tv After Words with Ken Buck CSPAN June 2, 2017 11:58pm-12:58am EDT
prescod congressman's ken buck thanks for joining us. that's get right to the heart of the matter. tell us why did you decide to write a book about this really interesting title, "drain in the swamp" how washington corruption is worse than you think. >> guest: i will tell you i came to washington in 2015 and i
won the election in november of 2014 and when i arrived i realized that i was learning the details of how this town is as opposed to having a general feeling of the fact that it was dysfunctional. as i wrote in more detail about it was important the american people know the details so they can take action so they can help fix the problem. it's not going to get fixed by people inside d.c. working on the problem. scott to have america involved in helping so i decided to write a book about it. >> host: we are going to get into the problems and the solutions that i do want to share with viewers a bit of your history. you have a career became you came to washington. you have been a federal prosecutor and you ran successfully for the senate in 2010 and decided to run again in 2014. tell us about yourself and your district. >> guest: i actually started out of law school with cheney who is a congressman from wyoming if they time on the
iran-contra investigation here in d.c. so that dates me a little bit of a came here in 1986. 1987 i left the committee as it ended and i went to the department of justice in d.c. and i were there for three years and i moved to colorado to join the u.s. attorney's office in 1990. i worked there for a number of years and eventually became the chief of the criminal division of the u.s. attorney's office that i left the u.s. attorney's office and ran for district attorney in northern colorado. i worked there for 10 years. during that time i ran in 2010 for the state senate and in 2014 iran for this house seat. >> host: in the book you talk about the health crisis this seems to have influence your decision. tell us a bit more about that. >> guest: in 2013 i had cancer , stage iv non-hodgkin's
lymphoma and as i recovered from that cancer i started questioning what do i want to do from here? the thing about the district attorney's job is his term limited and while i have a cave for term limits here i was at the time 52 and 53 years old. what do i want to do with the rest of my life and i decided i wanted to run for office. i was fortunate enough to serve in congress and i want to do that. >> host: are you in good health now? >> guest: i'm great help now thank you. whiskey you make it to washington in january 2015 and what do you find? was surprised about the? >> guest: the first thing right after the election in november of 2014 all the members were brought together for orientation and there is one lavish party after another and the message is very clear. if you are willing to play the
game life in d.c. as a member of congress can be very comfortable existence in the game is agreeing with leadership and agreeing with a special-interest group on how to vote and how to govern. i am not one of those people that's very agreeable so i was not interested in doing that. they came to d.c. because i have a passion for trying to reduce our debt and reduce the size and scope of the federal government. it was much more difficult for me in my first term in d.c.. >> host: going back to those parties before you were elected with what way were they conveyed to you that there was a game that needs to be played? >> guest: when you show up and the army choir is singing and there is a deep tenderloin and salmon and all sorts of waiters and alcohol. i don't drink as much alcohol as you want to consume and you are
in the cannon caucus room which is a really beautiful room or in the old house chambers there is a clear message that this is how you now live. you are given gifts from the time you arrive by leadership or others that are thanking you for your sacrifice for coming to d.c.. i've never consumed as many calories as i did when i was in the orientation session so the other thing is you are told pretty quickly that you never vote against a rule and there are some things you don't do as part of your party. both sides get the same rules and the same instructions and the idea is that the most thing you can do is to get reelected and the most important thing to get reelected is to make sure you play the game. >> host: so you are defining play the game as being in line
with your party not necessarily in those early sessions. it's sort of and understanding that you are developing about who the leaders are and what they expect of you. >> guest: i think that's right in the fact that you have as a member of congress special access to various areas. one of the parties was a new national archives after hours. it was opened up. george will came and spoke to the group. there is definitely a feeling of being special as a member of congress when you are constantly given special privileges. >> host: you don't hold back in his vote. you used tough language to describe the men and women who serve. for instance writing. nicole: members of congress are for the most part happy allocators who feel.
