Life of Milwaukee’s Most Popular Politician, Clement J. Zablocki Milwaukee Politics and Congressional Foreign Policy

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Clement J. Zablocki represented Milwaukee County in the Wisconsin State Senate from 1943 to 1948 and in the House of Representatives from 1949 to 1983. His overwhelming popularity made him a power broker in Wisconsin, as he helped elect William Proxmire and Gaylord Nelson to state offices and John F. Kennedy to the presidency. Zablocki helped change the House Foreign Affairs Committee form an insignificant panel to an important power base. His career continued through the Vietnam War and Ronald Reagan’s presidency, until Zablocki’s death in 1983.

“Too often scholars have ignored the details of legislative practice, political procedure, and consensus-building in policy formation. Leahy’s exhaustive study of a significant second level Democratic Party politician and his contribution to the framing of several important legislative measures from the 1950s to the 1970s reminds that interest group particularism and personal cultural and political commitments inform and sometimes control the policy debates and programs advanced by well-known national figures. . . . Not only does Leahy demonstrate his command of legislative detail, but his work is itself a model case study in the sometimes ugly process by which a proposal or idea is transformed into law. . . . . Among his important legacies, none has been more important than Zablocki’s dogged insistence on Presidential consultation on key foreign policy questions, especially those relating to the acceptance of military commitments abroad. . . . Leahy demonstrates that his role as an insider in the policy process contributed to the development of modern views and practices relating to this crucial exercise in democratic decision-making. Superbly researched and clearly written, this traditional political biography enriches our understanding of modern legislative history.” – James J. Lorence


“It provides important insights into the evolution of executive-legislative relations during the Cold War years, culminating in the enactment of the War Powers Act over President Nixon’s veto. This is not a minor issue for students of American politics. . . . Leahy’s meticulous scholarship, and effective use of Zablocki’s papers but also FBI files provide revealing insights into a variety of local and national issues. Historians of the FBI, for example, might find extremely valuable his detailed account of the Paul Corbin affair.” – Athan Theoharis

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Foreword; Preface
1. Polonia’s Child
2. The Cold War in Milwaukee
3. Parish Priest
4. Local Power Broker
5. The Committee on Foreign Affairs
6. The Vietnam War and Civil Rights
7. The National Security Subcommittee
8. The War Powers Resolution of 1973
9. Presidential Crisis and Congressional Response
10. The Carter Administration
11. The Reagan Administration
Epilogue: The Legacies of Clement J. Zablocki
Appendix; Bibliography; Index

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