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I n July, I went to work in Washington for Project Pursestrings, a citizens lobby for the McGovern-Hatfield amendment, which called for a cutoff of funding for the Vietnam War by the end of 1971. We had no chance to pass it, but the campaign to do so provided a vehicle to mobilize and highlight growing bipartisan opposition to the war..cheap prom dresses.
I got a room for the summer at the home of Dick and Helen Dudman, who lived in a great old two-story house with a big front porch in northwest Washington. Dick was a distinguished journalist. He and Helen both opposed the war and supported the young people who were trying to stop it. They were wonderful to me. One morning they invited me down to breakfast on the front porch with their friend and neighbor Senator Gene McCarthy. He was serving his last year in the Senate, having announced back in 1968 that he wouldnt run again. That morning he was in an open, expansive mood, offering a precise analysis of current events and expressing some nostalgia at leaving the Senate. I liked McCarthy more than I expected to, especially after he loaned me a pair of shoes to wear to the black-tie Womens Press Dinner, which I think the Dudmans got me invited to. President Nixon came and shook a lot of hands, though not mine. I was seated at a table with Clark Clifford, who had come to Washington from Missouri with President Truman and had served as a close advisor and then as defense secretary to President Johnson in his last year in office. On Vietnam, Clifford noted dryly, Its really one of the most awful places in the world to be involved. The dinner was a heady experience for me, especially since I kept my feet on the ground in Gene McCarthys shoes..cartier love bracelet replica.
Shortly after I started at Pursestrings, I took a long weekend off and drove to Springfield, Massachusetts, for the wedding of my Georgetown roommate Marine Lieutenant Kit Ashby..Cartier Love Bracelet Replica.
On the way back to Washington, I stopped in Cape Cod to visit Tommy Caplan and Jim Moore, who had also been at Kits wedding. At night, we went to see Carolyn Yeldell, who was singing on the Cape with a group of young entertainers for the summer. We had a great time, but I stayed too long. When I got back on the road, I was dead tired. Before I even made it out of Massachusetts on the interstate highway, a car pulled out of a rest stop right in front of me. The driver didnt see me, and I didnt see him until it was too late. I swerved to miss him, but I hit the left rear of his car hard. The man and woman in the other car seemed to be dazed but unhurt. I wasnt hurt either, but the little Volkswagen bug Jeff Dwire had given me to drive for the summer was badly mangled. When the police came, I had a big problem. I had misplaced my drivers license on the move home from England and couldnt prove I was a valid driver. There were no computerized records of such things back then, so I couldnt be validated until the morning. The officer said hed have to put me in jail. By the time we got there it was about 5 a.m. They stripped me of my belongings and took my belt so that I couldnt strangle myself, gave me a cup of coffee, and put me in a cell with a hard metal bed, a blanket, a smelly stopped-up toilet, and a light that stayed on. After a couple of hours of semi-sleep, I called Tommy Caplan for help. He and Jim Moore went to court with me and posted my bond. The judge was friendly but reprimanded me about not having my license. It worked: after my night in jail, I was never without my license again..cartier love bracelet replica.
Two weeks after my trip to Massachusetts, I was back in New England to spend a week in Connecticut working for Joe Duffey in the Democratic primary election for the U.S. Senate. Duffey was running as the peace candidate, aided primarily by the people who had made a good showing for Gene McCarthy two years earlier. The incumbent senator, Democrat Tom Dodd, was a longtime fixture in Connecticut politics. He had prosecuted Nazis at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal and had a good progressive record, but he had two problems. First, he had been censured by the Senate for the personal use of funds that had been raised for him in his official capacity. Second, he had supported President Johnson on Vietnam, and Democratic primary voters were much more likely to be anti-war. Dodd was hurt and angered by the Senate censure and not ready to give up his seat without a fight. Rather than face a hostile electorate in the Democratic primary, he filed as an Independent to run in the November general election. Joe Duffey was an ethics professor at Hartford Seminary Foundation and president of the liberal Americans for Democratic Action. Though he was a coal miners son from West Virginia, his strongest supporters were prosperous, well-educated, anti-war liberals who lived in the suburbs, and young people drawn to his record on civil rights and peace. His campaign co-chairman was Paul Newman, who worked hard in the campaign. His finance committee included the photographer Margaret Bourke-White, artist Alexander Calder, New Yorker cartoonist Dana Fradon, and an extraordinary array of writers and historians, including Francine du Plessix Gray, John Hersey, Arthur Miller, Vance Packard, William Shirer, William Styron, Barbara Tuchman, and Thornton Wilder. Their names looked pretty impressive on the campaign stationery, but they werent likely to impress many voters among blue-collar ethnics..cartier love bracelet replica.
Between July 29 and August 5, I was asked to organize two towns in the Fifth Congressional District, Bethel and Trumbull. Both were full of old white wooden houses with big front porches and long histories that were chronicled in the local registers. In Bethel, we put in phones the first day and organized a telephone canvass, to be followed by personal deliveries of literature to all the undecided voters. The office was kept open long hours by dedicated volunteers, and I was pretty sure Duffey would get his maximum possible vote there. Trumbull didnt have a fully operational headquarters; the volunteers were phoning some voters and seeing others. I urged them to keep an office open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and to follow the Bethel canvassing procedure, which would guarantee two contacts with all persuadable voters. I also reviewed the operations in two other towns that were less well organized and urged the state headquarters to at least make sure they had complete voter lists and the capacity to do the phone canvass...
I liked the work and met a lot of people who would be important in my life, including John Podesta, who served superbly in the White House as staff secretary, deputy chief of staff, and chief of staff, and Susan Thomases, who, when I was in New York, let me sleep on the couch in the Park Avenue apartment where she still lives, and who became one of Hillarys and my closest friends and advisors...
When Joe Duffey won the primary, I was asked to coordinate the Third Congressional District for the general election. The biggest city in the district was New Haven, where Id be going to law school, and the district included Milford, where I would be living. Doing the job meant that Id miss a lot of classes until the election was over in early November, but I thought I could make it with borrowed notes and hard study at the end of term...
