They call the GOP an “insurgent outlier.” As Ornstein’s American Enterprise Institute colleague Peter Wallison has noted, “by the lights of Ornstein and Mann, a political party that is ‘far from the American mainstream’ could be put fully in control of the U.S. government” come November. Isn’t that what “mainstream” means?
The book largely ignores the reasons behind the Democrats’ historic setback in the 2010 elections. And it utterly fails to consider that the new crop of Republicans who won office that year might have a point about the dysfunction of Congress before they arrived.
Each book has a lengthy chapter on last summer’s debt-ceiling negotiations. Mann and Ornstein paint GOP leaders as the villains in their negotiations with President Barack Obama. “Cantor criticized and undercut negotiations,” they write. “Boehner was sandbagged.”
Draper, for his part, largely ignores the White House talks and focuses on the debt-ceiling dynamics among House Republicans. He relates a tale in which four Boehner allies cautioned him that Cantor was encouraging a tea party “brush fire” against Boehner’s deal-making. He does not offer a response from the top two leaders. More recent journalistic examinations of the controversy have placed greater responsibility on Obama for last summer’s debacle.
As these two books demonstrate, the “first rough draft” of history has its limitations. And expert even-handedness is in increasingly short supply.
On January 3, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., raises her right hand as her son Henry messes up her hair while Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., delivers the ceremonial swearing-in in the Old Senate Chamber. Gillibrand's other son Theodore, lower right, looks on.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.