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The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 16, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Cuomo then dared to voice an inconvenient truth: "Now it's 2006 and we're all rejoicing. Why? Because of Iraq. A GIFT. A gift to the Democrats. A lot of whom voted for the war anyway." The former New York governor challenged his partisan audience, "If Iraq is not an issue, then what issues do we have to talk about? ... Where does that leave you? It leaves you in the same position you were in in 2004 - without an issue. Because you have no big idea."
The story of Cuomo's speech is from the concluding pages of Matt Bai's new book The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics. Bai writes, "An uncomfortable silence hung over the ballroom. No one had yet expressed the situation quite that crassly, although everyone knew it was an accurate accounting."
The Argument is an important book but Bai muffed the title. He should have titled it "The Gift," because as Cuomo points out it was primarily the political gift of voter anger and revulsion over a horrific, continuing war that caused them to oust Republicans.Read more ›
For the activist, blogger, or political junkie you should really consider this a textbook. It illustrates some of the battles over the future of the Democratic party that have raged over the past 5 years or so pitting party outsiders vs. party insiders. It also points out the mistakes that have been made and the opportunities that have been missed. But probably most importantly it sums up the critical task - define the argument for a Democratic governing majority.
For the casual observer this book holds many things too. It is one of the few non-fictional books that paints a tail of political intrigue, presents you with vividly developed characters (flaws and all), and really tells a story about the recent past of our political history. The casual observer might not be aware of these undercurrents in modern politics, but it is important to understand them because this is the direction things are heading.
Like the liberal activists, Bai does not care much for the Clintons and the Democratic Leadership Council. The Clinton's practice of triangulation - poaching moderate Republicans and swing voters - does not make for big ideas. Clinton politics are the "politics of the center" whereas liberal activists practice the "politics of the base." (For more on this distinction read The Way to Win: Clinton, Bush, Rove, and How to Take the White House in 2008 (Unabridged) by Mark Halperin and John F. Harris.)
For the past 30 years Republicans have been very successful on the big idea front due to their funding of such think tanks as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. According to Bai, the Democratic effort to replicate that success was initiated by George Soros and other wealthy Democrats.Read more ›
Bai tagged along with billionaire political activists and the founders of the netroots for the last few years and generously spills the insider details as he weaves a larger and strangely compelling narrative about the forces currently reshaping the Democratic Party.
Like many readers, I came to this book with some context for the larger
tale. Given what I had read about the book, I also braced myself
for some criticism of a movement that I had really enjoyed cheering from the
sidelines. Instead of hearing more of what I already knew or a rant against the netroots, however, I was pulled along by a great narrative in a book that in the end I felt was less a critique or polemic but something more rare altogether these days, good old fashioned journalism.
By letting the reader know just enough of his own thoughts on the people and ideas he encounters, Bai trusts the reader to set their own bias filter, which then freed at least this reader to embrace both Bai's narrative and, more importantly, his Argument.
This book will make you think anew about the larger purpose, or lack thereof, propelling the re-awakening of the Democratic Party. The book is worth buying for the stories Bai tells alone, but its real value is in how it will give you a slightly different angle for understanding how the netroots and insanely wealthly donors are changing the Democratic Party itself.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book about liberal democrats (yes they still exist!). Matt Bai sketches and then paints with vivid color and compelling brush strokes democratic supporters and donors. Read morePublished on June 15, 2012 by Elle
Matt Bai's book is a great look at the "new" left. Bai brings us into rooms we could not enter ourselves and talks about the fights over funding, message, and policy for the "new"... Read morePublished on August 27, 2008 by Marc Korman
"The Argument" is about a disagreement between two groups of fairly far left wing
Democrats about how to control the politicians of the Democrat party. Read more
Bai provides an engaging look into the worlds of the very rich and the bloggers who are trying to remake Democratic politics. Read morePublished on May 15, 2008 by Andre Bach
Matt Bai doesn't pretend to be an objective journalist: he proudly admits to his sterling left-wing credentials. Read morePublished on March 10, 2008 by Jerry Saperstein
what separates bai's book from other prez politics books is that it's reported and reasoned whereas the rest tend to mistake heated opinion for insight. Read morePublished on September 19, 2007 by T. Gegax
Here are my impressions of the book and subject:
- Liberals evidently spend lots of time in "small groups" (sort of Kaffee-Klatsches), trying to figure out what their... Read more
Starting with the collapse of the Kerry campaign and the Democrats losing "another election we should have won," Matt Bai takes the reader on a 2-year road trip to points unknown... Read morePublished on September 4, 2007 by J. Kessler
Bai tells readers that the reform of the Democratic party is being led by a widespread uprising led by progressive baby boomers, wealthy investors and defiant bloggers. Read morePublished on September 3, 2007 by Loyd Eskildson