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Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



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Herding Cats: A Life in Politics

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Herding Cats: A Life in Politics Cover

ISBN13: 9780060599317
ISBN10: 0060599316
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

For more than thirty years, Trent Lott of Mississippi has been one of the most powerful figures in all of Washington DC; as a leading figure in the conservative movement, he has been among a select group of people largely responsible for the Republican Party's dramatic shift to majority status in the American political landscape. Herding Cats is an unsparingly candid and engaging memoir from one of the dominant political figures in the last half-century.

Book News Annotation:

Trent Lott served as the Republican Senate Majority Leader until he was forced to step down because of his "innocent and thoughtless remark" praising the segregationist presidential campaign of Strom Thurmond. The scandal resulting from that remark forms the bookends for this memoir of Lott's political career, in which he describes his career from his first experience with Capitol Hill politics as an aide to Mississippi Congressman William Colmer, through his long career as an elected official in the House and the Senate, to the end of his tenure as Majority Leader. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

Carrying readers within the walls of Congress, and the administrations of six presidents, this unsparingly candid and engaging memoir is written by one of the dominant political figures of the last half-century. 16-page photo insert.

Synopsis:

Mastering the game and weathering the storms — a riveting and candid memoir from one of washington's true insiders

For more than thirty years, Trent Lott of Mississippi has been one of the dominant figures in American political life. From the moment he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1972, he has been a leader in the conservative movement that has changed the course of the nation. From his years in Congress to his ascent to majority leader of the Senate — and his decision to leave that post in the heat of controversy — Herding Cats is the frank and revealing chronicle of a unique political life.

Lott's story bridges an extraordinary time in American history. As a fraternity leader during the integration of the University of Mississippi, he helped contain the violence that accompanied James Meredith's enrollment as the university's first African American student. As a congressman during Watergate, he mounted a fierce defense of Richard Nixon — until Gerald Ford quietly counseled him to think twice. A passionate advocate of smaller government, Lott describes his painful choice to support Gerald Ford over his challenger Ronald Reagan in the 1976 election — and his delight in helping lead the revolution that followed Reagan's win in 1980.

Yet it was in his dramatic engagements with the Clinton administration that Lott found his greatest victories — and challenges. Working in secret through political adviser Dick Morris, Lott reveals, he persuaded Clinton to accept health insurance and welfare reform laws, along with spending cuts that balanced the national budget. But he was aghast when years of work on a tobacco settlement were scuttled by the White House in 1997 — possibly because of Al Gore's desire to exploit tobacco as a political issue. With surprising candor, Lott portrays his fruitful working partnership with Democratic leader Tom Daschle during the Clinton impeachment, and again in the hours after the attacks of September 11, 2001. And he describes in painful detail his decision to resign as majority leader after his remarks at Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party — a move he made when it became clear that the Bush White House had circled the wagons against him.

Marked by the same straight-talking style and good humor he has shown throughout his career in public service, Trent Lott's Herding Cats is the memoir of a true master of American political life.

About the Author

Trent Lott is the junior senator from Mississippi. He currently chairs both the Rules and Administration Committee and the Surface Transportation Subcommittee and serves on the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Finance Committee. He lives with his family in Washington, D.C., and Pascagoula, Mississippi.

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Bob, March 18, 2007 (view all comments by Bob)
He's back! Doing what he likes best ... Herding Cats. After a brief hiatus from the ranks of Republican leadership, Mississippi's Trent Lott was re-elected to the post of Senate Whip for the 110th Congress and stands second in party rank after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Lott's role as Whip is familiar to him, and his ascension to it once again must have evoked feelings of coming home for the holidays to sing Christmas carols.

Prior to election to the US Senate in 1988, Lott served as Republican House Minority Whip. Over the course of the Reagan era, Lott honed leadership skills that ultimately won him election as Senate Majority Leader in 1996.

In his recent autobiography , Lott tells us about the strategy and tactics he utilized in Herding Cats that have marked him as a successful Congressional leader for more than two decades.

Lott was first elected to the US House of Representatives in 1972. Beginning in 1981, then House member Lott as Whip assisted Minority Leader Robert Michel of Illinois and was responsible for counting votes and persuading colleagues of both parties to line up in support of the Republican legislative position. To strengthen his leadership post, he proudly recounts how he became an early adopter of the emerging microcomputer technology whereby he set up a computer operation in the Whip's office adjacent to the House floor. His "data base" included information about all House members, names of key campaign contributors in each Congressman's district, demographics of every district, past voting records, trusted allies, personal political idiosyncrasies and so forth.

As a consequence, he and his Assistant Whips were able to access facts and figures instantly which might help them devise a plan of action designed to persuade undecided colleagues to vote with the Republican party leadership. By applying his techniques of friendly persuasion to Democrats as well as members of his own party, Lott frequently was able to put together majorities to defeat the Democrats.

With the help of seventeen Assistant Whips, Lott devised several courses of action to work his colleagues and lead them around to the desired voting position. His repertoire of techniques for "herding cats" during the House stage of his career included one he calls the "Buddy System."

