cover image The Strange Death of Republican America: Chronicles of a Collapsing Party

The Strange Death of Republican America: Chronicles of a Collapsing Party

Sidney Blumenthal, . . Sterling/Union Square, $24.95 (339pp) ISBN 978-1-4027-5789-1

In this incisive and timely essay compilation, Blumenthal, a former adviser to both Bill and Hillary Clinton, charts the fatal radicalization of the Republican Party, its imminent “great unraveling” and the consequences for the 2008 election. Blumenthal argues that the presidency of George W. Bush heralds the decline of the Republican Party after 30 years of political dominance, moderating his otherwise passionate indictment of the GOP by acknowledging that power ebbs and flows between the two parties over time. He likens the current shift to the implosion of the Johnson presidency and subsequent weakening of the Democratic Party, saying, “Vietnam ended a Democratic era as definitively as Iraq is closing a Republican one.” The consummate Washington insider, Blumenthal has a host of high-ranking (albeit often anonymous) sources, and surprising portraits of power pepper the book: of Bush as “a classic insecure authoritarian” given to imposing “humiliating tests of obedience” on his staff (such as locking Colin Powell out of a cabinet meeting for being late), Laura Bush as deeply disdainful of Rove (allegedly dubbing him “Pigpen”), former Majority Leader Tom DeLay as the “Republican Stalin, the ruthless consolidator and centralizer.” Authoritative, meticulously researched, these previously published pieces evade many of the clichés that ensnare partisan political writing and is instead a lively—if deeply sobering—panorama of political life during the Bush presidency. (Apr. 1)