Former Illinois Republican Congressman Findley (Silent No More: Confronting America’s False Images of Islam, 2001, etc.) reflects on the time he served in office—1960 to 1982—and the lessons he learned over the years.
The congressman reminds us of the time when bipartisanship was the rule not the exception. As a middle-of-the-road Republican, he was a fiscal conservative but also active supporter of civil-rights legislation. Although he started off as a hawk, he became a proponent of ending the war in Vietnam. An admirer of Eisenhower, Findley also respected JFK and his measured approach during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Raised in a small town in Illinois, the author began his career as a reporter while still in high school—ultimately becoming the owner and publisher of the Pike County Republican—and his first taste of politics was during the 1936 election, when he supported Alf Landon against FDR. Astonishing today, the author writes that his first election victory cost “slightly less than $21,000, all paid in full the day before voting.” In 1973, Findley, who was part of a congressional group visiting the Middle East, met Yasser Arafat and became concerned about Israel's treatment of Palestinians. This was a transformative experience. “ I became convinced Palestinians had legitimate grievances against our government,” he writes. Overlooking all other relevant geopolitical issues, including the Cold War and the oil crises, the author writes that since the Kennedy Administration, “all U.S. Presidents have done the bidding of Israel's lobby, and the Congress has done the same,” resulting in “religious bias in foreign policy” and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A serviceable overview of a distinguished career, somewhat marred by the author’s occasionally extremist views.