Substance over style

The Washington Monthly is a little too wonky for my personal tastes, but this Henry Waxman profile is one of the best political profiles I’ve read in a while. It steers clear of politics as celebrity, avoiding Waxman’s breakfast cereal choices, climactic midnight beatdowns from Rahm Emanuel, and other red herrings. Instead I learned something about the political process, through a guy who’s pretty good at working it:

His legislative campaigns unfold over spans of time beyond the patience of most lawmakers, and sometimes defy political gravity—in the 1980s, when anything smacking of Great Society liberalism was on the chopping block, Waxman managed to expand the Medicaid program twenty-four times. It is not unusual for him to spend a decade or longer advancing a single policy goal in tiny pieces, forging unusual alliances as he needs them, or simply outlasting his opponents. “It’s the Ho Chi Minh approach,” a despairing Republican staffer on Waxman’s committee once told National Review. “If [victory’s] not in the first year, it’s in the fifth.”


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