A collection of astute articles penned as longtime New Yorker writer Hertzberg (Politics: Observations and Arguments, 1966–2004, 2004, etc.) watched Barack Obama’s historic presidential campaign.
It was the longest, most expensive and, arguably, the most important presidential election in American history, one that “was as severe a test of stamina and character as any our fundamentally sadistic policy system has ever imposed on a set of candidates.” Veteran political analyst Hertzberg, who also served as Jimmy Carter’s speechwriter, reveled in every detail. His collection of short pieces, dated from September 2004 (the Democratic National Convention) to November 2008 (the election), provide a real-time synthesis of everything from the early debates to the veracity of the blogosphere—the articles included here are culled from the “Comments” section of the New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town” and from Hertzberg’s political blog. When parsing Republican nominees and their platforms, the author is consistently fair, though unabashedly liberal. His admiration for Obama is conveyed in eloquent, rigorous prose, and his criticism of attack advertisements and the legacy of the Bush administration are bolstered by deep knowledge of political history and verifiable facts. Hertzberg effectively demonstrates how the election was momentous not just because a Democrat was elected in a time of Republican distress, but because it forever altered the political landscape: A black man won the Democratic nomination for the first time in history; a female vice-presidential candidate challenged the paradigm of political experience; issues such as health care, the environment and the economy trumped the fear-mongering campaigns of the last several cycles; journalism as an industry and an institution was challenged by the egalitarian proliferation of live-bloggers. Without sacrificing the sublime wordplay that devoted New Yorker fans hold dear, the author presents an incisive, profound and intellectually challenging commentary on a landmark series of events in American political history.
The perfect book with which to recall and appreciate the significance of Obama’s journey to the White House.