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It's the Middle Class, Stupid! Hardcover – July 10, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for IT’S THE MIDDLE CLASS, STUPID! by James Carville & Stan Greenberg:
“James Carville and Stan Greenberg have written one of the finest—and most eye-opening—examinations of how our economy, even when it’s growing, doesn’t increase the incomes of middle class Americans or give poor working people the chance to earn them.  Unless it can be reversed, this trend will limit the future for all Americans.  Carville and Greenberg have some good ideas about how to do that and restore the American Dream, making It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! essential reading for politicians, policy-makers, and concerned citizens.”
–President Bill Clinton

“Political guru James Carville and savvy pollster Stan Greenberg team up for a presidential campaign–oriented book that will be part of the media circus surrounding the election.”


 “For political junkies who enjoy straight-talk policy discussion.”



 “Top-gun political strategist, ever controversial Ragin’ Cajun James Carville and pollster nonpareil Stan Greenberg deliver the message that could keep Obama in office: It’s The Middle Class, Stupid! But class warfare isn’t the answer (nuts!); it’s for both parties to admit their failures and for regular people to get involved in taking back their country from bigwigs in Wall Street and Washington.”

—Elissa Schappel, Vanity Fair


For many Democrats [the book] will be the playbook on how to talk to voters about economic issues….Democrats and Republicans alike in the elite and political class should pay heed: these pages contain more than a little truth.”—National Journal


“A recipe for President Barack Obama’s re-election…..very timely….impressive.”

—Associated Press

About the Author

James Carville is an American political consultant, commentator, educator, actor, attorney, media personality, and prominent liberal pundit.  He gained national attention for his work as the lead strategist of the successful 1992 presidential campaign of Bill Clinton.  Carville was a cohost of CNN's Crossfire until its final broadcast in June 2005.  Since then, he has appeared on CNN's news program The Situation Room, and since 2009, he has hosted a weekly XM Radio program, 60/20 Sports, with Luke Russert, son of the late Tim Russert, who hosted NBC's Meet the Press.  Carville, who is married to Republican political consultant Mary Matalin, has taught political science at Tulane University since 2009.

Stan Greenberg is a leading Democratic pollster and political strategist who has advised the campaigns of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry, and hundreds of other candidates and organizations in the United States and around the world.  A political scientist who received his B.A. from Miami University and his Ph.D. from Harvard, Greenberg spent a decade teaching at Yale before becoming a political consultant.  His 1985 study of Reagan Democrats in Macomb County, Michigan, became a classic of progressive political strategy, and is the basis for his continuing argument that Democrats must actively work to present themselves as populists advocating the expansion of opportunity for the middle class.  Greenberg is married to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who represents Connecticut's Third Congressional District.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press; 1 edition (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399160396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399160394
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,069,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Carvell and Greenberg to a good job of covering the continuing destruction of the middle class in America, and they make a strong argument that this should be the key focus of the Obama campaign in 2012.

The book includes lots of facts that demonstrate the plight of the majority of working Americans. Incomes have stagnated even though people are working harder (and longer hours), and fewer and fewer average people have health care through their employer. For example, in 1980, 2/3 of high school graduates had a job that included health care; today the figure is only 25%. Income inequality is out of control; the top 1% now owns more that the entire bottom 90% of the population.

The authors believe that while the elite (including Democrats) shy away from "class warfare" most average people understand that the rich started the war long ago, and that it is time to engage the battle. Therefore, they suggest that Obama should embrace this issue and make it central to the campaign.

One disturbing thing is that Carvell and Greenberg seem to be looking for a near landslide Democratic victory, something that would "repudiate the Tea Party" and somehow cause Republicans to be more reasonable in the future. Based on current polling and Republican behavior, I don't see much chance of this...so it's very difficult to be optimistic about the kind of change the authors are hoping for.

