Advancing a Free Society

The Thinker

Friday, November 5, 2010

Review of Reading Obama, by James T. Kloppenberg (Princeton, 302 pages, $24.95)

In mid-October, by which time it had become evident that the November midterm elections would deliver a rebuke of historic proportions, President Barack Obama stated in a New York Times Magazine interview that his mistake had been to neglect "marketing and P.R. and public opinion." His problem, in other words, was a failure to communicate.

This claim is difficult to reconcile with the extraordinary rise in 2009 of an energized grass-roots movement combining disaffected Republicans, libertarians and independents. They seemed to grasp the president's goal: to enact a sweeping progressive agenda. In the best traditions of democracy in America—and by means of town-hall meetings, tea-party rallies and the marvels of social networking—people organized to elect representatives and block the transformative ambitions with which they disagreed.

Continue reading Peter Berkowitz’ review in the Wall Street Journal