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Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized By People Who Think You're Stupid
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Crown 2006
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Description
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.
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Street Date:
04/18/2006
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780385517720
ASIN:
B000GCFCLY
Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Joe Klein. (2006). Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized By People Who Think You're Stupid. Crown.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Joe Klein. 2006. Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized By People Who Think You're Stupid. Crown.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Joe Klein, Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized By People Who Think You're Stupid. Crown, 2006.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Joe Klein. Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized By People Who Think You're Stupid. Crown, 2006.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 03, 2017 06:13:45
Date Updated:
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title
Politics Lost
fullDescription
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.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Los Angeles Times
      • content: "No other book published on [Clinton] offers such smart analysis, judicious reporting, or accomplished prose. Klein's account of the presidency is remarkably balanced and intelligent."
      • premium: False
      • source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
      • content: "[The Natural] is a book with insight, balance, and bright writing . . . A century from now, some serious historian will be glad that Klein wrote this slender book . . . A mother lode of contemporary observations."
      • premium: False
      • source: William Kennedy, front page, New York Times Book Review
      • content: "Funny, adroitly written, and, in sum, the first savvy synthesis of the Clinton Age."
      • premium: False
      • source: Christopher Buckley, The New Yorker
      • content: "An absolutely dazzling book, the best political novel in many years, one that manages to be simultaneously cynical and redemptive, funny and profound, reportorial, satirical, and thrilling."
      • premium: False
      • source: Michael Lewis, New York Times Book Review
      • content: "Breaks all the rules and lives to tell about it . . . There is a wonderful honesty about [Primary Colors], a refusal to give in to the conventional interpretation of people and events that cripples so much that is written about politics."
      • premium: False
      • source: Alex Beam, Boston Globe
      • content: "A delight to read. The author knows politics . . . and writes like a dream."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 6, 2006
        The people castigated in this lively but self-contradictory jeremiad make up the "pollster-consultant industrial complex" of political handlers responsible for today's bland, prefabricated candidates, carefully stage-managed campaigns and vacuous, focus-grouped policy proposals. Political reporter and Time
        pundit Klein (Primary Colors
        ) traces the political consultants' influence through pungent insider accounts of presidential campaigns from 1968 to the present, throwing in plenty of his own armchair quarterbacking of triumphs and fiascoes. Throughout, he deplores the deadening of American political culture and celebrates the few politicians, like Ronald Reagan and John McCain, who occasionally slip the consultant's leash, blurt out an unfashionable opinion, take a principled stand or otherwise demonstrate their unvarnished humanity. Unfortunately, Klein's politics of personal authenticity—he longs for a candidate "who gets angry, within reason; gets weepy, within reason... but only if these emotions are rare and real"—seems indistinguishable from the image-driven, style-over-substance politics he decries; he just wishes the imagery and style were more colorful and compelling. Moreover, Klein's insistence that the electorate cares much more about the sincerity or "phoniness" of a politician's character than about policy issues puts him squarely in the camp of people who think voters are stupid.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        April 15, 2006
        Columnist and TV pundit Klein (Primary Colors) bemoans the paucity of real leaders in contemporary American politics, people with the courage to speak their minds on significant public issues, regardless of opinion poll results. Klein -s examples of such politicians include Robert F. Kennedy in his 1968 presidential bid and Mario Cuomo in his 1982 gubernatorial campaign. Unfortunately, as he admits, American politics has been hijacked by political consultants, who package candidates for general consumption. These consultants, he contends, have trivialized politics by considering Americans ignorant and malleable. Klein relates his own experiences with consultants from both parties and, in his breezy style, provides loads of insider gems that political junkies will enjoy. However, he stops short of indicting members of the Fourth Estate for their role in allowing the consultants to continue unchallenged through press coverage of stories rather than issues. This is not a great book - Joe McGinniss identified the phenomenon of consultants many years ago in his The Selling of the President 1968 -but it will likely receive much attention because of its author, its message, and its juicy tidbits, so public libraries should be prepared to purchase it. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/05, as Turnip Day.]

        Copyright 2006 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from March 15, 2006
        In 1948 when Harry S. Truman accepted the Democratic nomination, his spontaneous reference to Turnip Day in Missouri evoked a candor and authenticity that later helped him win the presidency. Klein, author of " Primary Colors" (1995), frames much of his analysis in the context of Truman's remark. Unfortunately, political consultants have been intent on purging Turnip Day spontaneity in favor of poll-based, risk-averse blandness that bodes ill for American democracy. It was brilliant numbers cruncher Pat Caddell who gave birth to polling and introduced the notion of the permanent campaign. Reagan pollster Richard Wirthlin identified "Reagan Democrats" and helped broaden the base of Republicans. Among the other well-known consultants Klein dissects are Dick Morris, "whose smarminess was legendary and ambidextrous," and Roger Ailes, "the perfect rogue." Klein admits to a fondness for political mavericks who have "Turnip Day moments up the wazoo," including Jerry Brown and Howard Dean, all big on candor but short on warmth. Conversely, Bill Clinton is a "human Turnip Day" who knew how to use consultants but relied on his own political instincts. Most modern candidates have allowed consultants to market them to the point that they will never deviate off message and buy into packaged campaigns based entirely on research. Disdaining the convention of political books with a final chapter that offers solutions, Klein instead insists that politicians figure out for themselves how to engage and inspire voters. This is a passionate, often hysterical, but ultimately sad look at modern American politics.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2006, American Library Association.)

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shortDescription
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,...
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Politics Lost How American Democracy Was Trivialized By People Who Think Youre Stupid
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