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This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: And the Good News Is…: Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side
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Have you ever found yourself daydreaming about landing a job on Capitol Hill? Who hasn’t, right? But what if you’re just a regular kid living in a rural area somewhere near the Rocky Mountains? Capitol Hill should be nothing more than a pipe dream for you, shouldn’t it? Well, not exactly!
The good news is, well, that there’s a book called “And the Good News Is…,” which emphatically supports the nowadays oft-criticized "anything is possible in the United States of America" idea while implying that vertical mobility was never a myth in this country. The even better news is that the book is Dana Perino’s biography, so you can be sure that it isn’t just a bunch of promises protected by hardcovers and tucked under a shiny dust jacket, but a real-life story.
Even though she bears the distinction of being just the second female White House press secretary in American history (preceded only by Dee Dee Myers), most people probably know Dana Perino as a political commentator for Fox News – and know not much about her life other than that.
As it turns out, however, her life story seems even more interesting than her insightful and sometimes controversial opinions on current political topics. In “And the Good News Is…,” in a lively and crisp manner, Perino recounts it in its entirety, from her humble beginnings in Denver to getting a job at Capitol Hill. That’s right: from ranches – oh, pardon: rags! – to riches, from bushes to Bush.
It’s a type of book in which American dreamers will certainly enjoy reading: it’s both uplifting and patriotic, it’s novel-like and educational. And we intend to share with you its best bits in our summary!
It’s no wonder Dana Perino grew up to become a formidable advocate for the American dream: she is a descendant of a pair of original dreamers. And her upbringing was such that anything else would have been nothing short of a miracle – even if she hadn’t landed a job on Capitol Hill.
A great-granddaughter of Italian immigrants, Perino spent most of her childhood in rural Wyoming, on her grandparents’ ranch. And it was there that Perino learned one of life’s most valuable lessons: often enough, being tough doesn’t mean not being gentle. And success in life depends a lot on how well you learn to combine these two indelible aspects of our human nature.
The episode that engraved this lesson on the strings of Perino’s DNA came about when she was just eight years old. As per usual, she and her sister accompanied their grandfather on a trip when they noticed that one of their horses had broken its leg. Seeing that it was in pain, Dana’s grandfather immediately grabbed his rifle, got out of the car, and shot the beautiful animal after asking Dana and her sister to close their eyes.
Dana, however, snuck a peek from under her hands, and what she saw shook her to her very core. She couldn’t utter a word for the rest of the trip. Noticing the extent of her distress, her grandfather gently placed his hand on one of her knees. It was the best he could do: he told her, in a single gesture, that he knew how she must be feeling. And that made her feel a lot better.
It was at this moment that Perino really understood that shooting the horse was an act of kindness. And that, whether we like it or not, short-term harshness can often be translated into kindness in the long run.
Parents pass on more than just the obvious heritable traits to their children. Often – since they are also a child’s primary nurturers – they also pass on their likes and dislikes, their dreams, and their interests. Perino’s parents were never going to be an exception from these rules. In fact, let’s just say that you’ll learn a lot about her if you hear a little about them.
Her mother, Janice “Jan” Perino, loved America very much and didn’t waste a moment conveying this love to her daughter. Working for a national program called the Refugee Services, Jan was in charge of helping foreign immigrants get settled in the United States. It was the time of the Cold War, so, unsurprisingly, a lot of these immigrants had escaped from the Soviet Union. And Jan was able to deduct from their stories, firsthand, that the United States of America is, indeed, the land of the free, and that Communism is a threat to its freedom.
However, what Perino currently is may owe an even bigger deal to what her father, Leo Perino, was when she was just a child. You see, her father was a subscriber to almost every relevant newspaper published in the United States at the time, and as soon as she reached the third grade, he had Dana and her sister read The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News day after day. Moreover, he questioned them about what they had read and understood.
Unsurprisingly, her father thinks that this is where she got her analytical talents – not to mention her love for politics. It wasn’t too long after Perino started urging her parents to attend the earliest Sunday church service so that she could get home and catch the morning talk shows. Yes, at an age when most of us still watched “DuckTales” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks”!
Are you ready for the twist? Too bad if you are, because there is none! Just as you would expect from someone reading newspapers and watching morning talk shows as a ten-year-old, Perino grew into a grade-A student and a student body president at Ponderosa High School, located in Parker, a suburb southeast of Denver.
Afterward, she enrolled at the Colorado State University-Pueblo from where she’d eventually graduate with a B.A. in Mass Communications and minors in both Spanish and political science. In addition to acing her exams, Perino somehow managed to be an active participant in the university’s forensics team, and also work for the KCCY-FM radio station on the late (from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.) shift!
