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As much an indictment of the media as it is of Congress,
This review is from: Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives (Hardcover)
Bashing Congress is hardly new, as Robert Draper quickly points out. Complaints from within and without date back to the early days of our Republic and certainly everything here is hardly a newsflash from a Congress that not only has the lowest public opinion in history, but seems hell bent on driving it still further downwards. Dysfunctional Congresses and partisan politics are likewise nothing new, but what is stunning is the access that Draper is given by members of the 112th Congress and that Draper is willing to serve it up, warts and all. Most reporters and members of the media are so timid and afraid of saying what is REALLY going on out of fear that their access to politicians will be cut off. As a result they apparently willingly acquiesce and will only cite "unnamed sources" or will heavily water down what true news they do report so as not to offend. That is NOT the case with Draper as he names names and says what was really going on behind the scenes during the current (112th) Congress, some of which points out why opinion polls rank them so poorly. Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat you'll find much to agree with and much that will shock you as politicians in both parties come off very badly.
Some of the shots Draper takes are obvious ones, like the idiotic hubris of Rep. Anthony Weiner, who got what he deserved. Draper skewers Weiner ruthlessly here and takes no prisoners on either side of the aisle. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi is revealed as despised by members of her own party for forcing unpopular votes on vulnerable members in the 111th Congress that cost many their seats in the 2010 elections. President Obama comes in for criticism from congressmen for his unwillingness to lead or to use his political capital to advance causes near and dear to his heart. The right's criticism of Obama "leading from behind" frequently came to mind and Draper lays things out with a crispness and conciseness he demonstrated in his columns for Politico and the New York Post. Republicans take the heat as well, with many, including key leaders, demonstrating a fundamental failure to grasp basic economics which clearly hampered negotiations during the budget debates and beyond. The ubiquity and mindlessness of talking points is thrown up for the ridicule it deserves with many members unwilling to deviate from their party's line or to show any original or creative thinking.
On balance neither party comes off well, and if anything reading "Do Not Ask..." will diminish and degrade any lingering respect you may have had for Congress, congressmen, and our current two-party system. Draper's expose also indirectly exposes how the media keeps our society under-informed and underserved, serving to play off our existing partisan divide. I found myself thinking of the comment Garry Marshall's character Stan Lansing on "Murphy Brown" about "politics is a game of three card monte designed to distract everyone while everything goes to hell". By turns depressing, dispiriting, and saddening, "Do Not Ask..." points out the inadequacy of our current system and sadly it doesn't offer any solutions. That is left for the reader to determine. "Do Not Ask..." will certainly prove popular on the Sunday talk shows, with the 99% crowd and Tea Party supporters. What they do with it remains to be seen.
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Initial post: Aug 18, 2013 9:08:30 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 19, 2013 2:08:13 PM PDT
Jim LaRegina says:
Todd, right after buying up virtually all major news media the elite bought up Congress like never before. How many people even know that in the 2012 election Democrats running for seats in the House of Representatives got more votes but, because of gerrymandering, Republicans nonetheless kept their majority? Justin Bieber makes headlines, but what is essentially a stolen election doesn't. That's how they want it.
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