PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... important ... Geismer’s book is a wonderfully detailed history of a now-extinct faith; the D.L.C. closed its doors in 2011. She’s especially good at tracing the evolution of the \'microfinance\' model developed by the Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh, which was embraced with great enthusiasm by both Bill and Hillary Clinton ... There’s a tendency today on the left to judge the New Democrats by an impossible standard, and Geismer succumbs to this periodically. For example, she faults Bill Clinton’s praising of the working poor who \'played by the rules\' for serving to \'stigmatize those poor people who allegedly did not.\' That was one of three or four places where I scribbled in the margin, \'Oh, please.\'
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... an elegantly argued and meticulously documented attempt to place Nader within the liberal tradition ... Sabin makes his case intelligently and forcefully, but I have a few reservations. This may not matter, but Nader himself isn’t easily classifiable as a liberal; he’s on record opposing \'government intrusion into the economy,\' for instance. The adversarial liberalism that Sabin associates with Nader seems more obviously a furious response to government lies about the Vietnam War and Watergate ... Sabin is certainly right that Nader played rough with the federal government, saving his harshest blows for his friends (on the theory that you can actually influence them). But that’s tactics. Ideologically, if Nader is a liberal, he’s a New Deal liberal whose vigorous engagement with government is premised on the conviction that government really is ourselves. Nader’s solution to weaknesses in the countervailing power model was to become a countervailing power himself, alongside labor and industry. His clout peaked four decades ago, but Nader continues to operate on the principle that ordinary citizens can make government better. He’s still at it today.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewDonald Trump’s presidency has spawned a cottage industry in liberalism-is-dying books ... Traub’s is the most muscular of these books in tracing liberalism’s evolution from a check mainly on government power (Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mill) to a check mainly on the power of big business (Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt) to a belief system that championed civil rights, the environment and social welfare ... The most richly reported part of Traub’s book documents the harrowing rise of \'illiberal and increasingly authoritarian leaders\' in Hungary, Poland and Italy, which predates Trump’s election, and recent worrisome trends in countries like the Netherlands, Austria and the United Kingdom ... Traub’s victim-blaming analysis...is simply wrong. Obama enraging anti-liberals isn’t evidence that he failed. He enraged them because he succeeded ... In American democracy, any successful exercise of political power will invite backlash. Why rebel against failure?