cover image The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics

The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics

Matt Bai / Author Penguin Press $25.95 (316p) ISBN 978-1-59420

Scandals, the immigration debate, questions of competency and an approval-deficient President all point to a Democratic sweep in the 2008 elections; despite that, New York Times Magazine writer Bai contends, the Dems' perennial stumbling blocks-a lack of strong leaders, fractured beliefs, general disorganization and inferior skills of mass communication-are only getting worse. In this look behind the scenes at Democratic decision makers, Bai points to a new generation of troubles: has Howard Dean squandered money, good will and opportunities as the head of the party? Have blogs such as DailyKos.com steered the debate away from unifying issues in favor of divisive strategies? Can lefty billionaires like George Soros, or his pet activist Rob Stein, spearhead an effective organization? And how many of these people even know what they're talking about? To analyze these questions, Bai enjoys generous access to many key figures-including Tom Matzzie of MoveOn and Hollywood stalwart Rob Reiner-but few come across as interesting characters. In addition, the focus on 2004 and 2006 races gives much of the book a been-there, done-that feel. It doesn't provide much hope for the Dems-sympathizers are sure to come away from this title depressed, even if the 2008 elections do go their way.