In which a right-wing crusader both gets his comeuppance and concludes that maybe Nancy Pelosi et al. aren’t so bad after all.
“Remember when I said that vote would come back to bite me in the ass?” If anyone remembers Radel’s name at all, it is because the firebrand congressman was popped for trying to score drugs after promoting a bill requiring that all would-be welfare recipients be tested for drug use. That episode plainly embarrasses him (“as long as I’m alive, I’m the jackass tea party Republican who bought blow and got busted”). Even so, this ungainly memoir gives him a chance to protest that, after all, he was long opposed to the war on drugs, which he decries as an assault on civil liberties and a waste of money. Radel charts his course from news reporter and TV anchor to politics, a world he entered with high hopes that were soon smoothed by realities—among them the specter of John Boehner and Eric Cantor handing out checks on the floor of the Capitol, “cementing their positions in Congress and building coalitions” with the help of plenty of outside cash. Among his late-blooming realizations were that both parties are made up of people who care about their constituents and country—the refusal to recognize which, he reckons, accounts for dysfunction on both sides of the aisle. Radel’s memoir has plenty of gee-whiz moments (“the days were long, but I loved it!”) and more than a little ruefulness. There’s not much news, but the author does have a good way of teasing apart how a bill works its way across the floor—and why economic populist Elizabeth Warren, for instance, might just oppose a medical device tax buried away in the Affordable Care Act, since “Massachusetts has quite a few medical device manufacturers.”
A minor though still worthy entry in the library devoted to the legal sausage-making that goes on in Washington.