With the "Buddy System" Lott identified a close friend of a fence straddler. Lott then dispatched that trusted colleague to talk with the undecided Congressman seeking to win him over with camaraderie and "backup" support. The uncertain Congressman was encouraged to "talk it out" thereby giving the appointed Buddy an opportunity to comment and provide amiable guidance. The Congressman in question often times was brought around by this interpersonal procedure to vote for the Republican position even if important constituents back home might have objected.

What Lott called the "cow bells" strategy worked this way. Members of Congress naturally gravitate to small groups of like-minded colleagues who share common interests of one type or another such as agricultural, or urban industrial, or region of the country. In each group there emerge certain "natural leaders" to whom the others look for cues about issue content and voting. Lott identified these natural leaders and instructed them in bringing members of their groups around to supporting the Republican agenda. Lott states that it was "much like a rancher bells the lead cow so the herd can follow."

Still another strategy Lott used to influence a House member who appeared to be headed in the wrong direction was the "Chinese Water Torture." Here he would send several persons, one at a time, to bear down upon the noncommittal Congressman. These individuals might be political supporters and contributors from the Congressman's home district as well as other Congressional colleagues.

Along with several House Republicans, Lott eventually moved over to the Senate in 1988. Again he became Whip, this time under Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole. Lott defeated Alan Simpson of Wyoming for the Whip's job with the core backing of those loyalists who had been with him in the House during the 1980s. When Dole left the Senate in 1996 to run for the Presidency, Lott was elected Senate Majority Leader. Lott states that he found Senators to be more "aloof" than House members and consequently less open to the amicable persuasion that had worked so well for him in the House.

Another legendary Congressional leader was Lyndon Johnson who served as Senate Majority Leader during the Eisenhower era. It would seem that the leadership style of LBJ differed substantially from that of Lott is this way. To some observers it appears that Lott is more collegial, and employs low key, subtle, sympathetic, "talk it through" conciliation whereas the "Johnson Treatment" was often harsh. By several accounts, LBJ was an arm twister who bullied, pleaded and threatened his colleagues into coming around. One might say that like Daschle, Mansfield and Baker, Lott's leadership style is of the "easy going" non-threatening school. Nor is Lott the flamboyant showman that was Everett Dirksen. Lott is not likely to turn personal disagreements into public disputes as Dole was inclined to do on occasion. Lott would also stand at the opposite end of the continuum from another strong-arm Southern tactician, former House Majority Leader DeLay. An observer might get the sense that Lott's sharp edged conservatism is less personally ideological than it is based on the current political necessities of his state. His views are probably not chiseled in granite which means that he fully appreciates the indispensable role that compromise plays in making democratic government work. Being a broker with a willingness to compromise would seem to be a prerequisite for rising as he has to key leadership posts. Lott is well suited for the current era which seems to require a renewed trust, spirit of compromise and civility.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060599317
Subtitle:
A Life in Politics
Author:
Lott, Trent
Publisher:
William Morrow
Subject:
Political
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Legislators
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20050823
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1.05 in 19.76 oz

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History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Politics

Herding Cats: A Life in Politics Used Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages ReganBooks - English 9780060599317 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Carrying readers within the walls of Congress, and the administrations of six presidents, this unsparingly candid and engaging memoir is written by one of the dominant political figures of the last half-century. 16-page photo insert.
"Synopsis" by , Mastering the game and weathering the storms — a riveting and candid memoir from one of washington's true insiders

For more than thirty years, Trent Lott of Mississippi has been one of the dominant figures in American political life. From the moment he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1972, he has been a leader in the conservative movement that has changed the course of the nation. From his years in Congress to his ascent to majority leader of the Senate — and his decision to leave that post in the heat of controversy — Herding Cats is the frank and revealing chronicle of a unique political life.

Lott's story bridges an extraordinary time in American history. As a fraternity leader during the integration of the University of Mississippi, he helped contain the violence that accompanied James Meredith's enrollment as the university's first African American student. As a congressman during Watergate, he mounted a fierce defense of Richard Nixon — until Gerald Ford quietly counseled him to think twice. A passionate advocate of smaller government, Lott describes his painful choice to support Gerald Ford over his challenger Ronald Reagan in the 1976 election — and his delight in helping lead the revolution that followed Reagan's win in 1980.

Yet it was in his dramatic engagements with the Clinton administration that Lott found his greatest victories — and challenges. Working in secret through political adviser Dick Morris, Lott reveals, he persuaded Clinton to accept health insurance and welfare reform laws, along with spending cuts that balanced the national budget. But he was aghast when years of work on a tobacco settlement were scuttled by the White House in 1997 — possibly because of Al Gore's desire to exploit tobacco as a political issue. With surprising candor, Lott portrays his fruitful working partnership with Democratic leader Tom Daschle during the Clinton impeachment, and again in the hours after the attacks of September 11, 2001. And he describes in painful detail his decision to resign as majority leader after his remarks at Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party — a move he made when it became clear that the Bush White House had circled the wagons against him.

Marked by the same straight-talking style and good humor he has shown throughout his career in public service, Trent Lott's Herding Cats is the memoir of a true master of American political life.

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