As the historian Steve Fraser demonstrates in his wide-ranging new book, the idea of the 'limousine liberal' has a long and messy history all its own...Despite its title, however, Fraser’s book is not really about liberals and their supposed foibles. Instead, he seeks to describe how 'right-wing populists' have insulted, vilified, mocked and analyzed those liberals in both the present and the past.
Fraser provides a brisk and entertaining history of limousine liberalism in all its linguistic manifestations, and his book is worth reading for that alone. Indeed, his analysis, if anything, is too prescient: Although Fraser was able to include a few words about Donald Trump in his introduction and at the end, we can be certain that the Developer of All Developers will rely on his quite vivid imagination to add new terms to the vocabulary of right-wing populism as he continues his campaign for president...Steve Fraser, like many on the left, tends to attack the rich and sympathize with the poor almost reflexively. Although I share those sentiments, I question whether the best way to create a more egalitarian society is for the left to continue to lodge its hopes with the less well-off, only to be disappointed when they do not act as leftists expect them to do.
Mr. Fraser is an energetic polemicist, but eventually the mordant fervor of his own resentments grows tiresome. Too often The Limousine Liberal reads like one of those sourpuss histories in which all motives are ulterior and evil capitalism propels events irresistibly forward. Even so, the author has produced a timely tour de force to remind us that limousine liberals are still very much with us—as are the politicians and pundits who portray them as such bogeymen.