Jeudi 26 mai 2011

I kept my hand in politics

Besides teaching, I kept my hand in politics and did some interesting legal work. I was appointed to head a state Democratic Party committee on affirmative action. It was designed to assure increased participation by women and minorities in party affairs without falling into the trap of the McGovern rules, which gave us delegates to the national convention who were representative of every demographic group but often hadnt ever really worked for the party and couldnt get any votes. The assignment gave me a chance to travel the state meeting Democrats, both black and white, who cared about the issue. The other thing that kept me politically active was the necessity to pay off my campaign debt. I finally did it in much the way we financed the campaign, with lots of small-dollar events and with the help of some generous larger givers. I got my first $250 from Jack Yates, a fine lawyer in Ozark who, along with his partner, Lonnie Turner, had worked hard for me in the election. Jack gave me the check within two weeks after the election. At the time, I wasnt sure where my next dollar was coming from and I never forgot it. Sadly, a couple of months after he helped me, Jack Yates died of a heart attack. After the funeral, Lonnie Turner asked me if I would take over Jacks black-lung cases. The Nixon administration had promulgated new rules making it harder to get benefits and requiring the cases of people already receiving them to be reviewed. In many cases, the benefits were being revoked. I began to drive down to the Ozarks once or twice a week to review the files and interview the old miners, with the understanding that any pay I got would come from fees from the cases I won. Lonnie knew I cared a lot about the issue and was familiar with how the program worked. Its true that when the black-lung program was first implemented the evaluations were too lax and some people did get benefits who didnt need them, but as so often happens with government programs, the attempt to correct the problem went too far in the other direction. Even before I took over Jack Yatess cases, I had agreed to try to help another man in his fight for black-lung benefits. Jack Burns Sr., from a small town south of Fort Smith, was the father of the administrator of Ouachita Hospital in Hot Springs, where Mother worked. He was about five feet four inches tall and couldnt have weighed much more than one hundred pounds. Jack was an old-fashioned man of quiet dignity, who was severely damaged by black lung. He was entitled to the benefits, and he and his wife badly needed them to help pay their bills. In the months we worked together, I came to respect both his patience and his determination. When we won his case, I was almost as happy as he was. I think there were more than one hundred cases like Jack Burnss in the stack of files Lonnie Turner gave me. I enjoyed going down to Ozark from Fayetteville over the winding road known as the Pig Trail to work on them. The cases were heard first by an administrative law judge, Jerry Thomasson, who was a fair-minded Republican. They could then be appealed to the federal judge in Fort Smith, Paul X. Williams, who was a sympathetic Democrat. So was his longtime clerk, Elsijane Trimble Roy, who was a great help to me. I was elated when President Carter appointed her Arkansas first female federal judge. While I continued my teaching, politics, and law work, Hillary was settling into life in Fayetteville. I could tell she really liked being there, maybe even enough to stay. She taught Criminal Law and Trial Advocacy, and oversaw both the legal-aid clinic and the students who did work for prison inmates. Some of the crusty old lawyers and judges and a few of the students didnt know what to make of her at first, but eventually she won them over. Because there is a constitutional right to a lawyer in a criminal case, our judges assigned local lawyers to represent poor defendants, and since poor criminal defendants almost never paid, the bar wanted Hillarys clinic to handle their cases. In its first year, it served more than three hundred clients and became an established institution at the law school. In the process, Hillary earned the respect of our legal community, helped a lot of folks who needed it, and established the record that, a few years later, led President Carter to appoint her to the board of directors of the national Legal Services Corporation. Jimmy Carter was our featured speaker on Law Day, near the end of the spring term. It was clear that he was running for President. Hillary and I spoke with him briefly, and he invited us to continue the conversation down in Little Rock, where he had another engagement. Our talk confirmed my sense that he had a good chance to be elected. After Watergate and all the countrys economic problems, a successful southern governor who wasnt involved in Washingtons politics and could appeal to people the Democrats had lost in 1968 and 1972 seemed like a breath of fresh air. Six months earlier, I had gone to Dale Bumpers and urged him to run, saying, In 1976, someone like you is going to be elected. It might as well be you. He seemed interested but said it was out of the question; he had just been elected to the Senate, and Arkansas voters wouldnt support him if he immediately started running for President. He was probably right, but he would have been a terrific candidate and a very good President.

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The Texan who had by far the greatest impact on my career was Betsey Wright, a doctors daughter from the small West Texas town of Alpine. She was just a couple years older than I was but much more experienced in grassroots politics, having worked for the state Democratic Party and Common Cause. She was brilliant, intense, loyal, and conscientious almost to a fault. And she was the only person I had ever met who was more fascinated by and consumed with politics than I was. Unlike some of our more inexperienced colleagues, she knew we were getting the daylights beaten out of us, but she worked eighteen-hour days anyway. After I was defeated for governor in 1980, Hillary asked Betsey to come to Little Rock to help organize my files for a comeback. She did, and she stayed to run my successful campaign in 1982. Later, Betsey served as chief of staff in the governors office. In 1992, she played a pivotal role in the presidential campaign, defending me and my record from the endless barrage of personal and political attacks with a skill and strength no one else could have mustered and maintained. Without Betsey Wright, I could not have become President. After I had been in Texas a few weeks, Hillary joined me and the campaign, having been hired by Anne Wexler to do voter registration for the Democratic Party. She got on well with the rest of the staff, and brightened even my toughest days. The Texas campaign got off to a rocky start, mostly because of the Eagleton disaster, but also because a lot of the local Democrats didnt want to be identified with McGovern. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, who had defeated the fiery liberal Senator Ralph Yarborough two years earlier, declined to be the campaign chairman. The gubernatorial nominee, Dolph Briscoe, a South Texas rancher who years later became a friend and supporter of mine, didnt even want to appear in public with our candidate. Former governor John Connally, who had been riding in the car with President Kennedy when he was killed nine years earlier and had been a close ally of President Johnson, was leading a group called Democrats for Nixon. Still, Texas was too big to write off, and Humphrey had carried it four years earlier, though by only 38,000 votes. Finally, two elected state officials agreed to co-chair the campaign, Agriculture Commissioner John White and Land Commissioner Bob Armstrong. White, an old-fashioned Texas Democrat, knew we couldnt win but wanted the Democratic ticket to make the best showing possible in Texas. John later became chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Bob Armstrong was an ardent environmentalist who loved to play guitar and hang out with us at Scholtzs Beer Garden, the local bowling alley, or the Armadillo Music Hall, where he took Hillary and me to see Jerry Jeff Walker and Willie Nelson. I thought things were looking up in late August when Senator McGovern and Sargent Shriver were slated to come to Texas to see President Johnson. Shriver was a likable man with a buoyant personality who brought energy and gravitas to the ticket. He had been a founder of the Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal assistance to the poor, President Kennedys first director of the Peace Corps, and President Johnsons first director of the War on Poverty. McGovern and Shrivers meeting with President Johnson went reasonably well but delivered few political benefits because Johnson insisted there be no press and because he already had issued a lukewarm endorsement of McGovern to a local newspaper a few days before they met. The main thing I got out of it was an autographed picture of the President, which he had signed when Taylor had gone out to the LBJ Ranch a few days before the meeting to finalize the arrangements. Probably because we were procivil rights southerners, Taylor and I liked Johnson more than most of our McGovern co-workers did. After the meeting, McGovern went back to his hotel suite in Austin to meet with some of his main n January 1975, I went back to my teaching, the only full year I did it uninterrupted by politics. In the spring term, I taught Antitrust and held a seminar in White-Collar Crime; in summer school, Admiralty and Federal Jurisdiction; in the fall, White-Collar Crime again and Constitutional Law. In Constitutional Law, I spent two full weeks on Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that gave women a constitutional privacy right to an abortion in the first two trimesters of pregnancy, the approximate amount of time it takes a fetus to become viablethat is, able to live outside the mothers womb. After viability, the Court ruled, the state could protect a childs interest in being born against the mothers decision not to have it, unless her life or health would be threatened by continued pregnancy or childbirth. Some of my students who saw Constitutional Law as just another course in which they had to memorize the rule of law in each case couldnt understand why I spent so much time on Roe. It was easy to remember the three-trimester rule and the reasoning behind it. I made them delve deeper, because I thought then, and still believe, that Roe v. Wade is the most difficult of all judicial decisions. Whatever they decided, the Court had to play God. Everyone knows life begins biologically at conception. No one knows when biology turns into humanity or, for the religious, when the soul enters the body. Most abortions that dont involve the life or health of the mother are chosen by scared young women and girls who dont know what else to do. Most people who are pro-choice understand that abortions terminate potential life and believe that they should be legal, safe, and rare and that we should support young mothers who decide to complete their pregnancies, as most of them do. Most ardent pro-lifers are all for prosecuting doctors but grow less certain when their argument that an abortion is a crime is carried to its logical conclusion: prosecuting the mother for murder. Even the fanatics who bomb abortion clinics dont target the women who keep them in business. Also, as weve learned first with Prohibition and later with our drug laws, which have more support than a total ban on abortion does, its hard to apply the criminal law to acts that a substantial portion of the citizenry doesnt believe should be labeled crimes. I thought then and still believe that the Court reached the right conclusion, though, as so often happens in American politics, its action sparked a powerful reaction, the growth of an active, effective national anti-abortion movement, which over time drastically reduced the practical availability of abortions in many places and drove large numbers of voters into the new right wing of the Republican Party. Regardless of what opinion polls show about voters positions on abortion, our national ambivalence about it means that its impact on elections depends on which side feels more threatened. For most of the last thirty years, for example, during which a womans right to choose has been secure, pro-choice voters have felt free to vote for or against candidates on other issues, while for anti-abortion voters, the other issues often didnt matter. Nineteen ninety-two was an exception. The highly publicized court of appeals decision in the Webster case, narrowing the right to choose, combined with the prospect of Supreme Court vacancies in the near future, threatened and galvanized the pro-choice voters, so I and other pro-choice candidates werent hurt by our position that year. After I was elected, with the right to choose secure again, pro-choice suburbanites again felt free to vote for anti-abortion Republicans for other reasons, while pro-life Democrats and independents, who approved of my record on economic and other social issues, nevertheless often felt compelled to support pro-life candidates who were almost always conservative Republicans. In 1975, I didnt know or care much about the politics of abortion. I was interested in the Supreme Courts herculean effort to reconcile conflicting convictions about law, morality, and life. In my opinion they did about the best they could do, lacking access to the mind of God. Whether my students agreed with me or not, I wanted them to think hard about it. In the fall, I got a new teaching assignment: I was asked to come down to the universitys Little Rock campus once a week to teach a night seminar in Law and Society to students who worked during the day in law enforcement. I was eager to do it and enjoyed my interaction with people who seemed genuinely interested in how their work in police departments and sheriffs offices fit into the fabric of both the Constitution and citizens daily lives.
Par debbyhanxu - 5 commentaire(s)le 26 mai 2011

