Sunday, December 05, 2010

Book discussion

Jim: We're doing a book discussion today. The book in question is Roger Hodge's new book The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism. We may do one more book discussion before the end of the year, our e-mail address is Participating in this discussion are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; and Wally of The Daily Jot. Wally, how about you kick us off?

The Mendacity of Hope

Wally: Sure. The book's published by HarperCollins, with a list price of $25.99. It's 235 pages of text. Which traces the rotten core of brand Barack and more. Roger Hodge was on Law and Disorder Radio last week. You can see C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" from Monday for some excerpts of the broadcast. Hodge worked for Harper's magazine and was fired from it.

Jim: And, as always when we do book discussions, we do book discussions. In other words, this isn't, "Oh, you're groovy, Jesus must have had a twin, Maya Angelou's been cloned!" When we do a book discussion, we put on our critical thinking caps and we offer a serious critique. Mike, why don't you start off with the negative now?

Mike: Sure. The book's got too much Bill Clinton. Barack has not named Bill as a hero, he's named Ronald Reagan as one. It's an issue because it appears Hodge can't make the hard calls unless he can hide behind Bill Clinton. This came through in the Law & Disorder interview as well and I'd advise Roger Hodge to cut that s**t out and do so real damn quick. Let's break down the realities for him, no one is going to buy this book that belongs to the Cult of St. Barack. If he wants to sale the book, he needs to quit insulting Hillary. He also needs to say what he is. He says he's not a Democrat and he's not a Republican. So, tell us, what are you? Second, we don't need your little insults about Hillary in the primary and, in fact, let me be real clear, F**K YOU, Roger Hodge. It is exactly the crap you're pulling right now in your interviews that helped gift Barack with the Democratic Party nomination. You're telling us in your book about all the laws Barack's broken. We don't need your attacks on Hillary. You're not a pyschic, you don't know that she would have been better or worse and, most importantly, we documented Harper's here when you were in charge and you have a huge issue with women. You failed to publish them, you did publish many, many sexist articles. So you need to back the hell off Hillary. We're not in the mood and it's not going to sell your damn book. What really needs to happen is the next time you going into one of your Hillary rants, somebody's slaps you across the face and asks you how the hell you think that sells your book? It doesn't.

Rebecca: I just want to echo that. I was thinking that listening to the interview and in reading the book. In the book, the digs at Hillary are less concentrated but they are there. And Ava and C.I. here -- along with a few features we wrote all together -- did chart how women barely appeared in Harper's -- as writers -- during Hodge's stay and also how many sexist pieces made it into print at the magazine.

Jim: Okay, well, Rebecca, what would you add in terms of negative criticism?

Rebecca: I'd drop back to Mike's point about the book and Bill Clinton. I do think we need to know what Hodge is because he's judging Bill Clinton's politics and I think he's getting them wrong. I think he's getting a great deal wrong. There's a new book about Jane Fonda that's good overall but has a minor flaw where the author wants to insist that, prior to her activism, she wasn't a sex symbol. By 2010 standards? Because by the standards of her time she was a sex symbol. She made the sex comedies like Sunday In New York and Any Wednesday, she played the hookers like in Walk On The Wild Side. While she was doing her American films, she was also doing French films with Roger Vadim. While she's not naked in Circle of Love, it caused a big stir in this country because the art work had her nude. There was a big to-do over putting a band-aid over her nude ass on the New York display. Then you've got nude scenes in The Game Is Over. Today that's nothing. Back then, it was a big deal. Barbarella was not the starting point. But this author judges Jane by some standard that I'm not getting. It completely escapes me. By the same token, if you're going to categorize Bill Clinton, you better what the hell you're talking about. In 2010, the economy may be the biggest issue in the world -- or it may not be. But it wasn't that kind of an issue when he ran for office. There were other issues, we'd had 12 years of cultural wars launched from the White House. I really don't want to get into refighting that period. And the book suffers because Hodge has to rip apart Bill Clinton to criticize Barack. As Mike said, Ronald Reagan's the one Barack keeps praising. You've got a reason to talk about Clinton when talking about the economic advisors Barack ran with. I didn't see the exploration of Ronald Reagan in the book -- his policies or anything like that. I saw a little boy who needs hike his leg and try to piss on Daddy Bill to feel good about himself. It cheapened the book and made it not worth reading in my opinion.

