AirTalk for June 14, 2013

Jonathan Alter's new volume on Obama, 'The Center Holds'

Jonathan Alter's new book, "The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies" looks at President Obama's campaigns and his presidency.

Something happened to Jonathan Alter's "The Center Holds" on the way to the bookshelves - the center began to shake. The renowned journalist's latest profile of President Barack Obama chronicles his presidency and campaign over 2011 and 2012. Alter details the sophisticated campaign machine that used corporate-style analytics to up donations and get out the vote.

We learn about the "geek gap" that separated the Obama and Romney campaigns. (The Obama campaign's "cave" housed young data scientists, financial analysts even professional poker players using "propensity models" and apps to re-elect Obama). Alter also lends insight to the president's personality, saying Obama's "detached and self-contained nature had hampered his presidency" and that he "had been humbled by the opposition's intransigence."

Alter's latest volume ends on the wave of glory following November 6, 2012. However, in recent weeks, the White House has gone from proving its mettle to facing some of its toughest legacy tests: the leaks revealing secret surveillance by the NSA; the IRS admitting to targeting conservative groups for exceptional scrutiny; the Justice Department hunting a whistleblower by tracking calls of journalists.

Alter has long followed Barack Obama - how does he think the president will handle this onslaught? How protective of his legacy is Obama? Do these new revelations change Obama's mantle as a centrist?

Guest:
Jonathan Alter, Author, “The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies” (Simon & Schuster June 2013), Previous bestseller “The Promise: President Obama, Year One,” Analyst and Contributor for NBC News and MSNBC; former senior editor, Newsweek


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