it was urgent

On September 14, as Hillary and I were walking into the Blue Bell Caf, someone came up to me and said it was urgent that I call Strobe Talbott. He and Brooke were visiting his parents in Cleveland. My stomach was in knots as I fed change into the pay phone outside the caf. Brooke answered the phone and told me Frank Aller had killed himself. He had just been offered a job to work in the Saigon bureau of the Los Angeles Times, had accepted it, and had gone home to Spokane, apparently in good spirits, to get his clothes together and prepare for the move to Vietnam. I think he wanted to see and write about the war he opposed. Perhaps he wanted to put himself in harms way to prove he wasnt a coward. Just when things were working out on the surface of his life, whatever was going on inside compelled him to end it. His friends were stunned, but we probably shouldnt have been. Six weeks earlier, I had noted in my diary that Frank was really in the dumps again, having to that point failed to find a newspaper job in Vietnam or China. I said he had fallen finally, physically and emotionally, to the strains, contractions, pains of the last few years, which he has endured, mostly alone. Franks close, rational friends assumed that getting his external life back on track would calm his inner turmoil. But as I learned on that awful day, depression crowds out rationality with a vengeance. Its a disease that, when far advanced, is beyond the reasoned reach of spouses, children, lovers, and friends. I dont think I ever really understood it until I read my friend Bill Styrons brave account of his own battle with depression and suicidal thoughts, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness. When Frank killed himself, I felt both grief and angerat him for doing it, and at myself for not seeing it coming and pushing him to get professional help. I wish I had known then what I know now, though maybe it wouldnt have made any difference. After Franks death, I lost my usual optimism and my interest in courses, politics, and people. I dont know what I would have done without Hillary. When we first got together, she had a brief bout with self-doubt, but she was always so strong in public I dont think even her closest friends knew it. The fact that she opened herself to me only strengthened and validated my feelings for her. Now I needed her. And she came through, reminding me that what I was learning, doing, and thinking mattered. In the spring term, I was bored in all my classes but Evidence, taught by Geoffrey Hazard. The rules for what is and isnt admissible in a fair trial and the process of making an honest and reasoned argument on the facts available were fascinating to me and left a lasting impression. I always tried to argue the evidence in politics as well as law. Evidence counted a lot in my major law school activity that term, the annual Barristers Union trial competition. On March 28, Hillary and I competed in the semifinals, from which four students plus two alternates would be chosen to participate in a full-blown trial to be written by a third-year student. We did well and both made the cut. For the next month we prepared for the Prize Trial, State v. Porter. Porter was a policeman accused of beating a long-haired kid to death. On April 29, Hillary and I prosecuted Mr. Porter, with help from our alternate, Bob Alsdorf. The defense lawyers were Mike Conway and Tony Rood, with Doug Eakeley as their alternate. The judge was former Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas. He took his role seriously and played it to the hilt, issuing ruling after ruling on both sides and objections, all the while evaluating the four of us to decide who would win the prize. If my performance in the semifinals was the best public speaking of my law school career, my effort in the Prize Trial was the worst. I had an off day and didnt deserve to win. Hillary, on the other hand, was very good. So was Mike Conway, who gave an effective, emotional closing argument. Fortas gave Conway the prize. At the time I thought Hillary didnt get it in part because the dour-faced Fortas disapproved of her highly unprosecutorial outfit. She wore a blue suede jacket, brightand I mean brightorange suede flared pants, and a blue, orange, and white blouse. Hillary became a fine trial lawyer, but she never wore those orange pants to court again.