I loved New Haven with its cauldron of old-fashioned ethnic politics and student activists. East Haven, next door, was overwhelmingly Italian, while nearby Orange was mostly Irish. The towns farther away from New Haven tended to be wealthier, with the ethnic lines more blurred. The two towns at the eastern end of the district, Guilford and Madison, were especially old and beautiful. I spent a lot of time driving to the other towns in the district, making sure our people had a good campaign plan in place, and the support and materials they needed from the central headquarters. Since my Volkswagen had been ruined in the wreck in Massachusetts, I was driving a rust-colored Opel station wagon, which was better suited to delivering campaign materials anyway. I put a lot of miles on that old station wagon...
When my campaign work permitted, I attended classes in constitutional law, contracts, procedure, and torts. The most interesting class by far was Constitutional Law, taught by Robert Bork, who was later put on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and in 1987 was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Reagan. Bork was extremely conservative in his legal philosophy, aggressive in pushing his point of view, but fair to students who disagreed. In my one memorable exchange with him, I pointed out that his argument on the question at issue was circular. He replied, Of course it is. All the best arguments are...
After the primary election, I did my best to bring the supporters of the other candidates into the Duffey campaign, but it was tough. Id go into the heavily ethnic blue-collar areas and make my best pitch, but I could tell I was hitting a lot of stone walls. Too many white ethnic Democrats thought Joe Duffey, whom Vice President Agnew had called a Marxist revisionist, was too radical, too identified with dope-smoking anti-war hippies. Many of the ethnic Democrats were turning against the war, too, but they still didnt feel comfortable in the company of those who had been against it before they were. The campaign to win them over was complicated by the fact that Senator Dodd was running as an Independent, so the disgruntled Democrats had someplace else to go. Joe Duffey ran a fine campaign, pouring his heart and mind into it and inspiring young people all across the country, but he was defeated by the Republican candidate, Congressman Lowell Weicker, a maverick who later left the Republican Party and served as governor of Connecticut as an Independent. Weicker got just under 42 percent of the vote, enough to beat Duffey handily. Duffey got less than 34 percent, with Senator Dodd garnering almost 25 percent. We got killed in ethnic towns like East Haven and West Haven...
I dont know if Duffey would have won if Dodd hadnt run, but I was sure the Democratic Party was headed for minority status unless we could get back the kind of folks who voted for Dodd. After the election I talked about it for hours with Anne Wexler, who had done a superb job as campaign manager. She was a great politician and related well to all kinds of people, but in 1970 most voters werent buying the message or the messengers. Anne became a great friend and advisor to me over the years. After she and Joe Duffey got married, I stayed in touch with them. When I was in the White House, I appointed him to run the United States Information Agency, which oversaw the Voice of America, where he took Americas message to a world more receptive to him than the Connecticut electorate had been in 1970. I thought of it as Joes last campaign, and he won it...
The brightest spot in November 1970 was the election of a young Democratic governor, Dale Bumpers, in Arkansas. He handily defeated former governor Faubus in the primary and won the general election over Governor Rockefeller in a landslide. Bumpers was an ex-marine and a great trial lawyer. He was funny as all get-out and could talk an owl out of a tree. And he was a genuine progressive who had led his small hometown of Charleston, in conservative western Arkansas, to peacefully integrate its schools, in stark contrast to the turmoil in Little Rock. Two years later he was reelected by a large margin, and two years after that he became one of our U.S. senators. Bumpers proved that the power of leadership to lift and unite people in a common cause could overcome the Souths old politics of division. Thats what I wanted to do. I didnt mind backing candidates who were almost certain to lose when we were fighting for civil rights or against the war. But sooner or later, you have to win if you want to change things. I went to Yale Law School to learn more about policy. And in case my political aspirations didnt work out, I wanted a profession from which I could never be forced to retire...
After the election, I settled into law school life, cramming for exams, getting to know some of the other students, and enjoying my house and my three housemates. Doug Eakeley, my fellow Rhodes scholar at Univ, found a great old house on Long Island Sound in Milford. It had four bedrooms, a good-sized kitchen, and a large screened-in porch that opened right onto the beach. The beach was perfect for cookouts, and when the tide was out, we had enough room for touch-football games. The only drawback to the place was that it was a summer house, with no insulation against the whipping winter winds. But we were young and got used to it. I still vividly remember spending one cold winter day after the election sitting on the porch with a blanket wrapped around me reading William Faulkners The Sound and the Fury...
My other housemates at 889 East Broadway were Don Pogue and Bill Coleman. Don was more left wing than the rest of us, but he looked more blue collar. He was built like a concrete block and was strong as an ox. He drove a motorcycle to law school, where he engaged all comers in endless political debate. Luckily for us, he was also a good cook and was usually on good behavior, thanks to his equally intense but more nuanced English girlfriend, Susan Bucknell. Bill was one of the growing number of black students at Yale. His father was a liberal Republican lawyerthey still existed back thenwho had clerked for Justice Felix Frankfurter on the Supreme Court and had served as secretary of transportation under President Ford. On the surface, Bill was the most laid-back of our group.
Besides my roommates, I knew only a few other students when I got back to Yale after the Duffey campaign, including my Boys Nation friend from Louisiana Fred Kammer, and Bob Reich. Because he was the secretary of our Rhodes class, Bob kept up with everyone and was a continuing source of information and humorous misinformation on what our old crowd was up to.
Bob was living in a house near campus with three other students, one of whom, Nancy Bekavac, became a special friend of mine. She was a passionate liberal whose anti-war convictions had been confirmed the previous summer when she worked in Vietnam as a journalist. She wrote beautiful poems, powerful letters, and great class notes, which she let me use when I showed up for class two months late.
Through Bill Coleman, I got to meet a number of the black students. I was interested in how they came to Yale, and what they planned to do with what, back then, was still an unusual opportunity for African-Americans. Besides Bill, I became friends with Eric Clay from Detroit, whom I later appointed to the U.S. court of appeals; Nancy Gist, a Wellesley classmate of Hillarys who served in the Justice Department when I was President; Lila Coleburn, who gave up law to become a psychotherapist; Rufus Cormier, a big, quiet man whod starred at guard on the Southern Methodist University football team; and Lani Guinier, whom I tried to appoint assistant attorney general for civil rights, a sad story the details of which Ill relate later. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was a classmate too, but I never got to know him.
