I've been waiting for a very good, very thoughtful left-wing book that responds to the flaws of Obama's presidency. One of the notable things about the plethora of anti-Bush books published from 2000 to 2008 is that virtually none of those books came from the conservative side. They marched in lock-step with the presidency, not allowing a dissenting voice to hit the mainstream. (This is one major reason why nobody except the Tea Party really believes the Tea Party; literally none of the protesters were complaining about the Bush Administration's countless Big Government spending sprees.) I'd appreciate a reasoned, thoughtful dissent from the progressives.
This book isn't that. Many passages of Hodge's book might as well have come from a National Review writer, especially his repeated, shrill attacks on Joe Biden. (Hodge calls Biden "a plagiarist buffoon" and, weirdly, a part of a fleet of nattering "appalling cyborgs." That latter one leads to an interesting line of questioning: What part of Joe Biden is a robot? Is Hodge referring to dental implants? Hair plugs?)
While Hodge makes a number of fine points in Mendacity about specific policy failures on Obama's part, he uses them to build an argument against the administration that is unrealistic to the extreme. What Hodge wants is for Obama to revert the century-long drift toward excessive presidential power. He chastises Obama for "reigniting the passions of a long-simmering partisan war that was sparked by Alexander Hamilton's economic program." He's basically holding this administration responsible for every wrong ever enacted on the American people by the office of the president, especially when it comes to executive powers.
Look: There are lots of things you can say about the Obama presidency. But to blame his administration for not fixing basic American problems like partisan bickering and an increase in executive power is ridiculous; those are ideas that would practically require a new Constitutional Convention to fix. It's a bitter, angry book by a very smart man who should have divided his ambition into several different arguments. I can't recommend it to people who are progressive and disheartened by our president and looking for a book to tell them what to do with their disillusionment; that book, apparently, still has yet to be written.