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I enjoyed the drive west, including a visit in the Grand Canyon. I got there in the late afternoon and crawled out on a rock jutting over the canyons edge to watch the sun go down. It was amazing the way the rocks, compressed into distinct layers over millions of years, changed colors as the canyon darkened from the bottom up. After I left the canyon, I had a blistering drive across Death Valley, Americas hottest spot, then turned north to my summer with Hillary. When I walked into her house in Berkeley, she greeted me with a peach piemy favoritethat shed baked herself. It was good, and it didnt last long. During the day, when she was at work, I walked all over the city, read books in the parks and coffee shops, and explored San Francisco. At night wed go to movies or local restaurants or just stay in and talk. On July 24, we drove down to Stanford to hear Joan Baez sing in the open amphitheater. So that all her fans could see her, she charged only $2.50 for admission, a striking contrast to the high ticket prices of todays big concerts. Baez sang her old hits and, for one of the first times in public, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. When the summer ended, Hillary and I were nowhere near finished with our conversation, so we decided to live together back in New Haven, a move that doubtless caused both our families concern. We found an apartment on the ground floor of an old house at 21 Edgewood Avenue, near the law school. The front door of our apartment opened into a tiny living room, behind which was a smaller dining-room area and an even smaller bedroom. Behind the bedroom were an old kitchen and a bathroom so small the toilet seat sometimes scraped against the bathtub. The house was so old that the floors sank from the walls to the middle at an angle so pronounced I had to put little wooden blocks under the inside legs of our small dining table. But the price was right for penurious law students: seventy-five dollars a month. The nicest thing about the place was the fireplace in the living room. I still remember sitting in front of the fire on a cold winter day as Hillary and I read Vincent Cronins biography of Napoleon together. We were too happy and too poor to be anything but proud of our new home. We enjoyed having friends over for meals. Among our favorite guests were Rufus and Yvonne Cormier. They were both children of African-American ministers in Beaumont, Texas, who grew up in the same neighborhood and had gone together for years before they married. While Rufus studied law, Yvonne was getting her Ph.D. in biochemistry. Eventually she became a doctor and he became the first black partner of the big Houston law firm Baker and Botts. One night at dinner, Rufus, who was one of the best students in our class, was bemoaning the long hours he spent studying. You know, he said in his slow drawl, life is organized backwards. You spend the best years studying, then working. When you retire at sixty-five, youre too old to enjoy it. People should retire between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-five, then work like hell till they die. Of course, it didnt work out that way. Were all closing in on sixty-five and still at it. I really got into my third semester of law school, with courses in Corporate Finance, Criminal Procedure, Taxation, Estates, and a seminar in Corporate Social Responsibility. The seminar was taught by Burke Marshall, a legendary figure for his work as assistant attorney general for civil rights under Robert Kennedy, and Jan Deutsch, reputed to be the only person, up to that time, to make the Honors grade in all his classes at Yale Law. Marshall was small and wiry, with bright dancing eyes. He barely spoke above a whisper, but there was steel in his voice, and in his spine. Deutsch had an unusual, clipped, stream-of-consciousness speaking style, which moved rapidly from one unfinished sentence to another. This was apparently the result of a severe head injury incurred when he was hit by a car and flew a long distance in the air before coming down hard on concrete. He was unconscious for several weeks and woke up with a metal plate in his head. But he was brilliant. I figured out his speaking style and was able to translate him to classmates who couldnt unpack his words. Jan Deutsch was also the only man Id ever met who ate all of an apple, including the core. He said all the good minerals were there. He was smarter than I was, so I tried it. Once in a while I still do, with fond memories of Professor Deutsch. Marvin Chirelstein taught me both Corporate Finance and Taxation. I was lousy in Taxation. The tax code was riddled with too many artificial distinctions I couldnt care less about; they seemed to me to provide more opportunities for tax lawyers to reduce their clients obligation to help pay Americas way than to advance worthy social goals. Once, instead of paying attention to the class, I read Gabriel Garca Mrquezs One Hundred Years of Solitude. At the end of the hour, Professor Chirelstein asked me what was so much more interesting than his lecture. I held up the book and told him it was the greatest novel written in any language since William Faulkner died. I still think so. I redeemed myself in Corporate Finance when I aced the final exam. When Professor Chirelstein asked me how I could be so good at Corporate Finance and so bad at Taxation, I told him it was because corporate finance was like politics: within a given set of rules, it was a constant struggle for power, with all parties trying to avoid getting shafted but eager to shaft. In addition to my classwork I had two jobs. Even with a scholarship and two different student loans, I needed the money. I worked a few hours a week for Ben Moss, a local lawyer, doing legal research and running errands. The research got old after a while, but the errands were interesting. One day I had to deliver some papers to an address in an inner-city high-rise. As I was climbing the stairs to the third or fourth floor, I passed a man in the stairwell with a glazed look in his eyes and a hypodermic needle and syringe hanging from his arm. He had just shot himself full of heroin. I delivered the papers and got out of there as quickly as I could. My other job was less hazardous but more interesting. I taught criminal law to undergraduates in a law-enforcement program at the University of New Haven. My position was funded under the Federal Law Enforcement Assistance program, which had just started under Nixon. The classes were designed to produce more professional law officers who could make arrests, searches, and seizures in a constitutional manner. I often had to prepare my lectures late in the evening before the day I delivered them. To stay awake, I did a lot of my work at the Elm Street Diner, about a block away from our house. It was open all night, had great coffee and fruit pie, and was full of characters from New Havens night life. Tony, a Greek immigrant whose uncle owned the place, ran the diner at night. He gave me endless free refills of coffee as I toiled away. The street outside the diner was the border dividing the territory of two groups of streetwalking prostitutes. From time to time the police took them away, but they were always quickly back at work. The streetwalkers often came into the diner to get coffee and warm up. When they found out I was in law school, several would plop down in my booth in search of free legal advice. I did my best, but none took the best advice: get another job. One night, a tall black transvestite sat down across from me and said his social club wanted to raffle off a television to make money; he wanted to know if the raffle would run afoul of the law against gambling. I later learned what he was really worried about was that the television was stolen. It had been donated to the club by a friend who ran a fencing operation, buying stolen goods and reselling them at a discount. Anyway, I told him that other groups held raffles all the time and it was highly unlikely that the club would be prosecuted. In return for my wise counsel, he gave me the only fee I ever received for legal advice in the Elm Street Diner, a raffle ticket. I didnt win the television, but I felt well paid just at having the ticket with the name of the social club on it in bold print: The Black Uniques.
Par debbyhanxu - 0 commentaire(s)le 26 mai 2011

had made over the years

The inauguration was a big event. Hundreds of people from all over the state came, as did friends Hillary and I had made over the years, including my old roommate Tommy Caplan; Dave Matter, who managed my losing campaign at Georgetown; Betsey Wright; my procivil rights Boys Nation buddies from Louisiana, Fred Kammer and Alston Johnson; and three friends from Yale, Carolyn Ellis, Greg Craig, and Steve Cohen. Carolyn Yeldell Staley also came home from Indiana to sing. I worked hard on my inaugural address. I wanted both to capture the historical moment and to tell my fellow Arkansans more about the values and ideals I was bringing to the governors office. The night before, Steve Cohen had given me an idea I added to the speech when hed said he was feeling two things he hadnt in a long time, pride and hope. I said some things in that speech that I believe as strongly today as I did then, words that capture what Ive tried to do in all my public work, including the presidency: For as long as I can remember, I have believed passionately in the cause of equal opportunity, and I will do what I can to advance it. For as long as I can remember, I have deplored the arbitrary and abusive exercise of power by those in authority, and I will do what I can to prevent it. For as long as I can remember, I have rued the waste and lack of order and discipline that are too often in evidence in governmental affairs, and I will do what I can to diminish them. For as long as I can remember, I have loved the land, air, and water of Arkansas, and I will do what I can to protect them. For as long as I can remember, I have wished to ease the burdens of life for those who, through no fault of their own, are old or weak or needy, and I will try to help them. For as long as I can remember, I have been saddened by the sight of so many of our independent, industrious people working too hard for too little because of inadequate economic opportunities, and I will do what I can to enhance them. . . . The next day I went to work for what would prove to be two of the most exhilarating and exhausting, rewarding and frustrating years of my life. I was always in a hurry to get things done, and this time my reach often exceeded my grasp. I think a fair summary of my first gubernatorial term is that it was a policy success and a political disaster. In the legislative session I had two major spending priorities, education and highways, and a host of other substantive reforms in health, energy, and economic development. In 1978, Arkansas ranked last among all states in per capita education spending. A study of our schools conducted by Dr. Kern Alexander, a nationally recognized expert in education policy from the University of Florida, concluded that our system was dismal: From an educational standpoint, the average child in Arkansas would be much better off attending the public schools of almost any other state in the country. We had 369 school districts, many too small to offer needed courses in math and science. There were no state standards or evaluation systems. And teacher pay was pitifully low in most places. The legislature passed almost all my education proposals, prodded by the Arkansas Education Association, which represented most of the teachers; the associations representing the administrators and school board members; and pro-education legislators, including Clarence Bell, the powerful chairman of the Senate Education Committee. They approved a 40 percent increase in funding over the next two years, including a $1,200 teacher pay raise in each year; a 67 percent increase for special education; increases for textbook costs, transportation, and other operations; and, for the first time, aid to school districts for programs for gifted and talented children and for transporting kindergarten students, a big step toward universal kindergarten. The money was tied to efforts to raise standards and improve quality, something I always tried to do. We passed the first state programs mandating testing to measure pupil performance and indicate areas that needed improvement, a requirement that all teachers take the National Teacher Examination before they could be certified, and a bill prohibiting the firing of teachers for arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory reasons. We also established the Arkansas Governors School for gifted and talented students, which met for the first time at Hendrix College in the summer of 1980. Hillary and I spoke to the first class. It was one of my proudest achievements, and its still going strong.

