Congressional politics can be a dirty, rough-and-tumble game, but Washington legend Elizabeth Drew takes us ringside to an unusually fierce fight: the quest for campaign finance reform, spearheaded by maverick senator John McCain.
Little known outside Arizona, McCain gained prominence when he broke from the Republican leadership and still came close to earning his party's nomination for the presidency in 2000. Derailed by George Bush (whose lieutenants, one of Drew's interviewees remarks, fought "the dirtiest, nastiest campaign I've ever seen"), McCain struck out against entrenched, big-money interests, earning plenty of enemies on Capitol Hill and plenty of admirers outside the Beltway. Drew gives us a day-by-day, sometimes hour-by-hour account of McCain's courtly but tough battle, fought with handshakes here, cajoling there, and shrewd calculation everywhere.
Readers wanting to know how things really get done in Washington have a fine guide in Drew, and admirers of McCain will find still more reasons to respect him after watching him in combat. --Gregory McNamee
From Publishers Weekly
Drew offers a focused narrative that follows Senator John McCain through the 2001 legislative session as he maneuvers toward his goal of campaign finance reform. The highly respected Drew, a former New Yorker political writer and author (The Corruption of American Politics, etc.), was granted extraordinary access to McCain, including many private interviews and the cooperation of his staff. She is careful to note, however, that this is not an approved biography. The result is an instructive, even suspenseful, fly-on-the-wall account of how recondite parliamentary ploys, masterful management of the press and public relations, opportunistic coalition-building and sheer tenacity, energy and conviction laid the groundwork to challenge the formidable forces aligned against finance reform. High-profile players intent on disrupting McCain's fragile coalition include White House advisor Karl Rove, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, ultraconservative Republican Congressmen Dick Armey and Tom DeLay, along with unions and various lobbyists. In the midst of her narrative, Drew is forced to change her focus from the battle over campaign finance reform to the events of September 11. In Drew's view, McCain provides a rare example of leadership as he makes numerous media appearances including one as the sole guest of Jay Leno designed to reassure the public after the terrorist attacks. In that regard, the book's title is revealing. For Drew, McCain is a man to whom the title "citizen" attaches as an honorific without irony, the reference to Orson Wells's manipulative Kane notwithstanding.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.