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Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives (2012)

by Robert Draper

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1357203,530 (3.8)5
"[A] revealing and riveting look at the new House of Representatives, elected in the history-making 2010 midterm elections."--Publisher.

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  pollycallahan | Jul 1, 2023 |
Profile of various members in the House of Representatives including Allan West. No surprises in book. One can understand how country is gridlocked because of this Congress. ( )
  writemoves | Oct 26, 2021 |
Draper attempts to report on the 2012 "new" Representatives in Congress. I was particularly impressed with how thoroughly he documented the facts of the "January 20, 2009" meeting Senator McConnell admitted to attending. {More below} He gives the meeting pride of place, with his first Chapter. Of course, the fact of the meeting was by the time of publication "old news", but his emphasis gives it the recognition it deserves, and the enormity of the treason will only continue to grow. {See McCarthy's admission, as one of the participants, that the pretended investigation into "Benghazi" was an indulgence in political defamation.}

The book documents the fracturing of the GOP after the House was already riven by extreme factionalism. He is for the most part documenting statements made, however, Draper makes a number of errors in other matters. Draper apparently tries to avoid partisanship by not actually "reporting" the scale and enormity of the maneuvers conducted by the Parties.

The GOP at that time was still functioning, although divided by the new "Tea Party" members, who had no leader and did not honor the leadership of Boehner and Cantor.

Draper fails to report on the extensive efforts and "long game" maneuvers conducted by the Administration to get Congress to move on the great crises which confronted the nation. These efforts began bearing fruit in the 6th year of the Obama Administration. And Draper makes subjective descriptions of things which are speculative -- imagining Pelosi's meetings with fellow members and the President.

Regarding the ACA, Mr. Draper writes about the Medicare precedence: "Only thirteen Republicans supported the new entitlement in 1965. Then and later, Medicare was anathema to market-based conservative orthodoxy." In fact, Medicare was a bipartisan program. Caring for the helpless and elderly was not "anathema". 70 Republicans in the House voted for Medicare in 1965, along with 13 in the Senate. This is almost half of all Republicans then in Congress.

The Tea Partiers came into Congress in 2012 boasting of their refusal to even talk to the DNC or the President. The only broadly bipartisan votes are on naming post offices. Draper does address the question of whether the intransigence is effective, but indulges in speculation instead of reporting. Did the Tea Party intransigence "force" a Democrat Senate and president (and big-spending Republicans) to cut some spending? No. The fact is that they offered the Pentagon more money than the Generals and Admirals had requested! It is true that the Tea Party did prevent the President from funding long-neglected infrastructure and repair projects.

Draper also shows how Luntz urged the Tea Party to move the question of "How much can we spend?" to "How much can we cut?" However, Draper fails to show this influenced the outcomes. Look at the Corporate subsidies -- the House remained devoted the the Koch corporate interests.

Draper discusses the Tea Party attempt to eliminate earmarks, and the pork-barrel mechanism that flourished in the last Republican Congress. He fails to note that this is common ground with President Obama and the Left Wing (Occupy).


President Obama was elected by the largest number of Americans who had ever voted in an Election. The GOP dishonored the electorate-owners, by meeting on his Inauguration Day, and explicitly conspiring to destroy him. Draper documents the infamous January 20, 2009 conspiracy by the leadership of the GOP to sabotage our Government. This from a review published by keepemhonest in DailyKos:

"On January 20, 2009 Republican Leaders in Congress literally plotted to sabotage and undermine U.S. Economy during President Obama's Inauguration.

In Robert Draper's book, "Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives" Draper wrote that during a four hour, "invitation only" meeting with GOP Hate-Propaganda Minister, Frank Luntz, the below listed Senior GOP Law Writers literally plotted to sabotage, undermine and destroy America's Economy.

The Guest List:
Frank Luntz - GOP Minister of Propaganda
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA),
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX),
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX),
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI)
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA),
Sen. Jim DeMint (SC-R),
Sen. Jon Kyl (AZ-R),
Sen. Tom Coburn (OK-R),
Sen. John Ensign (NV-R) and
Sen. Bob Corker (TN-R).
Non-lawmakers present Newt Gingrich
During the four hour meeting:
The senior GOP members plotted to bring Congress to a standstill regardless how much it would hurt the American Economy by pledging to obstruct and block President Obama on all legislation.
These Republican members of Congress were not simply airing their complaints regarding the other party's political platform for four long hours. No, these Republican Congressional Policymakers, who were elected to do 'the People's work' were literally plotting to sabotage, undermine and destroy the U.S. Economy. "

Since that date, President Obama has led the nation to Recovery. However, the success was in spite of relentless and extreme obstacles presented by the GOP cabal. For example, during the initial Debt Ceiling negotiations, Eric Cantor and Sen. Jon Kyl abruptly walked out of negotiations and refused to renew discussions with Democrats. As a result, America's credit rating was lowered, costing millions.