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W e started planning for my first term after the primary election in May and really got going after November, converting the headquarters into a transition office. Rudy Moore and Steve Smith, who had both served in the legislature, helped me as we prepared budgets, drafted bills to enact my policy priorities, analyzed the major management challenges, and began to hire a staff and cabinet. In December, the Democratic Party held its midterm convention in Memphis. I was asked to travel across the Mississippi River to moderate a health-care panel featuring Joe Califano, President Carters secretary of health, education, and welfare, and Senator Edward Kennedy, the Senates chief advocate for universal health coverage. Califano was articulate in his defense of the Presidents more incremental approach to health-care reform, but Kennedy won the crowd with an emotional plea for ordinary Americans to have the same coverage that his wealth provided for his son, Teddy, when he got cancer. I enjoyed the experience and the national exposure, but was convinced that the convention only highlighted our intra-party differences, when it was supposed to unite and reinvigorate Democrats in nonpresidential election years. The midterm meetings were later abandoned. Not long before Christmas, Hillary and I took a much-needed vacation to England. We spent Christmas Day with my friend from Oxford, Sara Maitland, and her husband, Donald Lee, an American who had become a priest in the Church of England. It was Donalds first Christmas church service. He had to be a little nervous, but he began the service with a surefire winner, a childrens sermon. He sat down on the steps in front of a lovely nativity scene and asked all the children to come and sit with him. When they settled down, he said, Children, this is a very special day. They nodded. Do you know what day this is? Yes, they said. Donald beamed and asked, What day is it? In unison, they all shouted, Monday! I dont know how he carried on. Perhaps he was consoled by the fact that in his church, kids told the literal truth. In a month, it was time to move into the Governors Mansion and get ready for the inauguration. The mansion was a big colonial-style house of about ten thousand square feet in the beautiful old Quapaw Quarter of Little Rock, not far from the Capitol. The main house was flanked by two smaller ones, with the one on the left serving as a guest house and the one on the right providing a headquarters for the state troopers who watched the place and answered the phone twenty-four hours a day. The mansion had three large, handsome public rooms, a big kitchen, and a little breakfast room on the first floor; a spacious basement, which we converted into a rec room complete with pinball machine; and living quarters on the second floor. Despite its overall size, the mansions living area occupied just five small rooms and two modest bathrooms. Still, it was such a step up from our little house on L Street that we didnt have enough furniture to fill the five rooms. The hardest thing about the transition was getting used to the security. I had always prided myself on my self-sufficiency and prized my private time. I had been self-supporting since I was twenty, and over the years had gotten used to cleaning house, running errands, and cooking. When Hillary and I got together, we shared the household duties. Now other people cooked the meals, cleaned the house, and ran the errands. Since I was sixteen, I had enjoyed driving alone in my own car, listening to music and thinking. I couldnt do that anymore. I liked to jog every day, usually before or after work. Now, I was being followed by a trooper in an unmarked car. It really bothered me at firstit made me want to run up one-way streets the wrong way. In time I got used to it and came to appreciate the work the folks at the mansion and the troopers did; they gave me more time for the job. Because the troopers drove me, I got a lot of paperwork done in transit. Eventually we agreed that Id drive myself to church on Sundays. It wasnt much of a concession, since my church and the Methodist church Hillary attended were both within a mile of the mansion, but I really looked forward to my Sunday freedom ride. One of the troopers ran with me when he was on duty, and I liked that a lot better than being followed. After I had been in office several years and there was clearly no imminent threat, I often ran alone in the mornings, but along a predictable downtown route with lots of people around. Frequently I ended those runs at the McDonalds or the local bakery, both about a half mile from the mansion, where Id get a cup of water, then walk back home. The troopers did have real security work to do on occasion. In my first term, an escapee from one of our mental institutions called the mansion and said he was going to kill me. Since he had decapitated his mother a few years earlier, they took it seriously. He was caught and returned to confinement, which might have been his subconscious desire when he called. One day, a massive man carrying a railroad spike walked into the governors office and said he needed to meet with me all alone. He was not admitted. In 1982, when I was trying to regain the governors office, a man called and said hed had a message from God telling him my opponent was the instrument of the Lord and I was the instrument of the devil and he was going to do Gods will and eliminate me. He turned out to be an escapee from a Tennessee mental institution. He had an odd-caliber revolver and went from gun store to gun store trying to buy ammunition for it, and because he couldnt produce any identification, he didnt succeed. Still, I had to wear an uncomfortable bulletproof jacket for several days near the end of the campaign. Once, when the front door was accidentally left unlocked, a deranged but harmless woman got halfway up the stairs to our living quarters before the troopers caught her as she was calling out to me. Another time, a small, wiry man in combat boots and shorts was apprehended trying to break down the front door. He was high on some kind of drug mixture that made him so strong it took two troopers bigger than I am to subdue him, and then only after hed thrown one of them off and put his head through a window in the troopers quarters. He was carried away in a straitjacket strapped to a stretcher. Later, when he sobered up, the man apologized to the troopers and thanked them for keeping him from doing anyone harm. The troopers who served me became an issue in my first term as President when two of them who were disgruntled and had financial problems spread stories about me for a modest amount of money and fame and the hope of a bigger payoff. But most of those who served on the security detail were fine people who did their jobs well, and several of them became good friends. In January 1979, I wasnt sure Id ever get used to twenty-four-hour security coverage, but I was so excited about my job I didnt have much time to think about it. In addition to the traditional inaugural ball, we hosted a night of Arkansas entertainment called Diamonds and Denim. All the performers were Arkansans, including the great soul singer Al Green, who later turned to gospel music and the ministry, and Randy Goodrum, the pianist in our high school trio, the 3 Kings. At thirty-one, he had already won a Grammy award for his songwriting. I joined him on sax for Summertime, the first time wed played together since 1964.
Par debbyhanxu - 1 commentaire(s)le 26 mai 2011

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McClellan was a pro-military, anti-Communist conservative who wanted to spend tax dollars only on defense, public works, and law enforcement. He was bright but not subtle. He saw things as black or white. He spoke in blunt terms, and if he ever had any doubts about anything, he never revealed them for fear of looking weak. He thought politics was about money and power. Fulbright was more liberal than McClellan. He was a good Democrat who liked and supported President Johnson until they fell out over the Dominican Republic and Vietnam. He favored progressive taxation, social programs to reduce poverty and inequality, federal aid to education, and more generous American contributions to international institutions charged with alleviating poverty in poor countries. In 1946, he sponsored legislation creating the Fulbright program for international education exchange, which has funded the education of hundreds of thousands of Fulbright scholars from the United States and sixty other countries. He thought politics was about the power of ideas. On civil rights, Fulbright never spent much time defending his voting record on the merits. He simply said he had to vote with the majority of his constituents on issues like civil rights, areas about which they knew as much as he did, which is just a euphemistic way of saying he didnt want to get beat. He signed the Southern Manifesto after he watered it down a little, and didnt vote for a civil rights bill until 1970, during the Nixon administration, when he also took a leading role in defeating President Nixons anticivil rights nominee to the Supreme Court, G. Harrold Carswell. Despite his civil rights stance, Fulbright was far from gutless. He hated sanctimonious demagogues parading as patriots. When Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin was terrorizing innocent people with his blanket accusations of Communist ties, he intimidated most politicians into silence, even those who loathed him. Fulbright cast the only vote in the Senate against giving McCarthys special investigative subcommittee more money. He also co-sponsored the resolution censuring McCarthy, which the Senate finally passed after Joseph Welch exposed him to the whole country for the fraud he was. McCarthy came along too soonhe would have been right at home in the crowd that took over the Congress in 1995. But back in the early fifties, a period so vulnerable to anti-Communist hysteria, McCarthy was the nine hundredpound gorilla. Fulbright took him on before his other colleagues would. Fulbright didnt shy away from controversy in foreign affairs, either, an area in which, unlike civil rights, he knew more than his constituents did or could know. He decided just to do what he thought was right and hope he could sell it to the voters. He favored multilateral cooperation over unilateral action; dialogue with, not isolation from, the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact nations; more generous foreign assistance and fewer military interventions; and the winning of converts to American values and interests by the force of our example and ideas, not the force of arms. Another reason I liked Fulbright was that he was interested in things besides politics. He thought the purpose of politics was to enable people to develop all their faculties and enjoy their fleeting lives. The idea that power was an end in itself, rather than a means to provide the security and opportunity necessary for the pursuit of happiness, seemed to him stupid and self-defeating. Fulbright liked to spend time with his family and friends, took a couple of vacations a year to rest and recharge his batteries, and read widely. He liked to go duck hunting, and he loved golf, shooting his age when he was seventy-eight. He was an engaging conversationalist with an unusual, elegant accent. When he was relaxed, he was eloquent and persuasive. When he got impatient or angry, he exaggerated his speech patterns in a tone of voice that made him seem arrogant and dismissive. Fulbright had supported the Tonkin Gulf resolution in August 1964, giving President Johnson the authority to respond to apparent attacks on American vessels there, but by the summer of 1966, he had decided our policy in Vietnam was misguided, doomed to fail, and part of a larger pattern of errors that, if not changed, would bring disastrous consequences for America and the world. In 1966, he published his views on Vietnam and his general critique of American foreign policy in his most famous book, The Arrogance of Power. A few months after I joined the committee staff, he autographed a copy for me.

