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Political Suicide: Missteps, Peccadilloes,…

Political Suicide: Missteps, Peccadilloes, Bad Calls, Backroom Hijinx,…

by Erin McHugh

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This is a book for your third consecutive rainy day while you're paying big bucks for a vacation retreat. You'll learn some new things, be refreshed about some other things, and, overall, you'll just shake your head ... that is until you recall human beings are imperfect. It has always been a question about why some people take ethical shortcuts. Conventional wisdom holds that once started, it is a slippery slope to disaster. But what is the motivation to take the first step? Why do some folks, who really do know better, choose to throws aside their, heretofore, ethical behavior? Too often, the lame excuse is that everyone does it. Well, no. Everybody does not lose touch with ethical behavior. Ultimately, it comes down to arrogance, a belief that one is smarter than everyone else. That, of course, is B.S. ( )
  DeaconBernie | Jun 28, 2016 |
American politics has had its share of scandals, dirty tricks, and backroom deals since the beginning. The weapons were canes, firearms, and words. In 1805, the Senate attempted to impeach Judge John Pickering for being drunk and insane. Those were not grounds for dismissal. In 1800, Congressman Matthew Lyon was reelected by a landslide while he was in jail. Vice President Aaron Burr killed Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804.
Erin McHugh has gathered the stories of 67 public servants whose actions often meant the ends of their political careers. The reasons included violence, embezzlement, being the victims of dirty tricks by their rivals, fraud, conspiracy, sex, and bribery among many others. Many of the actions would be looked at differently now because of both different coverage of political personalities, the use of hidden cameras and other technology, and different public attitudes. Before he was shot, Harvey Milk said,“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” California State Senator John Briggs was stridently anti-gay: In 2008, he commented on his past: “With the passage of over thirty years, America has changed-including me....Like President Reagan, and most of the country, I think differently now, and have put aside the ‘70s and ‘80s, and respectfully request others to do as well and move on to the civil side of life.”
POLITICAL SUICIDE suggests that President William Henry Harrison did not die because he stood in the cold without a coat or hat when he gave his nearly two-hour inaugural address.
It reveals how and why Lyndon Johnson persuaded Arthur Goldberg to resign from the U.S. Supreme Court and what happened afterwards.
It tells how the military chief of ordnance was forced to resign in 1863. His actions “added up to two additional horrific, deadly years of warfare” to the Civil War.
Peggy O’Neale Timberlake Eaton caused President Jackson to demand the resignation of all but one of his cabinet members.
Several chapters focus on people being elected to office despite their know illegal activities. James Michael Curley was a Boston Mayor and Governor of Massachusetts committed fraud. The voters re-elected him because “He did it for a friend.” It tell how he defeated incumbent Boston mayor, John F. “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, John F. Kennedy’s grandfather.
John Mitchell was deeply involved in the illegal actions done during the Nixon administration. His colorful wife, Martha, also played a part and the “Martha Mitchell effect” is noted in the psychiatric community: “Mental health experts misdiagnose a patient because they perceive the patient’s perception real events to be delusional, when they are, in fact, entirely true.
McHugg wrote about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for U.S. President in 1872, long before women had the right to vote. She also reveals that the US has already had a gay President.
POLITICAL SUICIDE is a well-written, juicy, humorous and quick-reading, skim-the-surface book. Most chapters are no more than three or four pages. Many of the information has already been revealed in longer, single issue books. I hope she writes a future book that examines the dirty tricks actions. ( )
  Judiex | Jun 27, 2016 |
The timing for Erin McHugh's Political Suicide couldn't be better. With the craziness of the 2016 election season in full bloom, her book reminds us that our democracy has survived it in the past and hopefully will in the future.

McHugh's book is divided into eleven chapters, with titles like "The Many Faces of Death", (which shows us that duels were the thing back in the day even if most of us only know about the infamous Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton one), "Conspiracy, Bribes & Fraud" and "Sex and Other Vices". Each section contains short chapters that describe scandals we most likely don't know about. Some are funny, ridiculous or just plain incredible.

While I remember some of these stories- Earl Butz' vile racist comments, Vice-President Spiro Agnew's bribery charge that led to his resignation that paved the way for Gerald Ford to become Vice-President and eventually President when Nixon resigned, Senator Bob Packwood's sexual harassment scandal that led to his resignation, most were new to me.

The one that shocked me the most was the story of Rita Crundwell, who was the comptroller and treasurer of the small town of Dixon, Illinois, best known as the hometown of Ronald Reagan. Over the course of her 30 year employment, Crundwell stole an astonishing amount of 53 million dollars from the town. How is that even possible? No one questioned her or oversaw her and no one wondered how she could afford a horse farm, fancy cars, clothes and jewelry on a town employee salary.

If you are a political junkie, Political Suicide is a must-read. Turn off Fox News or MSNBC for awhile and read about the nuttiness of political scandals of the past, and wait for McHugh's inevitable sequel that is sure to follow once this presidential season has ended, one way or another. ( )
  bookchickdi | May 25, 2016 |
This is a series of short tales of political woes of various political figures in U.S. history. Some are amusing and some are informative making it an entertaining look at politics. ( )
  Susan.Macura | May 1, 2016 |
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"A collection of entertaining and cautionary tales of political missteps in American history, from the birth of the nation through the present day. Just in time for the presidential election of 2016 comes Political Suicide, a history of the best and most interesting missteps, peccadilloes, bad calls, back room hijinks, sordid pasts, rotten breaks, and just plain dumb mistakes in the annals of American politics. They have tweeted their private parts to women they're trying to impress. They have gotten caught on tape doing and saying things they really shouldn't have. They have denied knowing about the underhanded doings of underlings-- only to have a paper trail lead straight back to them. Nowadays, it seems like half of what we hear about politicians isn't about laws or governing, but is instead coverage focused on shenanigans, questionable morals, and scandals too numerous to count. And while we shake our heads in disbelief, we still can't resist poring over the details of these notorious incidents. In Political Suicide, the foibles of our politicians are brought from the tabloid pages to this entertaining-- and cautionary-- tale of American history."--provided by publisher.… (more)

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