{Compare the Senate GOP as well: Senators: McConnell, Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl, Tom Coburn, John Ensign, and Bob Corker have:
- Filibustered more Bills (over 300) than any Congress combined in US History.
- Voted NO on every single piece of Legislation brought to the Floor including:
NO on Al Franken's Anti-Rape Amendment,
NO on Lilly Ledbetter,
NO on Fair Pay Act,
NO on Anti-Outsourcing Bill (2010) } ( )
1 vote keylawk | Jan 1, 2016 |
Among the best pieces of political reporting I can remember reading. One can tell that the author's sympathies are with the liberals, but this does not prevent the author from presenting members of Congress as human beings with good intentions. If you only watch the news for your political information, most of the people in this book come off as cartoons, however if one reads this book, you're even able to see where Allen West is coming from.
The book deals with Representatives that are both new and old, but primarily focuses on the Tea Party freshmen of the 112th Congress. The central focus rests on a South Carolina Congressman named Jeff Duncan who was elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010.
After reading the book, I had a much better understanding of why so few bills passed through both houses of Congress. The Tea Party freshmen come off as both idealistic and implacable in their beliefs. For the most part, they are unwilling to go along with how things normally operate, for better and worse. It would be great if the author, Draper, had time to do an similar treatment of our current Senate.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in why Congress has gotten so little done this past session. ( )
1 vote cblaker | Jan 10, 2013 |

The evening of January 20, 2009, 15 white males and their spouses met at an expensive restaurant in Washington DC. Seven of the men were Congressmen (Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, Pete Sessions, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Hoekstra, and Dan Lungren); five were Senators (Jim DeMint, Jn Kyle, Tom Coburn, John Ensign, and Bob Corker); journalist Fred Barnes, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and communications specialist Frank Luntz, who had organized the meeting, completed the group.
The men were in shock by the election of Barack Obama who had been inaugarated earlier that day and they were trying to figure out how to get the White House back into Republican hands. They decided to stick together, highlight any problem faced by a Democrat official, and challenge the Democrats on every issue Their decision would have an amazing effect on The United States during the next four years.
In DO NOT ASK WHAT WE DO, Robert Draper follows the 112 U.S. House of Representatives during it’s first year. The year began with the induction of 98 new Representatives and ended with the failure of Congress to enact a budget and the US Credit rating being downgraded from AAA to AA+.
The book examines the styles of numerous players and how they affected Congress and, by extension, America.
Kevin McCarthy, the House Whip, observed that many of the new Congressmen were risk takers. He identified “ ... Two types of leaders. One was a thermometer who could accurately discern the temperature in the room. The other type of leader was a thermostat, who could actual change the environment. Obama was a thermostat. He saw himself as an entrepreneur, a creator of wealth and jobs.”
Among attempts made for both parties to work together were getting-to-know-you dinners between freshman and senior members. At the end of 2010, Nancy Pelosi thought they should raise the debt ceiling in the lame duck congress. President Obama disagreed and thought the Republicans would and should be equal partners in the discussion and would tread the matter in a reasonable fashion. Part of President Obama’s plan was eliminating tax cuts for wealthy. The Republicans wouldn’t pass it even though a majority of Republican voters approved.
That should not have been a surprise. In 2007 and 2008 20% of Republicans voted against their own budget because it didn’t meet their terms. Chris Van Hollen stated. “I think the Republicans are going to pay a very heavy price for (automatic defense cuts) because of the extreme lengths they were prepared to go. The American people saw that they wee literally willing to jeopardize te credit worthiness of the US in order to try and force upon the country their budget plans.”
The Democrats decided they couldn’t please the Republicans no matter what they did. Their votes were needed to pass many Republican sponsored bills but there was support for the Democrat’s bills in return.
Among the pressures on the Republican Congressman was that the majority of fund raising profits were given to Conservative favorites.
Imagine what would happen to an organization when a large group of high ranking middle managers are brought in and have their own agenda. Many have made promises about what they will accomplish without considering how much power their co-workers will give them. They refuse to compromise and maintain an adversarial position within the entire group, concentrating on the wishes of their small constituency despite differing views and needs of the entire population that they represent. As one would expect, things would not go their way, things that should be accomplished fail, and everyone becomes angry and frustrated. That is the sad story of the 112th Congress. ( )
  Judiex | Nov 28, 2012 |
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"[A] revealing and riveting look at the new House of Representatives, elected in the history-making 2010 midterm elections."--Publisher.

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