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I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism
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HarperCollins 2012
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Is Barack Obama the savior of liberalism--or the last liberal president? Charles R. Kesler's spirited analysis of Obama's political thought shows that he represents either a new birth of liberalism--or its demise.




Who is Barack Obama? Though many of his own supporters wonder if he really believes in anything, Charles R. Kesler argues that these disappointed liberals don't appreciate the scope of the president's ambition or the long-term stakes for which he is playing.




Conservatives also misunderstand Obama, according to this leading conservative scholar, educator, and journalist. They dismiss him as a socialist, hopelessly out of touch with the American mainstream. The fringe Right dwells on Obama's foreign upbringing, his missing birth certificate, Bill Ayers's supposed authorship of his books. What mainstream and fringe have in common is a stubborn underestimation of the man and the political movement he embodies.




Reflecting a sophisticated mix of philosophy, psychology, and history, and complemented by a scathing wit, I Am the Change tries to understand Obama as he understands himself, based largely on his own writings, speeches, and interviews. Kesler, the rare conservative who takes Obama seriously as a political thinker, views him as a gifted and highly intelligent progressive who is attempting to become the greatest president in the history of modern liberalism. Intent on reinvigorating the liberal faith, Obama nonetheless fails to understand its fatal contradictions--a shortsightedness that may prove to be liberalism's undoing.




Will Obama save liberalism and become its fourth great incarnation, following Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson? Or will he be derailed by his very successes? These are the questions at the heart of Kesler's thoughtful and illuminating book.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
09/11/2012
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062072979
ASIN:
B00ENGZMW8
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APA Citation (style guide)

Charles R. Kesler. (2012). I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Charles R. Kesler. 2012. I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Charles R. Kesler, I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism. HarperCollins, 2012.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Charles R. Kesler. I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism. HarperCollins, 2012. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        Charles R. Kesler is the Dengler-Dykema Distinguished Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College, and the editor of the Claremont Review of Books. He is a Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, and coeditor, with William F. Buckley, Jr., of Keeping the Tablets: Modern American Conservative Thought.

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fullDescription

Is Barack Obama the savior of liberalism--or the last liberal president? Charles R. Kesler's spirited analysis of Obama's political thought shows that he represents either a new birth of liberalism--or its demise.

Who is Barack Obama? Though many of his own supporters wonder if he really believes in anything, Charles R. Kesler argues that these disappointed liberals don't appreciate the scope of the president's ambition or the long-term stakes for which he is playing.

Conservatives also misunderstand Obama, according to this leading conservative scholar, educator, and journalist. They dismiss him as a socialist, hopelessly out of touch with the American mainstream. The fringe Right dwells on Obama's foreign upbringing, his missing birth certificate, Bill Ayers's supposed authorship of his books. What mainstream and fringe have in common is a stubborn underestimation of the man and the political movement he embodies.

Reflecting a sophisticated mix of philosophy, psychology, and history, and complemented by a scathing wit, I Am the Change tries to understand Obama as he understands himself, based largely on his own writings, speeches, and interviews. Kesler, the rare conservative who takes Obama seriously as a political thinker, views him as a gifted and highly intelligent progressive who is attempting to become the greatest president in the history of modern liberalism. Intent on reinvigorating the liberal faith, Obama nonetheless fails to understand its fatal contradictions--a shortsightedness that may prove to be liberalism's undoing.

Will Obama save liberalism and become its fourth great incarnation, following Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson? Or will he be derailed by his very successes? These are the questions at the heart of Kesler's thoughtful and illuminating book.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Times
      • content:

        "Politically timely and of permanent importance to the study of the American mind. A serious but accessible study of the thinking underpinning the modern liberal project...This is a title - and an author - with a long shelf life and much to teach."

      • premium: False
      • source: Wall Street Journal
      • content:

        "Drawing on his wide reading in philosophy and American political thought, Mr. Kesler argues that Mr. Obama has been shaped by the political tradition of Progressivism and that his 2008 triumph has helped, in turn, to reshape it."

      • premium: False
      • source: George Will, Washington Post
      • content:

        "Obama has earned what he now receives, the tribute of a serious intellectual exegesis by a distinguished political philosopher."

      • premium: False
      • source: Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review
      • content:

        "Kesler is the reader for whom Obama has long been asking, in the sense of 'asking for it', and this book is the examination of the One we've been waiting for."