Jim: Okay. Very good. Thank you, Rebecca. Ruth, you had a comment regarding the ending.

Ruth: I just felt like the book needed -- you know what? I want to go to what Rebecca's talked about. Why is it that only Ava and C.I. have pointed out the obvious facts regarding the hatred of Hillary and the hatred of women in the Democratic Party structure? Hodge is babbling about that hideous speech Barack Obama gave at the 2004 DNC in Boston. Babble, babble, babble. He even praises that crap. It was an embarrassing speech. Who was the columnist who saw through it in real time?

C.I.: Matthew Rothschild. Only he dared to say the emperor has no clothes on. Which made his hop on the Barack train in 2008 all the sadder.

Ruth: Thank you. But why is it that Ava and C.I. are the only ones who connect the dots? Everyone talks about that damn convention but only Ava and C.I. point to how no women, none, were supposed to speak in prime time. And only when Hillary supporters raised a huge stink did the leadership finally allow one woman to speak. Hillary was already raising tons of money for the Democratic Party. And yet it took a battle to get her onstage. When you grasp those realities -- which are not hidden and were covered by everyone in real time -- then what took place in 2008 is far less shocking. And I am sorry, I do not need a lecture about Hillary Clinton from some man who does not know the first thing about her and using her as his punching bag to justify critiquing Barack Obama. Who is the president? Why do you have to hide behind attacks on Hillary to criticize Mr. Obama? As Mike said, this is not how you sell a book.

Elaine: I agree with Ruth, Rebecca and, of course, Mike. I could add to that and expand on it but I'll move over to the positives. He does sketch out the problems with Barack, the broken promises, the broken laws. I don't know. I'm thinking I can move beyond what was being discussed before, but I'm not really sure I can. To be honest, I think this book is maddening for anyone who told the truth and took a stand in 2008. C.I. rightly ridiculed three idiots blurbing on the dusk jacket in Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot." Three liars. Three liars who think they can show up now and pretend like they were telling the hard truths when it mattered. They weren't. Neither was Harper's magazine. Don't take a high and mighty tone with those of us who were right.

Dona: I've got to agree with Elaine on that. I think in part, it's that three of the biggest lying Barack whores blurb the book -- Barbara Ehrenreich, Naomi Klein and Naomi Wolf. I think it's really hard to take them seriously and that they want to pretend like they were honest brokers in real time? I'm not buying it. And I'm not in the mood for this garbage. Hodge voted for Barack Obama. He wants to insist everything was obvious in real time. So why did he vote for Barack? Why? What kind of hypocrite does that make him? Jim's laughing.

Jim: Yeah, well we thought this was going to be an easy book to praise. I'm fine with all the comments but -- I agree with them. But the big concern I had going in was that we were going to be offering a slobbering love-fest. Wally, you're wanting to speak. Go ahead.

Wally: I think it's a well written book and even has humor in parts. For example, discussing benefits, Hodge notes that he lost his in January 2010 when he was fired. I don't know.

Jim: Ava, C.I., we need to wrap up. Ava, you go first.

Ava: The book has many good qualities. I understand what people are saying and why they're saying it. Often, we're writing a piece, C.I. and I, and we'll realize half-way in that there's another way to look at it. I think that's happening here. The book has many good points but, if we're concluding, I want to spin it in a direction C.I. and I were talking about on the road last week. Hodge's book contains sections that should have been covered in real time. There is no excuse for The Nation, The Progressive, all of them, wasting their time and our time. Hodge argues that this and that is happening. I don't disagree. We were calling out the bulk of what he covers here, in real time.

C.I.: And the point Ava's making is that if people had done what was needed in real time, who would need Hodge's book right now? I recommend the book, I think it's more than worth reading. But the point Ava and I are making is, why is this coming out in a book when The Nation and others should have been on it all along. If we really did want to change anything, as opposed to just being cheerleaders, then we needed to be paying attention. I'm not saying it's too late for the book, I do like the book. I'm saying what Hodge is doing should have been done all along.

Jim: And on that point, we'll close this off. Again, the book was Roger Hodge's The Mendacity of Hope.
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