Mr. Chairman: Power in Dan Rostenkowski's America

By James L. Merriner | Go to book overview

2
A HOUSE FOR ALL PEOPLES

Most people figure that all politicians are crooks. The truth of the matter is that the people are crooks themselves. A workman is stealing tools, hammer, nails; an office girl is taking pencils, fountain pens, paper clips home . . . the honest bankers who will take your eye teeth out, the real estate men, the union agents. You name them.

-- former Illinois legislator James C. Kirie, quoted in Rakove, We Don't Want Nobody Nobody Sent

CHRISTMAS of 1946 found eighteen-year-old Private Dan Rosten in cold Korea with the Seventh Infantry Division. Its job was to patrol the thirty-eighth parallel of latitude. At the time, it was just a line on a map. Nobody foresaw it as the battleline of the Korean War of 1950-1953.

Despite the cold, Rosten had a warm job. Assigned to the kitchen on the night shift, he baked bread in batches of forty loaves. It must have been tedious, unwelcome work for a prince of St. John's by way of the Thirty- second Ward. Further, for a boy of the prairies, the dreary mountains of South Korea, denuded of forests, must have seemed alienating.

Later, he was transferred to Kangming, near the beaches on the Japanese Sea. Baker Rosten, still working nights, whiled away the afternoons swimming or playing baseball. Some professional ballplayers, in army uniform because of the postwar draft, appreciated Rosten's talent and urged him to try out for the big leagues when he got home. I'll do just that, "Dan (Duper) Rosten" thought.

The fact that he was in Korea at all was the consequence of a kink in America's acceptance of world leadership after World War II. Korea had been largely an afterthought for Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin, carving up the postwar world during their Big Three conferences. It was decided

-38-

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Mr. Chairman: Power in Dan Rostenkowski's America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Prologue 1
  • 1 - Big Joe Rusty 7
  • 2 - A House for All Peoples 38
  • 3 - If Danny Says It's True 75
  • 4 - The Whole World is Watching 103
  • 5 - Pigs Get Fat 126
  • 6 - The Tuesday Through Thursday Club 142
  • 7 - Rosty's Rotunda 167
  • 8 - Write Rosty 193
  • 10 - A Bird So High 250
  • 11 - A Bladder Full of Wind 273
  • Epilogue 301
  • Notes 307
  • Selected Bibliography 321
  • Index 327
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