“It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With The New Politics of Extremism” by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein. A great review/article over at the Washington Post.
I have yet to read the book, though I did read their book about congress “the Broken Branch, years ago, a book which Newt Gingrich, among others from both sides raved about.
A few quotes from the WP article:
Their principal conclusion is unequivocal: Today’s Republicans in Congress behave like a parliamentary party in a British-style parliament, a winner-take-all system. But a parliamentary party — “ideologically polarized, internally unified, vehemently oppositional” — doesn’t work in a “separation-of-powers system that makes it extremely difficult for majorities to work their will.”
These Republicans “have become more loyal to party than to country,” the authors write, so “the political system has become grievously hobbled at a time when the country faces unusually serious problems and grave threats. . . . The country is squandering its economic future and putting itself at risk because of an inability to govern effectively.”
Mann and Ornstein rightly blame the news media for doing a mediocre job covering the most important political story of the last three decades: the transformation of the Republican Party. … They see a “reflexive tendency of many in the mainstream press to use false equivalence to explain outcomes,”when Republican obstructionism and Republican rejection of science and basic facts have no Democratic equivalents. It’s much easier to write stories “that convey an impression that the two sides are equally implicated.”
The authors emphasize the deterioration of the American political culture, corrupted by money and embittered by partisanship, affecting not just Congress but also, they argue persuasively, the Supreme Court. This spoiled culture has encouraged the cynicism of voters, now a serious impediment to political reforms.
And now, as Mann and Ornstein document so vividly, at a time when only good government could help us rediscover our footing as a nation, our Grand Old Party defines itself as the party of anti-government. This is why the title of this book is so good: Our situation really is even worse than it looks.
I’ve moved this one to the top of my reading list, and if this article, and the quality of their previous work is any indication, this is a book all americans should read.