To top things off, one day, she got a job as a political debater on “Standoff,” a debate show broadcast on KTSC-TV, the campus-based affiliate of Rocky Mountain PBS. The gig went so well that it ultimately earned Perino her own show, “Capitol Journal,” a weekly series on Colorado-related political topics. During this time, she interviewed (and attracted the attention of) many locally important people, and some of the contacts she made at this time would prove invaluable later in her career.
It was thanks to them and her exceptional resumé that, soon after graduating in 1995, Perino quickly earned a job as a Capitol Hill intern with a CBS affiliate. However, she stayed there only for a while due to a strong feeling that the staff was pro-Democrat and profoundly biased against Republicans such as her. The experience made her even more deeply convinced that the key to a better future is limited government, coupled with a strong sense of personal responsibility.
Fortunately, at around this time, the Colorado State Senate opened a job for a deputy press secretary. Perino called then-Congressman Scott McInnis to ask for a reference – McInnis had been a guest on her show several times in the past – and, instead, he offered her a job in Washington as a member of his staff.
Many years before, when she was just seven years old, a friend of her mother – who, at that time, was a member of President Carter’s administration – took Perino and her sister to visit the White House. On their flight home, while watching the Fourth of July fireworks bursting into hundreds of brilliantly colored lights above the Washington monument, Perino fell in love with the capital of the United States. And now she had an opportunity to pursue a career there. It was a dream come true.
Being a staff assistant for McInnis proved to be a pretty boring job for someone as ambitious as Perino, so she didn’t think twice to apply when – once again, thanks to her connections – she found out that Republican U.S. Representative from Colorado, Dan Schaefer, was searching for a new press secretary. Three weeks later, she got the job.
Perino stayed with Schaefer for the next four years. During this time, she met (on a flight!) and fell in love with British businessman Peter McMahon, 18 years older. In 1998, soon after Schaefer announced his retirement, the now jobless Perino decided to move to England to marry Peter and get some rest. While there, she also got a short-haired Vizsla, which she named Henry and trained to dislike John Kerry and Bill Clinton. (Henry remained with Perino for the next 14 years, and later another Vizsla, named Jasper, came – Perino’s second book is about him).
Anyway, two years after moving to Great Britain, Perino got a call from an old friend, then active in the Bush campaign. He wanted to know if she was interested in becoming a spokesperson for the campaign in California. After a series of reassuring talks with Peter – who insisted in Dana – she accepted the proposition. And, from then on, she worked almost everything imaginable during the next few years until she was tired enough to call it quits on her political career.
Of course – as it always happens in the movies and, apparently, sometimes in life as well – Perino got her dream job at this exact moment! You’re guessing correctly: in 2005, Dana Perino was hired as deputy press secretary by the Bush administration. Two years later, she was promoted, and that first word of her title – “deputy” – suddenly seemed a surplus. She thought life was as great as it could ever be.
Four years later, surprisingly, it got even better. And once again it happened at a low point. You see, in 2009, when Perino – just like Bush – had to leave the White House, she was offered a job at Fox News! The rest, as they say, is history. Or, better yet, the present. Because you can see it unfolding live, on Fox News, where Perino is still one of the presenters of “The Five” and has, in the meantime, become the host of “The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino.”
Unassuming and down-to-earth, Dana Perino’s memoir has been lauded as “a gem” in its genre by many reviewers. And why should it not be?
It is a success story, wrapped in a series of “lessons and advice from the bright side of life”, dressed with mild-flavored republicanism not bereaved of decency and respect toward the underprivileged, and topped with an alluring laidback style as sweet as a cherry!
Read it – even if you’re a Democrat and don’t like Dana Perino. Because that’s what being decent and civil actually means.
Thomas Sowell, an American economist, once said that “politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back.” Dana Perino got, more or less, the same advice from Rep. Susan Molinari a while back, and she found an even better expression of it in a Buddhist saying inscribed on a Zen card left on her pillow by the staff at a hotel. She still keeps the worn-out card in her medicine cabinet and it is both the first and the last thing she sees on any given day. Since we can’t think of a better tip to go with Perino’s biography, allow us to quote it in full: “Say little. But when you speak, utter gentle words that touch the heart. Be truthful. Express kindness. Abstain from vanity. This is the way.”
Dana Perino is an author and political commentator currently hosting The Daily Briefing on Fox News. She served as the 24th White House press secretary during President George W. Bush’s mandate from 2007 to 2009. Perino was the seco... (Read more)
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