darned comfortable in a swamp of washington. >> what i mean is there our swamp creatures. when you rely in d.c. and have the surroundings that i described earlier they are comfortable in that situation and you don't want to take up those comforts and the way you continue to earn those comforts us to spend more money and to grow government and could not solve problems but to create programs and take credit for those programs whether they are inefficient and whether they are affected to take credit for those programs. members of congress are here. it's the best job they have ever had in the highest paying job they have ever had and it's a job that they don't want to give up. they are election is more important than the actual problem solving that needs to go
on. >> host: you also write that influence in washington comes with a price tag and you talk about that members must -- must pay to the committees to secure and retain their seats on influential committees. i wonder if you can talk us through the dues that are required and how they climbed depending on the importance of committees and how you deal with it and what your dues are? >> guest: the republican party and the democratic party have dues based on committee assignments so if you are on a committee like appropriations for energy and commerce the dues for a republican, the 115th congress are $450,000. the person on the b or c committee if you want to be a chair you have to pay
$1.2 million in dues for that privilege. the way you earn those dues and the way you raise that money you have perceptions and the lobbyists represent a special interest come to those receptions and donate money to you. if you don't vote with the lobbyist, lobbyist don't show up to those receptions so it's a way to coerce members by having outrageous use of $850,000 or 1.2 million it's a way for members to vote as lobbyists and special-interest wants you to vote. >> host: you are an an aids committee and you pay your dues. >> guest: i pay my dues. >> host: how do you pay the dues wouldn't describe the system as though you feel lobbyists are asking you to vote a certain way? what do you do?
>> guest: unfortunate. in colorado with two events events in the fall of the chair during the election cycle. we have private individuals come together for those events and support the four republican members of the house of representatives at those events. i don't hold receptions for the purpose of paying my dues to the rcc and i am along with the other three members from colorado we have our dues paid by those events. >> host: at those events to interact with lobbyists? do you feel as though they are trying to influence the colorado delegation? >> guest: actually and i'm not 100% sure but i can't remember a lobbyist. we have individuals that support the republican party and believe the republicans should be in the majority. i think and let me back up.
i don't think it's a wrong to expect members of the house to raise money to try to win a majority. i think that's part of the reality of politics that the favorite part of politics what i find offensive is the linkage between raising money and assigning to a committee raising money and being in leadership. i think there has to be a merit pay system to decide who gets somewhat committee. if you show up to congress you have an extra case and that is not whether you can pay more money to the doctor. it shouldn't be determining factor whether you make that committee or not. >> host: how much do you pay?
>> guest: $200,000. >> host: he also spilled the beans on leadership if you will in this book. you have described and you talk about house leaders taking overseas trip since subcommittee chairmanships. you also write about your position as president of the freshman class in your first year after you busted the party brats over at vote. can you describe what happened in your case and how you dealt with that? >> i didn't really lose. it was not an attempt to unseat me as president of the freshman class. i was elected president of the freshman class. there were four other members and the freshman class is a
wide-open job. you do what you can to bring people together to help other members of the class. there's no real job description. it did mean a lot until they try to take away and all of a sudden it became a competition. he became more meaningful at that point. i worked with others in the class and had a chance to win the vote if it had to be called above that i was notified that there would be meeting and this came on the heels of voting against the rule of the trade promotion authority bill. it was very controversial and it was a vote that leadership was very mad that members of the freedom caucus were voting against them in that particular way. mark meadows had his subcommittee chairmanship taken away from him on the government reform committee. we had four members from the freedom caucus that were removed as a result of their vote
against the rule. there were a number of actions taken against individuals for voting against the rules. it showed the petty retaliation involved in that kind of the vote. >> host: what were your interactions like with ms this was unfolding? >> guest: what do i think of house leadership? >> host: what did you say to them? >> guest: i didn't have a lot of conversations frankly. a surprise when it happens but i think house leadership has a job and part of that job is to maintain party leadership and maybe they need to govern as best they can to get 218 votes. a problem when the ever-present from the other party in the white house is it's very difficult to govern. you have to move to the center to get something passed and
signed by the president of united states and those of us on the right who are conservatives didn't like the move to the senate so was hard for leadership to get the votes they needed unless they went to the democratic side and try to get the democrats with them. it was a bad position of leadership was then in at the time. >> host: your book came out on tuesday. i'm curious about what has been the reaction from your colleagues. obviously congress is not in session at the moment. have you had any phonecalls or any e-mails from anyone? >> guest: i've got a few text and voice mails congratulating me on the book and some friends. i have not heard anything from leadership or others on the book. i imagine we will probably have conversations when everyone returns to congress.
