Brownstein, Ronald 1958- (Ronald J. Brownstein)
Brownstein, Ronald 1958- (Ronald J. Brownstein)
Home—Washington, DC. E-mail—ronald. [email protected]
(Editor) Selecting a President, Public Citizen, 1980.
(With Nina Easton) The Reagan Regime, Presidential Accountability Group (Washington, DC), 1982.
Reagan's Ruling Class: Portraits of the President's Top Hundred Officials, Presidential Accountability Group (Washington, DC), 1982.
The Power and the Glitter: The Hollywood-Washington Connection, Vintage Books (New York, NY), 1992.
(With Dan Balz) Storming the Gates: Protest Politics and the Republican Revival, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1996.
The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America, Penguin Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor of several dozen articles to magazines, including Newsday, Reader's Digest, Parade, Nation, Progressive, and Washington Monthly, as well as to various newspapers.
Ronald Brownstein was born and raised in New York City and studied at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Following his graduation in 1979, he moved to Washington, DC, where he went to work as a staff writer for political activist Ralph Nader. From there he eventually landed a position at the Los Angeles Times, where he writes a column about national affairs. He also serves as the political director for the Atlantic Media Group, which publishes a number of well-known periodicals, including Atlantic, National Journal, Congress Daily, and the Hotline. Brownstein himself has contributed articles to a number of periodicals, including Newsday, Reader's Digest, Parade, Nation, Progressive, and Washington Monthly. He is also the author or editor of several books that look at the political situation in the United States and ways in which the nation's leadership needs to take responsibility for shifting the country in a more positive direction.
The Power and the Glitter: The Hollywood-Washington Connection looks at the history of relationships between actors and politicians. Studios frequently stood behind whichever president they felt had their own interests at heart, and even individual actors would play favorites among the talent. A number of Hollywood figures became sufficiently political that they went on to join the Communist Party, a choice that many regretted during the 1950s and the McCarthy era. In a review for Publishers Weekly, Genevieve Stuttaford called the book a "probing, sobering history of the Hollywood-Washington connection."
Storming the Gates: Protest Politics and the Republican Revival, which Brownstein wrote with Dan Balz, addresses the resurgence of the Republican Party that began during President Clinton's time in office, when Republicans controlled both the Senate and the House of Representatives for the first time in four decades. That event sparked a wave of conservative behavior and legislation in the government that led to a two-term run by Republican President George W. Bush. However, with the fall of Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House, it appeared that the pendulum had begun to shift back in the opposite direction. Brownstein addresses this swing, which suggests that Americans are unsure of what they want precisely, even though they consistently indicate a level of disapproval in the way the nation is being run. A reviewer for the Economist noted that the book is "spiced with insights into on-the-run, U-turn policy-making by Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gingrich in the age of CNN, all-talk radio and the net."
In The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America, Brownstein discusses the increased levels of partisanship that have developed in the United States under the George W. Bush administration. He examines the president's leadership techniques and reveals that he was far more interested in maintaining his own principles and those of the Republican Party than in finding a way to unite the country and to win support from the more liberal pockets of the voting constituents. He governed under the premise that he must gain just enough support for his plans to allow them to be carried out; there was no desire to compromise or to reflect on the wishes of any citizens of the country that might disagree with him. Of course, as Brownstein points out, this attitude resulted in President Bush losing numerous points in his approval rating as individuals became less supportive of the ways in which he was running the country and the progress of the war in Iraq. In addition, on other issues the country remains fairly evenly split, and the sense of building tension that revolves around this solid divide could potentially lead to a significant political explosion. Michiko Kakutani, writing for the New York Times Book Review, commented that "although many of these developments might seem obvious to anyone who follows politics, Mr. Brownstein … does a highly nuanced job of dissecting this alarming phenomenon, while eloquently situating it within a historical context and examining its palpable consequences for the country at large."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Economist, April 20, 1996, review of Storming the Gates: Protest Politics and the Republican Revival, p. 3.
New York Times Book Review, November 13, 2007, Michiko Kakutani, "Division of the US Didn't Happen Overnight."
Publishers Weekly, November 16, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of The Power and the Glitter: The Hollywood-Washington Connection, p. 50.