Ezra Klein is a columnist for The Washington Post, where he edits the Wonkblog, and a contributor to MSNBC and Bloomberg View.

 (September 2012)

IN THE REVIEW

Block Obama!

Barack and Michelle Obama at a campaign rally in Dubuque, Iowa, August 15, 2012

The Obamas

by Jodi Kantor

It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism

by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein
One of the sadder passages in Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas relates what happened when, on February 13, only twenty-four days after taking office, “the Obamas turned around and went back to Chicago.” The idea was to recapture a week- end of normalcy amid the chaos and strangeness of Washington, D.C.

Our Corrupt Politics: It’s Not All Money

Jack Abramoff (left) leaving a federal courthouse with his attorney, Abbe Lowell, after pleading guilty to felony charges stemming from his lobbying activities, Washington, D.C., January 3, 2006

Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption from America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist

by Jack Abramoff

Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It

by Lawrence Lessig
The key mistake most people make when they look at Washington—and the key misconception that characters like Abramoff would lead you to—is seeing Washington as a cash economy. It’s a gift economy. That’s why firms divert money into paying lobbyists rather than spending every dollar on campaign contributions. Campaign contributions are part of the cash economy. Lobbyists are hired because they understand how to participate in the gift economy.

Obama’s Flunking Economy: The Real Cause

Lawrence Summers, then director of the National Economic Council, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Washington, D.C., December 2010

Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

by Ron Suskind
President Obama’s poll numbers are weaker than ever. The political betting markets give him a less than 50 percent chance of being reelected in 2012. Why? It’s that unemployment is stuck above 9 percent. It’s that a double-dip recession is a real possibility. It’s that the market seems to dive on most days that end in “y.” Any account of what he has done wrong, or what he could do right, needs to provide a persuasive case of how the White House could have done more to promote an economic recovery over the last three years, or could do more to accelerate one now.