Shooting from the Lip: The Life of Senator Al Simpson

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Overview

Shortly before Wyoming?s Alan K. Simpson was elected majority whip of the United States Senate, he decided to keep a journal. ?I am going to make notes when I get home in the evening, as to what happened during each day.? Now the senator?s longtime chief of staff, Donald Loren Hardy, has drawn extensively on Simpson?s personal papers and nineteen-volume diary to write this unvarnished account of a storied life and political career.

Simpson gave full authorial control to Hardy, ...

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Shooting from the Lip: The Life of Senator Al Simpson

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Overview

Shortly before Wyoming’s Alan K. Simpson was elected majority whip of the United States Senate, he decided to keep a journal. “I am going to make notes when I get home in the evening, as to what happened during each day.” Now the senator’s longtime chief of staff, Donald Loren Hardy, has drawn extensively on Simpson’s personal papers and nineteen-volume diary to write this unvarnished account of a storied life and political career.

Simpson gave full authorial control to Hardy, telling him, “Don, just tell the truth, the whole truth, as you always have. Leave teeth, hair, and eyeballs on the floor, if that results from telling the truth.” Taking Simpson at his word, Hardy shows readers a thrill-seeking teenager in Cody and a tireless politician who has thoroughly enjoyed his work. Full of entertaining tales and moments of historical significance, Shooting from the Lip offers a privileged and revealing backstage view of late-twentieth century American politics.

Hardy’s richly anecdotal account reveals the roles Simpson played during such critical events as the Iran-Contra scandal and Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings. It divulges the senator’s candid views of seven American presidents and scores of other national and world luminaries. Simpson is a politician unfettered by partisanship. Among President George H. W. Bush’s closest compatriots, he was also a close friend and admirer of Senator Ted Kennedy and was never afraid to publicly challenge the positions or tactics of fellow lawmakers, Democratic and Republican alike.

Simpson’s ability to use truth and humor as both “sword and shield,” combined with his years of experience and issue mastery, has led to an impressive post-Senate career. In 2010, for example, he co-chaired President Barack Obama’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Shooting from the Lip portrays a statesman punching sacred cows, challenging the media, and grappling with some of the nation’s most difficult challenges.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Al Simpson’s been likened to a bull in a china shop. That’s not fair. Al’s much louder. And unlike that bull, Al’s cleaning up after other people’s messes! I call him a very fair and balanced critic: he bashes everyone and coddles no one. No wonder both sides love to rip him. He gets under their skin, and reading Shooting from the Lip, you quickly discover that not only has Al built a remarkable career on this ability but our nation is sure as hell the better for it!”—Neil Cavuto, News Anchor and Managing Editor, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network

"Al Simpson was a Senator with the right touch. Because of his integrity and his humor, he had many friends in the United States Senate—deservedly so."—George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States

“Al Simpson is an American original. Among the many important events recounted in Donald Loren Hardy’s lively biography are gems from Simpson’s close friendship with Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, which reveal as much about Al as they do about the presidents—that he is altogether without pretension, honest, never boring, and always good-hearted.”—David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of John Adams

“Don Hardy has captured every mood, idiosyncrasy, beauty spot, and wart of this great American. The wonderful friendship between Al Simpson and me and our strong respect and love for each other are not based on our thinking alike on every political issue, but on our respect for the public policy–setting process, our advocacy for preserving the liberties and freedoms for which others have given their lives, and our belief in the opportunities this great country offers. This book is about a warm, wonderful person who has devoted his life to straight talk, unabashed patriotism, and a willingness to work “across the aisle” to make this a more perfect Union.”—Norman Y. Mineta, former United States Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Commerce

“This lively biography of Al Simpson brilliantly captures a man as wide open and free-spirited as the West itself. Shooting from the Lip is refreshingly funny and irreverent—and never more timely than now, when the nation is once again turning to Simpson for straight talk about government spending.”—Andrea Mitchell Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, NBC News

Shooting from the Lip: The Life of Senator Al Simpson is a biography that draws directly from the extensive, nineteen-volume journal that Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming elected to keep shortly before he was elected to the post of majority whip. Colorful anecdotes and testimony of those who knew the senator best supports this excellent reconstruction of a strong-willed leader. Al Simpson himself gave Donald Loren Hardy full editorial control and a mandate to tell the complete, unvarnished truth. Shooting from the Lip especially scrutinizes Simpson's role in critical events such as the Iran-Contra scandal. Al Simpson's charisma, expertise, and talent for using humor as well as reason to drive home a point distinguish his political career. Shooting from the Lip is an excellent and engaging true story and a welcome addition to college and public library political biography shelves.—Midwest Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806143200
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 8/18/2012
  • Pages: 472
  • Sales rank: 709,938
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald Loren Hardy served for 18 years as Senator Alan K. Simpson’s Press Secretary and Chief of Staff, then served as Director of Government Affairs at the Smithsonian Institution. Retired, he now engages in humanitarian efforts overseas and resides with his wife Rebecca in Montana.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Preface ix

