Monday, April 28, 2008

Locked In the Cabinet

"Locked in the Cabinet"

By Robert B. Reich

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

For those of you who may not be into politics Robert Reich was the Secretary of Labor in the first Clinton administration. This book is written in the "Dear Diary" type of format - which is not my favorite style. But nevertheless I really enjoyed reading it.
Mr. Reich is considered Liberal or Left and I would say after reading this book that the assumption is correct. I suppose that fact automatically stops a good many readers from going forward with a book of this type. But this book is a good deal more than a political exercise; it's a story - and it is very well thought and composed. I could visualize this book as a movie - an update on Jimmy Stuart and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
"Locked in the Cabinet" is real, personal, family, exciting, funny, lovable and though I hate to use the term ... cute. Whether you are Right or Left I think if you read this book, you would agree that Mr. Reich in a man who has his heart and his priorities in the appropriate positions.
Mr. Reich is a family man and a "dad" and all through the book the reader gets that message loud and clear. Finally in the last chapter after Mr. Clinton gets re-elected, Mr. Reich reluctantly turns in his resignation on the grounds that his family needs him more than the U.S. Government. His kids are growing; his wife isn't really interested in politics and he has already missed some very important growing up years with his two boys who are now both teenagers; one at the edge of puberty and the other now tumbling on the borders of manhood. The youngest is now twelve and the oldest is 16.
I agree with his decision - the country will always be there floundering along and no matter how important to the cause we each think that we are there will be another who thinks he is just as necessary right behind us. I am not a believer in the "one man can save the world" theory - though certainly one man in the right position can do a lot of damage. This has been proven time and again throughout history. What takes a thousand years to build and a billion efforts by a zillion people can all be destroyed by one man put in the wrong place.
Mr. Reich's two boys are very lucky to have a dad like him.
Without getting into all the boring details, I was surprised to find out that I do not agree with some of what Mr. Reich has to say on the politics of the management/labor dispute. My disagreements are not with the principles of Mr. Reich philosophy but in some of the methodology. Much of what Mr. Reich has to say is certainly reasonable and logical but I am pragmatist enough to know that it just ain't going to happen. But nevertheless Mr. Reich has a slew of great ideas that are possible and that I had never thought about. So that was good.
Mr. Reich has a beautiful simplicity about what he has to say and what he suggests. You don't have to be Albert Einstein to understand what he is suggesting or where he is coming from. He is an excellent spokesman for his side of the story. And he breaks the issues down so that the reader can clearly distinguish one choice from the other. He makes the issues clear.
If you are a Political buff you will find all types of insider personality profiles. He is very outspoken and blunt. He doesn't seem to be the least bit afraid of making enemies - he might be naive but he has been around long enough that we all know that he should know better. But then he says it anyway.
What I really liked about this book is that it is not just politics - it is a literary effort also. It is a story; it's a novel; it has a beginning, a middle and an end. It's good. It's easy reading. It is insightful, thoughtful and emotional.
There is nothing that is said or explained in the book that I felt was "over my head". Mr. Reich talks to me and you in this book as if we are his old buddies and we are sitting right there in his living room. One of us has asked after popping open a beer; Well, Bobby, what really happened while you were up there in Washington anyway? And our old buddy Bobby tells us the whole story just as if none of the people he tells us about are ever going to know what he said. It is kind of funny. I've read a lot of political books and there arn't many like this one.
Another interesting point to me is that Mr. Reich has such a battle accomplishing what I understand to be very little and yet he is not frustrated or ready to plant bombs in the White House. Of course he is used to doing things in a "little" way. He actually enjoyed the challenge and it seems would be willing to return for another beating tomorrow. He is kind of like a miniature version of Rocky. "Dahh Clare! Clare!" I can hear him screaming to his wife back home in Cambridge, Mass, as he titters on the ropes of the Washington political prize fight area - his face all bloody and both eyes swollen. He has the right attitude to be one of "them". I think he could do another good job up there. I hope to see him at it once again now that his kids are older and probably off on there own. Good luck President Robert B. Reich. Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves here. How about Secretary of State Robert B. Reich or Vice President ... whatever.