Bill de Blasio’s election as mayor of New York captured the attention of a typically restless city. But it also made progressives across the country—and, indeed, around the world—sit up and take notice. With unprecedented popular support, de Blasio took office pledging to “put an end to economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we love.” Based on interviews with dozens of key figures in New York politics, including the mayor himself, Eric Alterman’s new e-book is a rigorous, fascinating and indispensable account of what happened next.
It is, as he writes in the preface, “an attempt to move beyond the day-to-day headlines that dominate our political debate. By placing Bill de Blasio’s words, and the actions of his administration, into a political, cultural, social, and intellectual context, we can see just how daunting the task he has set for himself really is: to use the power of the city government to make New York a fairer and more equal place for all its inhabitants, and to do so while executing the fundamental tasks of governance judiciously and efficiently.”
KABUKI DEMOCRACY: THE SYSTEM VS. BARACK OBAMA (2011)
In Kabuki Democracy, bestselling author and Nation columnist Eric Alterman asks why President Barack Obama has been unable to deliver on the promise of his 2008 campaign. He argues that while Obama’s compromises have disappointed many of his supporters, his failure is primarily due to a political system that stymies democracy when voters choose progressive change. From the archaic rules of the senate to the political dominance of the finance industry to the decisions of the Supreme Court to the failure of the press to the rise of anti-government movements, structural and ideological impediments to democracy make passing progressive legislation almost impossible.
Brilliantly blending incisive political analysis with a clear agenda for change, Kabuki Democracy cuts through the clichés of conservative propaganda and lazy mainstream media analysis to demonstrate that genuine transformation will come to America only when enough people care enough to challenge the system.
In Why We’re Liberals Alterman examines liberalism’s development and demonstrates how its partisans have come to represent not just the mainstream, but the majority of Americans today. In a crisply-argued, though extensively documented counterattack on right-wing spin and misinformation, Alterman briskly disposes of such canards as “Liberals Hate God” and “Liberals Are Soft On Terrorism,” reclaiming liberalism from the false definitions foisted upon it by the right and repeated everywhere else. Why We’re Liberals brings clarity and perspective to what has often been a one-sided debate for nothing less than the heart and soul of America. Why We’re Liberals is the perfect election-year book for all of those ready to fight back against the conservative mud-slinging machine and claim their voice in the political debate.
Here, he traces four instances of presidential lying that have returned to haunt the republic, undercutting not only the policies they were intended to support, but the integrity of the presidency. He's not interested in transgressions of a private nature, targeting instead "presidential lying about matters of state that is alleged to be undertaken for the public
good." In other words, bad statecraft based on the premise that the people are too ignorant or emotionally immature to see all cards. Public trust,
the bond between government and the rabble, gets a screwing. Alterman zooms in on four instances of deceit that had unintended systematic consequences
as old as the Greek hubris-nemesis sequence; each created self-destructive blowback wherein not only the nation was deceived, but the deceivers fooled themselves. The first is the painful irony of the 1945 Yalta conference: Stalin, "vicious killer atop the Soviet evil empire," honored the deal struck there, while Roosevelt and Churchill, "perhaps the twentieth century's two greatest champions of freedom and democracy," reneged, with the subsequent disavowal of their concessions leading to the Cold War. Then came Kennedy's fibbing about the Cuban Missile Crisis, the undisclosed trade for Turkish missile sites that made the US stance look terrifically tough. The secret American aggressions that brought the US to the Gulf of Tonkin, and the unparalleled war-making powers granted to the presidency, crushed the work of Lyndon Johnson, who had "begun to build a domestic legacy that might even have surpassed that of FDR." And perhaps the most appalling fallout of the Iran-Contra imbroglio was the collapse of the press as an investigative agency: lying was mundane and not worth the bother of reporting. As for Bush II, "the virtue of truth...for all practical purposes, became entirely operational."
Throws bones worth chewing on long and hard.
-- Kirkus Reviews [Starred review]
with a new chapter on media coverage in Iraq
"'What Liberal Media' is bold, counterintuitive and cathartic."
--The New York Times Book Review
"A polemic is nothing without passion , and Alterman's argumentative vigor is engaging [and]... the meticulous care with which his arguments are sourced and footnoted is in commendable contrast to the efforts of some of his more fire-breathing opponents."
--The New Yorker
“A well-documented, even-tempered and witty answer, I might say antidote, to such toxic recent bestsellers as Bernard Goldberg's "Bias."
--Los Angeles Times
— Bill Moyers
“Alterman is literate and a master stylist with a sophisticated sense of humor…. Spengler himself could not have put it better.”
-George Reedy in The Washington Post
“The most witty—and sadly—profound analysis of the debilitating state of American politics published in years…. I nominate Alterman to be our next H.L. Mencken.”
-Kai Bird in The Nation
-The New Yorker
“No mere book can take the place of a ticket to Bruce's recent sold-out tour, but [It Ain't No Sin...] might be the next best thing…. , "It Ain't No Sin" is as eloquent and sweet a testament as you're likely to find.”
"A well-researched, passionate, musicologically informed and politically astute appreciation of the great rock 'n' roll artist."
- E. L. Doctorow
-The Washington Post.
“Meticulously researched and cannily argued, Who Speaks… is at once an elegant and passionate plea for the restoration of democratic control to the making of American foreign policy.”
-Journal of American History
“Eric Alterman, a trained historian turned journalist …[his] great strength is that he writes with great erudition and thoughtfulness about a much neglected historical question, so fundamental that cutting-edge scholarship should not ignore it.”