1 Pioneer Spirits 3

2 Creeping Maturity 22

3 Big Steps 37

4 Milestones 65

5 Headliners and Headaches 101

6 Campaigns, Columnists, and Gazoos 125

7 Land of High Altitude and Low Multitude 155

8 Mercenaries, Emissaries, and Eminent Demean 186

9 Cold War Meltdown 219

10 The VP Thing 248

11 The Beat Goes On 293

12 Friend to the President 313

13 Highs and Lows 338

14 Hand-to-Hand Combat 369

15 Winds of Change 401

16 Rounding a Corner 430

Notes 442

Index 447

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 1, 2011

    The definitive biography of one of America's most colorful statesmen

    Don Hardy's book, "Shooting from the Lip," is aptly titled. It tells the life story of former Senator Alan K. Simpson, perhaps the most unguarded man in recent decades to rise to political prominence. Written with the aid of Simpson's diaries, the book evokes how he thought, the issues and experiences that shaped his career, the tempo of his daily life, and his unique way of expressing himself. It's all here, from the momentous down to the mundane - including the "pecan incident" long known to Simpson staff, now preserved for posterity on page 52. Simpson never lost his sense of wonder over the miracle of modern democracy. Even as he navigates the corridors of power along with presidents, fellow legislators, and foreign heads of state, his diary records his excitement over the privilege. For Americans who believe that all politicians are cynical and numb to the unique responsibility of their offices, this book convincingly demonstrates the contrary. It is a happy accident of history that Simpson's right-hand man in Washington, book author Don Hardy, is also an excellent writer. He has not only a press background but also a natural talent. He's raised his game still further with this professional effort. Early in the book Hardy details Simpson's "War on Gibberish" - the Senator's loathing of unnecessarily opaque prose. Appropriately to his subject, Hardy's own writing is clear, direct and succinct. One of the afflictions of modern political culture is the view that those of the "opposite faith" (to use a Simpson phrase) must implicitly be malevolent and/or dishonest. Simpson's way of working shows the opposite: that decent and intelligent people can have opposing views about economic policy, foreign policy, and much else. This intellectual humility enabled Simpson to have genuine, strong friendships with individuals ranging from Senator Ted Kennedy to President George Bush. Readers of the book will learn the formative influences on Simpson's political behavior. Only too aware that he had made foolish mistakes early in life, Simpson was always ready to defend those on the firing line. If the press was running roughshod over someone, Simpson usually threw his body in front of him - whether Joe Biden, Robert Bork, Ted Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, or George Bush. The same instincts rendered Simpson intolerant of opportunistic political attacks. Though himself subject to criticism as a pro-choice Republican, Simpson was willing to rip various pro-choice advocacy groups - and many others -- when he found their behavior unseemly and unfair. The book shows how Simpson's instincts in these areas evolved early in his life, putting him at odds with much of contemporary press culture. In school, he once refused to release vote totals to the school paper, so as not to embarrass the losing candidate. This instinct would create collisions between Simpson and the press throughout his political career. Best of all, the book time and again delivers Simpson's colorful, pungent language -- sometimes controversial, often hilarious. Politicians just don't speak like Simpson anymore (indeed, they hardly ever did), and that is a shame. Simpson's instinct for language was reflected in - and fueled by -- his love for certain classic poems, detailed within the book. In sum, this is the definitive account of a unique American statesman.

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  • Posted October 25, 2011

    The Remarkable Story of an Exceptional American

    I don't care what your political passions are, if you have an open mind you are going to love this book. It is the story of an exceptional politician (from a time when they weren't quite so rare), sincere family man, and best friend to presidents, senators and non-politicians. The book relies heavily on Senator Simpson's epic-length, tell-all diary that contains stories rich in humor, anger, trials, tribulations, and friendships, and is set largely during his leadership years in the US Senate. It is a warts and all telling of the issues facing the nation, and Simpson personally, and is never boring. The book is not a detailed portrayal of legislation, but is rather a passionate look at how this individual, who always speaks his mind, fights for what he believes in while stepping on more media and political toes than most politicians would ever dare to. In general he is admired by those he's fought the biggest battles with, but there are plenty of regrets along the way. Today's politicians in Congress could learn a lot from Simpson about the value of friendships in getting things done. The book is well-written, entertaining, and you'll pick up some great jokes.

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  • Posted October 24, 2011

    Take it from a diehard Democrat- you will love this book!

    I finished reading this book at 10:30 pm. on a Saturday night. I have to say I'm very disappointed---Disappointed that the book is over I mean! Disappointed that we don't have more Alan K Simpsons in Washington today-This book should be required reading for anyone even considering running for office and for all elected officials. For the rest of us -- something to give us hope that one can reach across party lines without selling his/her soul, that compromise and respectful dialog (and sometimes not so respectful-but dialogue nonetheless!)really can occur in Washington. Senator Simpson's story makes us realize that true friends appreciate your integrity even if they disagree with your position. The book is filled with humor, compassion, sadness, victory, loss, and above all- integrity, and steadfast determination -- The book was fabulous- I laughed (belly laughed even)way more than once and cried even more. It was thrilling for me to feel like a fly on the wall of such intimate and important events in our country's history. After finishing the book I went to bed holding on to my new favorite quote from Senator Simpson: "If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters"- thank you Mr. Hardy for your literary integrity and thank you Senator Simpson for yours!!

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