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Speaking American: How the Democrats Can Win in the Nineties Paperback – April, 1992

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Pr; 1 edition (April 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560250275
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560250272
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,453,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The wisdom Kusnet has gleaned from campaign speechwriting stints with Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis is simple: don't be afraid to sound and look tough regarding crime and foreign policy; reach out to rather than blame the middle class in addressing social problems; stress the party's identity as populist and inclusive rather than as a collection of special-interest groups. For Democrats to regain their political influence, Kusnet believes, they must recapture the traditional Democratic language and rediscover what made the party strong in the first place. He occasionally combines analysis with personal experiences, but mostly to speculate on what campaigners could or should have done. Further, though his analysis of how Democrats can reach middle-class working Americans without alienating specific constituencies seems on the money, he doesn't move from there to ask how the party can get the vote out among those--i.e., the poor--no longer of concern in campaign rhetoric. Since much of Kusnet's advice has become accepted strategy for Democrats in this year's presidential campaign, this work does not carry the punch it might have a year or more ago.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A speechwriter for Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis, Kusnet offers an insider's view of Democratic presidential politics. At its best, Speaking American (the title refers to political communication that reaches the masses) offers solid tactical advice on combating racially charged symbols and portrayals of the Democrats as the party of big government. Such nuggets are outweighed, however, by wordy and wandering writing laden with anecdotes and vignettes from the Mondale and Dukakis campaigns. Kusnet presents little analysis; what he does offer--for example, that the Democrats must focus on the values of the middle class and on economic populism--has been said more succinctly elsewhere. Those few libraries with unlimited funds should have this book for completeness in a presidential election year. The rest will be better served by Barney Frank's crisply focused Frankly Speaking ( LJ 2/15/92) or Thomas Edsall's thoughtful, comprehensive analysis of Democratic politics, Chain Reaction ( LJ 9/15/91). Previewed in "On the Campaign Book Trail," LJ 3/15/92.--Ed.
- Grace Franklin, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., Ohio
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

David Kusnet was chief speechwriter for President Bill Clinton from 1992 through 1994.

He is the author of "Love the Work, Hate the Job: Why America's Best Workers Are More Unhappy than Ever" (Wiley, 2008) and "Speaking American: How the Democrats Can Win in the Nineties" (Thunder's Mouth, 1992). He collaborated with AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on "America Needs a Raise" (Houghton-Mifflin, 1995) and the General Contractors Association of New York on "To Build New York" (McGraw-Hill, 2008).

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
Kusnet is the "secret weapon" of progressive Democratic politics in America.
He has a born gift for articulation and call to action. Beyond that, he has a special calling ,I believe, and a quality "connection" with the spirit that sustains the best that is America. America.
His advocacy of use of the term "Investment," for example, for helping rebuild America's cities, predated the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) which goes into effect broadly on July 1, 2000. His comments about work and workers are particularly poignant.
He has much to say about Democratic politics but also, and more importantly, about the shape and nature of work and workers in the emerging new America.
He needs to update his book, and change it some, with a title like, "Acting American: a guide to skills essential for workers building the new USA."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David R. Hanson on July 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
I first purchased and read this book back when it was an important document in the 1992 primary season. Kusnet's gift for rhetoric and understanding of American hopes and fears remains apropo twelve years later. At a time when so many Democrats are hard-pressed to find their voice, they could not do better than to start by studying this superb book.
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