I arrived in New York at 9:45 p.m., nine hours late, thanks to delays on both ends. By the time I got to Manhattan, it was after midnight, so I decided to stay up all night to catch an early-morning flight. I woke up Martha Saxton, and we sat and talked for two hours on the front steps of her place on the Upper West Side, then went to an all-night diner, where I got my first good hamburger in months, talked to two cabdrivers, read E. H. Carrs What Is History?, and thought about the extraordinary year Id lived through and what lay ahead. And I stared at my nicest going-away gift: two little memory cards with French sayings entitled LAmiti and Sympathie. They had been given to me by Anik Alexis, a beautiful black Caribbean woman who was living in Paris and going out with Tom Williamson. Nikki had saved those cards for eight years, since she was a schoolgirl. I treasured them because they reflected the gifts I had tried to give, share, and draw out of others. I framed them and have put them up in every place Ive lived for the past thirty-five years..www.sigmund-freud.co.uk.
I left the diner with less than twenty dollars to get home to Arkansas, yet I wrote in the last page of my diary that I felt like a wealthy man indeed, full of good fortune, and friends, and hope and convictions a bit more specific and well thought out than the ones with which I started this book last November. In that crazy time, my mood went up and down like an elevator. For good or ill, Denise Hyland had sent me a second diary in the spring to chronicle whatever happened next..http://www.panchro.co.uk.
When I got home at the end of June, I had about a month before reporting for induction, during which I was free to make other military arrangements. There were no available spots in the National Guard or reserves. I looked into the air force, but learned I couldnt become a jet pilot because I didnt have fusion vision. I had a weak left eye, which had often tilted outward when I was very young. It had largely corrected itself, but my vision still didnt come to a single point, and apparently the consequences in flight could be severe. I also took a physical for a naval officer program but failed it, too, this time because of poor hearing, a problem I hadnt noticed and wouldnt until a decade later when I entered politics and often couldnt hear or understand people talking to me in crowds. The best option left seemed to be enrolling in law school and joining the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps at the University of Arkansas..www.onescreen.cc.
On July 17, I went to Fayetteville and in two hours was accepted by both. The officer in charge of the program, Colonel Eugene Holmes, told me he was taking me because I would be of greater service to the country as an officer than as a draftee. His second in command, Lieutenant Colonel Clint Jones, seemed more conservative and skeptical of me, but we had a pleasant talk about his daughter, whom I had known and liked in Washington. Joining ROTC meant that I would go on active duty after law school. Apparently, they couldnt formally enroll me until the next summer, because I had to go to summer camp before I could enter ROTC classes, but signing a letter of intent was enough for the draft board to waive my induction date and give me a 1-D Reservist classification. I had mixed feelings. I knew I had a chance to avoid Vietnam, but somebody will be getting on that bus in ten days and it may be that I should be getting on it too..www.onescreen.cc.
But ten days later I was not on the bus. Instead, I was in my car driving to Texas for a reunion with my Georgetown roommates who were already in the military, Tom Campbell, Jim Moore, and Kit Ashby. On the way there and back, I was alert to things that would reorient me to America. Houston and Dallas were crowded with large new apartment complexes, sprawling in no apparent pattern. I imagined that they were the wave of the future and I wasnt sure I wanted to go there. I read some cultural significance into the bumper stickers and personalized license plates I saw. My favorite bumper sticker said Dont Blame Jesus If You Go to Hell. By far the best license tag was, unbelievably, attached to a hearse: Pop Box. Apparently readers were supposed to fear hell but laugh at death..http://www.hopeonthestreet.co.uk.
