Dan Rostenkowski--Chicago ward politician, 36-year congressman, and former chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee--went from the pinnacle of power to federal prison when he was convicted of corruption in 1994. His downfall makes for fascinating political drama, and Richard E. Cohen, a veteran Congressional reporter for the National Journal
and author of three books on Washington, D.C., is well-placed to examine the long and colorful career of this Chicago bull's political life.
Rostenkowski's father was a city alderman in Chicago and a Democratic ward boss who taught his son the importance of taking care of constituents. For Danny, politics was the family business. However, this book is as much about the way Congress worked under Democratic leadership in the '60s, '70s, and '80s as it is about Rostenkowski. Plenty of attention is devoted to internal Democratic power struggles, for instance, while Rostenkowski's kickback scandal receives comparatively little space. At times, Cohen even seems to downplay his wrongdoings, quoting aides and colleagues who said of Rosty, "In the 1990s he used 1950s' rules. The standards changed and he didn't change with them." Cohen writes that the end of Rostenkowski's political career also marked the end of an era in politics and that characters like "Rosty" have "all but disappeared from increasingly bland American politics.... we won't see many more like him." Some might say that's a good thing. --Linda Killian
--This text refers to the
From Library Journal
Big-city machine politics, which made Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley such a dominant force in the Democratic party, had ossified by 1990, helping to destroy the career of his prot?g?, Rep. Daniel Rostenkowski, chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee from 1981 to 1994. Cohen (Washington at Work), an award-winning correspondent for the National Journal, sympathetically portrays Rostenkowski's long career in the House of Representatives, 1959-94, as a metaphor for the rise and fall of the Democratic control of the lower house. Rosty's Chicago political education, which taught him that there are "no permanent friends, no permanent enemies," served him well as chair of Ways and Means by allowing him to maneuver such important pieces of legislation as the 1986 Tax Reform Bill through Congress. Unfortunately, when political ethics became an important public concern, Rostenkowksi could not change with the times. He was forced to resign from the House in 1994 because he padded his staff with ghost employees, a once-common machine practice. Cohen writes movingly of Rostenkowski's failings. Most of the book, however, is a highly detailed appraisal of Rostenkowski's legislative proceedings and is therefore recommended for larger public and academic collections and congressional policy specialists.AKarl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the