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Sore Winners: American Idols, Patriotic Shoppers, and Other Strange Species in George Bush's America Paperback – August 9, 2005
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“Sore Winners puts it all in perspective . . . It takes on icons of both the left and the right, decoding the through-the-looking-glass landscape of contemporary American culture.” –Los Angeles Times “Sore Winners is one of the best books of political analysis I’ve read in the past five years. John Powers has an original and refreshing way of getting the reader to see politics differently.” –Bill Moyers“[A] bitingly sharp analysis . . . Powers assuredly navigates the reader through both the major (Saddam’s capture) and minor (Joe Millionaire) events that shaped our media-soaked culture over recent years.” –Vogue “[Powers] is a clever, quick-witted writer with a gift for the dead-on zinger — the Left’s answer to P.J. O’Rourke [and] David Brooks.” –The Washington Post Book World“Sore Winners rises above the shrieking din with its mix of pop culture criticismÉand its depressing yet dead-on examination of what Powers terms ‘Bush World.’” –Los Angeles "The best and the most persuasive. . . . The only one to try to tie all of the last 3 1/2 post-traumatic years together!" – The Buffalo News"Powers packs more sense in a quick sentence than others can fit into an entire book."– Colorado Springs Independent“John Powers’s Sore Winners is an angry but astonishingly good-humored and generous account of the degraded political and media culture of the Bush era. I can’t imagine a better guide for anyone trying to get his head screwed on right and mount a free-swinging attack on the worst president and the crassest popular culture in recent American history.”–David Denby, New Yorker film critic and author of American Sucker“Powers’s Sore Winners is surreally comprehensive, laserously observant, 85 percent correct, and refreshingly unshrill.”– David Foster Wallace“While reading this funny and engaging book, I felt the hair I had torn out reading David Brooks start to grow back.” – David Rees, author of Get Your War On“It’s so hard, these days, to cut through the noise and nonsense and get it right. The polymath Powers has done it, with this grand confection of wit, insight and blazing, level-headed honesty. Delicious!” – Ron Suskind, author of A Hope in the Unseen and The Price of Loyalty“A disturbing trip down memory lane that places the last four years in true, horrible relief. John Powers takes us into the funhouse — and then shows us a way out.”–Colson Whitehead, author of John Henry Days and The Colossus of New York“A bittersweet, breezy, smart look at current politics in the larger context of American culture – or what passes for it. Enough right-on digs at current icons to cover the cost of admission!” – Kirkus Reviews“Exhilaratingly insightfulÉPowers' brilliant synthesis and recap is invaluable in its coherence and incisiveness.” – Booklist
From the Inside Flap
Politics and culture, culture and politics. They've never been normal in America, but today they're weirder than ever. Millionaire populists like Bill O'Reilly and Michael Moore dominate a political scene spinning ever further from the real world; meanwhile, we look to bizarre experiments like "Survivor" for our daily dose of reality.
In this wonderfully acerbic tour through our increasingly unhinged culture, John Powers takes on celebrities and evangelicals, pundits and politicians, making sense of the mess for the rest of us. He shows how we have come to equate consumerism with patriotism and Fox News with objective journalism, and how our culture has become more polarized than ever even as we all shop at the same exact big-box stores. Insightful, hilarious, and critical of both liberals and conservatives, this is one of the smartest and most enjoyable books on American culture in years.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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What on earth happened to America?
The author argues that for all Bush's gaffes (and he does point them out) he and his campaign teams effectively revived people's strong need for belonging. I initially had associated this stage with preadolescence, so I really was amazed to see it's documentation throughout the campaign trail.
Regardless of what actually benefits him and his friends alone, Bush took many seemingly disparate groups of voters and made them feel like they were also part of the in-crowd. That sense of belonging ultimately provided incentive to vote Republican.
Because nobody likes believing that their crowd is turning on them, these people honestly and sincerely do not want to believe that same president is advocating for policies which will only benefit a very tiny fraction of America---and they are not included among the beneficiaries. Instead of arguing how horrible a person Bush is, a new campaign strategy is needed to reach these voters.
Other books attempted to examine the psyche of Bush supporters and voters, but too often resorted to one-dimensional and partisan caricatures--which turned off the very people most needing to read that information. We had convinced ourselves Bush was a bad president but failed explaining this to other people.
Powers's book is infinitely more valuable because he concedes that the people who voted for Bush are not evil or bereft of their brain cells. Avoiding such cheap shots is the first step for the supporters of other presidential candidates to convince Bush voters that we are also interested in their needs, and are actually looking out for them.
For example: Paul Krugman and Noam Chomsky. Krugman is a well-respected economist, who like John K. Galbraith, is able to bring the dismal science down to earth for the rest of the population to understand. He attacks Krugman for becoming angry at George W. Bush's policies and not retaining his Ivory Tower status of professor. In particular he takes objection to Krugman's book, The Great Unraveling. Power's argues that Krugman has become too "populist" and less academic. In my view Krugman has every right to be angry at a President who has had a lassiez-faire approach to capitalism.
Second Example: Noam Chomsky. Chomsky is viewed as not framing his criticisms of Bush and our historical foreign policy, in not a branded way. What I mean, is that Power's seems to think that Chomsky is too mean, and that he invites no one in to share his opinion, he turns people off. Well, Chomsky, isn't trying to make people feel good.
By and large the book is ok, but not the best thing written about our culture under Bush. Read Dark Ages America by Morris Berman