I wasnt at the laughing stage yet, but I had always been aware of, and not all that uncomfortable with, my own mortality. Probably because my father had died before I was born, I started thinking about death at an early age. Ive always been fascinated by cemeteries and enjoy spending time in them. On the way home from Texas I stopped in Hope to see Buddy and Ollie and visit the graves of my father and grandparents. As I picked the weeds from around their tombstones, I was struck again by how few years theyd had on earth: twenty-eight for my father, fifty-eight for Papaw, sixty-six for Mammaw (and back in Hot Springs, fifty-seven for my stepfather). I knew I might not have a long life and I wanted to make the most of it. My attitude toward death was captured by the punch line in an old joke about Sister Jones, the most devout woman in her church. One Sunday her normally boring minister preached the sermon of his life. At the end he shouted, I want everyone who wants to go to heaven to stand up. The congregation leapt to their feet, everyone except Sister Jones. Her pastor was crestfallen. He said, Sister Jones, dont you want to go to heaven when you die? The good lady jumped right up and said, Oh yes, preacher. Im sorry. I thought you were trying to get up a load to go right now!.cheap nike.
The next six weeks in Hot Springs were more interesting than I could have imagined. I worked one week helping a sixty-seven-year-old man put up one of Jeffs pre-fab houses in the small settlement of Story, west of Hot Springs. The old guy worked me into the ground every day and shared a lot of his homespun wisdom and country skepticism with me. Just a month before, Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong had left their colleague, Michael Collins, aboard spaceship Columbia and walked on the moon, beating by five months President Kennedys goal of putting a man on the moon before the decade was out. The old carpenter asked me if I really believed it had happened. I said sure, I saw it on television. He disagreed; he said that he didnt believe it for a minute, that them television fellers could make things look real that werent. Back then, I thought he was a crank. During my eight years in Washington, I saw some things on TV that made me wonder if he wasnt ahead of his time..cheap nike.
I spent most evenings and a lot of days with Betsey Reader, who had been a year ahead of me in school and was working in Hot Springs. She was a wonderful antidote to my unrelenting anxieties: wise, wistful, and kind. We were asked to go to the YMCA to be a semi-adult presence at some events for high schoolers and we sort of adopted three of them. Jeff Rosensweig, the son of my pediatrician, who was very knowledgeable about politics; Jan Dierks, a quiet, intelligent girl who was interested in civil rights; and Glenn Mahone, a hip, articulate black guy, who had a large Afro and liked to wear African dashikis, long, colorful shirts worn outside the pants. We went everywhere together and had a grand time..moncler outlet.
Hot Springs had a couple of racial incidents that summer, and tensions were high. Glenn and I thought we could relieve them by forming an interracial rock band and hosting a free dance in the Kmart parking lot. He would sing and Id play my sax. On the appointed night a big crowd showed up. We played up on a flatbed truck, and they danced and mingled on the pavement. Everything went well for about an hour. Then a handsome young black man asked a pretty blond girl to dance. They were good togethertoo good. It was too much for some of the rednecks to bear. A fight broke out, then another, and another. Before we knew it we had a full-fledged brawl on our hands and police cars in the parking lot. So ended my first initiative in racial reconciliation..www.ideafutura.co.uk.
One day Mack McLarty, who had been elected to the legislature just out of college, came to Hot Springs for a Ford dealers convention. He was already married and settled into serious business and politics. I wanted to see him and decided to play a little joke on him in front of his highly conventional colleagues. I made arrangements to meet him on the plaza outside our convention center. He didnt know Id grown long hair and a beard. That was bad enough, but I took three people with me: two English girls who had stopped in Hot Springs on a cross-country bus trip and looked the way you look after two or three days on a bus; and Glenn Mahone with his Afro and dashiki. We looked like refugees from the Woodstock festival. When Mack walked out onto the plaza with two of his friends, we must have caused him heartburn. But he never broke a sweat; he just greeted me and introduced us around. Underneath his starched shirt and short hair were a heart and a brain that sympathized with the peace and civil rights movements. Hes stuck with me through thick and thin for a lifetime, but I never put him to a sterner test..http://www.titelhelden.eu.
As the summer wore on, I felt worse and worse about my decision to join the ROTC and go to Arkansas Law School. I had a hard time sleeping, and spent most nights in the den in the white reclining chair in which Id watched Martin Luther King Jr.s I have a dream speech six years earlier. Id read until I could nod off for a few hours. Because I had joined the ROTC late, I couldnt go to the required summer camp until the following summer, so Colonel Holmes agreed to let me go back to Oxford for a second year, which meant that I wouldnt begin my postlaw school military service for four years rather than three. I was still disturbed by my decision..www.sebby.cc.