>> host: you are founding member of the freedom caucus which is a group of about 40 or so. house members who have in recent years taken a lot of hands against the house leadership. i guess noticeably john boehner's resignation if you will in 2015 and some freedom caucus members recently objected to the obamacare repeal and replace bill associated with current house leadership and the white house. has the reaction to the book among your firebrand to the freedom caucus than a little different from other members? you have been hearing from folks even before you are published having you? >> guest: little but really not that much. someone will walk up to me on the floor and said that you mention in the book and i really did my best to avoid mentioning a lot of names in the book.
i talk about some members and i talk about a lot of anecdotes and stories that happened. in terms of throwing people under the bus this has been going on for so long and going on in both parties for me the important thing is to change the institution. i think people are generally good people when they come to congress. i think people are well-meaning. i think people are fanciful. the institution crops and we need to change parts of the institution. >> host: let's talk about that because i know one if you're know one of your concerns has been the lack of fiscal discipline and the whole appropriations process and out works but those of us who've been around for a while know that the way it used to work was the appropriations committees with past 12 separate those funding the government but that hasn't happened since i think the mid-1990s.
instead it's either bundled up in a continuing resolution that keeps funding at the same level or some sort of ominous package that pulls together the appropriations process usually up against a deadline and theriot and government shutdowns as result of the inability to reach an agreement. the next stopgap measure is keeping the lights on expires on april 28 so we are about to face another deadline in congress. can you talk a little bit about the consequences of making spending decisions in this fashion the way it happened since the whole time even in congress. >> guest: is management by crisis and we don't have to have a crisis. we have been promised for a number of years regular order which means we deal with each appropriations bill in the house we pass it and send it to the
senate. they come together in a conference committee and we vote on that it one final time. the president signs it and we have the appropriations process by having a continuing resolution or omnibus. we end up with very little time to read a massive document. very few members have any idea what is hidden in that document and it benefits the special interest groups. benefits those in leadership that can figure out how to put something into and onto this or continuing resolution. it doesn't benefit the american people or their representatives. i talk about one example where drug company got a special provision that extended the path that they were concerned about in the omnibus bill. they have given a lot of money to leadership in the senate the vote parties and they were able
to get this provision in the omnibus bill. it was a tremendous, for the smallest amount of money that it gave comes $60,000 here and $70,000 there they in fact made tens of millions of dollars in profit and so it is a business savvy decision perhaps but it does not benefit the american people and it wastes taxpayer dollars. >> host: so what are the solutions? >> guest: there are a lot of solutions that i talk about in the book that i think it's really important to disengage committee assignments and leadership assignments from the that we are expected to pay. i've no problem with paying dues and no problem supporting efforts to maintain majority. i have a deep problem with that link so i've written a letter to the ethics committee in a fast
the ethics committee to make it unethical for an individual to consider fund-raising when making an assignment to committee to a chairmanship position. i hope that we do that. part of the house rules that prevent that from happening. >> host: what you think is likely to do that? have you had any response to the letter? >> guest: i have not had a response yet. i don't expect a response right away but we have been dealing with a lot of major issues and taking a lot of attention away from some of the more routine issues that we face. my plan is to go to the members of the ethics committee and talk to them about this and plan on getting other members on board and showing support for this effort and we will see if we can get something like that pass. the process. it's a process that people need to think through and the language has to be carefully
drafted. the last thing i want to do is to help create an ethics rule that has an unintended consequence and a member or somebody else suffers as a result of that. >> host: one of the things he mentioned earlier, term limits. i gather this is something that you would like to see as well and we could talk about the procedures for getting there. >> it's a great question. a lot of the bills that are out there and i support term limits bills that are out there but some of them are too short. we have to be realistic about if you have the speaker of the house who is third in line to the presidency that person should have served a sufficient number of years to have learned the entire system. it's not practical for speaker of the house to serve four years and becomes the are of the house
for two years but that sort of turnover would be healthy but to empower the staff that now we see the bureaucracy and the executive branch and the executive branch having as much power as they do. is hard to pinpoint the exact number that would be the maximum. >> when you start talking about 30 years or 40 years there are members that i serve with that have been around from the time nixon was impeached. that's a long time in the swamp. >> host: do you think it gives them institutional knowledge and they can see the mistakes that were made? >> guest: they get the knowledge from institutions and i think they are learning from the mistakes that they made but also learning ways to avoid
accountability and i think there are ways to manipulate the system. i think when you get too comfortable in d.c. you get less accountable to the people you're representing. >> host: one of your projects clearly is to make a lot of friends, right? i have to ask you, isn't this something that will be deeply offensive to some of your colleagues and what you are describing in these terms? >> guest: i didn't come here to make friends. i didn't have friends in d.c. before and i didn't have plans on having friends were mailed last. there are a lot of people in america that are in panic mode right now. i think the selection that we had for the present is an indication of that. we heard an outsider to the president of united states because the american public didn't trust the insiders and i think that's a clear message that those of us in congress should accept. >> host: one of the things that's interesting is the title of your book, "drain in the
swamp" which is a theme we heard a lot from president trump during the 2016 campaign. we are hitting the 100 day mark. the draining the swamp in your view? >> guest: it's very difficult to say people want to look at a small snapshot and predict what's going to happen. i think it's very difficult to say good things or bad things at this point but judge gorsuch colorado will be a great supreme court justice. i think he has done a good job picking his cabinet and i wish the senate what can firm his cabinet more quickly. one of the challenges and being president is he doesn't have an administration in place to run government at this point. it's really difficult to judge his first 100 days.
