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Title: The Corruption of American Politics: What ...
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In this revelatory book that takes you behind the scenes and headlines, distinguished and highly respected Washington reporter Elizabeth Drew draws on her superb skills to detail precisely how money and ideology, and a lower quality of politicians and lower standards of political behavior, have corrupted and debased American politics over the past twenty-five years. She demonstrates the stark differences in our politics between the immediate post-Watergate period, when Americans eventually gained fresh confidence in their government and enacted a sweeping law to reform the campaign financing system, and twenty-five years later, when confidence in government and in those who govern is dangerously low. And she shows how the campaign finance system has been utterly destroyed.
She explains why there has been a steep decline in statesmanship and leadership and civility and a sharp rise in partisanship. She goes beneath the surface in the impeachment of President Clinton, and shows how the changes in our political system defined what happened.
She describes how the changes in our politics affected the hearings held by Senator Fred Thompson on the campaign finance scandals of 1996--the worst yet--and details for the first time how the political interests of both the Republicans and the Clinton White House and the interest groups that would be affected fought the inquiry and brought it to an end. She demonstrates the historical importance of their ability to stymie a legitimate and critical inquiry and secretly block the wishes of the majorities in both chambers that support reform.
Drew makes a powerful case against the widespread belief that "the people don't care" about reform of the campaign finance system.
Wise, insightful, and fascinating, The Corruption of American Politics is an astonishingly timely book.Review:
Elizabeth Drew, longtime Washington correspondent for The New Yorker, provides an up-close look at the scandalous roots of America's political culture. With its focus on campaign-finance reform, The Corruption of American Politics is not a flashy read but a surprisingly engrossing one, full of vivid characterizations and sly observations (one senator, for example, is described as "unburdened by brilliance"). Drew places her subject in the larger context of what has happened to American political life since Watergate. The public has lost most of its faith in government, she writes, warning: "Lack of trust creates the risk of susceptibility to demagoguery, or of abuses of the democratic process." Her behind-the-scenes descriptions are a real strength--she has incredible access to Washington's movers and shakers--but they also give rise to a weakness: the politicians who double as sources tend to come off well, while the reverse is true for those who didn't invite Drew into their confidence. In addition, readers who lean conservative may detect a whiff of liberal bias on these pages; yet they need not agree with all of Drew's judgments to appreciate her journalism. For a glimpse at how Washington really works--from the naked partisanship of Congress to the White House spin machine--Elizabeth Drew is hard to beat. --John J. Miller
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