A conversation with Reverend John Miless brother made me more uncertain. Warren Miles quit school at eighteen to join the marines and go to Korea, where he was wounded in action. He came home and went to Hendrix College, where he won a Rhodes scholarship. He encouraged me to bag the safety of my present course, join the marines, and go to Vietnam, where at least Id really learn something. He dismissed my opposition to the war out of hand, saying there was not a thing I could do about the fact of the war, and as long as it was there, decent people ought to go, experience, learn, remember. It was a hell of an argument. But I already remembered. I remembered what Id learned working on the Foreign Relations Committee, including the classified evidence that the American people were being misled about the war. And I remembered Bert Jeffriess letter telling me to stay away. I was really torn. As the son of a World War II veteran, and as someone who grew up on John Wayne movies, I had always admired people who served in the military. Now I searched my heart, trying to determine whether my aversion to going was rooted in conviction or cowardice. Given the way it played out, Im not sure I ever answered the question for myself..cartier love bracelet replica.
Near the end of September, while working my way back to Oxford, I flew to Marthas Vineyard for a reunion of anti-war activists who had worked for Gene McCarthy. Of course, I hadnt done so. Rick Stearns invited me, I think because he knew I wanted to come and they wanted another southerner. The only other one there was Taylor Branch, a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina, who had just been in Georgia registering blacks to vote. Taylor went on to a distinguished career in journalism, helped John Dean of Watergate fame and basketball great Bill Russell write their autobiographies, then wrote his magnificent Pulitzer Prizewinning book, Parting the Waters, the first volume of a planned trilogy on Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. Taylor and I formed a friendship that would lead us into the Texas McGovern campaign together in 1972, and then, in 1993, into an almost monthly oral history of my presidency, without which many of my memories of those years would be lost..http://www.hopeonthestreet.co.uk.
Besides Rick and Taylor, there were four other men at the reunion whom I kept up with over the years: Sam Brown, one of the most prominent leaders of the student anti-war movement, later got involved in Colorado politics and, when I was President, served the United States with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; David Mixner, who had begun organizing fellow migrant workers at fourteen, visited me several times in England and later moved to California, where he became active in the struggle against AIDS and for gay rights, and supported me in 1992; Mike Driver became one of my most cherished friends over the next thirty years; and Eli Segal, whom I met in the McGovern campaign, became chief of staff of the Clinton-Gore campaign..http://www.panchro.co.uk.
All of us who gathered that weekend have since led lives we couldnt have imagined as autumn dawned in 1969. We just wanted to help stop the war. The group was planning the next large protest, known as the Vietnam Moratorium, and I made what little contribution I could to their deliberations. But mostly I was thinking about the draft, and feeling more and more uncomfortable with the way Id handled it. Just before I left Arkansas for Marthas Vineyard, I wrote a letter to Bill Armstrong, chairman of my local draft board, telling him I didnt really want to do the ROTC program and asking him to withdraw my 1-D deferment and put me back in the draft. Strobe Talbott came to Arkansas to visit and we discussed whether I should mail it. I didnt.
The day I flew out, our local paper carried the front-page news that Army Lieutenant Mike Thomas, who had defeated me for student council president in junior high school, had been killed in Vietnam. Mikes unit came under attack and took cover. He died when he went back into the line of fire to rescue one of his men who was trapped in their vehicle; a mortar shell killed them both. After his death, the army gave him a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart. Now almost 39,000 Americans had perished in Vietnam, with 19,000 casualties still to come.
