In "The U.S. Senate: Fundamentals of American Government," the Aberdeen native reminisces that had he not worked his way up the ranks to become the leader of the Senate Democrats, he might still be serving South Dakota. But the higher on the political ladder, he notes, the larger the target on one's backside.
"That was certainly true in my case," Daschle writes. "There's no way to be sure, but my assumption has always been that, had I not been leader, I might still be in the Senate today."
He follows with a line that's a bit of a surprise: "In many respects, I'm glad I'm not."
It's a statement that begs the obvious question: Does that mean Daschle's time as an elected public servant is over?
The short answer, which will disappoint some and relieve others, is yes.
"I think it has been a turn-the-page moment in my life. I'm very, very content, and I can't contemplate a set of circumstances that would cause me to want to go back into public life, at least elected public life," Daschle said during a recent telephone interview.
He said that since his tight 2004 Senate loss to Republican John Thune, he's chosen to look ahead, not back. The windshield's much larger than the rearview mirror, is how it puts it.
"I couldn't have a better quality of life, and I couldn't be happier with my life in spite of the fact (of) that election loss," he said.
Daschle, now 65, said he's working on what he calls his spoke-and-hub model. The hub of his work centers around his job at DLA Piper, an international law firm that does lobbying work. Daschle, who is not a registered lobbyist, is a senior policy advisor. He said he provides policy advice for a couple of dozen clients.
He said he spends about 60 percent of his time doing law firm work, mostly on health care, energy, agriculture and sustainability issues. The rest of his time, he spends with his family, doing public speaking, serving on a variety of boards and writing. His public profile is lower, which comes with the benefit of less criticism than he faced while in the Senate.
All three of Daschle's children — Kelly, Nathan and Lindsay — live and work in the Washington, D.C., area. Kelly and her husband, Eric, have two children. So do Nathan and his wife, Jill.
Daschle recently got back from a trip to India. He said the journey revolved around his work with a company that converts sugar cane waste into fuel for local utilities. Similar concepts have been discussed in South Dakota and the ag industry.
The boards Daschle serves on include those of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the Harvard Medical School Advisory Board and the Center for American Progress. The National Democratic Institute promotes democracy in foreign countries. The Center for American Progress is a liberal-leaning public policy and advocacy group. Daschle was also a founder of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank that focuses on economic policy, energy, health care and nutrition, housing, national security and transportation.
After two books that focused on health care issues, "The U.S. Senate" is a considerably different offering. It was co-written by Charles Robbins, a one-time newspaper reporter who ultimately went on to work in press shops for various politicians.
The book is one of three being released by Thomas Dunne Books and St. Martin's Press that explain the federal branches of government. The first was "Selecting A President," by Eleanor Clift and Matthew Spieler. A book about the U.S. House has yet to be released.
While Daschle's book is a primer about so-called upper house, it doesn't read like a textbook and it's not supposed to, he said. He describes it as anecdotal, and it includes stories and tidbits about the Senate, including many from Daschle's career.
He said that while working on the book, he even learned a thing or two about the chamber in which he served 18 years.
"Writing a book is as much of a learning experience, I think, as it is a writing experience," he said.
One nugget Daschle didn't know: That President Woodrow Wilson wrote his college thesis in support of the filibuster. That's an interesting fact, Daschle said, because as president, Wilson worked with Senate leaders to invoke what's called cloture. Because Wilson struggled with filibusters as he tried to move the United States into World War I and the League of Nations, his support of unceasing Senate debate waned, Daschle said.