Four years ago, a bright young presidential candidate named Barack Obama campaigned on a theme of hope and change and made history. Today he finds himself in another bitter, divisive presidential race but without the buzzwords. Instead, an embattled president struggles with a dysfunctionally divided Congress, the controversial healthcare bill, a decade-long war, and a stagnant economy.
His arguments are cogent but quite cynical. One of his most interesting ideas about an election that he characterizes, as I read it, as disappointingly stagnant is that the ideas presented by both parties were the most stagnant, unresponsive element of the campaign. I think Balz emphasized too much the increased political polarization of the electorate at the expense of this more compelling idea (in my view).
Balz does do an excellent job of citing and discussing some unique aspects of the 2012 political landscape -- the role of social media, especially the peculiar role of Twitter in public discourse about the debates, and of course the role of SuperPAC funding. His analysis is thorough and far-reaching; the book seems very well-researched as far as I can tell.
While this book may not offer as much behind-the-scenes gossip as some others, I definitely found some interesting tidbits.
Altogether, this is a worthwhile read about an important historical moment in our lives.