Book TV

Posted in Media by Roger D. Hodge on January 4, 2011

Book TV, on C-SPAN 2, has finally scheduled its broadcast of my debate with Jonathan Alter, which took place at WNYC’s Greene Space on October 5.

The program, which was sponsored by the Agenda Project, will run twice this weekend, Sunday at 12:15 AM and at 2 PM, and on Monday at 5 AM.

7 Responses

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  1. bob said, on January 9, 2011 at 1:45 am

    good debate, pretty accurate in hindsight. You give some spit to your spite.

  2. KDelphi said, on January 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I just saw your debate on c-span and plan to buy the book…but I fear it will not be critical enough of Obama….Alter doesn’t seem to have a clue what a liberal is…thanks

  3. Ginger said, on January 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I just catch a portion of this broadcast approaching the end, however, got enough of it. There was no winner, as no one can win with reason and facts in these days of distorted and overlapping realities we are all forced to live within.

    I consider myself to be a logic-oriented thinker and so I can often see mutiple dimensions of arguments and conflicts, but not to the point of moral abstraction. I do see the tactical sensibility or pragmatism driven governance, however, I know an empty vessel when I see one. As a progressive, I had some serious concerns about an Obama candidacy for President. Way back when mummerings had just begun about him being a prospect for a presidential run, I thought that a person who could be tapped by others and influenced by others to run for office )when that person had no “endogenous” desire to run for such office) probably had a fairly large ego…Large enough to be a potential problem.

    As a minority, I was not a supporter of Obama initially. Eventually, the Clintons alienated me so greatly that I came to be a lukewarm supporter of Obama. But I still had concerns about him. Warning flags were raised when he reversed his position on the FISA controversy after taking office and now I have just come to view him as someone who seems to stand for nothing. Some say he is inscruitable, but I see the fear in him, something that was rejected by your opponent in this debate. I do believe that many of his defenders want to believe that his actions are driven by pragmatism and political cunning, but I just cannot accept this. I have often wondered if the President might just believe that there is some higher meaning in his heritage and his accendency to this office – perhaps that his mission is to “come together” and find common ground, even if that always seems to others to constitute unconditional and unilateral concession.

    Ultimately, if I see a long, drawn out and consistent disconnect between word/rhetoric and action/policy, there comes a time to say “that’s enough”. I can no longer allow myself to suffer the abuse of your words when your actions are so confoundingly different.

  4. KDelphi said, on January 9, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    I did not read either of Obama’s autobiographies….but I did read what others who had worked with him had to say…and it never looked good to me…but, then, I think that true progressives will be obliged to look outside of the duopoly to get any real “change” (groan at the word now) in the US…..trying to “push Dems left” has been an unmitigated disaster.

  5. Yoram Gat said, on January 14, 2011 at 1:17 am

    Alter really cannot decide what his position is. On menu are:
    (a) Obama is the most influential president since Reagan,
    (b) Obama is better than Bush,
    (c) Obama made negotiation errors,
    (d) Obama did the best that could be done,
    (e) Obama doesn’t communicate well,
    (f) Obama does some bad things (Awlaki),
    (g) Obama keeps his promises (Afghanistan),
    (h) it’s your own fault for not making Obama do what you want,
    (i) you are just unrealistic in what you are asking for,
    (j) only movement liberals expect a pure president,
    (k) congress is bought, but the president is not (i.e., Obama is pure)

    Alter would probably see this mass of contradictions as proof that he is “pragmatic” rather than “movement”. In reality, the contradictions reflect the fact that Alter is working with a set of false premises. Obama’s objectives are completely different from those that Alter attributes to him.

  6. KDelphi said, on January 14, 2011 at 1:24 am

    That would about sum it up for Alter….Obama’s objectives have always been strictly Obama’s…and his wealthy friends’.

  7. NYCee said, on January 16, 2011 at 10:43 am


    Just watched your Oct debate w/Jonathan Alter on Cspan (recorded it last weekend). I had already seen you a few times on TV – MSNBC, perhaps elsewhere as well – since your book came out. I like what you have to say and often like the way you say it – bluntly, without all the couching and layering of excuses most Obama “criticism” is wrapped in… to the point where it becomes meaningless.

