Share this

When the Senate Worked for Us: The Invisible Role of Staffers in Countering Corporate Lobbies, Michael Pertschuk

Reviewed by James A. Thurber



Preparing for an interview to work for Senator Warren G. Magnuson in 1973 as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow from Washington State University, I became immediately aware of the reputation of the much-admired Mike Pertschuk, Democratic staff director of the Senate Commerce Committee chaired by the senator. Although I accepted a position with Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, I watched the extraordinary role that Mike played in the Senate. Pertschuk's book is a rare behind-the-scenes account of the extraordinary role of an entrepreneurial Senate Commerce Committee staff (of almost 40) that pushed for progressive public interest legislation throughout the 1970s and 1980s in consumer protection, public health, environment, energy, and almost every area of economic life in America.

The creed of successful congressional staff then was to hide your name, and especially to stay out of the press. The less the media and the voters learned of the role of staff in serving elected public officials, the more credit and reelection currency they accrued. That thinking held for Mike for almost 50 years, until he decided to break it and boldly reveal the central role of staff in the politics and policy of the Senate.

This is an informative and inspirational book, with a large dose of humor, about the role of congressional staff during a go

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor


Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.


Book Talk | Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary Executive
May 24, 2022


Editor’s spotlight

Women's History Month

Woodrow Wilson, Alice Paul, and the Woman Suffrage Movement
Sally Hunter Graham

The Year of the Woman? Candidates, Voters, and the 1992 Elections
Ester R. Fuchs and Michael X. Delli Carpini


Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

New APS Book

Perspectives on Presidential Elections, 1992–2020   PERSPECTIVES ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, 1992–2020

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS