Eric Alterman's "Why We're Liberals", is a thoughtful if overly dry book about liberalism in America today. It has some merit, much to the author's credit. For a generation, the right has pounded the left to the point where "liberal" is one of those four-letter words, and then some. Alterman reminds the reader that until liberals stand up and defend that term, (politicians especially) we're not going to move very far.
Much of the book has little to do with why so many of us are liberals, but rather focuses in on how conservatives view liberals and how they go about their mischievous deeds with inaccuracies that go beyond the pale. Alterman does a good job in citing quotations to that end and indeed that is his finest contribution. But he also has a proclivity to sink into polls and other factual numbers that don't elevate what should be a terrific exposé of the right wing. When speaking of Maureen Dowd he quotes a journalist as saying that "she's a liberal by default". Given Alterman's fixation on non-liberal thinking I felt myself in exactly the same position....liberal by default.
Alterman concludes with a terrific last few pages about why we are liberals. I wish I had seen more evidence throughout his book regarding the positive aspects of being on the left, but for those who want some comfort food, "Why We're Liberals" will provide some snacking along the way.