I'm Interested In Reading About Politics Again!!!
Awhile back I did a post about Gary Trudeau’s latest Doonesbury collection and Frank Rich’s The Greatest Story Ever Sold and remarked that while both were excellent books I find I no longer have the stomach to read about our inept and corrupt politicians. After reading an article in Newsweek I recently posted to my politics blog (for the first time in ages) to plead my case that opposing Hillary Clinton does NOT constitute misogyny or sexism. But the four books I am featuring today, all of which have been in my stack for well over a month and some of which are Past Due at the library, and none of which I have been able to bring myself to read strongly suggest that I really am burned out on reading about political stuff.
Like Barrack Obama, Shelby Steele is of mixed race, the son of a black father and a white mother. While I am aware that Steele is regarded as an authority on issues of race and has previously written a best selling book on that subject, I have to say that I found his newly released A Bound Man tiresome and pedantic. From what I could bring myself to read of this book, Steele seems to be saying that Obama’s appeal to white voters lies in his making the issue of race non-threatening by failing to press the critical racial issues that Steele seems to feel still deeply divide us as Americans. It also seems to be his position that this failure somehow dooms his candidacy, but honestly I couldn’t bring myself to more than skim this book and can’t claim to understand it.
But I am left with the distinct impression that Steele makes a comfortable living writing and speaking about issues that most Americans have largely grown past. I was reminded of an incident some time back on Blog Catalog when someone tried to stir up a big anti-gay fuss and the reaction they got, from both gay and straight participants, was ‘who cares, how boring’. I well realize that my black friends and associates may not share this view, but where Obama seems to me to be genuinely trying to move beyond race, Steele seems far too invested in the issue to truly want to move beyond it. Not Recommended.
By contrast Anne Marie Slaughter’s The Idea That Is America is a book I admire and cautiously (since I didn’t actually read it) Recommend. Slaughter is a Dean at Princeton University who argues that we must return to the ideals of our founding fathers upon which the United States was created. I quite agree with this, but at this point I am so disillusioned by how terribly far astray we have come from those ideals and (for the moment at any rate) feel so powerless to change this that despite having had the book on hand for more than two months and having picked it up and tried to start reading it a dozen times or more simply was never able to make any headway.
I have to admit, right off that I just didn’t "get" The Abu Ghraib Effect. By now we have all seen those horrid photos showing the unconscionable torture of prisoners by US soldiers and when I first saw this book I had hoped it might be a detailed look at why the consequences of this revealed torture were limited to what amounted to a slap on the wrist for Private Trailer Trash Girl when so clearly responsibility for their actions extended all the way to the top. Instead author Stephen F Eisenmann painstakingly analyzes each of the images drawing parallels to pictures of victims throughout history demonstrating a thesis that quite, quite escaped me. Not Recommended.
Josh Rushing is a former US Marine who now works for the Al Jazeera television network and is on something of a personal mission to help Americans understand the Arab world in order to facilitate a more peaceful co-existence with our global neighbors. It is a laudable goal which I endorse unreservedly. But the extremely self-congratulatory tone of his memoir Mission Al Jazeera just made me want to spit. Not Recommended.