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Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Barack Obama

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In this agenda-setting essay, journalist and historian Eric Alterman explains what is really happening with the Obama presidency. While Obama's many compromises have disappointed liberals, Alterman argues that these concessions are largely due to a political system that is rigged against progressive change. These structural impediments to democracy have made the keeping of In this agenda-setting essay, journalist and historian Eric Alterman explains what is really happening with the Obama presidency. While Obama's many compromises have disappointed liberals, Alterman argues that these concessions are largely due to a political system that is rigged against progressive change. These structural impediments to democracy have made the keeping of Obama's campaign promises all but impossible. Brilliantly blending incisive political analysis with a clear agenda for change, Kabuki Democracy cuts through the clich's of conservative propaganda and lazy mainstream media analysis to demonstrate that genuine "change" will come to America only when people care enough to challenge the system.


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In this agenda-setting essay, journalist and historian Eric Alterman explains what is really happening with the Obama presidency. While Obama's many compromises have disappointed liberals, Alterman argues that these concessions are largely due to a political system that is rigged against progressive change. These structural impediments to democracy have made the keeping of In this agenda-setting essay, journalist and historian Eric Alterman explains what is really happening with the Obama presidency. While Obama's many compromises have disappointed liberals, Alterman argues that these concessions are largely due to a political system that is rigged against progressive change. These structural impediments to democracy have made the keeping of Obama's campaign promises all but impossible. Brilliantly blending incisive political analysis with a clear agenda for change, Kabuki Democracy cuts through the clich's of conservative propaganda and lazy mainstream media analysis to demonstrate that genuine "change" will come to America only when people care enough to challenge the system.

30 review for Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Barack Obama

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    A well documented and heavily footnoted book about why President Hope-n-Change didn't actually heal the planet in two years. Shockingly, Mr. Alter blames corporations, lobbyists, the right-wing media, a radicalized Republican party, and the ignorance of the electorate for holding back the Progressive tide. He is correct, in a sense. President Obama has faced a very stiff head-wind during his first three years. His administration inherited an economic quagmire, two underfunded (and unpopular) wars A well documented and heavily footnoted book about why President Hope-n-Change didn't actually heal the planet in two years. Shockingly, Mr. Alter blames corporations, lobbyists, the right-wing media, a radicalized Republican party, and the ignorance of the electorate for holding back the Progressive tide. He is correct, in a sense. President Obama has faced a very stiff head-wind during his first three years. His administration inherited an economic quagmire, two underfunded (and unpopular) wars, and an embarrassingly high number of citizens who believe that the President is some sort of sleeper cell Muslim terrorist from Kenya. Likewise, new Presidents make mistakes, and in my analysis, Mr. Obama's biggest failing was tackling health care instead of a much larger jobs agenda. Also, the Tea Party erupted, giving the Republicans victories across every city, town, county, and state the likes of which they have not enjoyed since the 1930s. So, tough times for the Dalibama. The level of expectations for his administration on the part of many of those who voted for him were utterly unrealistic, overly emotional, and quite amusing to watch. Mr. Alterman--a good writer who makes a convincing case for his thesis--suffers from the same sin as most political pundits: omission. While Alterman is not nearly as bitter as Tom Franks, he is certainly...displeased with the last three years. Can't hardly blame him. He is also flat out wrong in a few places. For example, Mr. Alterman waxes poetic about the Europeans (his book was written in early 2011); one can only wonder how he's feeling now, a year and half later, as the socialist democracies he so admires are collapsing under the weight of their entitlements. Likewise, he predicts a mass movement on the left that will put pressure on the administration to make Progressive change (the Occupy people), but failed to predict that it would vanish like a fart in the breeze in less than six months. I once shot a few emails back and forth with Mr. Alterman; he is a civil, intelligent man who I would love to sit down and talk with. Like virtually all Progressives, though, he does not understand the country he lives in. We are a center-right nation. People claim they want all sorts of government programs, but they refuse to pay for them. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan pointed out, culture always trumps politics, and so long as the political left is on the losing end of the culture wars, their vision of social solidarity will remain elusive. Demographics may favor Democrats in the long term, but we are not currently in a moment of liberal ascendancy. That may change...but not yet. This is a good, fair book, for the most part.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Smellsofbikes

    This book will infuriate you, no matter where on the political spectrum you live. I'm not saying it's bad -- it's well-written. It's just written to outrage.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Fredrick Danysh

    The author is an ultra liberal who is upset that President Obama's campaign promises were not fulfilled. He lambasts and blame President Bush for everything that is wrong with the government and the country. He faults Obama for not achieving all his goals during his term and only places mild blame on him. A pure propaganda piece in the same vein used by the Nazis against their opponents. A must read for anyone who is open minded enough to try to understand all nuances of the issues. I give it a The author is an ultra liberal who is upset that President Obama's campaign promises were not fulfilled. He lambasts and blame President Bush for everything that is wrong with the government and the country. He faults Obama for not achieving all his goals during his term and only places mild blame on him. A pure propaganda piece in the same vein used by the Nazis against their opponents. A must read for anyone who is open minded enough to try to understand all nuances of the issues. I give it a low rating because it is so close minded, one sided. It was difficult to struggle throgh all the bias.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Clifford

    Liberals: this will make you mad, because it reminds you of all that you have forgotten and failed to act on--the lies of the conservative media that the mainstream media does nothing about; the deceitful attacks on ACORN; and much more. We need an agenda for rescuing our country from the likes of Rupert Murdoch and the Koch Brothers!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Don

    Alterman has some real insight into the obstacles President Obama has faced, but he slips too easily into the rote blaming of Fox, Rush, Beck, etc. That's a real problem, but one that almost everybody on both sides understands--and the ones that don't understand it aren't going to be that helpful to his agenda anyway. Alterman is also short on ideas for improvement

  6. 5 out of 5

    Danielheiman

    Sort of like how the "Inside Job" broke down the financial collapse for me; accessible, clearly put across, and a "story" that provides more fuel to detest big business, lobbyists, and the mainstream media.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jason S

    Interesting argument that the shortcomings of the Obama presidency are structural in America and have little to do with the president. Compelling chapters on the inadequacy of the Senate and the media in particular.

  8. 4 out of 5

    John

    I regret giving this one such a low rating, but its not-very-deep overview of the problems in the American political system didn't tell me much I didn't already know.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    I felt the information was interesting, although it was very dry and hard to get through. Probably wouldn't have even bought it had it not been deeply discounted.

  10. 4 out of 5

    George

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stefan Fergus

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peyton Stafford

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ella

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jis

  16. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Cullison

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alex Park

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rory

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dale

  22. 4 out of 5

    Warren

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ertuğrul

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  25. 5 out of 5

    Girard Bowe

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maphead

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Hauser

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joan Snodgrass Callaway

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