    That said, and I DO mean it, I have a few suggestions for you to more effectively make your case, the next time you have the opportunity.

    1. One way to make a more stunning case (that few can find words to argue against) re Obama’s lack of integrity, sound judgment, and progressive compass, a threefer, is to bring up his horrendous McCain/Palin-like (Drill, baby, DRILL!!!) decision to take a spear to the 27 year ban (upheld, even after undone while Bush was in office) on deep sea drilling. Obama unveiled his shocking plan to plunk drilling rigs up the eastern seaboard, in the Arctic, as well as in areas of the Gulf where they had not gone before, in March 2010. This ‘bright (rightwing) idea’ was, as we all know, swiftly aborted only because his timing was all off, his announcement having been followed a month later by BP’s deep sea drilling disaster, which laid his plans to waste along with much of the Gulf. (We dont hear much from Obama about that bright idea anymore. I ‘wonder’ why.)

    That one is a zinger. I imagine you must have used it in your book, but use it in debate as well. It is too big to sidestep, too clarifying of your case not to use. Jonathan Alter and his ilk (Lawrence O’Donnell) would have had to find a whole new dance to shimmy around that one.

    2. When you spoke of healthcare, you would have done well to confront Alter (and everyone viewing) with Obama’s deals with PHARMA, which had him twisting arms amongst Dems to vote against the Dorgan (drug importation) Amendment, Dems who, for years, like Obama, had said drug reimportation was essential to lowering the outrageous prices. In this case, McCain stuck with his campaign promise to support such a measure, by voting for it. In fact, we had the spectacle of many GOPpers following suit and voting aye, while Dems like Kerry voted against it – the Obama admin pushing them to do so.

    Additionally, I wouldve mentioned Obama’s campaign promise NOT to enact an excise tax, which McCain was for during the campaign and Obama criticized because it penalizes the middle class (like our generous tax breaks to a wealthy sliver of Americans, which he allowed to continue in opposition to his repeated campaign promise not to do so). Again, Obama flipped once in office.

    Congressional Dems are to blame, of course, along with Obama. The party’s leaders/officials are largely bought and sold by corporate/MIC influences, have been for a while – and Obama is no different (that was a most bizarre statement by Alter, that Congressional Dems are corrupt whereas Obama is not!)

    3. I think sometimes your laudable passion (and outrage) gets in the way of you making your points more effectively. Progressive passion (and outrage) around the facts on issues is sorely needed and rarely found in political discussion, these days. Therefore, by NO means should you lose it, just USE it better. Find a way to channel your outrage/passion into making stronger points, better comebacks.

    You seem to cede ground sometimes, by simply not responding to your opponent’s arguments in defense of Obama. This could be taken as having been “conquered” by the rightness of what your opponent has said, rather than the perception (assuming all folks are in the know, which they are not and should never be assumed) that you are understandably just too fed up or outraged by the “mendacity” to even cough up a rebuttal.

    What goes unsaid NEEDS to be said!

    Also, to this point, when in a debate with someone like Alter, who is very assertive in interjecting, making his voice heard, often for long stretches (esp compared to your “voice time”) you would do better to cultivate the ability (I dont think it comes naturally to you) to interrupt and interject with your rebuttals, your case. You shouldnt allow your opponent the lion’s share of opportunity.

    I hope you see these suggestions and take them as they are intended – a very friendly attempt to help you help us (progressives, our nation, its fouled political landscape) even more than you have.

    I truly commend the work you have done in speaking out, in making the case against Obama’s acts in office, and I am sure you have made a much more thorough case in your book than is possible in a debate, certainly than on an MSNBC show. I will take a look at your book, perhaps buy it – although I tend not to buy many political books anymore. But I am really glad it is out there, to make the case against the mountain of “feel-good” the “Obamaphiles” serve up, which is countered only by a lot of the unhelpful or rightwing messages from the Tea Party/GOP. The sort of message you have been serving up is all too rare, indeed, yet I think it is what we most need to hear.

    Keep on keeping on!

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