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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not quite up to Renegade standards, December 7, 2010
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This review is from: Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House (Hardcover)
I love Richard Wolffe, and while I enjoyed this book, I found it, at least in the early sections, much less compelling than Renegade. My reaction may have been partly influenced because the early part of the book focuses so much on the impact for the administration and the Democtrats of losing the Massachusetts Senate seat to a Republican. While that was significant at the time, it pales in comparison to the more recent developments of the mid-term elections when the Democrats lost their majority in the House of Representatives. Still, I also had some issues with the content. I felt like the first half of the book provided fewer of the behind the scenes anecdotes that made Renegade so compelling. There were a lot of passages with Wolffe providing lofty, almost philosophical, context for what was going on and a broad description of what he called the Revivalist (let's change the world) vs. Survivalist (let's focus on what we can get passed) camps inside the White House. He had a lot of quotes from David Axelrod and Rahm Emmanuel but those too were broad viewpoints about the political landscape and their sense of Obama's personality. I didn't want to read a treatise -- I wanted to see people in action and tidbits you don't get in the daily news. In the whole section on the health care debate, I didn't get a lot of details that I didn't already know. That may be because I followed the health care debate on a day-to-day basis until I couldn't take the daily frettting over whether the public option was in or out and decided to turn off Countdown & ignore the articles on the Huffington Post until there was a final bill passed. Halfway through the book, though, my experience of it changed. There were fewer of those long-winded philosophical discussions and more behind the curtain glimpses of how these pople think and act. The book really picked up in my mind when it shifted to the administration's treatment of the Haiti earthquake crisis and the war in Afghanistan. I kept wishing Fox news watchers and Glenn Beck fans would read this book because they'd discover the man they want to call a demagogue is anything but -- he has such a measured, reasoned way of coming to decisions. He's far from the socialistic idealogue they insist he is. (I know they won't read it -- it seems more than a few on the right think Wolffe is an Obama hagiographer). Sadly, in reading the book I started to fear the country is ungovernable because the extremes have taken over both parties, and someone like Obama, who wants to stake out a compromised ground in the middle doesn't stand a chance. But I finished the book last week, and today (Dec 7th, 2010) Obama's coming under considerable attack for agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts. Many on the left -- Frank Rich, Rep Anthony Weiner, and even Bill Maher -- are accusing the president of being a wimp (or a victim of "Stockholm syndrome" in Rich's term) and not understanding that occasionally in negotiating you have to take a combative, hardline stance in order to move the opposition toward compromise. The progressives are insisting Obama always gives in before he's tested how far the Republicans might move -- or be forced, by political pressures, to move. Time will tell, but it'll be interesting to see if Obama's measured, analytical, almost academic approach to information gathering and weighing options that Wolffe depicts here could ultimately be Obama's undoing.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 1, 2011 7:37:10 PM PDT
I wish I could write as well as this reviewer. Unlike Fox, this really is "fair and balanced" and thoughtful too

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2012 6:38:18 PM PDT
Doodad says:
Um yeah Nick, why do I get the feeling you have NEVER watched Fox News, and stick to the "news" organizations that spout your world-view? Why indeed!

As for Obama not being a demagogue and a socialist, may I point you to his "war on women" nonsense. That's what Obama said about the Catholic Church and Republicans, who were simply saying BO didn't have the constitutional power to force Catholics to cover contraception and abortions.

As for BO being a socialist; he bought 2 major car companies, gave one to the UAW (General Motors, remember?), told the bondholders to go pound sand, "you need to stop being greedy", and sold the other to the Italians. He then shut down dealerships, mostly "Republican" owned, and NO minority owned dealerships. He set off on his quest to control 1/6 of the U.S economy by bullying and cajoling the House and Senate 'Rats to pass ObamaCare, which is designed to shut down private insurers by forcing them to cover people already sick. That's like forcing State Farm or Progressive to cover people who have just had wrecks. What a guy, huh? To top off his socialist resume, he wholly took over the student loan industry. Let us ask ourselves what hideous incentives he had to take over THAT industry. Draw your own conclusions, but check your delusions. Barack Obama is a radical of the first order, and only an idiot would deny that.

Posted on Jun 12, 2012 6:42:54 PM PDT
Doodad says:
"...Obama, who wants to stake out a compromised ground in the middle..."
You can't be serious. You. Can't. Be. Serious! What dimension are you from, J? I'd like to visit sometime. Obama is the most radical president we will hopefully ever see. You MSNBC watchers need to stray off your plantation before you call on "Fox news watchers" to read more glowing crap on Obama, written or reported by Leftists. No thanks, I'll stick with the dimension I'm in, and the truth, which I'm positive is twisted in this book.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2012 7:43:00 PM PDT
J. Luiz says:
There are many on the left who wish Obama were the radical Fox News tries to portray him to be. If he were he would have opted for a single payer plan, like Medicare, and not a plan that was modeled after what the Republican nominee established in Massachusetts. If he was a more radical leftist he would not have extended the Bush tax cuts, which everyone on the left opposed. If he was following the left wing of the party, he would not have directed his attorney general to not bring war crimes charges against members of the Bush administration. it is nice to bellow but it simply does not fit to call Obama a radical when he is far more centrist than two of the great liberal presidents of the last century - FDR and LBJ. The New Deal and Great Society imposed far more government intervention with two institutions people now depend on - Social Security and Medicare. Both were much radical than a continuation of a private insurance system with fall back consortiums for people who don't have private plans available thru their employer. The most controversial element of that plan - the individual mandate - is part of the Mass system but I don't remember anyone calling Romney a Marxist when he introduced it.
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