Ron Elving

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In its early days, Congress wrote a series of rules and precedents — Thomas Jefferson penned a book about it — that Congress has used ever since.

But there are also unwritten rules. And it's these unwritten rules that break down when politics get excessively polarized.

Anyone who has followed the saga of Sen. John McCain or ever reacted with emotion to his words or actions will recognize the man speaking in this valedictory volume.

The voice and manner are familiar enough that we can almost hear and see him on every page.

It recalls his previous literary efforts (he has written seven books with longtime collaborator Mark Salter), but it also ventures deeper into our collective memories of McCain and his world — as we prepare to part with both.

A Higher Loyalty, by far the most consequential book yet in the literature of the Trump presidency, is arriving as political conflict roils every aspect of that presidency. Former FBI Director James Comey's scathing review will not settle the arguments about President Trump, nor will it calm the controversy over its author. But it will furnish mountains of ammunition for combatants on all sides.

In Henry IV, Part 2, Shakespeare writes, "Uneasy rests the head that wears the crown."

Speakers of the House do not wear crowns. But if they did, these days their crowns might as well be woven of thorns.

Just ask Paul Ryan, who has announced he will relinquish the speakership by not seeking re-election this fall.

Updated at 3:05 p.m. ET

President Trump's intent to nominate his White House physician to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs has brought back a name long absent from the news: Harriet Miers.

Miers was White House counsel when President George W. Bush stunned Washington by nominating her to the Supreme Court in October 2005. Miers, who would have been the third woman to serve on the high court, was meant to succeed the first — Sandra Day O'Connor, who was retiring.

On the night of March 12, 1968, TV audiences saw an American presidency of monumental proportions begin to crumble before their eyes.

The occasion was the New Hampshire presidential preference primary, the "first in the nation" primary that has long been a tradition in the Granite State.

The first 10 changes to the Constitution were easy. Since then, it has been an uphill battle every time, and some of those battles are, at least technically, still undecided.

We are speaking of the amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and those first 10 are, of course, better known as the Bill of Rights.

They provide some of the most important guarantees of freedom associated with the U.S. Constitution — even though they were added years after the Constitution was first written in the summer of 1787.

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