Political Books

Dinner In Camelot

This looks great: Dinner in Camelot: The Night America’s Greatest Scientists, Writers, and Scholars Partied at the Kennedy White House  by Joseph Esposito.

Kirkus Reviews: “Looking back on a time when those in power capitalized on the possibilities and impact of the intellect only agitates our disbelief for today’s state of affairs… An exciting glimpse into a long-gone era of politics and cultural activity.”

‘A Year of Continuous Nightmare’

Just published: LBJ’s 1968 by Kyle Longley.

“1968 was an unprecedented year in terms of upheaval on numerous scales: political, military, economic, social, cultural. In the United States, perhaps no one was more undone by the events of 1968 than President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Kyle Longley leads his readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of what Johnson characterized as the ‘year of a continuous nightmare’.”

The Assault on Intelligence

Coming in May: The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies by Gen. Michael Hayden.

From the introduction: “There is no effort here to build a case for or against collusion. But whatever emerges from Robert Mueller’s investigation, it should not obscure the bigger story, which is still not adequately understood, and which is in a way this book’s climactic case study, namely that Russia has been actively seeking to damage the fabric of American democracy and that the Trump Administration’s glandular aversion to even looking at this squarely, much less mounting a concerted response to it, is an appalling national security lapse.”

“Indeed, there is clear evidence of what I would call convergence, the convergence of a mutually reinforcing swirl of Presidential tweets and statements, Russian influenced social media, alt right websites and talk radio, Russian ‘white’ press like RT and even mainstream U.S. media like Fox News—all of whom do things for their own purposes, but all of which fits nicely with Russian purposes to sharpen and sustain divisions here.”

The Thriller That Predicted the Russia Scandal

Politico notes that The People’s House by David Pepper is “a quick, lively thriller full of labyrinthine scandal and homey Rust Belt touches—reads like a user’s guide to the last two years in U.S. politics.”

“And Pepper wrote the book before any of it actually happened.”

“The People’s House centers around a Russian scheme to flip an election and put Republicans in power by depressing votes in the Midwest. Pipeline politics play an unexpectedly outsize role. Sexual harassment and systematic coverups in Congress abound. But it’s no unimaginative rehash. Pepper released the book in the summer of 2016, just as the presidential contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was heating up—and before Russia’s real-life campaign to influence the election had been revealed. In fact, the heart of the story had been written for three years when Russian government sent hackers to infiltrate the Democratic National Committee and sent their trolls to influence the election on social media. The Putin-like oligarch Pepper portrays as pulling the strings of U.S. politics had been fleshed out for two.”

The Disruptor of the Supreme Court

Rick Hasen: “Scalia disrupted business as usual on the court just like Gingrich disrupted the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1990s and Trump is now disrupting the presidency. Scalia changed the way the Supreme Court writes and analyzes its cases and the tone judges and lawyers use to disagree with each other, evincing a pungent anti-elitist populism that, aside from some criminal procedure cases, mostly served his conservative values. Now the judiciary is being filled at a frenetic pace by Trump and Senate Republicans with Scalian acolytes like Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who will use Scalia’s tools to further delegitimize their liberal opponents and continue to polarize the federal courts.”

Coming soon from Hasen: The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption

Bannon Floated Idea of Running for President

Playbook has exceprts from the paperpack version of Devil’s Bargain by Joshua Green:

“If Trump quit or was impeached, Bannon told friends, it would eliminate the first great champion of Trumpism—but it wouldn’t be a negative judgment on the politics that had swept him into office. In such a scenario, who better to succeed Trump than the man who got him elected? Bannon shared his interest in running for president with only a few close friends, and even they were never quite sure how seriously to take these flights of fancy.”

“But Bannon had thought hard enough about a path to the White House that he’d even toyed with starting a new political party and settled on a name: the National Union Party. That was the temporary name that Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party had adopted in 1864 to attract War Democrats and Unionists. In Bannon’s vision, it would now unite disaffected populists on both ends of the political spectrum. With support from financial benefactors like the Mercer family, he seemed to imagine such a path might be viable, and that a true devotee of right-wing nationalism — rather than a charlatan like Trump—could succeed where his predecessor had failed.”

Bannon Rails Against ‘Anti-Patriarchy Movement’

Steve Bannon is quoted in a new edition of the book Devil’s Bargain as sharply criticizing what he terms the “anti-patriarchy movement” — that is, the movement against sexual harassment and assault — saying he believes it will “undo ten thousand years of recorded history,” CNN reports.

Said Bannon: “It’s a Cromwell moment! It’s even more powerful than populism. It’s deeper. It’s primal. It’s elemental. The long black dresses and all that — this is the Puritans! It’s anti-patriarchy.”

He added: “You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society. And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch.”

How Democracies Die

New on Political Wire Conversations: Chris Riback talks to Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt about their New York Times bestseller, How Democracies Die.

It’s a discussion that could change the way you look at the last 40 years, daily events, our country, and even democracy itself. Their book is also a must-read.

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Thanks to the Cook Political Report for sponsoring this podcast.