Ari Berman, based in Washington, DC, is a contributing writer for The Nation, a contributor to The Notion and a Puffin Foundation writing fellow at The Nation Institute. He grew up in Fairfield, Iowa and has a degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
Check out the Iowa Source article written by KRUU Station Manager James Moore: Working the DC Beat Ari Berman Takes on "The Nation"BY JAMES MOORE
HERDING DONKEYS: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics by Ari Berman
Review by James Moore
HERDING DONKEYS is an engaging, insightful look at the Democratic Party’s improbable rise from the sidelines in 2004 to commanding majority in 2008. Culled from countless interviews, it reads like a travel diary and is filled with the kind of attention to detail that enriches as well as enlightens. Berman's bird's-eye view of the good, bad and ugly of America's political system depicts the machinations, parochial variations and peculiar traditions of party machine politics related through the untold stories of the candidates, staffers, strategists, volunteers, and donors who make it happen.
The book undwescores the battle between top down and bottom up approaches, exemplified by ruthless Rahm Emanuel, no-nonsense Party hatchet man, versus reckless visionary, ultimately vindicated, Howard “Power to the People” Dean, whose personal trajectory from 50-state strategist to left-field presidential flame-out to head of the Democratic National Committee to overlooked Obama administration sppointee shows the ephemeral nature of political cycles.
Now that Democratic hope has given way to legislative stalemate and intraparty dissent, the 50-state strategy is being called into question. Talk about herding donkeys, what good is a filibuster-proof majority if Democrats from conservative areas refuse to vote Party line? (A sobering thought for Republicans should voter anger lead them back to a majority. Perhaps Berman’s sequel will be HERDING ELEPHANTS.)
HERDING DONKEYS takes you to unlikely places across America where the real politickin’ takes place, and the politickin' before and after the politickin'. It is a primer for anyone interested in understanding how politics works at the state and national levels. Though a decidedly Democratic odyssey, what the author accomplishes with his first book transcends party politics and lays bare the central nervous system of American politics.