Shooting from the Lip: The Life of Senator Al Simpson

Shooting from the Lip: The Life of Senator Al Simpson

by Donald Loren Hardy
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Shooting from the Lip 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Odysseus3 More than 1 year ago
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.
Chuck_Shenk More than 1 year ago
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.
margojMJ More than 1 year ago
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!!