On Thursday, July 12, 2012, one of nation’s most candid, smart and disarming politicians, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, joined The Common Good to talk about his new book, A NATION OF WUSSES: How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great.
About Ed Rendell’s MSNBC.
REVIEWS FOR A NATION OF WUSSES:
“Ed Rendell is one of the more refreshing and insightful voices in the conversation around American politics. He is a rare breed who tells the truth even when it doesn’t support his agenda. This book is a clever, intelligent, and entertaining retrospective on his life in politics featuring many of the characters he met along the way.”
“Ed Rendell gives us more than a political memoir—his book is a fun, funny, and authentic account of a life spent in government, and a no-holds-barred argument for bold leadership in America.”
—President Bill Clinton
“Ed Rendell’s book is big-city politics at its best. It’s got the roar of the El, the stale cigar smoke of City Hall. Rendell writes with hoagie on his breath—or was that a Philly cheesesteak? It’s The Last Hurrah for the twenty-first century.”
BOOK JACKET NOTES
Governor Ed Rendell explains why America’s leaders rarely call for sacrifice for the greater good—to avoid making any sacrifices themselves!
Rendell has seen job security become the primary consideration of any person with power in America—their own job security! Most politicians and bureaucrats can see no further ahead than the next election, sometimes no further than the next press conference. Americans are rarely afraid of sacrifice and hard work when they mean building a better future, but when was the last time you heard of a leader of anything making a sacrifice for the greater good? The people can only win when they make it clear to the powers that be that making the right choices, even the hard ones, is the key to winning the next election.
- Explains in rollicking stories ranging from the profane to the profound that most hard choices are only “hard” because the polls conflict with your principles
- Ed Rendell rose to the top of Philadelphia, then Pennsylvania, then national politics, by doing what he thought was right, and there were plenty of times that looked like it would be his downfall as well
- This book revisits the high points of Ed Rendell’s career and current landscape to define the political fights his peers seem just as afraid of winning as losing
- Rendell is a former head of the Democratic National Committee, a current MSNBC Senior Political Analyst, and a Partner at Ballard Spahr LLP
Among current office holders and candidates, he sees politicians pretending to stand on principle while, in fact, pandering to their bases; flip-flopping on issues, not because of new information, but because of new polls; and criticizing rivals for actions they would have praised if done by allies. While not at all shy about singling out Republicans like Scott Walker, Eric Cantor, and Mitch McConnell, Rendell has no trouble taking on Democrats who refuse to stand up to the teachers’ unions or distance themselves from allies who run into trouble. Other politicians might have left out of their memoirs stories like what happened to their plaque in the park, the story of Swifty the five-legged donkey, a dirty Al Gore joke, the time they considered pretending to faint, and who they’re already supporting for president in 2016. Luckily for readers, Ed Rendell is not that kind of politician. Complete with a scathing list of the “Top Ten Reasons Why Most American Politicians Are Wusses” and packed with uproarious tales of politicians in action that will make you wonder why these folks keep getting elected, you might have to go back to Ulysses S. Grant to find a politician with a book as lively and honest as A Nation of Wusses.
Unlike other reviewers, Tom McGrath, Philly Post contributor, found A Nation of Wusses to be ‘so Ed’ and had only glowing comments to make.
“That take — not to mention language — are quintessentially Rendellian, and A Nation of Wusses is filled with plenty of funny stories and insider accounts as only Ed can tell them.”
“I’m well aware that Rendell’s prescription for solving our problems — essentially, government needs to be more active — is likely to turn off as many people as it will excite in these highly polarized times. But reading the book you can’t help but be reminded of why Rendell has been the most powerful and dynamic Philadelphia political figure of our generation.”
The reasons why Rendell was the most powerful Philadelphia political figure? Rendell’s candor and passion for problem solving.
“Candor and problem solving — both of which fall under the now-quaint notion of “leadership” — are two things decidedly lacking from our politics these days. No, Ed Rendell won’t be running for president, or probably anything else in the years to come. But our country could use a few more Eds — and far fewer wusses.”
Regardless of feedback, Rendell claims not to care. He told Jim Gardner with ABC News that “his book won’t top any NY Times bestseller list, but he hopes some people read it and think about what he wrote.”
James O’Toole said the book was on the lighter side.
“But this book is not a deep dive into political theory. Rather, it is a light stew of anecdote and sound-bite-size arguments on how the nation can shake off its seeming inability to confront chronic problems.”
“Mr. Rendell proves so enamored of the term that won so much attention after the aborted Eagles game, that he repeats it, in one form or another, again, and again, and again, throughout the memoir.”
O’Toole had enough of this excessive use of “wuss” terms: “OK, Ed, we get it.”
Karen Heller, an Inquirer columnist, slammed A Nation of Wusses: “This is so not Ed.”
“Rendell made his reputation by speaking from his gut, which proved a gift to reporters – which we miss to this day! – when he wasn’t berating us (not so missed). His temper is volcanic and his judgement is often questionable.”
She even questioned his role in the work, questioning whether Rendell wrote the the book or it was “dictated.”
“With a Nation of Wusses, this self-professed ‘crafty politician’ had time think and edit himself…The result is a feat of backslapping bromides best suited for the award banquets Rendell claimed to loathe.”