I enjoy reading political memoirs. One of my favorites is Robert Reich’s Locked in the Cabinet. In it, Reich humorously describes his time as Secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration. Humorous? Yes, in a “I laugh to keep from crying” kind of way.
Below are some quotes from the book.
“Politicians cannot be pure, by definition. Their motives are always mixed. Ambition, power, public adulation, always figure in somehow. Means get confused with ends.” p. 10
“It’s possible for a society to create more jobs in exchange for lower wages and worse living conditions. After all, slavery is a full-employment system. The long term challenge is more good jobs.” p. 12
“Presidential campaigns are built on hope. Every four years the nation dips into the bottomless well of optimism. Our quadrennial amnesia prevails.” pp. 33-34
“Presidential politics, in particular, is a national roller coaster ridden compulsively — hopes soaring, disappointments plunging.” p. 34
“No other democracy does it this way. No private corporation would think of operating like this. Every time a new president is elected, America assembles a new government of 3,000 or so amateurs who only sometimes know the policies they’re about to administer, rarely have experience managing large government bureaucracies, and almost never know the particular piece of it they’re going to run. These people are appointed quickly by a president-elect who is thoroughly exhausted from a year and a half of campaigning. And they remain in office, on average, under two years– barely enough time to find the nearest bathroom. It’s a miracle we don’t screw it up worse than we do.” p. 52
I disagree with Reich on many policy issues, okay most policy issues, but my heart is very close to his. I recommend his book Locked in the Cabinet to anyone who has an interest in government or politics — or, anyone who needs a good belly laugh.
Other Books By Robert Reich