Bet You Didn't See That One Coming: Obama, Trump, and the End of Washington's Regular Order

Post Hill Press
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The 24/7 media circus that follows President Trump distracts from the fundamental issue of what his election means for America going forward.

Bet You Didn’t See That One Coming explains how Barack Obama’s progressive policies helped ignite the ultimate anti-Obama political warrior—and how a neophyte politician’s new blend of populism, nationalism, and traditional Republican policies is pulling a polarized country back toward the right.

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About the author

Governor Robert L. Ehrlich is a graduate of Princeton University and Wake Forest University School of Law, and is a former Governor of Maryland as well as a former United States Congressman and state legislator.


He is the author of Turn This Car Around, America: Hope for Change, and Turning Point, in addition to columns and opinion pieces that have appeared in America’s leading newspapers and periodicals, including The Washington Examiner, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Times, The Weekly Standard, and National Review.

Governor Ehrlich is a partner at the firm of King & Spalding in Washington, D.C., and lives with his wife, Kendel, and his children, Drew and Josh, in Annapolis, Maryland.  

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Additional Information

Post Hill Press
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Published on
Feb 27, 2018
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Political Science / Commentary & Opinion
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Conservatism & Liberalism
Political Science / Public Affairs & Administration
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The single most important explanation, and the fullest explanation, of how Donald Trump became president of the United States . . . nothing less than the most important book that I have read this year.”—Lawrence O’Donnell

How did we get here?

In this sweeping, eloquent history of America, Kurt Andersen shows that what’s happening in our country today—this post-factual, “fake news” moment we’re all living through—is not something new, but rather the ultimate expression of our national character. America was founded by wishful dreamers, magical thinkers, and true believers, by hucksters and their suckers. Fantasy is deeply embedded in our DNA.

Over the course of five centuries—from the Salem witch trials to Scientology to the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, from P. T. Barnum to Hollywood and the anything-goes, wild-and-crazy sixties, from conspiracy theories to our fetish for guns and obsession with extraterrestrials—our love of the fantastic has made America exceptional in a way that we've never fully acknowledged. From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams and epic fantasies—every citizen was free to believe absolutely anything, or to pretend to be absolutely anybody. With the gleeful erudition and tell-it-like-it-is ferocity of a Christopher Hitchens, Andersen explores whether the great American experiment in liberty has gone off the rails.

Fantasyland could not appear at a more perfect moment. If you want to understand Donald Trump and the culture of twenty-first-century America, if you want to know how the lines between reality and illusion have become dangerously blurred, you must read this book.


“This is a blockbuster of a book. Take a deep breath and dive in.”—Tom Brokaw

“[An] absorbing, must-read polemic . . . a provocative new study of America’s cultural history.”—Newsday

“Compelling and totally unnerving.”—The Village Voice

“A frighteningly convincing and sometimes uproarious picture of a country in steep, perhaps terminal decline that would have the founding fathers weeping into their beards.”—The Guardian

“This is an important book—the indispensable book—for understanding America in the age of Trump.”—Walter Isaacson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci
What happens when a conservative president makes a liberal professor from the Ivy League his top urban affairs adviser? The president is Richard Nixon, the professor is Harvard's Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Of all the odd couples in American public life, they are probably the oddest. Add another Ivy League professor to the White House staff when Nixon appoints Columbia's Arthur Burns, a conservative economist, as domestic policy adviser. The year is 1969, and what follows behind closed doors is a passionate debate of conflicting ideologies and personalities.

Who won? How? Why? Now nearly a half-century later, Stephen Hess, who was Nixon's biographer and Moynihan's deputy, recounts this fascinating story as if from his office in the West Wing.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927–2003) described in the Almanac of American Politics as "the nation's best thinker among politicians since Lincoln and its best politician among thinkers since Jefferson", served in the administrations of four presidents, was ambassador to India, and U.S. representative to the United Nations, and was four times elected to the U.S. Senate from New York.

Praise for the works of Stephen Hess

Organzing the Presidency

Any president would benefit from reading Mr. Hess's analysis and any reader will enjoy the elegance with which it is written and the author's wide knowledge and good sense. -The Economist

The Presidential Campaign

Hess brings not only first-rate credentials, but a cool, dispassionate perspective, an incisive analytical approach, and a willingness to stick his neck out in making judgments. -American Political Science Review

From the Newswork Series

It is not much in vogue to speak of things like the public trust, but thankfully Stephen Hess is old fashioned. He reminds us in this valuable and provocative book that journalism is a public trust, providing the basic information on which citizens in a democracy vote, or tune out. — Ken Auletta, The New Yorker

Dana Loesch believes in Christianity, patriotism, traditional marriage, and the right to bear arms, among other “quaint”  ideas. For the elites in DC, Los Angeles, New York, and Silicon Valley, that makes her as bizarre as a three-headed dog.
Loesch is alarmed that America is fracturing into two countries—not North and South, but Coastal and Flyover. Worse, the people in charge don’t understand the first thing about how most of the country thinks and lives. Consider a few examples . . .
•  In Flyover America, people believe criminals should be punished. Coastal America focuses on “rehabilitation.”
•  Flyovers think the Declaration of Independence was crystal clear: “All men are created equal.” For Coastals, Black Lives Matter—but anyone who adds that all lives matter must be a racist.
•  Coastals think they understand firearms because they watched a TV movie about Columbine. Fly- overs get a deer rifle for their thirteenth birthday.
•  Coastals talk about blue-collar workers in the abstract. Flyovers have a relative who works the night shift in a granola bar factory, where the big perk is taking home a bag full of granola bars every Friday.
•  Coastals think every problem—from hurt feelings to the cost of birth control—requires government intervention and huge federal spending. Flyovers know that money isn’t magic fairy dust, and many problems can be solved only by individual character and hard work.
It would all be funny—if Coastals weren’t winning on most of today’s big issues.
As Loesch writes, “Most of these pinkies-out, cocktail- drinking-appletini fans selfishly entertain grandiose plans of economic equality without realizing the negative impact their plans would have on the very people they pride themselves on helping. That’s the true class warfare.”
Loesch shines the light of truth on everything from feminism to gun violence to abortion. She reveals the damage done by elitists who flat-out don’t get the lives and values of people in the heart of the country. And she asks commonsense questions such as: How can you be angry at Walmart if you’ve never shopped in one? How can you hate the police if you’ve never needed help from a cop? How can you attack Christians if you don’t have a single friend who goes to church?
In other words, how can you run a country you’ve never been to? And how much could our politics improve if Coastals would actually listen to their fellow Americans? This book is a rallying cry for anyone who wants our leaders to understand and respect the culture that made America exceptional in the first place.

From the Hardcover edition.
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