Tag Archives: political memoirs

Politics is the roughest of them all

Yes sir. Politics and to an extent public service can be the roughest of the rough jobs on Earth.

You bring someone on board to carry out your policies, they do your bidding and then they return to private life, write a book and then blast those policies to smithereens.

Leon Panetta is the latest former public official to turn on the man who hired him. His criticism of President Obama is drawing praise from Republicans (no surprise, there) and condemnation from Democrats (again, no surprise).


It’s the norm, I suppose.

Panetta, whose dossier is sparkling — former leading member of Congress from California, former White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration, former CIA director, former defense secretary — now says Obama disregarded his advice about leaving a “residual force” of personnel in Iraq. He also says the president misunderstood the threat posed by the Islamic State. He says the president is reluctant to engage his critics.

Yes, he’s written a book.

Is he the first former presidential insider to trash his boss? Hardly. Hillary Clinton has done so. Ditto for Robert Gates. They both are former Obama hands who’ve said unkind thing about him.

George W. Bush got the treatment from former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill; Bill Clinton got ripped by one-time political aide George Stephanopoulos.

Frankly, none of this serves any president well.

Still, there’s something quite unsettling about the latest trashing of Obama by his former defense chiefs and his one-time secretary of state. They come at a time of intense international crisis.

Panetta’s critique is particularly unnerving as the president looks for answers to dealing with ISIL, fighting a deadly disease in West Africa, trying to find peace between Israel and the Palestinians, seeking a solution to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine … and God knows what else is going on around the world.

Why not make these people pledge — in writing — to keep their thoughts to themselves until after the president leaves office? Is that too much to ask?

Abortion is personal for Wendy Davis

Wendy Davis has come clean on the issue that to date has defined her campaign for Texas governor.

The Democratic nominee for governor reveals in a memoir that she terminated a pregnancy. Why? Her unborn child had a potentially fatal brain disease so she and her then-husband made the heart-wrenching decision, during the second trimester of her pregnancy, to end it.


Her memoir, “Forgetting to be Afraid,” goes on sale next week.

It’s fair to wonder: What does this revelation to do her prospects for winning the Texas governorship?

She won’t win any Republican votes, to be sure. Her GOP opponent, Greg Abbott, already is a strong favorite to win the election in November. Will her acknowledging of this abortion galvanize pro-choice supporters to vote? Will her declaration be a testament to the courage it took for her to say it? I don’t know.

This kind of intensely personal crisis, though, does put Abbott in a bit of a bind.

The reasons Davis gives for aborting the pregnancy falls precisely into the circumstance that many anti-abortion activists and lawmakers are willing to exempt from laws that criminalize the act of receiving an abortion.

Did Davis and her husband seek this recourse with no regard to its consequence? Hardly. She writes that she felt a “deep, dark despair and grief, a heavy wave that crushed me, that made me wonder if I ever would surface.” She writes that she did recover emotionally and emerged someone who was changed forever.

Is this the kind of thing Abbott and/or his campaign team wants to exploit? No. I am certain the state’s attorney general will stay away from this issue. His supporters, though, might not be so circumspect.

This is the kind of intensely personal decision that only a woman can make with those who she loves and with God Almighty — and any effort to demonize Wendy Davis could carry some serious political risk for those who start throwing stones.