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Through vivid personal narratives of the struggles family members faced, and citing the courageous actions of presidents ranging from Andrew Jackson to Teddy Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower, A Time to Fight provides specific, viable ideas for restoring fairness to our economic system, correcting the direction of national security efforts, and developing greater government accountability. Webb's stirring populist manifesto brings a fresh perspective to the political dynamics that ...
Through vivid personal narratives of the struggles family members faced, and citing the courageous actions of presidents ranging from Andrew Jackson to Teddy Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower, A Time to Fight provides specific, viable ideas for restoring fairness to our economic system, correcting the direction of national security efforts, and developing greater government accountability. Webb's stirring populist manifesto brings a fresh perspective to the political dynamics that have shaped our country.
“A Time to Fight may be the best evocation of the twenty-first century Democratic Party’s emerging style and philosophy. Webb is a . . . terrific writer . . . and now he has written a policy book that is actually worth reading, an unprecedented feat for a sitting politician.”
—Joe Klein, Time
“Jim Webb is a serious writer, not a politician who writes books on the side . . . He offers a fresh approach to politics and stirs excitement.”
—Elizabeth Drew, New York Review of Books
Mister President, on that I ask for the yeas and nays." "Is there a sufficient second? There appears to be a sufficient second. The yeas and nays are ordered. The clerk will call the roll."
These final words calling for a vote on the Senate floor have been uttered by the presiding officer, from a chair that oversees the entire Senate chamber. If someone were watching the proceedings on C-SPAN or from the small visitors' gallery above the chamber, they would see a puzzlingly empty spectacle. In most cases, only a few senators are on the floor, having spoken while standing behind one of a hundred desks that form a semicircle in front of the elevated platform where the stiff, seemingly bored presiding officer sits behind a parliamentarian, two legislative clerks, and a journal clerk. With that, those observing might be forgiven for thinking that the debate they have just witnessed was nothing more than kabuki, a pantomime of stilted, false formality played out to deaf ears, as unheard and unremarkable as a tree falling in an empty forest.
But in almost every Senate office, indeed at almost every desk, the television sets and computer monitors are on, having followed the floor statements that precede the vote. And much more has been done, well before the speeches began. Committee hearings have been held. Memos have been written. Recommendations have been drafted. Discussions and internal debates have taken place. All that remains is for the individual senator to decide which way he or she will vote. And within fifteen or twenty minutes, depending on the rule attached to the legislation, that vote must be cast personally, a yea or nay offered to the roll clerk sitting just below the presiding officer.
Some votes are easy, either because they are perfunctory, such as judicial and military nominations that have already been extensively scrubbed by trusted committee chairmen, or because they are procedural, calling upon a senator's loyalty to the party leadership, or because the philosophical arguments are clear. Some votes are enormously difficult. Many involve great stakes for the nation on issues that are far more complex than the inconclusive legislative answers that are being offered, a dilemma that many senators identify as "letting the perfect be the enemy of the good." Others involve deliberate traps by clever members of the opposing side, meaningless in their true impact because of procedural gimmickry but designed to soil the voting record of senators up for reelection and to provide fresh fodder for the bombast of the talk-show crowd. Casting such "gotcha" votes, one cannot help but think of Rudyard Kipling's knowing lament in the classic poem "If": "If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken / Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools . . ."
I am a junior senator, ninety-fifth on the seniority list, and so by Senate standards my office in the Russell Senate Office Building is less than splendid. But having spent most of my life outside of government, I know what splendid is, and how much it usually costs if you're paying for it out of your own pocket. From that perspective, my office meets the test--the high ceiling, the ancient fireplace along one wall, the classic furniture, the modern technology evident in the top-of-theline computer on my desk, all bought and maintained with money that came from hardworking people who have paid for such emoluments through their taxes. And especially splendid, invisible but permeating, is the history that both haunts and inspires me every day. It is not always enjoyable to serve as a United States senator. But it never ceases to be an...
Part 1 Who Are We?
1 Scorpions in a Jar 3
2 Dancing with the Bear 15
3 The Uncles on My Shoulder 35
4 A Nation Descended from Many Nations 51
5 The Genius-and the Limits-of the Constitution 71
Part 2 What Went Wrong?
6 From a Square Deal to a Raw Deal 89
7 Strategy Is Not a Board Game 111
8 The Armpit of the World 127
9 How Not to Fight a War 141
10 MacArthur Go Home 165
11 Don't Break My Rice Bowl 183
12 "So Who Doesn't Like Soldiers Now?" 199
13 A Criminal Injustice 215
Part 3 Truth and Consequences
14 What Then Must We Do? 235