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ChatChat - Claudia Cragg

Sep 20, 2010

(Coming soon, Claudia Cragg's interview - just recorded - with Barack Obama's Presidential Campaign Manager in 2008, David Plouffe, on his book The Audacity to Win - The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory).

In this radio interview with Claudia Cragg, Newsweek Senior Editor, Jonathan Alter, discusses his latest book which takes a close look at President Barack Obama's first year in office. He even goes so far as to grade the President's achievements, overall and specifically, on economic policy. Alter also answers questions as to perhaps why the President has not achieved all he set out to do, the stumbling blocks in his way, the tussle with General McChrystal and the question of the Afghan war, and the outcome, as Alter sees it, if disenchanted Democrats fail to turn out in this November's mid-term congressional elections.

Finally, the sale of Newsweek to new owners was being concluded, at almost exactly the time this interview took place. Some readers may wonder if a change of proprietor may lead to a change of tone and timbre in the content.

The following is an extract from the publisher of 'The Promise' on Simon & Schuster's website:

"Barack Obama's inauguration as president on January 20, 2009, inspired the world. But the great promise of "Change We Can Believe In" was immediately tested by the threat of another Great Depression, a worsening war in Afghanistan, and an entrenched and deeply partisan system of business as usual in Washington. Despite all the coverage, the backstory of Obama's historic first year in office has until now remained a mystery." "What happened in 2009 inside the Oval Office? What worked and what failed? What is the president really like on the job and off-hours, using what his best friend called "a Rubik's Cube in his brain?" These questions are answered here for the first time. We see how a surprisingly cunning Obama took effective charge in Washington several weeks before his election, made trillion-dollar decisions on the stimulus and budget before he was inaugurated, engineered colossally unpopular bailouts of the banking and auto sectors, and escalated a treacherous war not long after settling into office." The Promise is a fast-paced and incisive narrative of a young risk-taking president carving his own path amid sky-high expectations and surging joblessness. Alter reveals that it was Obama alone—"feeling lucky"—who insisted on pushing major health care reform over the objections of his vice president and top advisors, including his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who admitted that "I begged him not to do this."

Apart from being made universally available, free, in this podcast, many of these interviews are conducted for and are broadcast on KGNU Denver-Boulder. This is a public radio station, like all public radio stations in these hard economic times, in need of listener funding and support. Kindly consider making a donation to KGNU, however small, to the station (NOT to Claudia Cragg) to continue to make the broadcast of this work possible.