Ed Rendell Still Thinks We’re a Nation of Wusses

In an excerpt from his spirited new memoir, A Nation of Wusses, the former DA, mayor and governor dishes on the cheesesteak that changed his career, his buddy Bill Clinton, and why exactly the U.S. seems to be losing its mojo.

How Candor (Might Have) Cost Me the Vice Presidency

Often in my 33-year political career, I have gotten in trouble for things I have said. This occurs, in great part, because I have always answered every question I get asked honestly and bluntly. Although this caused me trouble in the short run, it has been one of my strengths when it comes to long-run popularity.­ A perfect example was my response on the night the U.S. Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore, when I said that Gore “should act now and concede.” It got me in hot water with the Gores, the DNC staff, and almost the entire Democratic establishment, but people sided with me and almost universally believed that I said the right thing.

A second reason I have gotten into trouble for my responses is that I frequently don’t stop and weigh the consequences of what I am saying. My media director for my last six years as governor, Kirstin Snow, would stand in the back during my many press conferences and shake her head. She was clearly thinking about how she would try to clean up the damage I created at almost every one.


When I was governor, my verbiage seemed to get me in more and more trouble. Perhaps it was because I was receiving a whole lot more coverage. The election of 2008 began my rocky relationship with the Obama staff, caused by my honesty and quirky sense of humor. Of course, in the Pennsylvania primary I was for Hillary, and early on I predicted that from my experience running for office in our state, there were some parts of it where voters simply wouldn’t vote for an African-American candidate. That was absolutely true. For example, when I ran for reelection in 2006 against Lynn Swann, a number of voters in our rural areas said they were voting for me not because I was a great governor but because they wouldn’t vote for a “black guy.”

After the primary and Hillary’s withdrawal, there was some speculation that I would be a great vice presidential running mate for Senator Obama. The theory was that I would help bring over the angry Hillary supporters, and of course, Pennsylvania was crucial for a Democratic victory. In truth, there was never a chance I would be picked, for who in his right mind would want an uncontrollable free spirit such as me as a running mate—or, worse still, as his vice president?

But whatever infinitesimal chance there was went up in smoke when I was asked on TV about my prospects. I quipped, “Well, we would be a truly balanced ticket—Senator­ Obama doesn’t wear a flag pin, but I do!” Seconds after the interview, I got a call from David Axelrod, the Senator’s brilliant media guru, ripping me—and my dreams of living in the Naval Observatory and attending countless funerals went up in smoke. I told David that the campaign needed to get a sense of humor or they would never make it to November.

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  • eddie the hat

    Eddie’s closing line tells it all…a corrupt politico
    who stole the game from the mob and became
    what the govt. is asked to protect us from.
    Slime and Slick Willie needed extra strength
    to protect their porn star conquests.
    Why not share some truth in a Buzz Bissinger
    inspired blow job.

  • samg

    Turns out Rendell is the biggest wuss of all. I don’t see much more than a word in this excerpt blaming the people who deserve blame — the Republican Party — for the terrible state of the country, especially the economy. Even in his discussion of the man he calls the most powerful in the country, Grover Norquist, Rendell hardly makes it clear that Norquist is a Republican. He blames Congress for the gridlock that’s prevented a proper economic recovery. That’s crap. It’s the Republicans in Congress who’ve prevented Obama from making things better, they’re downright treasonous and unAmerican. But he doesn’t hardly blame the Republicans more than the Democrats (at least in this excerpt). Rendell is full of it. He’s afraid to speak the truth. He is, in other words, a wuss of wusses.

  • Pat C

    Well, why doesnt Eddie do us a favor and move to a more masquline nation.
    The worse thing someone can do is give him a platform to sell books.
    Maybe if Sir Eddie stood up for the City when he was Mayor, it wouldnt be in such bad shape as it is now. He caved in to the unions like an elephant stepping on a house of cards.
    So Eddie, you my friend are the leader of this fine nation of wussies.

  • Iris Ann Eddy

    Dear Ed Rendell:
    When you supported Hillary Clinton for Pres, I thought you were a good man but now I am changing my mind because you have lost yours. Your thought patterns aren’t matching the ones in 2008. What happened to you? Too much Obama cool aide? You need to support Coal, oil drilling, keystone, on & off shore drilling including Alaska.
    Annie

  • http://www.loisburak.com Lois

    I was always frustrated during my many years in business (in a popular area in NE Philadelphia) when the city would shut down over a little snow, seemed to get worse with every year. This didnt help a declining economy. Technology allowed Penndot the advantage of being prepared, yet there were always excuses wy roads were not cleared. I guess it was easier & cheaper to shut down an entire city. (Mayor NUTTER) BUT I dont think we can trust “Philadelphia football fans to “use their own judgment about whether going to the game in the snow was worth the risk they might encounter” > LOL this is I was always frustrated during my many years in business (in a popular area in NE Philadelphia) when the city would shut down over a little snow, seemed to get worse with every year. This didnt help a declining economy. Technology allowed Penndot the advantage of being prepared, yet there were always excuses wy roads were not cleared. I guess it was easier & cheaper to shut down an entire city. (Mayor NUTTER) BUT I dont think we can trust “Philadelphia football fans to “use their own judgment about whether going to the game in the snow was worth the risk they might encounter” > LOL they arent known for making the best decisions.