Near the end of the term, we heard that Frank Aller had decided to return to America. He moved back to the Boston area and went home to Spokane to face the draft music. He was arrested, arraigned, then released pending trial. Frank had decided that whatever impact hed had by resisting had been achieved, and he didnt want to spend the rest of his life out of America, looking forward to a cold, bitter middle age in some Canadian or British university, forever defined by Vietnam. One night in December, Bob Reich said it seemed foolish for Frank to risk jail when there was so much he could do out of the country. My diary notes my reply: A man is more than the sum of all the things he can do. Franks decision was about who he was, not what he could do. I thought it was the right one. Not long after he got back, Frank had a psychiatric exam in which the doctor found him depressed and unfit for military service. He took his draft physical and, like Strobe, was declared 1-Y, draftable only in a national emergency.
On Christmas Day, I was back home in Hot Springs, a long way from Helsinki Bay, where Id walked on the ice the previous Christmas. Instead, I walked the grounds of my old elementary school, counted my blessings, and marked the changes in my life. Several of my close friends were getting married. I wished them well and wondered whether I would ever do so.
I was thinking a lot about the past and my roots. On New Years Day, I finished C. Vann Woodwards The Burden of Southern History, in which he noted southerners peculiar historical consciousness, what Eudora Welty called the sense of place. Arkansas was my place. Unlike Thomas Wolfe, whose cascading prose I so admired, I knew I could go home again. Indeed, I had to. But first, I had to finish law school.
I got to spend my second term at Yale as a proper law student with the heaviest class load of my stay there. My Business Law professor was John Baker, Yale Laws first black faculty member. He was very good to me, gave me some research work to supplement my meager income, and invited me to his house for dinner. John and his wife had gone to Fisk University, a black school in Nashville, Tennessee, in the early sixties, when the civil rights movement was in full flower. He told me fascinating stories about the fear they lived with and the joy he and his classmates found in the work of the movement.
I took Constitutional Law with Charles Reich, who was as liberal as Bob Bork was conservative, and the author of one of the seminal countercultural books about the 1960s, The Greening of America. My Criminal Law professor, Steve Duke, was a witty, acerbic man and a fine teacher with whom I later did a seminar on white-collar crime. I really enjoyed Political and Civil Rights, taught by Tom Emerson, a dapper little man who had been in FDRs administration and whose textbook we used. I also took Professor William Leon McBrides National Law and Philosophy, did some legal services work, and got a part-time job. For a few months, I drove to Hartford four times a week to help Dick Suisman, a Democratic businessman Id met in the Duffey campaign, with his work on the city council. Dick knew I needed the work, and I think I was some help to him.
In late February, I flew to California for a few days to be with Frank Aller, Strobe Talbott, and Strobes girlfriend, Brooke Shearer. We met in Los Angeles at the home of Brookes extraordinarily welcoming and generous parents, Marva and Lloyd Shearer, who, for many years, wrote Americas most widely read celebrity gossip column, Walter Scotts Personality Parade. Then in March I went up to Boston, where Frank was living and looking for work as a journalist, to see him and Strobe again. We walked in the woods behind Franks house and along the New Hampshire coast nearby. Frank seemed glad to be home, but still sad. Even though he had escaped the draft and prison, he seemed caught in the throes of a depression, like that which Turgenev said only the very young know and which has no apparent reason. I thought hed get over it.
The spring lifted my spirits as it always did. The political news was a mixed bag. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld busing to achieve racial balance. The Chinese accepted an American invitation to reciprocate the visit of the American Ping-Pong team to China by sending their team to the United States. And the war protests continued. Senator McGovern came to New Haven on May 16, plainly with the intention of running for President in 1972. I liked him and thought he had a chance to win, because of his heroic record as a bomber pilot in World War II, his leadership of the Food for Peace program in the Kennedy administration, and the new rules for delegate selection for the next Democratic convention. McGovern was heading a commission to write them, for the purpose of ensuring a more diverse convention in terms of age, race, and gender. The new rules, plus the weight of anti-war liberals in the primaries, virtually assured that the old political bosses would have less influence and the party activists more in the 1972 nominating process. Rick Stearns had been working for the commission, and I was sure hed be tough and smart enough to devise a system favorable to McGovern.
While law school and politics were going well, my personal life was a mess. I had broken up with a young woman who went home to marry her old boyfriend, then had a painful parting with a law student I liked very much but couldnt commit to. I was just about reconciled to being alone and was determined not to get involved with anyone for a while. Then one day, when I was sitting at the back of Professor Emersons class in Political and Civil Rights, I spotted a woman I hadnt seen before. Apparently she attended even less frequently than I did. She had thick dark blond hair and wore eyeglasses and no makeup, but she conveyed a sense of strength and self-possession I had rarely seen in anyone, man or woman. After class I followed her out, intending to introduce myself. When I got a couple of feet from her, I reached out my hand to touch her shoulder, then immediately pulled it back. It was almost a physical reaction. Somehow I knew that this wasnt another tap on the shoulder, that I might be starting something I couldnt stop.
I saw the girl several times around school over the next few days, but didnt approach her. Then one night I was standing at one end of the long, narrow Yale Law Library talking to another student, Jeff Gleckel, about joining the Yale Law Journal. Jeff urged me to do it, saying it would assure me a good clerkship with a federal judge or a job with one of the blue-chip law firms. He made a good case, but I just wasnt interested; I was going home to Arkansas, and in the meantime preferred politics to the law review. After a while I suddenly stopped paying attention to his earnest entreaty because I saw the girl again, standing at the other end of the room. For once, she was staring back at me. After a while she closed her book, walked the length of the library, looked me in the eye, and said, If youre going to keep staring at me and Im going to keep staring back, we ought to at least know each others names. Mines Hillary Rodham. Whats yours? Hillary, of course, remembers all this, but in slightly different words. I was impressed and so stunned I couldnt say anything for a few seconds. Finally I blurted my name out. We exchanged a few words, and she left. I dont know what poor Jeff Gleckel thought was going on, but he never talked to me about the law review again.
A couple of days later, I was coming down the steps to the ground floor of the law school when I saw Hillary again. She was wearing a bright flowered skirt that nearly touched the floor. I was determined to spend some time with her. She said she was going to register for next terms classes, so I said Id go, too. We stood in line and talked. I thought I was doing pretty well until we got to the front of the line. The registrar looked up at me and said, Bill, what are you doing back here? You registered this morning. I turned beet red, and Hillary laughed that big laugh of hers. My cover was blown, so I asked her to take a walk with me to the Yale Art Gallery to see the Mark Rothko exhibit. I was so eager and nervous that I forgot the university workforce was on strike and the museum was closed. Luckily, there was a guard on duty. I pleaded my case and offered to clean up the branches and other litter in the museums garden if hed let me in.
The guard took a look at us, figured it out, and let us in. We had the whole exhibit to ourselves. It was wonderful, and Ive liked Rothko ever since. When we were done, we went out to the garden, and I picked up the sticks. I suppose I was being a scab for the first and only time in my life, but the union didnt have a picket line outside the museum and, besides, politics was the last thing on my mind. After I paid my cleaning-up dues, Hillary and I stayed in the garden for another hour or so. There was a large, beautiful Henry Moore sculpture of a seated woman. Hillary sat in the womans lap, and I sat beside her talking. Before long, I leaned over and put my head on her shoulder. It was our first date.
We spent the next several days together, just hanging around, talking about everything under the sun. The next weekend Hillary went up to Vermont on a long-planned visit to the man she had been dating. I was anxious about it. I didnt want to lose her. When she got home late Sunday night I called her. She was sick as a dog, so I brought her some chicken soup and orange juice. From then on we were inseparable. She spent a lot of time at our house on the beach and quickly won over Doug, Don, and Bill.
She didnt do so well with my mother when she came to visit a few weeks later, partly because she tried to cut her own hair just before Mother arrived. It was a minor fiasco; she looked more like a punk rocker than someone who had just walked out of Jeff Dwires beauty salon. With no makeup, a work shirt and jeans, and bare feet coated with tar from walking on the beach at Milford, she might as well have been a space alien. The fact that I was obviously serious about her gave Mother heartburn. In her book, Mother called Hillary a growth experience. It was a girl with no makeup, Coke-bottle glasses, and brown hair with no apparent style versus a woman with hot-pink lipstick, painted-on eyebrows, and a silver stripe in her hair. I got a kick out of watching them try to figure each other out. Over time they did, as Mother came to care less about Hillarys appearance and Hillary came to care more about it. Underneath their different styles, they were both smart, tough, resilient, passionate women. When they got together, I didnt stand a chance.
By mid-May, I wanted to be with Hillary all the time. As a result, I met several of her friends, including Susan Graber, a Wellesley classmate of hers whom I later appointed to a federal judgeship in Oregon; Carolyn Ellis, a bright, funny Lebanese woman from Mississippi who could out-southern me and is now chancellor of the University of Mississippi; and Neil Steinman, the brightest man I met at Yale, who raised the first funds for me in Pennsylvania in 1992.
I learned about Hillarys childhood in Park Ridge, Illinois; her four years at Wellesley, where she switched her politics from Republican to Democrat because of civil rights and the war; her post-graduation trip to Alaska, where she slimed fish for a living; and her interest in legal services for poor people and in childrens issues. I also heard about her famous commencement speech at Wellesley in which she articulated our generations contradictory feelings of alienation from the political system and determination to make America better. The speech got a lot of national publicity and was her first brush with fame beyond the boundaries of her immediate environment. What I liked about her politics was that, like me, she was both idealistic and practical. She wanted to change things, and she knew that doing so required persistent effort. She was as tired as I was of our side getting beat and treating defeat as evidence of moral virtue and superiority. Hillary was a formidable presence in law school, a big fish in our small but highly competitive pond. I was more of a floating presence, drifting in and out.
A lot of the students we both knew talked about Hillary as if they were a little intimidated by her. Not me. I just wanted to be with her. But time was running out on us. Hillary had accepted a summer job at Treuhaft, Walker, and Burnstein, a law firm in Oakland, California, and I had been asked to take a job as coordinator of the southern states for Senator McGovern. Until I met Hillary, I was really looking forward to it. I was going to be based in Miami, and the job required traveling throughout the South putting state campaigns together. I knew Id be good at it, and though I didnt think McGovern could do very well in the general election in the South, I believed he could win a fair number of convention delegates during the primary season. Regardless, Id have the political experience of a lifetime. It was a rare opportunity for a twenty-five-year-old, one I got from a combination of my friendship with Rick Stearns, who had an important post in the campaign, and affirmative action: they had to have at least one southerner in a responsible position!
The problem was, I no longer wanted to do it. I knew if I went to Florida, Hillary and I might be lost to each other. Though I found the prospect of the campaign exciting, I feared, as I wrote in my diary, that it would simply be a way of formalizing my aloneness, letting me deal with people in a good cause but at arms length. With Hillary there was no arms length. She was in my face from the start, and, before I knew it, in my heart.
I screwed up my courage and asked Hillary if I could spend the summer with her in California. She was incredulous at first, because she knew how much I loved politics and how deeply I felt about the war. I told her Id have the rest of my life for my work and my ambition, but I loved her and wanted to see if it could work out for us. She took a deep breath and agreed to let me take her to California. We had been together only about a month.
We stopped briefly in Park Ridge to meet her family. Her mother, Dorothy, was a lovely, attractive woman, whom I got along with from the start, but I was as alien to Hillarys father as Hillary was to Mother. Hugh Rodham was a gruff, tough-talking Republican who, to say the least, was suspicious of me. But the more we talked, the more I liked him. I resolved to keep at it until he came around. Soon we drove on to Berkeley, California, near her job in Oakland, where she would be staying in a small house owned by her mothers half sister, Adeline. After a day or two I drove back across the country to Washington, to tell Rick Stearns and Gary Hart, Senator McGoverns campaign manager, that I couldnt go to Florida after all. Gary thought I had lost my mind to pass up such an opportunity. I suppose Rich did, too. To them, I suppose I did look like a fool, but your life is shaped by the opportunities you turn down as well as by those you seize.
I did feel bad about leaving the campaign, and I offered to go to Connecticut for a couple of weeks to set up an organization there. As soon as I had signed up people in every congressional district, I headed back to California, this time by the southern route so that I could stop at home.
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.
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.
Apart from the Prize Trial, I poured my competitive instincts into the McGovern campaign. Early in the year, I cleaned out my bank account to open a headquarters near the campus. I had enough money, about $200, to pay a months rent and put in a telephone. In three weeks, we had eight hundred volunteers and enough small contributions to reimburse me and keep the place open.
The volunteers were important for the coming primary campaign, which I assumed wed have to wage against the Democratic organization and its powerful boss, Arthur Barbieri. Four years earlier, in 1968, the McCarthy forces had done well in the primary in New Haven, partly because the Democratic regulars had taken Vice President Humphreys victory for granted. I had no illusions that Barbieri would make that mistake again, so I decided to try to persuade him to endorse McGovern. To say it was a long shot is a gross understatement. When I walked into his office and introduced myself, Barbieri was cordial but business-like. He sat back in his chair with his hands folded across his chest, displaying two huge diamond rings, one big circular one with lots of stones, the other with his initials, AB, completely filled with diamonds. He smiled and told me that 1972 would not be a replay of 1968, that he had already lined up his poll workers and a number of cars to take his people to the polls. He said he had dedicated $50,000 to the effort, a huge sum in those days for a town the size of New Haven. I replied that I didnt have much money, but I did have eight hundred volunteers who would knock on the doors of every house in his stronghold, telling all the Italian mothers that Arthur Barbieri wanted to keep sending their sons to fight and die in Vietnam. You dont need that grief, I said. Why do you care who wins the nomination? Endorse McGovern. He was a war hero in World War II. He can make peace and you can keep control of New Haven. Barbieri listened and replied, You know, kid, you aint so dumb. Ill think about it. Come back and see me in ten days. When I returned, Barbieri said, Ive been thinking about it. I think Senator McGovern is a good man and we need to get out of Vietnam. Im going to tell my guys what were going to do, and I want you to be there to make the pitch.
A few days later, I took Hillary with me to the extraordinary encounter with Barbieris party leaders at a local Italian club, the Melebus, in the basement of an old building downtown. The dcor was all red and black. It was very dark, very ethnic, very un-McGovern. When Barbieri told his guys that they were going to support McGovern so that no more boys from New Haven would die in Vietnam, there were groans and gasps. Arthur, hes almost a Commie, one man blurted out. Another said, Arthur, he sounds like a fag, referring to the senators High Plains nasal twang. Barbieri never flinched. He introduced me, told them about my eight hundred volunteers, and let me give my pitch, which was heavy on McGoverns war record and work in the Kennedy administration. By the time the evening was over, they came around.
I was ecstatic. In the entire primary process, Arthur Barbieri and Matty Troy of Queens in New York City were the only old-line Democratic bosses to endorse McGovern. Not all our troops were pleased. After the endorsement was announced, I got an angry late-night call from two of our stalwarts in Trumbull with whom Id worked in the Duffey campaign. They couldnt believe Id sold out the spirit of the campaign with such a nefarious compromise. Im sorry, I shouted into the phone, I thought our objective was to win, and I hung up. Barbieri proved to be loyal and effective. At the Democratic convention, Senator McGovern got five of our congressional districts six votes on the first ballot. In the November vote, New Haven was the only Connecticut city that went for him. Barbieri was as good as his word. When I became President, I tracked him down. He was in ill health and had long since retired from politics. I invited him to the White House, and we had a good visit in the Oval Office not long before he died. Barbieri was what James Carville calls a sticker. In politics, theres nothing better.
Apparently my work in Connecticut redeemed me in the eyes of the McGovern campaign. I was asked to join the national staff and work the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, concentrating on the South Carolina and Arkansas delegations.
Meanwhile, Hillary had gone to Washington to work for Marian Wright Edelman at the Washington Research Project, an advocacy group for children, which would soon be called the Childrens Defense Fund. Her job was to investigate all-white southern academies that were established in response to court-ordered public school integration. In the North, white parents who didnt want their kids in inner-city schools could move to the suburbs. That wasnt an option in small southern townsthe suburbs were cow pastures and soybean fields. The problem was that the Nixon administration was not enforcing the law banning such schools from claiming tax-exempt status, a move that plainly encouraged southern whites to leave public schools.
I started my job for McGovern in Washington, first checking in with Lee Williams and my other friends on Senator Fulbrights staff, then going to see Congressman Wilbur Mills, the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Mills, who was a Washington legend for his detailed knowledge of the tax code and his skill in running his committee, had announced that he would be Arkansas favorite son candidate at the Miami convention. Such candidacies were usually launched in the hope of preventing a states delegation from voting for the front-runner, although back then a favorite son occasionally thought lightning might strike and he would at least wind up on the ticket as the vice-presidential nominee. In Millss case, his candidacy served both purposes. The Arkansas Democrats thought McGovern, who was far ahead in the delegate count, was sure to be trounced at home in the general election, and Mills doubtless thought he would be a better President. Our meeting was cordial. I told Chairman Mills that I expected the delegates to be loyal to him but that I would be working them to get their support on important procedural votes and on a second ballot if Senator McGovern needed one.
After the Mills meeting I flew to Columbia, South Carolina, to meet as many of the convention delegates there as possible. Many were sympathetic to McGovern, and I thought they would help us on crucial votes, despite the fact that their credentials were subject to challenge on the grounds that the delegation did not have as much racial, gender, and age diversity as the new rules written by the McGovern Commission required.
Before Miami, I also went to the Arkansas Democratic Convention in Hot Springs to court my home-state delegates. I knew that Governor Bumpers, who would chair the delegation in Miami, thought McGovern would hurt the Democrats in Arkansas, but as in South Carolina, a lot of the delegates were anti-war and pro-McGovern. I left for Miami feeling pretty good about both the delegations I was working.
At the convention in mid-July, the major candidates had their headquarters in hotels around Miami and Miami Beach, but their operations were run out of trailers outside the Convention Center. The McGovern trailer was overseen by Gary Hart as national campaign manager, with Frank Mankiewicz as national political director and public spokesman, and my friend Rick Stearns as the director of research and caucus state operations. Rick knew more about the rules than anyone else. Those of us who were working the delegations were on the floor, following instructions from the trailer. The McGovern campaign had come a long way, thanks to an array of committed volunteers, Harts leadership, Mankiewiczs handling of the press, and Stearnss strategizing. With their help, McGovern had outfought and outpolled politicians who were more established, more charismatic, or both: Hubert Humphrey; Ed Muskie; Mayor John Lindsay of New York, who had switched parties to run; Senator Henry Jackson of Washington State; and George Wallace, who was paralyzed by a would-be assassins bullet during the campaign. Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm of New York also ran, becoming the first African-American to do so.
We thought McGovern had enough votes to win on the first ballot if he could weather the challenge to the California delegation. The new McGovern rules required each state with a primary election to apportion its delegates as closely as possible to the percentage of votes they got. However, California still had a winner-take-all system and was asserting its right to keep it because the state legislature hadnt changed its election law by convention time. Ironically, McGovern favored the California system over his own rules because he had won the primary with 44 percent of the votes but had all of the states 271 delegates pledged to him. The anti-McGovern forces argued that McGovern was a hypocrite and that the convention should seat only 44 percent, or 120 delegates, for him, with the other 151 being pledged to the other candidates in proportion to their share of the California primary vote. The Credentials Committee of the convention was anti-McGovern and voted to uphold the California challenge, seating only 120 of his delegates, and putting his first-ballot victory in doubt.
The Credentials Committees decisions could be overturned by a majority of the convention delegates. The McGovern forces wanted to do that with California. So did the South Carolina delegation, which was in danger of losing its votes because it had also been found in violation of the rules; only 25 percent of the delegation were women, rather than the required half. McGovern was nominally against the South Carolina position because of that underrepresentation.
What happened next was complicated and not worth going into detail about. Essentially, Rick Stearns decided that we should lose the South Carolina vote, bind our opponents to a procedural rule that benefited our challenge; then we would win the California vote. It worked. The South Carolina delegation was seated, and our opponents smelled victory. But by the time they realized they had been tricked, it was too late; we picked up all 271 delegates and clinched the nomination. The California challenge was probably the greatest example of political jujitsu at a party convention since primary elections became the dominant mode of selecting delegates. As Ive said, Rick Stearns was a genius on the rules. I was elated. Now McGovern was virtually guaranteed a first-ballot victory, and the folks from South Carolina, whom I had come to like a lot, could stay.
Alas, it was all downhill from there. McGovern entered the convention well behind but still within striking distance of President Nixon in the opinion polls, and we expected to pick up five or six points during the week, thanks to several days of intense media coverage. Getting that kind of bounce, however, requires the kind of disciplined control of events our forces had demonstrated with the delegate challenges. For some reason, it evaporated after that. First, a gay-rights group staged a sit-in at McGoverns hotel and refused to budge until he met with them. When he did, the media and the Republicans portrayed it as a cave-in that made him look both weak and too liberal. Then, on Thursday afternoon, after he picked Senator Tom Eagleton of Missouri to be his running mate, McGovern allowed other names to be put in nomination against him during the voting that night. Six more people got in the race, complete with nominating speeches, and a long roll-call vote. Though Eagletons victory was a foregone conclusion, the other six got some votes. So did Roger Mudd of CBS News, the television character Archie Bunker, and Mao Tse-tung. It was a disaster. The useless exercise had taken all the prime-time television hours, when nearly eighteen million households were watching the convention. The intended media eventsSenator Edward Kennedys speech nominating McGovern and the nominees own acceptance speechwere pushed back into the wee hours of the morning. Senator Kennedy was a champ and gave a rousing speech. McGoverns was good, too. He called on America to come home . . . from deception in high places . . . from the waste of idle hands . . . from prejudice. . . . Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream . . . to the conviction that we can move our country forward . . . to the belief that we can seek a newer world. The problem was that McGovern began to talk at 2:48 a.m., or prime time in Samoa, as the humorist Mark Shields quipped. He had lost 80 percent of his television audience.
As if that werent enough, it soon became public that Eagleton had had treatment, including electric shock therapy, for depression. Unfortunately, back then there was still a great deal of ignorance about the nature and range of mental-health problems, as well as the fact that previous Presidents, including Lincoln and Wilson, had suffered from periodic depression. The idea that Senator Eagleton would be next in line to be President if McGovern were elected was unsettling to many people, even more so because Eagleton hadnt told McGovern about it. If McGovern had known and picked him anyway, perhaps we could have made real progress in the publics understanding of mental health, but the way it came out raised questions not only about McGoverns judgment but also about his competence as well. Our vaunted campaign operation hadnt even vetted Eagletons selection with Missouris Democratic governor, Warren Hearnes, who knew about the mental-health issue.
Within a week after the Miami convention, we were in even worse shape than when the Democrats had exited Chicago four years earlier, looking both too liberal and too inept. After the Eagleton story came out, McGovern first said he stood by his running mate 1,000 percent. A few days later, under withering, unrelenting pressure from his own supporters, he dropped him. Then it took until the second week of August to get a replacement. Sargent Shriver, President Kennedys brother-in-law, said yes after Ted Kennedy, Senator Abe Ribicoff of Connecticut, Governor Reubin Askew of Florida, Hubert Humphrey, and Senator Ed Muskie all declined to join the ticket. I was convinced that most Americans would vote for a peace candidate who was progressive but not too liberal, and before Miami I thought we could sell McGovern. Now we were back to square one. After the convention, I went to Washington to see Hillary, so exhausted I slept more than twenty-four hours straight.
In the summer of 1972, however, going to Texas was a fools errand, although it was a fascinating one. Starting with John Kennedy in 1960, Democratic presidential campaigns often assigned out-of-staters to oversee important state campaigns on the theory that they could bring competing factions together and make sure all decisions put the candidates interests, not parochial concerns, first. Whatever the theory, in practice, outsiders could inspire resentment on all sides, especially for a campaign as troubled as McGoverns, in an environment as fractured and contentious as Texas.
The campaign decided to send two of us to Texas, me and Taylor Branch, whom, as Ive said, Id first met on Marthas Vineyard in 1969. As an insurance policy, the campaign named a successful young Houston lawyer, Julius Glickman, to be the third member of our triumvirate. Since Taylor and I were both southerners and not averse to cooperating, I thought we might be able to make it work in Texas. We set up a headquarters on West Sixth Street in Austin, not far from the state Capitol, and shared an apartment on a hill just across the Colorado River. Taylor ran the headquarters operation and controlled the budget. We didnt have much money, so it was fortunate that he was tightfisted, and better than I was at saying no to people. I worked with the county organizations, and Julius lined up what support he could get from prominent Texans he knew, and we had a great staff of enthusiastic young people. Three of them became especially close friends of Hillarys and mine: Garry Mauro, who became Texas land commissioner and took a leading role in my presidential campaign; and Roy Spence and Judy Trabulsi, who founded an advertising agency that became the largest in America outside New York City. Garry, Roy, and Judy would support me and Hillary in all our campaigns.
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 supporters and staff people. There were a lot of complaints about the disarray in the campaign. It certainly was disorganized. Taylor and I hadnt been there long enough to establish ourselves, much less a smooth organization, and our liberal base was dispirited after its candidate, Sissy Farenthold, lost a bruising primary battle for governor to Dolph Briscoe. For some reason, the highest-ranking state official who did support McGovern, Secretary of State Bob Bullock, wasnt even invited to meet him. McGovern wrote him an apology, but it was a telling oversight.
Not long after McGovern left Texas, the campaign decided we needed some adult supervision, so they sent down a crusty gray-haired Irishman from Sioux City, Iowa, Don OBrien, who had been active in John Kennedys campaign and had served as the U.S. attorney under Robert Kennedy. I liked Don OBrien a lot, but he was an old-fashioned chauvinist who got on the nerves of a lot of our independent young women. Still, we made it work, and I was relieved because now I could spend even more time on the road. Those were my best days in Texas.
I went north to Waco, where I met the liberal insurance magnate, and a future supporter of mine, Bernard Rapoport; east to Dallas, where I met Jess Hay, a moderate but loyal Democratic businessman who also stayed my friend and supporter, and a black state senator, Eddie Bernice Johnson, who became one of my strongest allies in Congress when I was elected President; then to Houston, where I met and fell in love with the godmother of Texas liberals, Billie Carr, a big, raucous woman who reminded me a little of Mother. Billie took me under her wing and never let me go until the day she died, even when I disappointed her by being less liberal than she was.
I had my first extensive contacts with Mexican-Americans, commonly called Chicanos back then, and came to love their spirit, culture, and food. In San Antonio, I discovered Marios and Mi Tierra, where I once ate three meals in eighteen hours.
I worked South Texas with Franklin Garcia, a tough labor organizer with a tender heart, and his friend Pat Robards. One night Franklin and Pat drove Hillary and me over the Rio Grande to Matamoros, Mexico. They took us to a dive with a mariachi band, a halfhearted stripper, and a menu that featured cabrito, barbequed goat head. I was so exhausted I fell asleep while the stripper was dancing and the goat head was looking up at me.
One day when I was driving alone in rural South Texas, I stopped at a filling station for gas and struck up a conversation with the young Mexican-American who was filling my tank and asked him to vote for McGovern. I cant, he said. When I asked why, he replied, Because of Eagleton. He should not have abandoned him. A lot of people have troubles. You have to stick with your friends. I never forgot his wise advice. When I was President, Hispanic-Americans knew I had tried to be their friend, and they stuck with me.
In the last week of the campaign, though all was lost, I had two memorable experiences. Congressman Henry B. Gonzales hosted the Bexar County Democratic Dinner in San Antonio at the Menger Hotel near the Alamo, where more than two hundred Texans under Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett died fighting for Texass independence from Mexico. More than sixty years later, Teddy Roosevelt had stayed at the Menger while he was training the Rough Riders for their epic battle on San Juan Hill in Cuba. The Menger serves fantastic mango ice cream, to which I became addicted. On election eve 1992, when we stopped in San Antonio, my staff bought four hundred dollars worth of it, and everyone on the campaign plane ate it all night long.
The speaker at the dinner was the House majority leader, Hale Boggs of Louisiana. He made an impassioned speech for McGovern and the Democrats. The next morning I got him up early to catch a plane to Alaska, where he was scheduled to campaign with Congressman Nick Begich. The following day, on a swing through the snowcapped mountains, their plane crashed and was never found. I admired Hale Boggs and wished wed overslept that day. He left a remarkable family behind. His wife, Lindy, a lovely woman and a first-rate politician herself, took his New Orleans House seat and was one of my strongest supporters in Louisiana. I appointed her U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.
The other notable event occurred during Sargent Shrivers last visit to Texas. We had a great rally in McAllen, deep in South Texas, and rushed back to the airport, almost on time, to fly to Texarkana, where Congressman Wright Patman had raised a crowd of several thousand people on State Line Boulevard, the border between Arkansas and Texas. For some reason, our plane didnt take off. After a few minutes, we learned that a pilot flying a single-engine plane had become disoriented in the foggy night sky above McAllen and was circling the airport, waiting to be talked down. In Spanish. First they had to find an instrument-rated pilot who could speak Spanish, then they had to calm the guy down and bring him in. As the drama unfolded, I was sitting across from Shriver, briefing him on the Texarkana stop. If we had any doubt how low the campaigns fortunes had sunk, this removed it. Shriver took it all in stride and asked the flight attendants to serve dinner. Soon there were two planes full of staff and a large press corps eating steak on the tarmac in McAllen. When we finally got to Texarkana, more than three hours late, the rally had disbanded, but about two hundred diehards, including Congressman Patman, came to the airport to greet Shriver. He jumped off the plane and shook hands with every one of them as if it were the first day of a close election.
McGovern lost Texas 67 to 33 percent, a slightly better showing than he made in Arkansas, where only 31 percent of the voters supported him. After the election, Taylor and I stayed around a few days to thank people and wrap things up. Then Hillary and I went back to Yale, after a brief vacation in Zihuatanejo on Mexicos Pacific Coast. Its built up now, but then it was still a little Mexican hamlet with bumpy unpaved streets, open bars, and tropical birds in the trees.
