I Am the Change by Charles R. Kesler
Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism

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Mr. Kesler is at his best in showing how Lyndon Johnson elevated governmental warm-heartedness into a kind of creed.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

Is Barack Obama the savior of liberalism—or the last liberal president? Charles R. Kesler's spirited analysis of Obama's political thought shows that he represents either a new birth of liberalism—or its demise.

Who is Barack Obama? Though many of his own supporters wonder if he really believes in anything, Charles R. Kesler argues that these disappointed liberals don't appreciate the scope of the president's ambition or the long-term stakes for which he is playing.

Conservatives also misunderstand Obama, according to this leading conservative scholar, educator, and journalist. They dismiss him as a socialist, hopelessly out of touch with the American mainstream. The fringe Right dwells on Obama's foreign upbringing, his missing birth certificate, Bill Ayers's supposed authorship of his books. What mainstream and fringe have in common is a stubborn underestimation of the man and the political movement he embodies.

Reflecting a sophisticated mix of philosophy, psychology, and history, and complemented by a scathing wit, I Am the Change tries to understand Obama as he understands himself, based largely on his own writings, speeches, and interviews. Kesler, the rare conservative who takes Obama seriously as a political thinker, views him as a gifted and highly intelligent progressive who is attempting to become the greatest president in the history of modern liberalism. Intent on reinvigorating the liberal faith, Obama nonetheless fails to understand its fatal contradictions—a shortsightedness that may prove to be liberalism's undoing.

Will Obama save liberalism and become its fourth great incarnation, following Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson? Or will he be derailed by his very successes? These are the questions at the heart of Kesler's thoughtful and illuminating book.

 

About Charles R. Kesler

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Charles Kesler is Distinguished Professor of Government at Claremont-McKenna College and editor of the Claremont Review of Books.
 
Published October 1, 2013 by Broadside e-books. 307 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for I Am the Change
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Mark Lilla on Sep 27 2012

There is, of course, a real story here, but also a much simpler, Idea-Frei way of telling it.

Read Full Review of I Am the Change: Barack Obama... | See more reviews from NY Times

WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Fred Siegel on Sep 10 2012

Mr. Kesler is at his best in showing how Lyndon Johnson elevated governmental warm-heartedness into a kind of creed.

Read Full Review of I Am the Change: Barack Obama... | See more reviews from WSJ online

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