To Be a Politician

To Be a Politician

To Be a Politician

To Be a Politician

Excerpt

This is a book by a practicing lawyer, a Democrat of some political experience (mostly in his home state of Washington), little given to cant. Aspiring politicians who, like the author, are young, literate, and either amateur or idealistic or both, can learn much from it; professional students of political behavior, in and out of the universities, can also learn from it; and so can the great audience of citizens who might get better service from politicians if they understood the limits and opportunities of the profession, and for whom in any event the understanding of political life can make what happens in the world more meaningful if not less tragic.

It has not been uncommon for leading American politicians to write their memoirs, often bulky tomes like James G. Blaine Twenty Years of Congress, in which defeat for high office might be somewhat assuaged by polemics and apologias. Former Presidents have fought off creditors and history by the same route. Cabinet ministers have been prolific-though perhaps few have confided to their diaries as much of their daily grist as Harold Ickes, one of those many politicians whose vanity (a theme Mr. Bullitt treats at length) seems to have been a principal source of their strength and rectitude. I know, however, few memoirs by men who did not hold high office (Ed Flynn You're the Boss is both more and less than a memoir), and still fewer by young men who still have political hopes: though in intellectual life it is now customary to write one's autobiography or political testament while . . .

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