Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Time Present, Time Past. Bill Bradley.

New York: Alfred A. Knopf

Why read it? Bradley wrote this book and others in order to become a Presidential candidate in the year 2000 election. Of course, he didn't achieve his goal of becoming President, but his book offers a view of some of the issues future Presidents need to consider: the need to renew people's faith in the government, the problems of racism, uniting the many cultures in our society, urban education, the use of downsizing to increase corporate profits and the nature of politics in the 21st century, among other issues. He wants to use Presidential power to alter the national self-perception.

Bradley's biggest problem, from my point of view, was his inability to speak effectively in public. The same situation could apparently be true in 2008's Presidential race with the eloquent Obama vs. the soft-spoken McCain. Bradley's monotone and lack of apparent enthusiasm put audiences to sleep, a serious problem in the age of television. Perhaps if people had been able to focus on Bradley's ideas and not be distracted by his method of presentation, things might have turned out differently for Bradley and for America. Reaching Americans through books certainly did not work.

Ideas and Quotes from the Book for Discussion
Bill Bradley sees Americans as losing sight of the nature and purpose of America.

In emphasizing individuality, we lose a sense of our common humanity.

The cure for racism, Bradley says, is to see people as individuals, not as stereotyped members of minorities and special groups.

When Bradley hears Americans' stories, he tries to determine the big issues behind the story.

The CIA's mission is counter to America's ideals.

Rarely does TV news make the human spirit soar.

On his wife's breast cancer: will today's chemotherapy go down in history as useless as bloodletting was centuries ago?

The goal of most political campaigns is to reduce a political opponent's career to a few negative events.

Shift the tax burden to unnecessary consumption.

Bradley reviews his practice of walking the beaches in the summer to meet the pubic and to ask, "What's on your mind?" "What do you want me to know?" "Anything you want to ask me?"

"The act of writing has always been a method of clarification for me, a way of getting down to how I really feel about an issue, a decision, a place, a person."

"Thinking about events you have experienced, and developing perspective about them, in some ways, completes them, and finding the words to express that perspective brings about a sense of closure."

Americans need to learn to abandon the fast pace and take time to reflect.

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