The Audacity of Hope or The Mendacity of Hope? Two Views of Obama.

Sasha Abramsky
Roger Hodge

Unemployment’s still high, we’re still at war, and the banks are still playing fast and loose with other people’s money. Has Obama failed — or has he just not yet hit his stride? WV talks with Roger Hodge about his book, THE MENDACITY OF HOPE and with Sasha Abramsky about his book, INSIDE OBAMA’S BRAIN. Each author has a radically different take on our 44th president.

Sasha Abramsky
The election season is heating up. Obama has already been in campaign mode for a month or two and this week the Republican hopefuls had their debate. They mostly took aim at the President, instead of each other — for now. Today we hear two views of Barack Obama as a politician and president. We start with Sasha Abramsky, going back in time to January of 2010, when Francesca spoke to Abramsky about his book, INSIDE OBAMA’S BRAIN (it came out in the Fall of 2009.) She tells WV why it took so long for the interview to get on the air:

“I wasn’t sure I really wanted to air it at all. That’s because I got into it with Sasha Abramsky during the interview — and I’m not the kind of talk show host that does that. I don’t like to argue with my guests — you know, like Bill O’Reilly and his ilk. That’s not me. But there’s some heated discussion during the interview. I guess my journalistic impartiality eroded because, while I think Abramsky is a wonderful writer who writes about important things like hunger in America and the inequities of our prison system — all subjects of previous books of his that we’ve talked about with him on this show — I thought he fell prey in this book to what Roger Hodge calls “the Mendacity of Hope” in the second interview on today’s show. By that, Hodge means willing self-delusion about Barack Obama on the part of many of his supporters. But when I was editing Roger Hodge’s interview for the show, I realized I had the perfect double bill: in Abramsky, I had a fervent progressive Obama supporter and in Hodge, I had a progressive critic. So I unearthed the earlier interview.”

In addition to Inside Obama’s Brain, Sasha Abramsky is the author of American Furies, Breadline USA, Conned, and Hard Time Blues.

Roger Hodge
Obama has been president now for more than two years; ample time to get a better bead on the question — were his promises mere pretty words or did he deliver? Have we had real change or more of business as usual? Roger Hodge thinks the latter.

In this interview about his book, THE MENDACITY OF HOPE: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism, he outlines how, despite Obama’s progressive rhetoric, he has “bailed out the banks, bailed out the insurance companies,” been timid on fulfilling environmental promises and failed to get ordinary Americans back to work.

Hodge says the disconnect between rhetoric and reality isn’t surprising, considering who Obama’s major campaign contributors were: Wall Street hedge fund owners, nuclear and coal interests, and corn ethanol agricultural magnates.

Hodge was the editor of Harpers Magazine until he got fired by the publisher in January 2010.  Hodge took advantage of his sudden free agent status to write The Mendacity of Hope.

OOPS! Correction from Show Audio: Francesca mistakenly called Obama the “45th” President. He is the 44th.


About Francesca Rheannon

Francesca Rheannon is an award-winning independent radio producer. In addition to hosting Writer's Voice, she's a freelance reporter for National Public Radio and its affiliates. Recipient of the prestigious Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award for reporting on substance abuse issues for her news series, VOICES OF HIV, produced for 88.5 WFCR public radio in western Massachusetts. She is also finishing a book on Provence (PROVINCE OF THE HEART) and working on a memoir of her father, THE ARGONAUTS.