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In the summer of 1966, and even more after the elections that fall, all the foreign and domestic conflicts were apparent in the deliberations of the U.S. Senate. When I went to work there, the Senate was full of big personalities and high drama. I tried to absorb it all. The president pro tempore, Carl Hayden of Arizona, had been in Congress since his state entered the Union in 1912 and in the Senate for forty years. He was bald, gaunt, almost skeletal. Senator Fulbrights brilliant speechwriter Seth Tillman once cracked that Carl Hayden was the only ninety-year-old man in the world who looks twice his age. The Senate majority leader, Mike Mansfield of Montana, had enlisted to fight in World War I at fifteen, then had become a college professor with a specialty in Asian affairs. He held the post of majority leader for sixteen years, until 1977, when President Carter appointed him ambassador to Japan. Mansfield was a fitness fanatic who walked five miles a day well into his nineties. He was also a genuine liberal and, behind his taciturn faade, something of a wit. He had been born in 1903, two years before Senator Fulbright, and lived to be ninety-eight. Shortly after I became President, Mansfield had lunch with Fulbright. When he asked Fulbright his age and Fulbright said he was eighty-seven, Mansfield replied, Oh, to be eighty-seven again. The Republican leader, Everett Dirksen of Illinois, had been essential to passing some of the Presidents legislation, providing enough liberal Republican votes to overcome the opposition of segregationist southern Democrats. Dirksen had an amazing face, with a large mouth and lots of wrinkles, and an even more amazing voice. Deep and full, it boomed out one pithy phrase after another. Once he hit Democratic spending habits with this ditty: A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon youre talking about real money. When Dirksen talked it was like hearing the voice of God or a pompous snake-oil salesman, depending on your perspective. The Senate looked a lot different then from how it looks today. In January 1967, after the Democrats had lost four seats in the midterm elections, they still had a margin of sixty-four to thirty-sixa far more lopsided group than what we usually find today. But the differences then were deep, too, and the lines were not only drawn on party affiliation. A few things have not changed: Robert Byrd of West Virginia still serves in the Senate. In 1966, he was already the authoritative voice on the rules and history of the body. Eight states of the Old South still had two Democratic senators each, down from ten before the 1966 elections, but most of them were conservative segregationists. Today, only Arkansas, Florida, and Louisiana are represented by two Democrats. Oklahoma had two Democrats, California two Republicans. Today its the reverse. In the inter-mountain West, now solidly Republican, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming each had one progressive Democratic senator. Indiana, a conservative state, had two liberal Democratic senators, one of whom, Birch Bayh, is the father of current Senator Evan Bayh, a gifted leader who might be President someday, but whos not as liberal as his dad was. Minnesota was represented by the brilliant but diffident intellectual Gene McCarthy and future vice president Walter Mondale, who succeeded Hubert Humphrey when he became President Johnsons vice president. Johnson picked Humphrey over Connecticut senator Tom Dodd, one of the chief prosecutors of Nazis at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. Dodds son, Chris, now represents Connecticut in the Senate. Al Gores father was in his last term and was a hero to young southerners like me because he and his Tennessee colleague, Estes Kefauver, were the only two southern senators who refused to sign the so-called Southern Manifesto in 1956, which called for resistance to court-ordered school integration. The fiery populist Ralph Yarborough represented Texas, though the rightward future of the state was emerging with the election in 1961 of a Republican senator, John Tower, and a young Republican congressman from Houston, George Herbert Walker Bush. One of the most interesting senators was Oregons Wayne Morse, who started out as a Republican, then became an independent, and was by 1966 a Democrat. Morse, who was long-winded but smart and tough, and Democrat Ernest Gruening of Alaska were the only two senators to oppose the Tonkin Gulf resolution in 1964, which LBJ claimed gave him authority to wage the war in Vietnam. The only woman in the Senate was a Republican who smoked a pipe, Margaret Chase Smith of Maine. By 2004, there were fourteen women senators, nine Democrats and five Republicans. Back then there were also a number of influential liberal Republicans, alas, a virtually extinct group today, including Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, the Senates only African-American; Mark Hatfield of Oregon; Jacob Javits of New York; and George Aiken of Vermont, a crusty old New Englander who thought our Vietnam policy was nuts and tersely suggested we should simply declare victory and get out. By far the most famous first-term senator was Robert Kennedy of New York, who joined his brother Ted in 1965, after defeating Senator Kenneth Keating for the seat Hillary now holds. Bobby Kennedy was fascinating. He radiated raw energy. Hes the only man I ever saw who could walk stoop-shouldered, with his head down, and still look like a coiled spring about to release into the air. He wasnt a great speaker by conventional standards, but he spoke with such intensity and passion it could be mesmerizing. And if he didnt get everyones attention with his name, countenance, and speech, he had Brumus, a large, shaggy Newfoundland, the biggest dog I ever saw. Brumus often came to work with Senator Kennedy. When Bobby walked from his office in the New Senate Building to the Capitol to vote, Brumus would walk by his side, bounding up the Capitol steps to the revolving door on the rotunda level, then sitting patiently outside until his master returned for the walk back. Anyone who could command the respect of that dog had mine too. John McClellan, Arkansas senior senator, was not merely an ardent conservative. He was also tough as nails, vindictive when crossed, a prodigious worker, and adept at obtaining power and using it, whether to bring federal money home to Arkansas or to pursue people he saw as evildoers. McClellan led a life of ambition and anguish, the difficulties of which bred in him an iron will and deep resentments. The son of a lawyer and farmer, at age seventeen he became the youngest person ever to practice law in Arkansas, when he passed an oral examination with honors after reading law books he had checked out of the traveling library of the Cumberland Law School. After he served in World War I, he returned home to find that his wife had become involved with another man and he divorced her, a rare occurrence in Arkansas that long ago. His second wife died of spinal meningitis in 1935, when he was in the House of Representatives. Two years later, he married his third wife, Norma, who was with him for forty years until he died. But his sorrows were far from over. Between 1943 and 1958 he lost all three of his sons: the first to spinal meningitis, the next in a car accident, the last in a small-plane crash. McClellan lived an eventful but difficult life, the sorrows of which he drowned in enough whiskey to float the Capitol down the Potomac River. After a few years, he decided drunkenness was inconsistent with both his values and his self-image and he gave up liquor completely, sealing the only crack in his armor with his iron will. By the time I got to Washington, he was chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, a position he used to get our state a great deal of money for things like the Arkansas River Navigation System. He served another twelve years, a total of six terms, dying in 1977 after announcing he would not seek a seventh. When I worked on the Hill, McClellan seemed a remote, almost forbidding figure, which is how he wanted to be perceived by most people. After I became attorney general in 1977, I spent quite a bit of time with him. I was touched by his kindness and his interest in my career, and wished he had been able to show the side of him I saw to more people and to reflect it more in his public work. Fulbright was as different from McClellan as daylight from dark. His childhood had been more carefree and secure, his education more extensive, his mind less dogmatic. He was born in 1905 in Fayetteville, a beautiful Ozark Mountain town in north Arkansas where the University of Arkansas is located. His mother, Roberta, was the outspoken progressive editor of the local paper, the Northwest Arkansas Times. Fulbright went to the hometown university, where he was a star student and quarterback of the Arkansas Razorbacks. When he was twenty, he went to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. When he returned two years later, he was a committed internationalist. After law school and a brief stint in Washington as a government lawyer, he came home to teach at the university with his wife, Betty, a delightful, elegant woman who turned out to be a better retail politician than he was and who kept his morose side in check through more than fifty years of marriage, until she died in 1985. Ill never forget one night in 1967 or 68. I was walking alone in Georgetown when I saw Senator and Mrs. Fulbright leaving one of the fashionable homes after a dinner party. When they reached the street, apparently with no one around to see, he took her in his arms and danced a few steps. Standing in the shadows, I saw what a light she was in his life. At thirty-four, Fulbright was named president of the University of Arkansas, the youngest president of a major university in America. He and Betty seemed headed for a long and happy life in the idyllic Ozarks. But after a couple of years, his apparently effortless rise to prominence was abruptly interrupted when the new governor, Homer Adkins, fired him because of his mothers sharply critical editorials. In 1942, with nothing better to do, Fulbright filed for the open congressional seat in northwest Arkansas. He won, and in his only term in the House of Representatives, he sponsored the Fulbright Resolution, which presaged the United Nations in its call for American participation in an international organization to preserve peace after the end of World War II. In 1944, Fulbright ran for the U.S. Senate and for a chance to get even. His main opponent was his nemesis, Governor Adkins. Adkins had a flair for making enemies, a hazardous trait in politics. Besides getting Fulbright fired, he had made the mistake of opposing John McClellan just two years earlier, going so far as to have the tax returns of McClellans major supporters audited. As I said, McClellan never forgot or forgave a slight. He worked hard to help Fulbright defeat Adkins, and Fulbright did it. They both got even. Despite the thirty years they served together in the Senate, Fulbright and McClellan were never particularly close. Neither was prone to personal relationships with other politicians. They did work together to advance Arkansas economic interests, and voted with the southern bloc against civil rights; beyond that, they didnt have much in common.
Par debbyhanxu - 3 commentaire(s)le 26 mai 2011
Mercredi 25 mai 2011

