Governor Ed Rendell on “A Nation of Wusses”


One of nation’s most candid, smart and disarming politicians, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, joined The Common Good to talk about his new book, A NATION OF WUSSES: How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great.

Governor Ed Rendell explains why America’s leaders rarely call for sacrifice for the greater good—to avoid making any sacrifices themselves!

Rendell has seen job security become the primary consideration of any person with power in America—their own job security! Most politicians and bureaucrats can see no further ahead than the next election, sometimes no further than the next press conference. Americans are rarely afraid of sacrifice and hard work when they mean building a better future, but when was the last time you heard of a leader of anything making a sacrifice for the greater good? The people can only win when they make it clear to the powers that be that making the right choices, even the hard ones, is the key to winning the next election.

  • Explains in rollicking stories ranging from the profane to the profound that most hard choices are only “hard” because the polls conflict with your principles

  • Ed Rendell rose to the top of Philadelphia, then Pennsylvania, then national politics, by doing what he thought was right, and there were plenty of times that looked like it would be his downfall as well

  • This book revisits the high points of Ed Rendell’s career and current landscape to define the political fights his peers seem just as afraid of winning as losing

  • Rendell is a former head of the Democratic National Committee, a current MSNBC Senior Political Analyst, and a Partner at Ballard Spahr LLP

Among current office holders and candidates, he sees politicians pretending to stand on principle while, in fact, pandering to their bases; flip-flopping on issues, not because of new information, but because of new polls; and criticizing rivals for actions they would have praised if done by allies. While not at all shy about singling out Republicans like Scott Walker, Eric Cantor, and Mitch McConnell, Rendell has no trouble taking on Democrats who refuse to stand up to the teachers’ unions or distance themselves from allies who run into trouble. Other politicians might have left out of their memoirs stories like what happened to their plaque in the park, the story of Swifty the five-legged donkey, a dirty Al Gore joke, the time they considered pretending to faint, and who they’re already supporting for president in 2016. Luckily for readers, Ed Rendell is not that kind of politician. Complete with a scathing list of the “Top Ten Reasons Why Most American Politicians Are Wusses” and packed with uproarious tales of politicians in action that will make you wonder why these folks keep getting elected, you might have to go back to Ulysses S. Grant to find a politician with a book as lively and honest as A Nation of Wusses.

Ed Rendell is one of the more refreshing and insightful voices in the conversation around American politics. He is a rare breed who tells the truth even when it doesn’t support his agenda. This book is a clever, intelligent, and entertaining retrospective on his life in politics featuring many of the characters he met along the way.
— Sean Hannity
Ed Rendell gives us more than a political memoir—his book is a fun, funny, and authentic account of a life spent in government, and a no-holds-barred argument for bold leadership in America.
— President Bill Clinton
Ed Rendell’s book is big-city politics at its best. It’s got the roar of the El, the stale cigar smoke of City Hall. Rendell writes with hoagie on his breath—or was that a Philly cheesesteak? It’s The Last Hurrah for the twenty-first century.
— Chris Matthews

After 34 years of public service, including 24 years as an elected official, Governor Rendell continues to pursue many of the same issues he was passionate about while serving. His commitment to making America a cleaner, more efficient place and to fostering investment in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure is as strong as it has ever been. He continues to participate in national political discourse as a news analyst for NBC. He also serves as Special Counsel at the law firm Ballard Spahr. Additionally, he sits on several boards, is a Brookings Fellow and teaches government and politics courses at the University of Pennsylvania. Governor Rendell also recently penned his first book, A Nation of Wusses: How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great. In A Nation of Wusses, Rendell chronicles his storied political career with his trademark candor while making a strong statement about the state of American leadership.

Interested in attending future events?