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The Conscience of a Liberal:
Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda

by Paul Wellstone

ISBN 0679462945 / 9780679462941 / 0-679-46294-5
Publisher Random House
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

When senators think about running for president, they write books like The Conscience of a Liberal. Indeed, Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota thought about pursuing the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000, but ultimately backed off. There's some speculation he'll run in 2004. Whatever the case, he's known in Washington as one of the Senate's most liberal members--giving his better-known colleagues Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton a run for their money in this category. The first part of the book explains Wellstone's unlikely ascension to the Senate (he was once a college professor), and some of his campaign war stories are fun reading for political junkies. One of the most amusing passages describes how he once nearly clocked New York Republican Alfonse D'Amato over a disagreement: "When the train reached the Senate chamber, I jumped out and lunged forward, intending to catch D'Amato and deck him. My body was shaking with uncontrollable anger." Another senator held him back, and Wellstone calmed down.

The bulk of The Conscience of a Liberal, however, is given over to laying out a political agenda that includes universal health care, reversing welfare reforms, prekindergarten education, raising the minimum wage, and campaign-finance reform. He closes with a call for a new politics: "This is not a conservative America.... There is a huge leadership void in this country that the Democratic Party, emboldened by political courage and a commitment to the issues that made our party great, can fill." Democrats looking for a candidate to support in the next presidential election may want to start here. --John J. Miller [via]