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We heard he was back," Blood said, "but this ain't him, Blood, it's, uh, somebody else. And me and my partner were just wondering if you were planning to sleep on the base tonight?" Here came another of those deep intestinal pangs. Zoyd knew that long ago in Saigon, Blood had more than once heard this warning from elements of the Vietcong in whose interest it was to keep him alive and in business. "Well shit. If it i'n' Hector, then who is it?" Vato came over, looking as serious as his running mate. "They're federal, Vato, but it ain' Hector, he's too busy keepín ahead of that posse from the Tubaldetox." Zoyd suddenly felt like shit. "I better see about my kid." Rick and Chick made mirror-image go-ahead gestures at the phone. "That Jikov 32, that Skoda carburetor you 's lookin' for, it's in my front seat, see what you think." Prairie worked at the Bodhi Dharma Pizza Temple, which a little smugly offered the most wholesome, not to mention the slowest, fast food in the region, a classic example of the California pizza concept at its most misguided. Zoyd was both a certified pizzamaniac and a cheapskate, but not once had he ever hustled Prairie for one nepotistic slice of the Bodhi Dharma product. Its sauce was all but crunchy with fistfuls of herbs only marginally Italian and more appropriate in a cough remedy, the rennetless cheese reminded customers variously of bottled hollandaise or joint compound, and the options were all vegetables rigorously organic, whose high water content saturated, long before it baked through, a stone-ground twelve-grain crust with the lightness and digestibility of a manhole cover. Zoyd happened to catch Prairie on a meditation break. "You OK over there?" "Somethin' wrong?" "Do me a favor, stay till I get there, all right?" "But Isaiah and the band were coming by to pick me up, we're goin' camping, remember? Sheez, all that shit you smoke, your brain must be like a Etch-A-Sketch." "Uh huh, don't get alarmed, but we are facing a situation where a quick mouth, even a leading example such as your own, won't be nearly as much use today as a little cooperation. Please." "Sure this ain't pothead paranoia?" "Nope and now I think of it could you ask the young gentlemen when they git there to stick around too?" "Just 'cause they look evil, Dad, doesn't mean they're any good for muscle, if that's what you're thinkin'." Feeling unprotected on all flanks, Zoyd went speeding in, running lights and ignoring stop signs, to Vineland, where he just made it to the door of the bank at closing time. An entry-level functionary in a suit who was refusing admission to other latecomers saw Zoyd and, for the first time in history, nervously began to unlock the door for him, while inside colleagues at desks could be seen making long arms for the telephone. No, it wasn't pothead paranoia — but neither was Zoyd about to step inside this bank. A security guard sauntered over, unsnapping his hip holster. OK. Zoyd split with a that's-all-folks wave, having luckily parked Trent's rig just around the corner.

