Many of our readers are familiar with Jay Cost based on his work at Real Clear Politics and then at the Weekly Standard. As good as that work is, I had no idea that Cost had a book in him like Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic.
This book, in part, is an excellent survey of the history of the Democratic Party, with a particular focus on its history from FDR on. From that history, Cost derives a compelling theme: that the Party, which started out as a powerful force against special privilege, has taken on an array of clients who seek just such privilege. Notable among them these days are public sector unions, traditional unions, African-Americans, feminists, and environmentalists. Cost shows how these clients have created enormous pressure on the Party to deviate from governance that advances the interests of the nation as a whole.
Using this thesis, Cost elegantly explains the Carter, Clinton, and Obama presidencies in a fresh way. Without giving “the plot” away, Cost shows that Carter and Clinton are positively heroic, compared to Obama.
Spoiled Rotten has received glowing praise from Michael Barone, Bill Kristol, Rich Lowry, and Jonah Goldberg. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Their praise is well-warranted. I humbly add mine.