The Long Game

A Memoir
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In October 1984, a hard-charging Kentucky politician waited excitedly for President Ronald Reagan to arrive at a presidential rally in Louisville. In the midst of a tough Senate campaign, the young Republican hoped Reagan’s endorsement would give a much-needed boost to his campaign. Alas, when Reagan finally stepped to the microphone, he smiled for the crowd and declared: “I’m happy to be here with my good friend, Mitch O’Donnell.”

That was hardly Mitch McConnell’s first setback, and far from his last. But as he learned running his very first campaign for high school student body president, you don’t have to be the most popular, most athletic, or even the luckiest kid to win. You just need to run the best campaign. So he swallowed hard, put his head down, and kept going. Four weeks later he won his Senate seat, beginning a storied career that would eventually lead to his becoming the Senate Majority Leader.

The Long Game is the candid, behind-the-scenes memoir of a man famous for his discretion. He tells how his mother helped him beat polio by leading him through long, aching exercises every day for two years. He explains how his father taught him the importance of standing up to bullies, even if it meant taking the occasional punch. And he reveals what he really thinks about the rivalry between the Senate and the House; about the players and the stakes involved when a group of political opportunists tried to hijack the Tea Party movement; and about key figures such as Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Harry Reid. He tells the inside story of the battle against Obamacare and explains the real causes of the chronic gridlock, his ongoing efforts to restore the U.S. Senate, and what ordinary citizens have a right to expect from Washington.

In today’s atmosphere of impatience and instant gratification, McConnell still believes the Founders knew best when they instituted a government with checks and balances. As he writes, “In the end, the goal isn't a perfectly running congressional machine or a party without blemish or inner turmoil. The goal is to allow the country to work out its differences freely and energetically, confident that the institutions the Founders left us are capable of accommodating the disputes and disagreements that arise in a nation as big and diverse and open as ours.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Praise

"From Alabama country boy bedridden for two years with polio to Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate is a remarkable journey. Mitch McConnell tells this quintessentially American story with lucid prose and refreshing candor. A most valuable historical contribution to the politics of our time."
Charles Krauthammer, author of Things That Matter
 
"Mitch McConnell’s The Long Game is a warm, candid, and captivating story of a young boy who conquered polio, loved the Brooklyn Dodgers, and set his sights on becoming a ballplayer before finding his life’s calling in politics. The steady upward climb from high school president to office boy in the Senate mailroom, from county judge to majority leader, is told with insight, humor, and telling detail."
Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian
 
"With candor and a sure sense of history--both of the nation's and of the Senate--Mitch McConnell has written an engaging and compelling memoir of a life spent in the arena. Readers seeking to understand where we are, how we got here, and what might come next will find this book at once entertaining and essential."
Jon Meacham, author of Destiny and Power
 
"Mitch McConnell's absorbing memoir arrives at a moment when the nation needs and deserves what his book provides--a mature defense of the political profession by one of its best practitioners. His career in one of America's most complex institutions demonstrates that politics is both an individual craft and a team sport. His readers will acquire deepened respect for him, for the Senate and for the patience that politics requires and rewards."
George F. Will, author of A Nice Little Place on the North Side
 
"Sen. McConnell has been a tough foe of President Obama and the Democrats, but in this revealing memoir he also takes on the tea party and other purists for engaging in futile gestures and preferring to make a point rather than a difference. Even if you don't agree with his politics, you'll find a wealth of valuable lessons to learn from his journey."
Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and president and CEO of the Aspen Institute
 
"Mitch McConnell’s impressive career in the U.S. Senate demonstrates the power of strong leadership coupled with patience and perseverance. The Long Game is a fascinating and enjoyable read that vividly depicts the origins of McConnell’s tenacity and commitment to public service, and shares how-to secrets from an American statesman."
Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute