The Washington Post
…[a] fast-moving, hard-hitting, dryly witty…account of the radicalization of [Lofgren's] party, the failures of Democratic rivals and the appalling consequences for the country at large…it is forceful, convincing and seductive enough to prompt one to follow along, even when the intellectual terrain begins to look familiar.
Lofgren expands his much-read article, “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult” (originally published on the site Truthout) into a book-length scrupulously bipartisan diagnosis of the sick state of American politics and governance. The former congressional staffer saves the greater part of his bile for his former party, which he sees as having become inflexibly ideological and devoted to its richest contributors’ interests. Lofgren makes sure, however, to blast President Obama and his fellow Democrats for the same bad habits, primarily belligerence, disregard for privacy, and compliance with lobbyists. The general points are familiar, but Lofgren offers ideas drawn from a career in government dating back to the early 1980s. Nostalgic memories of now-striking examples of bipartisan cooperation join damning moments, like a Republican policymaker’s admission that the party aimed to obstruct the Senate for political gain. Lofgren offsets occasional cheap shots, such as against “Gucci-shod” lobbyists, by devoting close attention to budget issues rarely accorded so much detail in garden-variety op-ed warfare. Sustaining his original thesis well beyond Internet-browsing attention spans, Lofgren has crafted an angry but clear-sighted argument that may not sit well at family reunions or dinner parties, but deserves attention. Agent: Bridget Wagner Matzie, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Agency. (Aug.)
Lofgren, a Republican who worked as a Congressional staffer for 28 years, made news in September 2011 when he angrily quit over the debt ceiling crisis. He's critical of Democrats but saves his real bashing for Republicans, whom he called lunatics in a Truthout piece that got so many hits so fast that the site crashed.
Lofgren draws on 28 years as a professional staff member in Congress to expose deep, disturbing trends in Washington. "Creative and constructive work is always harder than demagoguery or fear-mongering," writes the author. "We have had too little of the former and too much of the latter during recent decades." Lofgren tears into Congress' "high measure of low cunning," especially among Republicans, whose use of "political terrorism" illustrates the party's principal objectives: delay and gridlock, obstruction and disruption. They consistently play to their base but with no positive workable agenda, and the cries for a reduction of the debt are often followed by the desperate need to increase defense spending. Lofgren astutely points out that defense spending is the personification of inefficient spending, and it creates no jobs. As "chicken hawks" play to the crowd and their fears of illegal aliens, drug wars and terrorists, talk-show personalities stir up the more radical elements until rational thought can no longer be found. The author distinctly lays the blame for the current situation at the feet of the Bush/Cheney administration, which nearly perfected the propaganda with the War on Terror, the Patriot Act and Homeland Security. Lofgren certainly doesn't excuse Democrats, who often fail to offer a good alternative; plus, they lack the fanatics that drive the far right. President Obama must also assume responsibility for continuing some of the more heinous practices of the Bush administration, though the author neglects to mention the fact that the obstructionist Congress has thwarted him at every turn. A well-argued call for more sanity in American politics.
From the Publisher
“Lofgren’s ideas are trenchant and far-reaching. . . . With the feel of a long-repressed confession and the authority of an insider’s testimony, like the anti-war views of a decorated infantry officer . . . he writes about how the Republican party took advantage of a profoundly ignorant electorate, an easily conned and distracted media, and a cowed Democratic Party to press the ideological struggle in spite of the deep unpopularity of many of its positions.”
—George Packer, The New Yorker
“A fast-moving, hard-hitting, dryly witty book-length account of the radicalization of the Republican party, the failures of Democratic rivals and the appalling consequences for the country at large. Like the essay that inspired it, The Party Is Over is forceful, convincing and seductive.”
—The Washington Post
“Expect demand for this inside view of Washington, D.C., by a staffer who spent a quarter-century on Capitol Hill before publishing a screed on “America’s broken political system” at truthout.org. Lofgren criticizes Democrats . . . but his long service to GOP office-holders inevitably makes his critique of that party more detailed and fascinating. . . . A pungent, penetrating insider polemic.”
—Mary Carroll, Booklist (starred review)
“A scrupulously bipartisan diagnosis of the sick state of American politics and governance . . . Lofgren devotes close attention to budget issues rarely accorded so much detail in garden-variety op-ed warfare. Sustaining his original thesis well beyond Internet-browsing attention span, Lofgren has crafted an angry but clear-sighted argument that may not sit well at family reunions or dinner parties, but deserves attention.”
“A well-argued call for more sanity in American politics.”—Kirkus Reviews