With the Republican and Democratic conventions wrapped up, the fall campaign for the presidency is in full swing.
There should be plenty to contemplate, but if you’re looking for more than a campaign’s — or a party’s — take on the issues at the hand, there are plenty of books out there to enliven the debate. Here’s a sampling:
James Carville, strategist for President Clinton, has teamed with Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg to make the case that both parties are failing average Americans. “It’s the Middle Class Stupid!” (Blue Rider Press, $26.95) is filled with polling data and interviews with Americans. Carville and Greenberg take on everything from for-profit colleges, to the 1 percent and Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan.
Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele also take up the cause of the middle class in “The Betrayal of the American Dream” (Public Affairs, $26.99). The pair cites government and big business as the villains leading the attack. The theme of middle-class woe continues in Mike Lofgren’s “The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted” (Viking, $25.95).
In “Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget” (Crown Business, $22), Pulitzer Prize winner David Wessel examines the federal budget for fiscal year 2011, and a process that he says is out of control. The intractable position of both parties is the focus of “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 (Basic Books, $26).
Mickey Edwards also looks at Washington’s gridlock and how it is harming the country in “The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans” (Yale University Press, $25).
Meanwhile, Jacqueline Salit’s “Independents Rising: Outsider Movements, Third Parties and the Struggle for a Post-Partisan America” (Palgrave Macmillan, $25) puts a face to the independents who, she says, were the key to President Obama’s win in 2008.
Richard Miniter looks at Obama’s leadership skills in “Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him” (St. Martin’s Press, $25.99).
In “The New New Deal” (Simon & Schuster, $28), Michael Grunwald makes the case for the president’s stimulus package. Michael Kranish and Scott Helman promise to reveal “ The Real Romney” (Harper Paperbacks, $15.99) in their biography of the GOP hopeful.
Capitalism is heralded by Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames in “Freedom Manifesto: Why Free Markets Are Moral and Big Government Isn’t” (Crown Business, $26).