SPOILED ROTTEN by Jay Cost

SPOILED ROTTEN

How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic

KIRKUS REVIEW

Weekly Standard blogger Cost examines what he sees as the dangerous domination of the Democratic Party by special interests.

The author looks at how Democratic presidents have handled various groups in the party coalition, including African-Americans, unions, feminists and environmentalists. He argues that Democratic presidents have long catered to such groups with expensive programs, to the detriment of “the public interest”—a practice that has made the party “a threat to the American republic itself.” His historical overview is wide-ranging, extensively researched and often engagingly written, but readers who don’t share Cost’s conservative outlook will not be won over. Often, he seems to conflate “the public interest” with right-leaning policies. He lauds President Clinton for pursuing goals that liberal groups disliked, such as welfare reform and the North American Free Trade Agreement, while deriding Clinton’s attempt to allow gays to serve openly in the military as a mere sop to a Democratic constituency. The author also roundly criticizes Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, who shepherded especially large government programs. But Cost saves his harshest words for President Obama, who he claims has “focused relentlessly upon the interests of the party clients over the public good.” In particular, the author characterizes the president’s health-care reform policies as a massive handout to left-leaning special interests. It is interesting to note that some members of these same groups regularly criticize Obama for not being liberal enough, a fact Cost does not explore. He also doesn’t address how Republican Party policies have been influenced by its own coalition groups, which would make for an informative comparison.

An impassioned argument that will only appeal to a conservative audience.

Pub Date: May 15th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-204115-9
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2012




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