Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Michael Tomasky on the US Left

I've been reading Michael Tomasky's Left for Dead: the life, death and possible resurrection of progressive politics in America. Writing way back in 1996, Tomasky often comes across like an American version of Nick Cohen avant la lettre. Although the book was published pre-Bush, pre-9/11, and pre-Obama, it still has insightful things to say about the wrong turnings taken by the US left, which turn out to be remarkably similar to some of the wrong turnings taken by the British and European left. 

I particularly liked the chapter on identity politics, entitled 'E Unum Pluribus' (OK, so the Latin grammar is wrong when you reverse it like this, but never mind), and the book's main plea, as I read it, is for a return to a progressive universalism based on Enlightenment values. It remains to be seen whether the Obama victory represents the kind of political realignment and revival of liberal-left values that Tomasky was hoping for all those years ago.

In the meantime, I'm hoping that Tomasky will be among those tempted to write up his coverage of the recent presidential electon in book form. There's already a slew of hot-off-the-press volumes available at Amazon, but most of them are by hack writers you've never heard of. The only 'proper' journalist who's so far owned up to writing a book on the campaign is MSNBC's Chuck Todd (for British readers: he's like an American version of Peter Snow, but with a real understanding of politics, and without the histrionics), and a documentary film that has followed the Obama campaign for the last two years is due out in the spring. On the basis of his classic account of Hillary Clinton's run for Senate, which I wrote about in this post, if Tomasky were to decide to pitch in and publish something about the presidential race, it would definitely be the one to read. How about it, Michael?

More on Tomasky here and here.

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