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Latino gent, semi-Elvis haircut?" "Yep. You in some trouble, Zoyd?" "Moon darlin', when am I out of it? He mention where he was staying, anything like that?" "Mostly just sat starin' at the Tube in the bar. Some movie on channel 86. He was talkin' to the screen after a while, but I don't think he was loaded or nothin'." "Rill unhappy dude, is all." "Wow. Comin' from you. . . ." Seeing Zoyd's odd smile, the baby echoed, "Comin' fum you!" They transferred the crawdads to tubs of water in the back of the camper, and soon Zoyd was lurching and sloshing back down the road. He noticed Moonpie and Lotus in the rearview mirror, watching him around the curve, till the trees hid them. So, fucking Hector again. Zoyd had only missed him that night by not showing up at the Lost Nugget, his usual hangout, having chosen instead a booth way in the back of the Steam Donkey, just off the old Plaza in Vineland, a bar that dated well back into the fog of the last century. Van Meter'd put his head in after a while, and they'd sat becoming slowly awash in Lucky Lager, snuffling over the olden times. "Educated pussy," Zoyd sighed, "don't know why, f' some reason I must've been a easy mark. She was a filmmaker, went to Berkeley, I was working on people's gutters, she rilly freaked when she found out she was pregnant." It was a long time ago, old as Prairie, who for a while had been a topic of debate. Frenesi was getting free advice both ways. Some told her it was the end of her life as an artist, as a revolutionary, and urged her to get an abortion, not that easy to come by in those days unless you drove south of the border. If you wanted to stay north of it you had to be rich and go through a committee exercise with gynecologists and shrinks. Others pointed out to her what a groovy chance this would be to bring up a child in a politically correct way, though definitions of this varied from reading Trotsky to her at bedtime to including LSD in the formula. "But what hurts," Zoyd went on, "is how innocent I thought she was. Fuckin' fool. I wanted to wise her up, at the same time protect her from ever knowin' how shitty things could get. Was I stupid." "You're blaming yourself for the line of work she got into?" "For not seeing too much. For thinkin' we'd get away with it, thinkin' we'd beat them all." "Yep, you really fucked up," Van Meter having himself a good chuckle. Their friendship over the years was based in part on each pretending to laugh at the other's hard luck. Zoyd sat there nodding How true, how true. "So worried about Hector you didn't even know the other federal guy was porkin' your wife till she was long gone! What a trip, man!" "Appreciate the support ol' buddy, but I was still happy to be out of Hector's way back then 'thout gittin' my ass in too major of a sling." But he understood that like all suffering Tubeheads he must have really thought, as he and the baby were making their getaway, that that was it, all over, time to go to commercials and clips of next week's episode. . .. Frenesi might be gone, but there would always be his love for Prairie, burning like a night-light, always nearby, cool and low, but all night long. . . . And Hector, in his actorly literalness and brown-shoe conformity while also being insane, would never trouble his environment again. Damn fool Zoyd. Sent so gaga by those mythical days of high drama that he'd forgotten he and Prairie might actually have to go on living years beyond them. All the rest of the day it seemed like he was getting funny looks everywhere he went. The swamper at Redwood Bayou, getting the place ready for lunch, disappeared into the back where the phone was as soon as Zoyd came in the door. The waitresses at Le Bûcheron Affamé gathered over in a corner murmuring, casting him slow over-the-shoulder looks it was hard even for him to take as anything but pitying. "Hi ladies, how's the warm duck salad today?" But nobody came forth with much more than mentions of ubiquitous though unnamed Hector. Back on the freeway, Zoyd kept a defensive eye out in all directions, no telling where the Tube-maddened Detox escapee might pop up. At his next stop, Humbolaya, amid stomach-nudging aromas from the Special of the Day, tofu à la étouffée, Zoyd hustled use of the office phone to call Doc Deeply on the direct line in to his wing of the Vineland Palace. "NEVER," answered the perky female voice on the other end. "Huh? I didt'n even ask you yet." Her voice dropped half an octave. "This is about Hector Zu-ñiga — maybe you'd better hold." After a short recorded program of themes from famous TV shows, on came the mellifluous Dr. Deeply. "Don't want to alarm you, Doc," Zoyd said, "but I think he's stalkin' me." "You've . .. had these feelings for some time?" In the background, on some stereo, Zoyd could hear Little Charlie and the Nightcats singing "TV Crazy." "Yeah, in Hector's case fifteen or twenty years. Some guys's in the joint for longer 'n that." "Look, I can put my people on standby, but I don't think we can protect you around the clock, or anything." About then Chef 'Ti Bruce put his head in the door hollering "You still on?" and seeming anxious to have Zoyd out of there, when formerly it had been their custom to linger over beignets and chicory coffee. Crawfish business done, Zoyd's next stop was out to the Old Thumb peninsula to Rick & Chick's Born Again, an auto-conversion shop located among log piles and county motor pools. The owners, Humboldt County twins, had found Jesus and their seed money at about the same time, during the fuel panic of the seventies, when, to get a tax break for bringing out the first U.S. passenger diesel, GM took its 5.7-liter V-8 Cadillac engine and, in some haste, converted it. In the season of purchaser disenchantment that followed, engine experts, including Rick and Chick, found they could make on the order of $2,500 per job reconverting these ill-considered mills from diesel back to gasoline again. Soon they'd expanded into bodywork, put in a paint shed, and begun doing more customizing and conversion, eventually becoming a byword up and down the Coast and beyond the Sierras of the automotive second chance. Standing with the twins as Zoyd pulled up were the legally ambiguous tow-truck team of Eusebio ("Vato") Gomez and Cleveland ("Blood") Bonnifoy, all in a respectful tableau observing a rare, legendary (some believed only folkloric) Edsel Escondido, sort of a beefier Ford Ranchero with a complexity of chrome accents, including around that well-known problem grille, now pitted by years of salt fog, which Vato and Blood had just finished winching to earth from V & B Tow's flagship F350, El Mil Amores. Zoyd wondered what script possibilities were tumbling through the partners' heads. It was some elaborate game of doubles they played with the twins every time they came in here, the basic rule being never to say out loud where the vehicle in — often deep — question had really come from, nor even to suggest that the legal phrase "act of conversion" might here be taking on some additional sense. Today, inspired by a wave of Bigfoot sightings down in the Mattole, Vato had nearly convinced the skeptical lookalikes that the Escondido had been found abandoned in a clearing, its owners frightened off by Bigfoot, in whose territory the car had then sat, anybody's prize, making its retrieval by the boys, who'd just happened to be out in that part of the brush, an adventure full of perilous grades, narrow escapes, and kick-ass four-wheeling all the way, followed at each turn by the openmouthed Rick and Chick, upon whom at last Blood, usually the closer in these proceedings, laid, "So Bigfoot bein' force majeure, we got the legal salvage rights." Dazed, the twins were nodding at slightly different rates, and another story of twilight reconfiguration, soon to be the talk of the business, was about to get under way. Zoyd, already jumpy enough from people's reactions to him all day, was not reassured at seeing the gathering break up at his approach into short edgy nods and waves. They were having one of those four-member eyeball permutations that finally nominated Blood as the one to talk to Zoyd. "This is somethin' about Hector again, right?"
Par debbyhanxu - 0 commentaire(s)le 25 mai 2011
Lundi 23 mai 2011

I’ll be damned

Worse, some of them. And today they’re as merry as crickets.” “So you class Miss Woodruff in the obscure category?” The doctor was silent a few moments. “I was called in—all this, you understand, in strictest confidence—I was called in to see her ... a tenmonth ago. Now I could see what was wrong at once—weeping without reason, not talk­ing, a look about the eyes. Melancholia as plain as measles. I knew her story, I know the Talbots, she was governess there when it happened. And I think, well the cause is plain—six weeks, six days at Marlborough House is enough to drive any normal being into Bedlam. Between ourselves, Smithson, I’m an old heathen. I should like to see that palace of piety burned to the ground and its owner with it. if I wouldn’t dance a jig on the ashes.” “I think I might well join you.” “And begad we wouldn’t be the only ones.” The doctor took a fierce gulp of his toddy. “The whole town would be out. But that’s neither here nor the other place. I did what I could for the girl. But I saw there was only one cure.” “Get her away.” The doctor nodded vehemently. “A fortnight later, Grogan’s coming into his house one afternoon and this colleen’s walking towards the Cobb. I have her in, I talk to her, I’m as gentle to her as if she’s my favorite niece. And it’s like jumping a jarvey over a ten-foot wall. Not-on, my goodness, Smithson, didn’t she show me not-on! And it wasn’t just the talking I tried with her. I have a colleague in Exeter, a darling man and a happy wife and four little brats like angels, and he was just then looking out for a governess. I told her so.” “And she wouldn’t leave!” “Not an inch. It’s this, you see. Mrs. Talbot’s a dove, she would have had the girl back at the first. But no, she goes to a house she must know is a living misery, to a mistress who never knew the difference between servant and slave, to a post like a pillow of furze. And there she is, she won’t be moved. You won’t believe this, Smithson. But you could offer that girl the throne of England—and a thousand pounds to a penny she’d shake her head.” “But... I find this incomprehensible. What you tell me she refused is precisely what we had considered. Ernestina’s mother—“ “Will be wasting her time, my dear fellow, with all respect to the lady.” He smiled grimly at Charles, then stopped to top up their glasses from the grog-kettle on the hob. “But the good Doctor Hartmann describes somewhat similar cases. He says of one, now, a very striking thing. A case of a widow, if I recall, a young widow, Weimar, husband a cavalry officer, died in some accident on field exercises. You see there are parallels. This woman went into deep mourning. Very well. To be expected. But it went on and on, Smithson, year after year. Nothing in the house was allowed to be changed. The dead man’s clothes still hung in his wardrobe, his pipe lay beside his favorite chair, even some letters that came ad­dressed to him after his death ... there ...” the doctor pointed into the shadows behind Charles ... “there on the same silver dish, unopened, yellowing, year after year.” He paused and smiled at Charles. “Your ammonites will never hold such mysteries as that. But this is what Hartmann says.” He stood over Charles, and directed the words into him with pointed finger. “It was as if the woman had become addicted to melancholia as one becomes addicted to opium. Now do you see how it is? Her sadness becomes her hap­piness. She wants to be a sacrificial victim, Smithson. Where you and I flinch back, she leaps forward. She is possessed, you see.” He sat down again. “Dark indeed. Very dark.” There was a silence between the two men. Charles threw the stub of his cheroot into the fire. For a moment it flamed. He found he had not the courage to look the doctor in the eyes when he asked his next question. “And she has confided the real state of her mind to no one?” “Her closest friend is certainly Mrs. Talbot. But she tells me the girl keeps mum even with her. I flatter myself . . . but I most certainly failed.” “And if ... let us say she could bring herself to reveal the feelings she is hiding to some sympathetic other person—“ “She would be cured. But she does not want to be cured. It is as simple as if she refused to take medicine.” “But presumably in such a case you would...” “How do you force the soul, young man? Can you tell me that?” Charles shrugged his impotence. “Of course not. And I will tell you something. It is better so. Understanding never grew from violation.” “She is then a hopeless case?” “In the sense you intend, yes. Medicine can do nothing. You must not think she is like us men, able to reason clearly, examine her motives, understand why she behaves as she does. One must see her as a being in a mist. All we can do is wait and hope that the mists rise. Then perhaps ...” he fell silent. Then added, without hope, “Perhaps.”

