Anthology of essays on the white-hot political debates of 2004 tries to shed light on the issues and ideas that will shape politics in the coming years.
Flippin has assembled many informative pieces dissecting the events that captured our political imagination last year: the presidential election of 2004, the distant horizon of 2008, the war in Iraq, the war on terrorism, the drama of Terry Schiavo, Social Security reform. The collection also includes incisive essays on the future of the Democratic Party and the role of religion in public life. While two of the most trenchant pieces come from The Weekly Standard, the majority are reprinted from centrist and liberal mainstream publications like The New Yorker, The Nation, The New Republic and The Atlantic Monthly. One entertaining essay, “Bipolar Disorder,” by Jonathan Rauch, departs from the premise of nearly all the others by challenging the prevailing wisdom that the country is deeply divided; another, “The Politics of Churlishness,” by Martin Peretz, chides Democrats for not giving President Bush enough credit for advancing liberal ideas through his assertive foreign policy. But while all of the pieces entertain—or, in the case of Jane Mayer’s devastating “Outsourcing Torture,” outrage—problems abound. To begin with, informed readers of the publications cited here will almost certainly have already read many of these. In addition, the anthology fulfills almost too well its aim of bringing readers back to last year. Unlike fiction or poetry, even the finest political commentary has a notoriously short shelf life. Good as they may be, many of these pieces seem stale.
A decent reference for political junkies and news addicts.