i think that he has done a good job in terms of sending a signal to the world that america is going to be actively engage. we are not going to put up with human atrocities. we are not going to let other countries use biological weapons on their populations without a response from the united states. think that's a clear message that this president has sent. i think in terms of the ethics involved in washington d.c. he has talked about certain things and we will see whether those things are actually done by eliminating the number of years and putting a boundary on the number of years you have the way until you can lobby an agency that you worked for as a senior person in that agency i think is a good idea and i think congress should adopt that. >> host: do you think congress should pass legislation to limit because right now before you can
lobby your former colleague i think it's two years on the senate so you would like to see that sort of the barrier that a former member can never become a lobbyist? >> guest: the president talks about five years and five years is a good time. not to do that. you go do something else if you want to lobby can do that. and one of the things is a love for public policy. i don't think you have to see -- say to somebody set that aside i think if you are going to lobbying for nhtsa's group you should have a way to certain period of time. >> host: i mention that some of the freedom caucus members were deeply concerned about the initial health care bill. talk to me about your perspective because we are -- i
know there was never a vote cast but the bill was pulled but explain your position and how you were similar or very from other members of the freedom caucus. guess who i was opposed to the original bill and the speaker worked on the bill and the buildup better over time it became more conservative over time. i also looked beyond the four corners of that health care legislation and i'd look at what the person had done with the than supreme court nominee and the executive order. i think i felt the person deserved an initial legislative victory to give him some momentum to do some vivid things he campaigned on and the american people that hired him to do specifically tax reform and immigration. i was going to support this bill
and the secretary of human services tom price would do more in terms of regulation and we would pass another bill to help strengthen the initial effort. the real challenge with the health care areas that we have to do this budget reconciliation which is really at gimmick to try and get something passed through the senate with less than 60 votes. with it the one votes we could pass the bill that we had but we couldn't pass a full repeal and couldn't pass a full replacement with budget reconciliation prevents to the legislative restrictions that we had and i felt it was as good as we are going to get at the time. the timing of it was important because the savings in health care bill would use for tax reform. we don't do health care first. tax reform looks a lot different. >> host: line of the president called that other members of the freedom caucus on twitter saying maybe alluding to potential
primary. i wonder what he thought of that given your concerns about too much pressure for party leadership to tow the line. half. >> guest: it's an interesting question. while i think leadership has done some things to send signals in congress if i had lost the presidency i wouldn't have voted any differently. i didn't lose any sleep over that effort. i describe in the look as petty retaliation because it isn't life changing at all. i think the people in eastern colorado know who i am and no who i am in d.c. and support me. the president tweets about, something negative about ken buck it will have an impact and the president has made a
decision and it's an interesting decision because the day that the bill was pulled in a press conference he said no i'm not mad at the freedom caucus. they are my friends and a week later he tweaked something. i'm not sure what the psychology is involved in that but regardless i think the freedom caucus will be allies but this president on most of the things he tries to accomplish. >> host: do you think health care will come up quickly? >> guest: i think health care will come up quickly and i hope we pass it through the senate. ..
