With enthusiasm and candor, a passionate Democratic congressman gives readers an inside look at the House of Representatives during a period of declining government accountability.
Assisted by veteran co-author Fisher (Up Till Now, 2008, etc.), Wexler writes of his 12 rewarding but tumultuous years in Washington. A South Florida-by-way-of-Long-Island loudmouth, he’s unafraid to lambaste egregious political partisanship as he describes with understandable dismay how severe the imbalance between the legislative and executive branches has become. Wexler’s Southern Florida district was the center of the “butterfly ballot” controversy during the 2000 election, and he angrily recounts the zeal and heartbreak he saw in his elderly constituents, hundreds of whom mistakenly cast votes for Pat Buchanan that were never properly recounted. Some of his anecdotes make their points with sharp wit. A staunch supporter of Israel and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, he endured a tense meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad because he saw it as an opportunity to learn more about a powerful figure in Middle Eastern relations. When Assad asked, “Is George Bush crazy?” Wexler’s description of the thought process behind his carefully phrased answer offers a mini-lesson in diplomacy. His clarity and humanity in no way dampen his zest for picking fights. His list of Republican misdeeds includes strong-arming for votes, using fear to galvanize public support, misleading Congress into war and illegally wiretapping citizens. He scathingly characterizes the Bush administration as greedy and deceitful. After loudly decrying the Clinton impeachment on the grounds that the president did not betray his country, he now declares that a worthy candidate for impeachment currently sits in the White House. Yet Wexler never loses humor or optimism. His wife, children and belief in democracy keep him grounded and working hard for civility and the ideals on which the nation was founded.
It won’t find any fans in the right-wing crowd, but Wexler’s approachable, eye-opening political autobiography overflows with intriguing detail and insight.