Eric Alterman, columnist for The Nation and author of the new book Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Barack Obama, appeared on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show this morning to comment on the shooting in Arizona, his book and President Barack Obama. He explains how American “democracy has become so corrupt, in fact, that while it looks like a democracy from far away and the motions that people go through are the motions that people would go through if there were a democracy…it contains none of the substance of a democracy." Specifically, he cites money in politics and the power of right wing media as reasons why our democracy is so dysfunctional.

On the shooting, Alterman explains that although Jared Lee Loughner, who has been arrested for the shooting in Arizona, didn’t seem to have listened to Glenn Beck on Fox and then gone out to shoot to people, Americans “don’t live in a society of only sane" people. America is a society with “lots of disturbed people who have access to an amazing amount of firearms,” Alterman explains, because, for example, people can get weapons that used to be banned under the Clinton crime bill.

When pushed by host Brian Lehrer to explain why he was so critical of President Obama and the people of this country in Kabuki Democracy, Alterman clarifies: “I don’t think I’m very critical of Barack Obama. I think I’m very sympathetic to Barack Obama.” A “very strong Obama supporter” during the campaign, Alterman also explains that the reason Obama has made a lot of mistakes and failed to fulfill certain campaign pledges is because of obstacles presented by our political system itself.

Kevin Gosztola