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For more than thirty years, Trent Lott of Mississippi has been one of the dominant figures in American political life. From the moment he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1972, he has been a leader in the conservative movement that has changed the course of the nation. From his years in Congress to his ascent to majority leader of the Senate -- and his decision to leave that post in the heat of controversy -- Herding Cats is the frank and revealing chronicle of a unique political life.
Lott's story bridges an extraordinary time in American history. As a fraternity leader during the integration of the University of Mississippi, he helped contain the violence that accompanied James Meredith's enrollment as the university's first African American student. As a congressman during Watergate, he mounted a fierce defense of Richard Nixon -- until Gerald Ford quietly counseled him to think twice. A passionate advocate of smaller government, Lott describes his painful choice to support Gerald Ford over his challenger Ronald Reagan in the 1976 election -- and his delight in helping lead the revolution that followed Reagan's win in 1980.
Yet it was in his dramatic engagements with the Clinton administration that Lott found his greatest victories -- and challenges. Working in secret through political adviser Dick Morris, Lott reveals, he persuaded Clinton to accept health insurance and welfare reform laws, along with spending cuts that balanced the national budget. But he was aghast when years of work on a tobacco settlement were scuttled by the White Housein 1997 -- possibly because of Al Gore's desire to exploit tobacco as a political issue. With surprising candor, Lott portrays his fruitful working partnership with Democratic leader Tom Daschle during the Clinton impeachment, and again in the hours after the attacks of September 11, 2001. And he describes in painful detail his decision to resign as majority leader after his remarks at Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party -- a move he made when it became clear that the Bush White House had circled the wagons against him.
Marked by the same straight-talking style and good humor he has shown throughout his career in public service, Trent Lott's Herding Cats is the memoir of a true master of American political life.
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