>> >> is what we have viewed in this country's history witches a measure to pass the house and the senate with identical language then sent to the states for ratification now we would need 38 states and other ways for the state legislatures to get together and two-thirds petition congress for a convention of the state's then that would list a very specific area to
be debated it wouldn't be open-ended or rewrite the constitution but how bad does not become a runaway convention that it doesn't stick to the original purpose but also that they have to ratify whatever comes out of that convention so i could list the 13 states so it is not only prudent to remain very narrow because that is not accepted by the majority of the state's but there is a stop-gap. >> so those issues you would like the convention to take up is what?. >> some have 12 or 13 issues i think if we just covered
one but i don't think we should go beyond that. and the soap -- the second negative shoot -- issue are like to see term-limits with those balanced budget amendments as there are hairs on our head there are ideas to catalyst spending to allow an increase of taxes for deficit spending in times of war or economic hardship so there are all sorts of combinations or ideas my faucet is this is why we have a convention or a debate in congress so to make sure we have something in place. if we had passed the '90s
that would be a fraction of what it is today. if we find that soon. >> are you encouraged that so many states would get this. >> yes. this has to be the bottom up process where we take a risk in congress like the balanced budget amendment to the states and local communities. >> host: deifying the movement may have congress to act?. >> the movement was eating traction in one year two states away to petition congress and congress acted went to the house and the
senate within the effort went away the congressional effort to win the way there was a certain with the article five movement citing maryland also recently petitioned the list. >> but it was fascinating to me a group of democrats during the bush administration and the republicans opposed it. but then the democrats opposed it so rand of republicans opposed it. so to get beyond the
partisanship. >> so you expressed concern of the executive branch would like to talk about that? you are concerned federal agencies have too much power things that are not appropriated by congress is using to think congress has not budged -- done a good job of oversight you say it if they engaged in fire alarm oversight only if there reaches a crisis. talk to me about the time in washington. >> solar about one-third of the discretionary budget is collected with beans -- fees and fines they don't go through the appropriations process so there means there
is no oversight of programs by congress and that is a problem to be the constitution is very clear that the legislative free edge of should have oversight to make sure they are a efficient and effective and well in the executive branch can raise its own money it takes the incentive regardless if it is using proper methods to do that if congress does not do its job then it can be a runaway situation so the money that is raised by the fees and fines goes in to a treasury than that money can be appropriated so if an agency can go out and take money from u.s. citizens it
becomes a runaway agency. >> what about executive orders? uc president trump using executive orders as well end i used to live out west and i know what it is like with the debates over federal land in the concerns over the antiquities act and to take the land at of commercial use to preserve that sold what idiocy in the west and the response with the use of executive order?. >> that is a great example of executive overreach it was enacted when teddy roosevelt was president and designed to deal with two
areas of concern first wedges archaeological significance second was natural wonders if we have some mining going on in the grand canyon so what has happened, something that was used in the territories and they could not protect those areas but what has happened the antiquities act was not used as a shield but as a sword to prevent oil and gas exploration and real-estate development and it has caused havoc. now and colorado we have
done a good job to create not national monuments and parks but they do that with the state legislature would listen to the ranchers and farmers and develop a plan to move forward in congress with that plan. with a stroke of a pen determine an area should be a national monument that affects the ability of planes to go over a particular area there is a lot of unintended consequences. i believe the antiquities act has been overused and should be modified. >> host: end if congress should be of curve in their use of.
