...a timely, trenchant and relentlessly argued book ... Indeed, Chait’s book seems more like an argument with the left than with the right ... For disenchanted Obama supporters, this appraisal may seem like a surprise ... Chait’s argument probably will not persuade many on the right, who still see a president who expanded the size and reach of government at home while undercutting American authority abroad. But it may encourage those on the left and in the middle to come around again to a president they once believed in.
It is not a bad book, precisely, but it is a myopic one, more concerned with salvaging the reputation of liberal technocrats like Chait himself than with advancing a model for future politics ... Chait makes his case in three broad, unofficial sections. The first of these sections is a single chapter on race, 'America’s Primal Sin,' and has no evident relationship to the argument that Barack Obama has been profoundly successful in office ... we find Chait wandering through what often feels like a Wikipedia summary of Middle East policy, landing solid blows on the Nobel Committee before issuing a mumbly paean to the 'widespread admiration for America’s system of government, prosperity, culture, and technological know-how' across the globe ... Nowhere does Chait attempt to engage, or even seriously represent the liberal or left cases against Barack Obama ... Throughout Audacity, we find Chait’s usual dismissal of left-wing politics, and the 'cynical, fashionable' types that aren’t satisfied with the wonders technocracy has wrought ... The dry, slogging, immediate-but-not-intimate voice that works so well in 800-word bursts of workaday wonkery is just unbearable when stretched over hundreds of pages.
...[a] brilliant new book ... Chait reminds us of almost everything we have already forgotten about Obama and the economy ... Chait did some impressive last-minute rewriting after the surprise presidential election result, and he does a fine job of describing the importance of racism to Donald Trump’s success.