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        July 16, 2012
        While recalling the wildly inflated expectations that greeted President Barack Obama’s 2008 election, conservative scholar Kesler argues that “fundamental political change”—through the building of a permanent Democratic majority and the “effective disappearance of conservatives”—is still the agenda of Obama’s self-aggrandizing and messianic mission. According to Kesler, liberalism is a big-government and antibusiness bogeyman with totalitarian bent and the antithesis to an American conservatism that resists “the European model of social democracy” and “Keynesian magic.” In dissecting liberalism’s misguidedness, Kesler returns to its modern roots, beginning with Woodrow Wilson’s Progressivism. Obama, he suggests, is in a direct line with a “top down” radical reform agenda—never mind the rhetoric about the grassroots—Obamacare being a particularly glaring instance of “the modern liberal state” in action. But a century of liberalism has bred a philosophical and fiscal crisis that now dooms it to obsolesce or dangerous fascistic transformation. The author’s argument raises important red flags concerning state power generally (although such excesses can hardly be laid exclusively at the feet of liberals), yet loses urgency by being alternately alarmist and dismissive concerning the menace of liberalism. A familiar critique from the right.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        August 15, 2012
        A conservative scholar argues that Barack Obama's presidency represents the hidden decline of liberalism. Avoiding the vitriol of many right-wing critiques, Kesler (Government/Claremont McKenna Coll.) regards Obama as a figure who will transform liberalism terminally, by calling most of its assumptions into question. Much of his critique seems semantic in nature: referring to "the famous monosyllables, hope and change," he acidly asserts, "judging by his record as president they are likely to remain his most renowned utterances." However, much of the narrative looks away from the current political landscape and at the presidencies of Woodrow Wilson ("a genuine democrat who kept his leadership theory firmly grounded in Progressive democracy"), Franklin Roosevelt ("Never one to let an emergency go to waste"), and Lyndon Johnson ("The Great Society...ended with a bang, followed by the long whimper of white liberal guilt"). Kesler peruses their historical narratives and political philosophies for some clue as to how these ambitious individuals' idealism could lead to his nightmare vision of Obama as steward of a vast, grasping and nonfunctioning government. Regarding Obama himself, the author attempts nuance in his harsh assessment. "As Obama's grappling shows," he writes, "intelligent and morally sensitive liberals may try to suppress or internalize the problem of relativism but it cannot be ignored or forgotten." Kesler adeptly wields secondary sources as well as Obama's own books and speeches (and those of the earlier presidents), but his own key assertions can be less comprehensible: "Avant-garde liberalism used to be about progress; now it's about nothingness." The author is undoubtedly erudite, but he seems to subscribe, cynically, to the post-1960s conservative view of progressive accomplishments as merely a sort of incomprehensible outgrowth of white guilt and to see no value in the presence of the post-1930s social safety net. Will provide argumentative intellectual ammunition for conservative book-buyers dissatisfied with the last four years.

        COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        September 1, 2012
        According to Kesler, Obama is neither the lukewarm liberal characterized by the Left nor the socialist characterized by the Right. Instead, Obama stands at a critical point in the history of liberalism, a man struggling to revive progressive politics without understanding its shortcomings. Drawing on Obama's writings and speeches to examine his political perspectives, Kesler details Obama's failure in the broader context of the failure of liberalism. Focusing on Obama's rhetorical extravagance, Kesler asks why Obama stops at a charge to meet history's test rather than push on to close the gap between the real and the ideal. Kesler offers historical comparisons, taking to task Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson for their liberal policies and sinister visions of government and comparing them to Obama. Kesler brings history, psychology, and philosophy together to express a decided point of view while also deftly introducing a note of cynicism.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

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shortDescription

Is Barack Obama the savior of liberalism--or the last liberal president? Charles R. Kesler's spirited analysis of Obama's political thought shows that he represents either a new birth of liberalism--or its demise.

Who is Barack Obama? Though many of his own supporters wonder if he really believes in anything, Charles R. Kesler argues that these disappointed liberals don't appreciate the scope of the president's ambition or the long-term stakes for which he is playing.

Conservatives also misunderstand Obama, according to this leading conservative scholar, educator, and journalist. They dismiss him as a socialist, hopelessly out of touch with the American mainstream. The fringe Right dwells on Obama's foreign upbringing, his missing birth certificate, Bill Ayers's supposed authorship of his books. What mainstream and fringe have in common is a stubborn underestimation of the man and the political movement he embodies.

Reflecting a sophisticated mix...

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