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The two gentlemen, the tall Charles with his vague resem­blance to the late Prince Consort and the thin little doctor, finally escorted the ladies back to their house. It was half past ten, the hour when the social life of London was just beginning; but here the town was well into its usual long sleep. They found themselves, as the door closed in their smiling faces, the only two occupants of Broad Street. The doctor put a finger on his nose. “Now for you, sir, I prescribe a copious toddy dispensed by my own learned hand.” Charles put on a polite look of demurral. “Doctor’s orders, you know. Dulce est desipere, as the poet says. It is sweet to sip in the proper place.” Charles smiled. “If you promise the grog to be better than the Latin, then with the greatest pleasure.” Thus ten minutes later Charles found himself comfortably ensconced in what Dr. Grogan called his “cabin,” a bow-fronted second-floor study that looked out over the small bay between the Cobb Gate and the Cobb itself; a room, the Irishman alleged, made especially charming in summer by the view it afforded of the nereids who came to take the waters. What nicer—in both senses of the word—situation could a doctor be in than to have to order for his feminine patients what was so pleasant also for his eye? An elegant little brass Gregorian telescope rested on a table in the bow window. Grogan’s tongue flickered wickedly out, and he winked. “For astronomical purposes only, of course.” Charles craned out of the window, and smelled the salt air, and saw on the beach some way to his right the square black silhouettes of the bathing-machines from which the nereids emerged. But the only music from the deep that night was the murmur of the tide on the shingle; and somewhere much farther out, the dimly raucous cries of the gulls roosting on the calm water. Behind him in the lamp-lit room he heard the small chinks that accompanied Grogan’s dispensing of his “medicine.” He felt himself in suspension between the two worlds, the warm, neat civilization behind his back, the cool, dark mystery outside. We all write poems; it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words. The grog was excellent, the Burmah cheroot that accom­panied it a pleasant surprise; and these two men still lived in a world where strangers of intelligence shared a common landscape of knowledge, a community of information, with a known set of rules and attached meanings. What doctor today knows the classics? What amateur can talk comprehensibly to scientists? These two men’s was a world without the tyranny of specialization; and I would not have you—nor would Dr. Grogan, as you will see—confuse progress with happiness. For a while they said nothing, sinking back gratefully into that masculine, more serious world the ladies and the occasion had obliged them to leave. Charles had found himself curious to know what political views the doctor held; and by way of getting to the subject asked whom the two busts that sat whitely among his host’s books might be of. The doctor smiled. “Quisque suos patimur manes.” Which is Virgil, and means something like “We make our destinies by our choice of gods.” Charles smiled back. “I recognize Bentham, do I not?” “You do. And the other lump of Parian is Voltaire.” “Therefore I deduce that we subscribe to the same party.” The doctor quizzed him. “Has an Irishman a choice?” Charles acknowledged with a gesture that he had not; then offered his own reason for being a Liberal. “It seems to me that Mr. Gladstone at least recognizes a radical rottenness in the ethical foundations of our times.” “By heavens, I’m not sitting with a socialist, am I?” Charles laughed. “Not as yet.” “Mind you, in this age of steam and cant, I could forgive a man anything —except Vital Religion.” “Ah yes indeed.” “I was a Benthamite as a young man. Voltaire drove me out of Rome, the other man out of the Tory camp. But this new taradiddle now—the extension of franchise. That’s not for me. I don’t give a fig for birth. A duke, heaven knows a king, can be as stupid as the next man. But I thank Mother Nature I shall not be alive in fifty years’ time. When a government begins to fear the mob, it is as much as to say it fears itself.” His eyes twinkled. “Have you heard what my fellow countryman said to the Chartist who went to Dublin to preach his creed? ‘Brothers,’ the Chartist cried, ‘is not one man as good as another?’ ‘Faith, Mr. Speaker, you’re right,’ cries back Paddy, ‘and a divilish bit better too!’” Charles smiled, but the doctor raised a sharp finger. “You smile, Smithson. But hark you—Paddy was right. That was no bull. That ‘divilish bit better’ will be the ruin of this country. You mark my words.” “But are your two household gods quite free of blame? Who was it preached the happiness of the greatest number?” “I do not dispute the maxim. But the way we go about it. We got by very well without the Iron Civilizer” (by which he meant the railway) “when I was a young man. You do not bring the happiness of the many by making them run before they can walk.” Charles murmured a polite agreement. He had touched exactly that same sore spot with his uncle, a man of a very different political complexion. Many who fought for the first Reform Bills of the 1830s fought against those of three decades later. They felt an opportunism, a twofacedness had cancered the century, and given birth to a menacing spirit of envy and rebellion. Perhaps the doctor, born in 1801, was really a fragment of Augustan humanity; his sense of prog­ress depended too closely on an ordered society—order being whatever allowed him to be exactly as he always had been, which made him really much closer to the crypto-Liberal Burke than the crypto-Fascist Bentham. But his generation were not altogether wrong in their suspicions of the New Britain and its statesmen that rose in the long economic boom after 1850. Many younger men, obscure ones like Charles, celebrated ones like Matthew Arnold, agreed with them. Was not the supposedly converted Disraeli later heard, on his deathbed, to mutter the prayers for the dead in He­brew? And was not Gladstone, under the cloak of noble oratory, the greatest master of the ambiguous statement, the brave declaration qualified into cowardice, in modern politi­cal history? Where the highest are indecipherable, the worst ... but clearly the time had come to change the subject. Charles asked the doctor if he was interested in paleontology. “No, sir. I had better own up. I did not wish to spoil that delightful dinner. But I am emphatically a neo-ontologist.” He smiled at Charles from the depths of his boxwing chair. “When we know more of the living, that will be the time to pursue the dead.” Charles accepted the rebuke; and seized his opportunity. “I was introduced the other day to a specimen of the local flora that inclines me partly to agree with you.” He paused cun­ningly. “A very strange case. No doubt you know more of it than I do.” Then sensing that his oblique approach might suggest something more than a casual interest, he added quickly, “I think her name is Woodruff. She is employed by Mrs. Poulteney.” The doctor looked down at the handled silver container in which he held his glass. “Ah yes. Poor Tragedy.’” “I am being indiscreet? She is perhaps a patient.” “Well, I attend Mrs. Poulteney. And I would not allow a bad word to be said about her.” Charles glanced cautiously at him; but there was no mis­taking a certain ferocity of light in the doctor’s eyes, behind his square-rimmed spectacles. The younger man looked down with a small smile. Dr. Grogan reached out and poked his fire. “We know more about the fossils out there on the beach than we do about what takes place in that girl’s mind. There is a clever German doctor who has recently divided melancholia into several types. One he calls natural. By which he means, one is born with a sad temperament. Another he calls occasional, by which he means, springing from an occasion. This, you understand, we all suffer from at times. The third class he calls obscure melancholia. By which he really means, poor man, that he doesn’t know what the devil it is that causes it.” “But she had an occasion, did she not?” “Oh now come, is she the first young woman who has been jilted? I could tell you of a dozen others here in Lyme.”
Par debbyhanxu - 2 commentaire(s)le 23 mai 2011
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