"Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency"
(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie SEP 16, 2004)
There is a veritable plethora of political books on the market this election year. However, Senator Robert C. Byrd's, (D-W.Va.), is totally unique, given the author's background and point of view. Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency is a searing indictment of George W. Bush's Presidency by a man who served under 11 US Presidents - beginning with Harry Truman. Senator Byrd's Congressional career, in both houses, has spanned more than 50 years. Only 2 other members of Congress had a longer tenure. He has held more leadership positions in the U.S. Senate than any other Senator of any party in Senate history. Sometimes called "the conscience of the Senate," this octogenarian patriot has dedicated his life to public service, and is considered to have a scholar's understanding of constitutional government. He is also the author of a four-volume history of the U.S. Senate
As much as I like and respect the Senator, I would never have bought and read his book if I had not heard him interviewed on TV last week. I thought I had read more than enough political memoirs this year. However, I heard Senator Byrd discuss the President's handling of the Iraqi War, other administration policies and attitudes, and the separation of powers, (a very important issue for me), and I realized I was, in fact, hearing some new information from a fresh perspective - information that I found extremely disturbing. I wanted to learn more.
Yes, this is a partisan senator's point of view. Is there any other kind? Are we to disbelieve all members of the loyal opposition, no matter what their record? I do think Senator Byrd very much wanted to support the president; indeed he reached out to do so, after the Inauguration and after September 11, 2001. He has a long history of working effectively with both Republican and Democratic administrations. However, things began to sour with what he saw as the "slow unraveling of the people's liberties." He believes that dangerous legislation was rushed through Congress, based on false information. Byrd was one of 21 senators who did not vote for the October 2002 resolution that authorized the use force to topple Saddam Hussein. He says that his Senate colleagues "stood passively mute...paralyzed by our own uncertainty, seemingly stunned by the sheer turmoil of events."
The Senator goes beyond criticizing the present government's preemptive strike, lack of post war planning and national security in general. He strongly condemns President Bush and his administration for their overall secrecy and "contempt for the balance of powers," what he sees as the erosion of constitutionally mandated separation of powers. He sees Bush and his advisers - Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Perle, Wolfowitz, etc., as dangerous, not only because of their "ill conceived" policies, but because they are intent on usurping the powers of the "the People's Branch of Government, Congress."
Senator Byrd argues his points well and backs them up with clear examples, and by describing encounters and discussions with President Bush, himself. They are quite similar to accounts reported by other recent political authors like Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill and Bob Woodward. G. W. Bush was quoted in Woodward's recent book as saying, "I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." That quote literally makes Byrd's hair stand on end. "Such hubris," he says. "Unmitigated arrogance. He's talking about the people here. That one little paragraph explains better than I could ever explain the contempt this man shows for the sovereignty of the people of this country."
This is a compelling and credible book. Occasionally the Senator takes too long to make his points, especially when comparing Bush with his predecessors...but he certainly does make them well. Ultimately he rallies all Americans, calling for the people to regain their Constitution, to return to the values and processes that made America great, and to speak the truth and demand the truth from our nation's leaders. BRAVO!
- Amazon readers rating: from 64 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- The Senate, 1789-1989
- The Senate of the Roman Republic: Addresses on the History of Roman Constitutionalism (1995)
- We Stand Passively Mute: Senator Robert C. Byrd's Iraq Speeches (July 2004)
- Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency (July 2004)
- Robert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfields (June 2005)
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- The official website for Robert C. Byrd
- NationMaster.com on Robert C. Byrd
- Defending Liberty by Robert C. Byrd
- Democracy Now! review of Losing America
- American Civil Liberties Union website
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About the Author:
Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia is the author of a four-volume history of the U.S. Senate, has served in the Congress of fifty-one years forty-five as senator.