Nonetheless, the issues they raise are critical for America, not just for this election but over the next few decades. Technology and globalization continue to advance, and it's a good bet that as a result the problems will get worse and worse. Going forward, robots, artificial intelligence and offshoring are going to make it easier and easier for CEOs and bankers to profit while average workers continue to lose out, and it's hard to see what will turn things around.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read and reviewed a lot of political books over the past 3 months, but "It's the Middle Class, Stupid!" is by far the most unashamedly political one of all. The set-up is that Carville & Greenberg are working through arguments and pitches that will appeal to voters to reverse the 2010 trends and get the Democrats back in control of the House, Senate, the presidency, and eventually even the Supreme Court. They make this whole scenario very personal--starting by telling their respective life stories and why they are both the bluest-of-true-blue Democrats.

The book then goes back and forth between them, almost like they're having a conversation and taking advantage of Carville's well-known say-what-you-think style and Greenberg's analytical way of looking at the political landscape. It's pretty compelling. One could envision this conversation happening over a period of months or even in a single particularly insightful day. It's so partisan that Democrats will love it, while Republicans might actually read it--just to see what the other side is thinking. What works about this is that Carville keeps responding emotionally -- watch out Paul Ryan! -- but Greenberg keeps reining him back in ... like "no, that's what politicians might think but the voters are ahead of us and they're smarter than you think." I read a review of another book where the reviewer wondered how two authors collaborated on a book. Kudos here to Carville in his role as bad cop and to Greenberg as good cop (or actually in his case good cop-ywriter).

The result is that over the first half of the book ... with plenty of actual quotes from focus group participants from the middle and working classes, from different races, with and without college degrees (mostly without) ...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The realities of politics have shifted with the explosion of communication at every level. What I found especially interesting about the book was the reporting on a large amount of grass roots middle class polling results. Apparently the vast middle class knows a whole lot more about what is really going on than they did in the not too distant past. This alters the impact of mad dog media ads full of half sentence misleading quotes, unsupported "promises", and blatant lies. I suspect that these old tactics actually damage a candidate now.

The obvious conclusion is that if the middle class wakes up, a Republican platform espousing tax breaks for the rich and penalizing the vast middle class is doomed to failure.

If Democrats focus on issues that affect the middle class and offer plausible solutions to those issues the Republican attack ads and lack of specific plans to resolve middle class issues will work against them at the polls.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a thought-provoking discussion of how the Middle Class has been in long-term decline for three decades. The key idea is that recovery from the 2008 Financial Collapse is insufficient as the goal. When President Obama talks about getting jobs back from that Collapse, the Middle Class doesn't applaud. Instead it asks, "What kind of jobs?" This is the question because many in the Middle Class were suffering before the Collapse. They were suffering because their jobs were no longer making Middle Class life possible. The wages were too low to support the house, the two cars (which two working parents need), healthcare, and college for the kids.

So, the Middle Class borrowed to pay the mortgage, a big contributor to the 2008 Collapse.

This book really hammers home that re-building the Middle Class should be the goal. It presents the polling evidence that this is how the Middle Class looks at the situation. 75% of Americans consider themselves part of the Middle Class. So, this is a view to take note of.

However, this book doesn't present the whole picture. Middle Class income hasn't declined in the last 30 years; it's increased slightly. If that's the case, what is really causing the decline of the Middle Class? The dissatisfaction with income growth relative to that of the 1% ? (The disparity is outrageous.) Soaring medical and college costs relative to minor increases in Middle Class incomes? Unmet Middle Class desires for bigger houses, bigger cars, more electronics, more bling? Cultural changes, rather than economic ones, such as lower marriage rates?

This book is a lot like one of the two authors, James Carville. Insightfully brilliant and effective, loud-mouthed, and brash. The editing job fits James Carville well, too, somewhat rough around the edges. However, it changed how I see the world, explained a lot of today's unfathomable political landscape, and raised even more questions about what is happening in the Middle Class.
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