug 3, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385510276, Hardcover)

People on the right are furious. People on the left are livid. And the center isn’t holding. There is only one thing on which almost everyone agrees: there is something very wrong in Washington. The country is being run by pollsters. Few politicians are able to win the voters’ trust. Blame abounds and personal responsibility is nowhere to be found. There is a cynicism in Washington that appalls those in every state, red or blue. The question is: Why? The more urgent question is: What can be done about it?

Few people are more qualified to deal with both questions than Joe Klein.

There are many loud and opinionated voices on the political scene, but no one sees or writes with the clarity that this respected observer brings to the table. He has spent a lifetime enmeshed in politics, studying its nuances, its quirks, and its decline. He is as angry and fed up as the rest of us, so he has decided to do something about it—in these pages, he vents, reconstructs, deconstructs, and reveals how and why our leaders are less interested in leading than they are in the “permanent campaign” that political life has become.

The book opens with a stirring anecdote from the night of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Klein re-creates the scene of Robert Kennedy’s appearance in a black neighborhood in Indianapolis, where he gave a gut-wrenching, poetic speech that showed respect for the audience, imparted dignity to all who listened, and quelled a potential riot. Appearing against the wishes of his security team, it was one of the last truly courageous and spontaneous acts by an American politician—and it is no accident that Klein connects courage to spontaneity. From there, Klein begins his analysis—campaign by campaign—of how things went wrong. From the McGovern campaign polling techniques to Roger Ailes’s combative strategy for Nixon; from Reagan’s reinvention of the Republican Party to Lee Atwater’s equally brilliant reinvention of behind-the-scenes strategizing; from Jimmy Carter to George H. W. Bush to Bill Clinton to George W.—as well as inside looks at the losing sides—we see how the Democrats become diffuse and frightened, how the system becomes unbalanced, and how politics becomes less and less about ideology and more and more about how to gain and keep power. By the end of one of the most dismal political runs in history—Kerry’s 2004 campaign for president—we understand how such traits as courage, spontaneity, and leadership have disappeared from our political landscape.

In a fascinating final chapter, the author refuses to give easy answers since the push for easy answers has long been part of the problem. But he does give thoughtful solutions that just may get us out of this mess—especially if any of the 2008 candidates happen to be paying attention.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:26 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Klein, one of today's top political observers, has watched from the inside as consultants, pollsters, the twenty-four-hour cable news cycle, and the lack of courage in so many of our political leaders have chiseled away at Washington's integrity. Klein's intimate knowledge of the system and the people who run it, as well as his backroom access to leading figures, informs his dissection of the last thirty-five years of American politics. Klein still harbors hope for the future, and in addition to his brilliant, if dismaying, analysis of the political landscape of the past three decades, he lays out a plan and a vision for what the next president must do to regain the trust of the country and turn politics back into an honest and passionate profession.--From publisher description.… (more)

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