Reviews for Price of Politics
Booklist Reviews 2012 October #1
Woodward's seventeenth book takes interested readers--and they will need to be very interested--behind closed doors to observe how the nation's debt crisis developed over the past three-and-a-half years. Copious interviews with major players in this stand-off between the president and congressional Republicans (more than 100 individuals, so the author states) led the author to prepare a you-are-there, fly-on-wall approach to detailing the "struggle...to manage federal spending and tax policy." The specific focus, and subsequently a big chunk of the book,centers on the 44-day high-stakes negotiations between the two sides in June and July, 2011, a brutal haggling over raising the debt ceiling. The cast in this drama is huge, but of course President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner loom largest upon the stage. These two key players attempted to reach a "grand bargain" that would ease the crisis for some time to come. Woodward's purpose is to reveal how close they came and why an agreement failed. If readers are looking for an unbiased chronicle of these events, they better look elsewhere. Woodward appears to have walked into the writing of this book ready to lay most of the blame on the president. Some journalists in the know have reported that there is really nothing new here, but political junkies surely will read to the last page. For most readers, though, much of this will be TMI. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 October #2
A reconstruction of how Republican brinkmanship threatened to bring down the global economy by forcing a U.S. debt default. Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post editor Woodward (Obama's Wars, 2010, etc.) chronicles how Republicans used a previously routine vote on increasing the debt ceiling to blackmail President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Emboldened by their midterm victory in 2010, the Republicans aimed to force the president to accept major cuts to the budget and entitlements while holding the line on taxes. In explaining this display of brinkmanship, Woodward explains that for the U.S. president, default was not an option and could in fact bring down the entire global economy. The action takes place in the summer of 2011, beginning with a failed attempt by the White House to craft a workable deal in negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner. When these negotiations collapsed, the entire political leadership of both parties was brought in, leading to recriminations on all sides. The debt ceiling was raised but at the cost of a January fiscal cliffhanger. Although the author faults both Boehner and the president for their "fixed partisan convictions and dogmas," his main purpose appears to be to discredit Obama. He compares him unfavorably to former Presidents Reagan and Clinton, both of whom handled similar crises. Although admitting that "Obama was handed a miserable, faltering economy and faced a recalcitrant Republican opposition," Woodward faults him for being both arrogant and inept at building political consensus. An occasionally intriguing look into political grappling at the highest level but mostly an exercise in excruciating detail, most of which boils down to trivial political gossip. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.