Feature

Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives by Robert Draper

The author interviewed 50 House members while creating this "refreshingly balanced” portrait of the 112th Congress.

(Free Press, $28)

“Time and again last year, House Republican leaders faced a nearly intractable opponent,” said Paul Kane in The Washington Post. Their unlikely foe: the 87 freshmen who swept in on a wave of pro–Tea Party sentiment to give the GOP a majority. GQ reporter Robert Draper interviewed 50 House members, some of the freshmen more than a dozen times, while creating this surprising inside portrait of the 112th Congress. House Speaker John Boehner has been able to convince most other observers that the newcomers haven’t given him much trouble. But Draper provides more than equal time to such rookie rebels as Idaho’s Raúl Labrador and Florida’s Allen West, and it becomes clear that the 2010 class was “rebelling from the outset.”

Draper should have called his book “Worst Congress Ever,” said David Weigel in Slate.com. Even scarier than the GOP freshmen’s belligerence is the revelation that some simply didn’t grasp budgeting. Despite party leaders’ efforts to provide them with tutoring sessions, most of the newbies just dug in their heels. Yet in Draper’s telling, the Democratic caucus was just as dysfunctional. For comic relief, we get the pre-scandal New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, who yearns to be a party leader but “comes off as a buffoon with zero strategic skill.” Jumpy after big losses, Democrats couldn’t seem to agree on anything.

Draper’s entire account is “refreshingly balanced,” said Jonathan Karl in The Wall Street Journal. Conventional wisdom has it that the Republican freshmen killed last summer’s Boehner-Obama grand bargain by refusing to agree to any tax increases Boehner might have allowed. But Draper shows that House Democrats were just as ready to fight President Obama on any cuts to Medicare and Social Security. A deal apparently was never possible. But that doesn’t mean the 87 freshmen need to change their ways. They’ve already changed the debate in Washington. As they campaign for re-election, “few of them feel any need to moderate their views.”

Recommended

Nobel Peace Prize awarded to activists in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus
Center for Civil Liberties
Democracy and Resistance

Nobel Peace Prize awarded to activists in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus

What OPEC's latest move means for Biden and Putin
A gas line.
Picture of Joel MathisJoel Mathis

What OPEC's latest move means for Biden and Putin

Thailand daycare massacre leaves 37 dead, including children
Police guards daycare
tragedy

Thailand daycare massacre leaves 37 dead, including children

Brittney Griner is 'very afraid' and at her 'weakest moment,' wife says
Brittney Griner
#FreeBrittney

Brittney Griner is 'very afraid' and at her 'weakest moment,' wife says

Most Popular

Survey reveals less than half of Americans plan to get flu shot this season
influenza vaccine syringe photo
Masks trump flu vax

Survey reveals less than half of Americans plan to get flu shot this season

Russian war bloggers warn Ukraine is threatening Kherson defensive lines
Ukraine inroads in Kherson
War on the Rocks

Russian war bloggers warn Ukraine is threatening Kherson defensive lines

Lizzo invited for an encore flute performance at James Madison's home
Lizzo
play it again sam?

Lizzo invited for an encore flute performance at James Madison's home