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Showdown: The Inside Story of How Obama Fought Back Against Boehner, Cantor, and the Tea Party Hardcover – March 20, 2012
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“A great book - the real inside story. If you want to understand the Obama White House and how Washington works, you have to read it.” (Chris Matthews)
“Best account yet of how Obama strategizes.” (Jefferson Morley, Salon.com)
“A dramatic behind-the-scenes account of the decision making that occured within the Obama White House following the disastrous-for-Democrats 2010 midterm election... shows how Obama got his groove back in time for the 2012 campaign.” (Huffington Post)
“Through the lens of policy battles, you get a remarkably vivid pen portrait of Obama himself and how he thinks.” (Kevin Drum, Mother Jones)
“Fine book about how the Obama administration maneuvered to it’s advantage in the face of the catastrophic loses of the 2010 midterm elections.” (Charles P. Pierce, Esquire)
“Why did Obama and Democrats pivot so hard towards deficit reductions, and away from job creation after the 2010 elections? We now have a book that sheds some fresh light on what drove this pivot. ... Corn reports on a number of behind the scene discussions...illuminating.” (Greg Sargent, the Washington Post )
“ Showdown focuses on key moments of Obama’s presidency.” (Mackenzie Weinger, Politico.com)
“Insta-history of Obama... good.” (David Weigel, Slate.com)
“Showdown chronicles the administration over the past two years.” (USA Today)
“Veteran Washington journalist Corn highlights the Obama presidency’s most important and dramatic events ... the book brings a different perspective just as Obama fights for re-election.” (Publishers Weekly)
From the Back Cover
The veteran political journalist and New York Times bestselling author goes behind the scenes at the White House to recount the dramatic tale of a pivotal period in the Obama presidency, from the game-changing 2010 midterm elections to the beginning of the critical 2012 campaign season—a tumultuous time that tested the president as never before and set the stage for a titanic clash over the future of the nation
After Barack Obama's first two years as president—during which he navigated the United States through its severest economic crisis since the Great Depression while managing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—he was faced with a bitterly divided nation and an emboldened political opposition dedicated to impeding his presidency. What followed was a year of political crises and fierce battles that would transform Obama and profoundly shape the terrain for the next election.
In Showdown, astute political journalist David Corn chronicles and examines this crucial time in the Obama presidency and its impact on the nation's future. Drawing on interviews with White House officials, Obama's inner circle, members of Congress, and others, Corn takes the reader into the Oval Office and the back rooms on Capitol Hill for a fast-paced and gripping account of the major events as they unfolded: the controversial tax-cut deal with Congress in December 2010; the repeal of Don't Ask/Don't Tell; the passage of the New START treaty; the near shutdown of the government in early 2011; the revolutionary Arab spring; the killing of Osama bin Laden; the intense, high-wire debt-ceiling negotiations (in which intransigent House Republicans risked the nation's financial standing); House Speaker John Boehner's erratic maneuvers during the rise and fall of the grand bargain; and the face-off between Obama and congressional Republicans over how best to create jobs.
Corn captures the dilemmas faced by a president assailed by disappointed progressives and defiantly obstructionist Republicans determined to see his defeat. Here is a chief executive trying to balance the cross-cutting demands of governance and politics while handling unending challenges at home and abroad. The book reveals a thoughtful leader with a cool head who is unafraid to take risks and make tough choices, a steely battler who successfully turned his enemies' obstinacy to his advantage. Obama has often frustrated supporters, but Corn shows how the president, who often puts pragmatism ahead of partisan demands, has craftily operated within a hostile conservative political climate, looking to win the long game, achieve progressive goals, and, ultimately, win reelection.
A vivid and powerful account of White House decision-making, Showdown offers a unique and enlightening look at the turbulent American political scene during one of the most consequential moments of the nation's history, and explains the fascinating and complicated leader at the heart of this vortex.
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Okay, to the book itself. "Showdown" recounts the legislative aspects of calendar year 2011 (roughly), in which Obama had to deal with the "shellacking" his party received in the 2010 midterm elections and the Tea Party-ized congress. There is plenty of true substance here, not just details for the sake of reporting. Occasionally there's too much. In fact, it's amazing how deep into the weeds David Corn was able to get. We learn about the Gang of Six, the Big Cross, and the unenviable position of John Boehner (really, I almost felt sorry for the guy after reading this book...almost). We also learn about just how long a game was being played by Messina, Plouffe, Axelrod, and, of course, Obama.
This book stops at the start of 2012, so there is little about the election. But many of the themes of both parties' campaigns were clearly at play during 2011, hence the subtitle of the book: "How Obama Battled the GOP to Set up the 2012 Election." I was tempted to deduct a star for length and depth of detail; this book occasionally read like a great 300-page book crammed into 400 pages, as the saying goes (I read it on my Kindle so I don't have the actual page count).
As you can probably tell from the reviews, the book is definitely pro-Obama. But there is plenty of criticism, too, and I did not feel like Corn was spinning or propagandizing. Corn gives us analysis, not a recitation of talking points. I thought "Showdown" was worth far more than the $2.99 it costs to buy for the Kindle.
Very much recommend this book.