The Almanac of American Politics, 2008 Paperback – Oct 29 2007
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"The Bible of American politics." - George Will "The ultimate guide for political junkies like you and me." - Tim Russert, Meet the Press "Michael Barone is to politics what statistician-writer Bill James is to baseball, a mix of historian, social observer, and numbers cruncher who illuminates his subject with perspective and a touch of irreverence." - Chicago Tribune "Indispensable.... This compendium of statistics and information has gone as far as humanly possible." - Washington Post "It's simply the oxygen of the political world. We have the most dogeared copy in town." - Judy Woodruff, CNN "The single best reference there is for Congress and Washington specifically and the country generally." - Jim Lehrer, The NewsHour"
About the Author
Richard E. Cohen has thirty years of experience covering Capitol Hill as National Journal’s congressional correspondent. The author of a biography of former Representative Dan Rostenkowski, in 1990 he won the prestigious Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting on Congress.
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For those unfamilar with the Almanac, the book is released every two years and it is basically an encyclopedia of all national politics. Broken up mainly by state, it gives detailed sketches of all of the governors, U.S. senators, and U.S. representatives, including how they've done in their previous elections, their backgrounds, how they've voted on certain key votes, and how liberal or conservative the congressional districts are. The Almanac also provides breakdown of the states themselves: how they've voted in previous presidential elections, how the voter registration numbers look, and other information. I've noticed that this year the authors have added some very interesting sections on which states will be awarded additional seats by the next census, and which ones will lose seats. This information will be obviously be pretty key after 2010. Finally, this volume gives some good coverage of the impending 2008 presidential race.
The price tag is probably the biggest negative, but it is still well worth it. Plus, while the book will cost upwards of $75 if you go to a bookstore, you can get it on Amazon for under fifty bucks. A good deal, if you ask me. The Almanac is a great book for a political junkie to read over-and-over-and-over again, and it is also a superb resource tool for people interested in just learning about the government and our elected officials. It's always a fun read, even if many of the Member profiles are recycled volume-to-volume.
What has changed? As longtime readers know, Michael Barone's conservative bias has been palpable in a number of past volumes (probably peaking along with Republican dominance of Congress in the mid-90s). It has decreased in recent issues, but it's hard for us liberal readers to avoid seeking - and usually finding - examples of Republican rhetoric thinly disguised as fact. I'm pleased to report that this edition is better than most other recent ones in that regard. One can't help but suspect that the 2006 elections made Barone want to chortle about the bleak 2008 prospects for all the new Democratic members - but for the most part, the analysis of past and future elections is straightforward and facts-based, for Democratic and Republican members alike.
Certainly, there are still points where you can at least see the bias wanting to come out. For example, the entry for Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) manages to tell the truth about why Casey's father was not allowed to address the 1992 Democratic National Convention - sort of. You can tell Barone wants to repeat the standard Republican lie about it being entirely due to the abortion issue, but instead he argues only that the decision was "certainly related to his stance on abortion but also brought on by his skepticism about Bill Clinton." Close enough, but then, the incident is mentioned again in discussing Sen. Chuck Schumer's DSCC chairmanship in terms that probably do cross the line into rhetoric-land. The more blatantly snide comments (chiding liberal voters for not supporting right-wing black or female candidates, for example) are, however, pleasantly absent this time around.
The analysis is sometimes a bit dry as a result of the relative evenhandedness, but I don't suppose that's really something we should complain about. Political junkies on the left and right alike will probably enjoy flipping through this copy.
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