A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
Tomorrow, Nov. 2nd is Election Day in the U.S.
I’m a lifelong, liberal Democrat. But while I disagree with most Republican positions on the issues, there are some Republicans that I like or even admire. One of these is Christine Todd Whitman, who was a governor, as well as part of George W. Bush’s cabinet. Whenever she’s on talk shows, she’s intelligent, articulate and reminds me that not all Republicans are old white men who yearn for the 1950’s.
Her memoir is not a “tell-all”, which was a bit disappointing, but rather is a well reasoned layout of her political philosophy. It’s also a warning bell for what could happen to the Republican party if they continue to listen to the extremist members. The amazing thing is that this book was written in 2005 and it’s more true now than ever. In fact, some of the things Ms. Whitman warned about is in the process of coming true.
She writes of the dangers of the narrow minded definition of what a Republican is, all the antis: anti-abortion, anti-environmental, anti-minority. She saw how easily the extreme right wing, which she called “social fundamentalists” could take over the party and make it more exclusive and more rigid. She argues for the power of moderates and rationality. Had leaders heeded her words, the Tea Party radicals might not be taking over Republicans and their candidates at this very moment.
The most interesting part of the book is Whitman’s account of her childhood within a very politically active family. I especially enjoyed the story of her meeting Gen. Eisenhower at the Republican Convention when he received the nomination for president and her gift to him.
She became the first woman governor of the state of New Jersey and appointed so many women to important positions, that her office was referred to as “the estrogen palace” by male employees. She drastically improved the finances of the state, as well as cleaning up the worse environmental problems, which had made New Jersey a joke. The latter led to President Bush(Dubya) appointing her as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Though she never explains why she left that position after two and a half years, she does recount numerous frustrations in trying to get any meaningful changes passed. Not only did Republican congressmen block and deny any legislative improvements, but the president himself reversed his campaign promises under industry pressures. Even as she attended the Kyoto meetings with intent to participate in proposals, her efforts were being thwarted back home.
While I don’t agree with some of her stances(such as on poverty and welfare), I did find her much more open-minded than most Republicans that are in power today. She is the anti-Sarah Palin. It’s truly unfortunate that moderates such as Whitman have been essentially driven out of their party, which once counted Lincoln a member, and have left the future of it to bad spellers who staple tea bags to their hats.
Penguin Press 2005 247 pp. ISBN 1-59420-040-8
Jackie has already sent in her mail-in ballot and voted Democrat, of course.