Thursday Bookshelf: Robert Wexler’s Fire-Breathing Liberal

Robert Wexler who was my Congressman for almost 13 years joined the ranks of politician authors in 2008. Like most political memoirs the book is largely self-serving and self-promoting. Nonetheless, Fire-Breathing Liberal: How I Learned to Survive (and Thrive) in the Contact Sport of Congress has some interesting nuggets which certainly make it worth reading.

Having lived the 2000 recount in Palm Beach County, I have read many inaccurate accounts of what happened those 36 days. Wexler’s is the closest to reality that I have seen, partly because unlike the Washington hands that have written about the recount, Wexler knew all the local players and processes.

Wexler describes his evolution from strong opponent of impeachment of Peesident Clinton to his lonely advocacy of impeaching President Bush.  He gives some stories in diplomacy like recounting his meeting with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. He sounded the alarm on civil liberties and the abuse of Executive Power by the Bush White House. In the book, Wexler paints himself as an unabashed liberal and was of course one the earliest supporters of Barack Obama’s President Campaign in 2007.

Given that this book was written in the dying days of the Bush Administration it would be interesting to get Wexler’s take on the current controversies around Executive Power in the Obama Administration. Many of the abuses that liberals decried and conservatives defended have continued and the roles of defenders and critics have been reversed. He also excuses his own vote for War in Iraq due to the Bush Administration’s lies. But as someone who was active in his district at the time of the authorization vote, Wexler seemed sold on the need to go to war. That position was easily contrasted with our Senior Senator and leading statesman Bob Graham who saw right through the lies of the administration. This having been said, Wexler quickly turned against the war and voted a consistent liberal line on Middle Eastern policy from 2004 onward.

Regarding his own political career, the memoir is straightforward and self-serving. This is no different than so many other political autobiographies. It does however give a decent look at the Congressional Committee process as well as the art of campaigning in a largely suburban yet liberal Southeast Florida district. But unlike books written by other politicians a value is contained in its pages due to some of the matters I discussed above.

The book is certainly worth a read for any Florida political junkie.

2 comments

  1. I found it at Dollar Tree ages ago and bought it there. It wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. His replacement in congress is more of a Congressman than he ever was.

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  2. Mandy@yahoo.com · ·

    I used the book to wipe by ass

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