We got through our finals in good shape, especially considering our long absence. I had to work hard to master the arcane rules of Admiralty Law, which I took only because I wanted to have a course taught by Charles Black, an eloquent, courtly Texan who was well liked and respected by the students and who was especially fond of Hillary. Much to my surprise, the jurisdiction of admiralty law extended to any waterway in the United States that had been navigable in its original condition. That included lakes built from damming once-navigable rivers around my hometown.
In the spring term of 1973, I took a full class load but was preoccupied with going home and with what was going to happen with Hillary. Both of us especially enjoyed staging that years Barristers Union Prize Trial. We wrote a trial based on the characters in the movie Casablanca. Ingrid Bergmans husband was killed, and Humphrey Bogart was put on trial for it. Burke Marshalls friend and former colleague in the Justice Department, John Doar, came to New Haven with his young son to judge the trial. Hillary and I hosted him and were very impressed. It was easy to understand why he had been so effective in enforcing civil rights rulings in the South. He was quiet, direct, smart, and strong. He judged well, and Bogie was acquitted by the jury.
One day after my class in Corporate Tax, Professor Chirelstein asked me what I was going to do when I graduated. I told him I was going home to Arkansas and supposed I would just hang up a shingle on my own since I had no job offers. He said there was a sudden, unexpected vacancy on the faculty of the University of Arkansas Law School at Fayetteville. He suggested that I apply for the position and volunteered to recommend me. It had never occurred to me that I could or should get a teaching job, but I was intrigued by the idea. A few days later, in late March, I drove home for Easter break. When I got to Little Rock, I pulled off the highway, went to a pay phone, called the law school dean, Wylie Davis, introduced myself, told him what Id heard about the vacancy, and said Id like to apply. He said I was too young and inexperienced. I laughed and told him Id been hearing that for years, but if he was hard up, Id be good for him, because Id work hard and teach any courses he wanted. Besides, I wouldnt have tenure, so he could fire me at any time. He chuckled and invited me to Fayetteville for an interview; I flew there in the first week of May. I had strong letters of recommendation from Professor Chirelstein, Burke Marshall, Steve Duke, John Baker, and Caroline Dinegar, chairman of the political science department at the University of New Haven, where I had taught Constitutional Law and Criminal Law to undergraduates. The interviews went well, and on May 12, I got a letter from Dean Davis offering me a position as an assistant professor at a salary of $14,706. Hillary was all for it, and ten days later I accepted.
It wasnt much money, but teaching would enable me to work off my National Defense Education loan rather than pay it off. My other law school loan was unique in that it required me and my classmates to pay our loans down with a small fixed percentage of our annual incomes until the aggregate debt of our class was retired. Obviously, those who made more paid more, but we all knew that when we borrowed the money. My experience with the Yale loan program was the stimulus for my desire to change the federal student-loan program when I became President, so that students would have the option of repaying their loans over a longer period of time as a fixed percentage of their income. That way, they would be less likely to drop out of school for fear of not being able to repay their loans, and less reluctant to take jobs with high social utility but low pay. When we gave students the option of income-contingent loans, a lot of them took it.
Though I hadnt been the most diligent student, I was pleased with my law school years. I had learned a lot from some brilliant and dedicated professors, and from my fellow students, more than twenty of whom I would later appoint to positions in the administration or the federal judiciary. I had come to a keener appreciation of the role the law plays in maintaining a sense of order and fairness in our society, and in providing a means to make social progress. Living in New Haven gave me a sense of the reality and ethnic diversity of urban America. And, of course, it was in New Haven that I met Hillary.
Thanks to the Duffey and McGovern campaigns, I had made some good friends who shared my passion for politics and learned more about the mechanics of electioneering. I had also learned again that winning elections as a progressive requires great care and discipline in crafting and presenting a message and a program that gives people the confidence to change course. Our society can absorb only so much change at a time, and when we move forward we must do it in a way that reaffirms our core convictions of opportunity and responsibility, work and family, strength and compassionthe values that have been the bedrock of Americas success. Most people have their hands full raising their kids, doing their jobs, and paying the bills. They dont think about government policy as much as liberals do, nor are they as obsessed with power as the new right conservatives. They have a lot of common sense, and a desire to understand the larger forces shaping their lives, but cant be expected to abandon the values and social arrangements that at least enable them to survive and feel good about themselves. Since 1968, conservatives have been very good at convincing middle America that progressive candidates, ideas, and policies are alien to their values and threatening to their security. Joe Duffey was a coal miners son who was morphed into a weak, ultra-liberal elitist. George McGovern was a genuine war hero, sent to the Senate by the conservatives of rural South Dakota, who was turned into a spineless, wild-eyed leftist who wouldnt stand up for America but would tax and spend it into oblivion. In both cases, the candidates and their campaigns made mistakes that reinforced the images their opponents were trying hard to create. I already knew enough about how difficult it was to push the rocks of civil rights, peace, and anti-poverty programs up the political hill to know we couldnt expect to win all the time, but I was determined to stop helping our opponents win without a fight. Later, both as governor and as President, I made some of the same mistakes all over again, but not as many as I would have had I not been given the chance to work for those two good men, Joe Duffey and George McGovern.
I was happy to be going home to the prospect of interesting work, but I still didnt know what to do about Hillary, or what was best for her. I had always believed she had as much (or more) potential to succeed in politics as I did, and I wanted her to have her chance. Back then, I wanted it for her more than she did, and I thought coming to Arkansas with me would end the prospect of a political career for her. I didnt want to do that, but I didnt want to give her up, either. Hillary had already decided against working for a big firm or clerking for a judge in favor of a position with Marian Edelmans Childrens Defense Fund in its new office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, so we were going to be a long way away from each other.
That was all we knew when we finished law school and I took Hillary on her first overseas trip. I gave her a tour of London and Oxford, then we went west to Wales, then back into England to the Lake District, which I hadnt seen before. Its beautiful and romantic there in the late spring. One evening at sunset, on the shore of Lake Ennerdale, I asked Hillary to marry me. I couldnt believe Id done it. Neither could she. She said she loved me but couldnt say yes. I couldnt blame her, but I didnt want to lose her. So I asked her to come home to Arkansas with me to see how she liked it. And to take the Arkansas bar exam, just in case.