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Customer Review

on February 22, 2012
In this superb work, Ira Shapiro reminds us of a time where Americans could look to the upper chamber of their Congress for sound policy and even wisdom. While a top aide for a dozen years to several Democratic senators, Shapiro does herald the example of an able and courageous Republican like Howard Baker of Tennessee, who in supporting the Panama Canal Treaties put the national interest above his own national ambitions in the manner commemorated a half century ago by John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage. He probes the behavior of strong-willed and legislative lions who made the Senate work and got the nation's work done like Ted Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, Bob Dole, Edmund Muskie, Jacob Javits, Robert Byrd, Birch Bayh, and Scoop Jackson. While Mr. Shapiro's Democratic leanings are clear, he is eminently fair. More than anything, he seems to ask if such a Senate could reappear in the future, not just to a point where it is again recognized as the world's greatest deliberative body but as one which is regarded as an appropriate incubator for serious presidential candidacies. Not only is this a great book, it is also a compelling antidote at a time when the majority party seems spinelessly compliant to the every demand of bullying special interest groups like the SEIU and the minority party seems just as beholden to the emotion-laden, substance limited Kool-Aid of the most extreme manifestations of many tea party groups. Here is a thoughtful work that shows us that a better way of doing business is available if we listen to what the Founding Fathers call the better angels of our nature and if we elect better angels of both parties than many of those who occupy the upper chamber today.
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