Saturday, July 12, 2008

Clinton touts Bishop's 'The Big Sort' to governors

Former President Bill Clinton really likes The Big Sort, the new book by our friend Bill Bishop. He riffed on it last week at the Aspen Ideas Festival, and used it as the basis of a speech today to the National Governors Association.

Clinton "warned Saturday that the country is becoming increasingly polarized despite the historic nature of the Democratic primary," in which a woman and an African-American man were the surviving candidates, reports Andrew Welsh-Huggins of The Associated Press. Clinton said, "Underneath this apparent accommodation to our diversity, we are in fact hunkering down in communities of like-mindedness, and it affects our ability to manage difference." (AP photo)

"Clinton developed his 44-minute speech from themes he said he drew from a new book, The Big Sort, by Bill Bishop," Huggins reports, noting one of the book's seminal statistics, the growing number of counties in which presidential candidates win or lose by more than 20 percent of the county's vote. "We were sorting ourselves out by choosing to live with people that we agree with," Clinton said. The rest of the book's title is Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart.

"Clinton has often meshed big-picture admonitions with new books whose ideas he admires," AP notes. "He drew similar conclusions in 2000 following the publication of Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone, on the decline of civic engagement in the United States." (Read more)

Bishop, a Louisville native and member of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues advisory board, will speak and sign books at 4 p.m. Sunday at Carmichael's bookstore in Louisville and at 7 p.m. Monday at Joseph-Beth Boksellers in Lexington.

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