David Nexon: Lion Of The Senate: When Ted Kennedy Rallied the Democrats in a GOP Congress

“The best book I have read about the inner dynamics of the United States Senate.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin

Two top domestic policy advisors to Senator Edward Kennedy offer an insider’s view of several remarkable years when Kennedy fought to preserve the Democratic mission against Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America and a Republican majority in both houses—a story that has special resonance now as a resurgent Republican right once again controls Congress.

In November 1994 the election swept a new breed of Republicans into control of the United States Congress. Led by Speaker Newt Gingrich, the Republicans were determined to enact a conservative agenda that would reshape American government. Had it not been for Ted Kennedy, they would have succeeded.

In 1994, after defending his Senate seat against challenger Mitt Romney, Kennedy came back to Washington to find Democrats, including President Clinton, demoralized and leaning toward “compromises” that would adopt much of the Republican agenda. Undaunted, Kennedy pressed the agenda he would have championed had his party held power. He rallied the Democrats. He reached across the aisle to craft and pass key progressive legislation. And he stopped the Gingrich revolution in its tracks.

Nick Littlefield and David Nexon tell this story of a bare-knuckled and sometimes hilarious fight in the United States Senate. It is a political lesson for all time.

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