From MSNBC correspondent Steve Kornacki, a lively and sweeping history of the birth of political tribalism in the 1990s—one that brings critical new understanding to our current political landscape from Clinton to Trump
In The Red and the Blue, cable news star and acclaimed journalist Steve Kornacki follows the twin paths of Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, two larger-than-life politicians who exploited the weakened structure of their respective parties to attain the highest offices. For Clinton, that meant contorting himself around the various factions of the Democratic party to win the presidency. Gingrich employed a scorched-earth strategy to upend the permanent Republican minority in the House, making him Speaker.
The Clinton/Gingrich battles were bare-knuckled brawls that brought about massive policy shifts and high-stakes showdowns—their collisions had far-reaching political consequences. But the ’90s were not just about them. Kornacki writes about Mario Cuomo’s stubborn presence around Clinton’s 1992 campaign; Hillary Clinton’s star turn during the 1998 midterms, seeding the idea for her own candidacy; Ross Perot’s wild run in 1992 that inspired him to launch the Reform Party, giving Donald Trump his first taste of electoral politics in 1999; and many others.
With novelistic prose and a clear sense of history, Steve Kornacki masterfully weaves together the various elements of this rambunctious and hugely impactful era in American history, whose effects set the stage for our current political landscape.
Kornacki, political correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC, delivers a hard-hitting look at 1990s election politics in this engrossing account of two political rivals and the cultural phenomena they shaped. Kornacki's narrative, which covers the period from 1984 to 2000, focuses on the rise of Democrat wild child Bill Clinton and his Republican nemesis Newt Gingrich. But it also includes detailed accounts of congressional gridlock, salacious presidential scandals, and outlier billionaires' third-party presidential runs. Kornacki persuasively argues that this "fateful decade" serves as the precursor to today's "political tribalism." He skillfully resurrects the scenes, culture, and major players of the time, including Pat Buchanan, George H.W. Bush, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, and Henry Ross Perot. Kornacki switches focus between Clinton and Gingrich, highlighting the growing ideological rifts between the two parties; Clinton's push for universal health coverage and tax increases are set in opposition to Gingrich's disdainful view of government as the breeding ground for the liberal elite and tax hikes. Kornacki credits Gingrich with a major turning point in partisan politics: the 1994 midterm's landslide victory for Republicans in Congress, which further cemented the coming tribalism. With rich detail about '90s pop culture and astute political commentary, Kornacki tells an enlightening tale.
A great political history of the eighties and nineties. Also an interesting parallel of the political paths of Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich. Although he only loosely connects those events to the invention of the terms red and blue.
Solid history lesson but doesn’t go as in depth as the Perlstein books, for example. Summary of events.
The red and the blue
Any student of late 20th century politics should read this book as a reference to the divisions that have occurred in the United States and still exist today. Thanks Steve! Good job!