Administrative staff, Books by Mitchell, Iran-Contra, North, Oliver, U.S. Senate culture
Richard A. “Rich” Arenberg, the son of Bernard and Mary Arenberg, was born on October 16, 1945, in Norwich Connecticut. He was a campus activist during his undergraduate years at Boston University, and worked on some local campaigns, including the campaign of Tom Atkins, the first African American city councilor in Boston. He received a Ph.D. in political science also from Boston University and has a background in survey research. He worked as the issues director for Paul Tsongas’s first congressional campaign in Massachusetts and continued on Tsongas’s congressional and Senate staff until Tsongas retired from the Senate in 1984. At that point he was hired as Senator Mitchell’s chief of staff and was involved with the Congressional Committee Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair. He later collaborated with Senators Mitchell and Cohen to write the book Men of Zeal. At the time of this interview he was working for Senator Carl Levin of Michigan.
Interview includes discussion of: experiences as a staffer on Capitol Hill; Senator Mitchell’s decision-making style, in particular as compared to Senator Tsongas’s style; the role of a senator’s chief of staff; Democratic leadership positions in the Senate; the advantages of being a senator from a small state; Senator Mitchell’s ascent to the position of majority leader; the Iran-Contra Committee, Oliver North’s testimony, and Senator Mitchell’s questioning; the tension between pursuing justice and the public’s right to know regarding public scandals; collaborating with Senators Mitchell and Cohen on their book Men of Zeal and the two men’s distinct writing styles; the role of the deputy president pro tempore in the Senate; the tension between covert intelligence and democratic values, and the emphasis Mitchell placed on opening those issues up; the “Gang of Eight;” the congressional bunker at the Greenbrier Hotel; and the importance of pursuing solutions over partisan issues and the work Senator Mitchell did in that direction.
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