Doing the Right Thing, a Biography of Janet Reno, by Paul Anderson
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BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
"Doing the Right Thing" is a biography written by a Miami Herald news reporter. Reno was a participant in the writing of it, but it's not her official biography. However, it reads like an official history - more a reporting of Reno's point of view than an analysis from opposing perspectives. It reads a little too positively to be called "investigative reporting," so perhaps the best description is "historical reporting."
The book was begun only a few months into Reno's tenure as Attorney General. Hence it omits several important chapters which will be central to her gubernatorial challenge against Jeb Bush, particularly about her handling of the Elian Gonzalez affair and her ability to deal with her Parkinson's disease. Nevertheless, it describes well her character and provides insight into how she would handle herself as governor of Florida.
Reno is straightforward and plain spoken - she doesn't much sound like a politician. When asked (frequently) if she is a lesbian, she simply responds, "No, I'm just a spinster," and after reading this book, it's believable.
Reno is a tough-on-crime Democrat, a somewhat mixed politics. As with anyone who is deeply involved with an issue, Reno has complex and subtle views on crime and punishment. She enforced the death penalty because it was her job to do so, but is opposed to it. She vigorously prosecuted criminals for many years, but advocates for defendants' rights, as well as victims' advocacy groups.
The eponymous title is her theme - she tries to "do the right thing" in every situation, she says. Feminists will find here a good log of Reno's numerous "firsts," as with any professional woman of her age. Overall, this book provides some insight into Reno's character, but needs more balance from her opponents' point of views, if the reader is to fully understand her.
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, January 2008
| OnTheIssues.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
Don’t force women to have children when they’re not ready.
Supports clinic access law & criminalizing obstruction.
Accused of racism in Miami riots after McDuffie killing.
Defendant protections result in better police work.
Refused to respond to sexual preference questionnaire.
Make civil rights & equal opportunity top priority.
Supported Lani Guinier’s call for quotas.
Limit TV violence by voluntary or regulatory means.
Dropped homosexuality as grounds for denying FBI employment.
“Presumption of disclosure” of all federal information.
Created victims’ advocacy program.
Early advocate of community policing.
Opposes death penalty, but won 103 death convictions.
Only justification for death penalty is vengeance.
Death penalty might be a deterrent, but never proven.
Called Waco “the worst day of my life”.
Post-Waco review vindicated Reno & blamed Koresh.
Tried & failed to repeal mandatory minimum sentences.
Undercover cocaine investigations despite DEA protests.
No mandatory drug sentences unless more prisons built.
Created Drug Courts to give first offenders a second chance.
Do more for early intervention, as well as street work.
Supports Head Start; social prevention of crime.
Use the law to protect the environment.
Families & Children|
We’ve neglected our children & they’ve lost self-esteem.
NAFTA will ease Mexican drug & immigration problems.
Authored Florida’s no-fault divorce law & civil court code.
Applied “sunshine laws” to open federal government.
Waiting period for gun purchase; safety test for license.
Spearheaded “Cool It Florida” waiting period referendum.
Battle the NRA with common sense.
As hard to get a gun license as to get a driver’s license.
Served on Hillary’s task force & advocated its results.
End “rationing”; preventative health care for all.
Prosecuted 1000s of Cubans from Mariel boatlift.
Immigrants enrich us, but illegal immigrants cost us.
Shorten workday to conform to school hours.
Principles & Values|
Prosecutor credo: Protect the innocent & convict the guilty.
Justice Dept. philosophy: “What’s the right thing to do?”.
Post-Waco popularity soared when Reno took responsibility.
Embarrassed by Travelgate & Vince Foster suicide.
Crack down on TV violence if networks won’t self-censor.
War & Peace|
Don’t get hysterical about Islamic fundamentalism.
Welfare & Poverty|
Child care & health care to help transitioning welfare moms.
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- Janet Reno
The above quotations are from Doing the Right Thing, a Biography of Janet Reno, by Paul Anderson.