>> it is really archaic at this played in the usefulness has changed. >> host: what about president trump's use of executive power? he has used that quite often. >> he has used his ben to undo some of those which is the rocket -- erotic he has not used that to my knowledge against the antiquities act or the other land grabs. >> that usually happens that the end of a presidency. >> the use of the intact -- antiquities act in colorado president obama declared 20,000 acres of the keating to be a national monument i believe after the 2014
election as a tribute to to mark udall who lost his senate seat. i the people are let out of prison or the antiquities act is used at the end because it is controversial but it should be amended and restricted unless used with congressional approval and the state legislature. >> host: at this point too much overreach from president ground you think he has been correcting the executive overreach of his predecessor?. >> yes. for the most part there are some things i have not had a chance to look at what the president has done frankly pro we're in the legislature
but if he does get into the same type of overreaching congress will try to assert the article one powers to be sure that they realize we are the legislative branch. >> a thing of the travel via has done most people's attention. >> federal think this president, i think he is acting within his scope of authority now of course it could be unconstitutional for other reasons but congress has given the president the authority to sign that the matter where they come from or how many times then so if the court added another provision of president cannot use religion as a factor that is another issue the. >> host: talk about smaller changes in your book
like the inspectors general that most people don't know about so talk about that with the oversight you would like to see of the executive branch agencies and the rule conversion play. >> that is a great example of congressional oversight. the inspector general is designated by the president the live in the same structure as the agency there budget is submitted by the agency that they oversee and their ability is diminished as a result to be susceptible to budgetary restrictions but a person
who was supposed to be the watchdog for gore would like to see the inspector general answer directly to congress and do a better job i think they do a great job they need a better job. >> host: you also talk about the mechanics of congress of the work week so could you explain those that don't have a schedule month-to-month or week to week of?. >> typically we fly in on monday which means we have to be on the house floor 6:30 p.m. monday night we have freer for fairly insignificant issues to address they are both that typically get 90 percent of the members to vote like
naming a post office. that counts as a work day but then tuesday and wednesday are crazy a lot of floor work and committee hearings a lot of work gets done then on thursday is the fly out day so by noon we will finish both of the house floor a lot of times it is like monday evening then we go back to our districts on thursday than friday saturday sunday we have a lot of work to do in the district. the work week is bare it is just the time in washington d.c. is the much time legislating the listening to constituents were running for office if you're in the district you have certain visibility a tanya king
campaign formally or informally the legislative tide might think is the most important time that we need to spend fighting to do a better job in d.c. need to explain more of what we're doing. >> you talk about monday's should that be a full workday?. >> i think if we worked two weeks in a row started monday through friday we would almost double the amount of four times but members who spend their time here on weekend to socialize or talk about problems informally there is a
necessity of relationships in congress and that is enhanced not by having people fly out all the time to their district not the town hall meetings are not important but we spend too much time so there is the advantage to creating a culture of washington d.c. that reduces the of partisanship. >> this is from a guy who did not expect to make any friends in washington. [laughter] >> it isn't unusual for a sitting member to write a book along these lines getting some are curious about the process. how oh does this start? along did it take her where did you find time even though on the floor, talk
about that. >> is interesting process and being my first finny be the last book i am not sure i will do it again but it is a fascinating process. you start with an idea to put together i hired an agent i worked with a fellow author thought very highly of i have read his other works and it put together a proposal than the agent of shops that proposal a few of them called me in with a meeting with after the book is published so we went through that was the interviewing process then
the publisher that i know you worked with a friend of mine so i was excited when gregory would publish the book so then we went through the process to flush help the proposal chapter by chapter. >> and working with your co-author. >> a few weekends i would fly to a band of and we will work together he would take the interviews and have them transcribed and put the chapters together you would send them to meet and i will work through them and put some research and send the back and then we reach day deadline to send it to the publisher they examine with an editor, probably
50 percent longer than it is now but they did a great job to reduce it but to get the same power out of the idea is and i was happy with what they did. the artwork was done by the publisher of, so there was a lot of great talent that goes into the book and then it was a matter of planning of food to talk to and where to go to get though were out. >> how long was that process?. >> about one year. >> so what have you been doing now? you read the heritage foundation. >> do you see the bags under my eyes? it has been a world when -- a world and so doing radio and television i
will be here on friday then next week i will be in colorado doing some radio interviews over the phone and the regular work. >> so what have people been asking you or would you hope they take out of it? finigan hope they get the energized. this is their government we have more responsibility of americans and just hoping somebody does the right thing we have to hold them accountable we have to be involved personally so i hope people read this and get angry and they're willing to spend time to work with oracle 52 understand the issue of but also encourage their member
of congress to make changes to the ethics code rules of the house talk about how to get involved with article five and the other is the constitution. >> what a concept of. [laughter] through the the effort to win state by state is important and state legislators often made for good ideas to come their way so we have a draft of a resolution that can be used in each state legislature to pass a petition congress for article five convention for the constitution is simple but when you talk about the proper role of the federal government in reference to
>> there is a political structure that has been crafted by herbert hoover secretary of commerce of which is still governed the way be allowed resources to be used in our economy today. >> when we went to this political system within a couple of years the regulators at the commission are really licenses but very
. >> helene cooper i have enjoyed every minute of reading the book. when it is a book that you really like you're disappointed when it comes to an end and that is how i felt reading "madame president" it was special because i certainly know president ellen johnson sirleaf and i knew about her past but you had such incredible detail about her rise it agreed me feeling like it under boat -- a believable leader that she is. i know this is not your first book