Books: Democrats' Pledge of Allegiance

To compile "Why I'm A Democrat," editor Susan Mulcahy recruited more than 50 fellow party faithful, including celebs like Tony Bennett, Isaac Mizrahi and Nora Ephron, along with farmers, waitresses and one billionaire (insurance mogul Bernard Rapoport). Some of their reasons are predictable (civil rights, JFK), while others are amusing ("because I'm already enough of an a––hole," says Presidents of the U.S.A. guitarist Dave Dederer). But while the values praised in the book may have been exclusively Democratic back in the Depression or even in the '70s—compassion for the less fortunate, opportunity for new Americans—times have changed. As this year's primaries showed, voters now identify with pro-immigrant, socially progressive Republicans like John McCain and tough-on-defense, down-on-handouts Dems like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who ran circles around the populist John Edwards. In this light, the book comes off as simplistic partisan cheerleading, particularly the foreword by former Anita Hill-bashing GOPer David Brock, which reads like a parody of Gingrich-era bickering: "Republicans believe that deep down, we're all fundamentally bad." It's an attitude more suited to the politics of 1998, or even the Swift Boating of 2004. But in an election cycle when the Dem has invited a GOP senator along for his world tour—and when McCain's biggest supporter is Joe Lieberman—"Why I'm a Democrat" comes four years too late.