On September 25 and 26, I wrote in my diary: Reading The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy [by David Halberstam], I was reminded again that I dont believe in deferments. . . . I cannot do this ROTC. Sometime in the next few days, I called Jeff Dwire, told him I wanted to be put back in the draft, and asked him to tell Bill Armstrong. On October 30, the draft board reclassified me 1-A. On October 1, President Nixon had ordered a change in Selective Service System policy to allow graduate students to finish the entire school year they were in, not just the term, so I wouldnt be called until July. I dont remember, and my diary doesnt indicate, whether I asked Jeff to talk to the local board before or after I learned that graduate deferments had been extended to a full academic year. I do remember feeling relieved both that Id get to spend some more time at Oxford and that the draft situation was resolved: I was reconciled to the fact that Id probably be called up at the end of the Oxford year.
I also asked Jeff to talk to Colonel Holmes. I still felt an obligation to him: he had helped keep me from induction on July 28. Even though I was now 1-A again, if he held me to my commitment to the ROTC program beginning with next summers camp, I thought I would have to do it. Jeff indicated that the colonel accepted my decision, but thought I was making a mistake.
On December 1, pursuant to a bill signed by President Nixon five days earlier, the United States instituted a draft lottery, with a drawing in which all the days of the year were pulled out of a bowl. The order in which your birthday came up determined the order in which you could be drafted. August 19 came up 311. Even with the high lottery number, for months afterward, I thought I had a fair chance of being drafted. On March 21, 1970, I got a letter from Lee Williams saying that he had talked to Colonel Lefty Hawkins, the head of the Arkansas Selective Service System, who told him we would all be called.
When I got the high draft number, I called Jeff again and asked him to tell Colonel Holmes that I hadnt gone back into the draft knowing this would happen and that I understood that he could still call me on the ROTC obligation. Then, on December 3, I sat down and wrote Colonel Holmes. I thanked him for protecting me from the draft the previous summer, told him how much I admired him, and said I doubted that he would have admired me had he known more about my political beliefs and activities: At least you might have thought me more fit for the draft than for ROTC. I described my work for the Foreign Relations Committee, a time when not many people had more information about Vietnam at hand than I did. I told him that, after I left Arkansas the previous summer, I did some work for the Vietnam Moratorium in Washington and in England. I also told him I had studied the draft at Georgetown, and had concluded it was justified only when, as in World War II, the nation and our way of life were at stake. I expressed sympathy with conscientious objectors and draft resisters. I told him Frank Aller, whom I identified only as my roommate, was one of the bravest, best men I know. His country needs men like him more than they know. That he is considered a criminal is an obscenity. Then I admitted I had considered being a resister myself, and accepted the draft in spite of my beliefs for one reason: to maintain my political viability within the system. I also admitted that I had asked to be accepted in the ROTC program because it was the only way I could possibly, but not positively, avoid both Vietnam and resistance. I confessed to the colonel that after I signed the ROTC letter of intent I began to wonder whether the compromise I had made with myself was not more objectionable than the draft would have been, because I had no interest in the ROTC program in itself and all I seemed to have done was to protect myself from physical harm . . . after we had made our agreement and you had sent my 1-D deferment to my draft board, the anguish and loss of self-regard and self-confidence really set in. Then I told the colonel that I had written a letter to the draft board on September 12 asking to be put back into the draft but never mailed it. I didnt mention that I had asked Jeff Dwire to get me reclassified 1-A and that the local draft board had done so at the October meeting, because I knew Jeff had already told the colonel that. I said that I hoped that my telling this one story will help you to understand more clearly how so many fine people have come to find themselves still loving their country but loathing the military, to which you and other good men have devoted years, lifetimes, of the best service you could give. It was how I felt at the time, as a young man deeply troubled and conflicted about the war. In any case, I still considered myself bound to the ROTC commitment if Colonel Holmes called me on it. Because he didnt reply to my letter, I didnt know for several months what he would do.
In March 1970, at about the same time I heard from Lee Williams that he expected all the lottery numbers to be called, I received two tapes made by my family while David Edwards was visiting them in Hot Springs. The first tape contains a lot of good-natured bantering around our pool table, ending with Roger playing the saxophone for me while our German shepherd, King, howled. The second tape has personal messages from Mother and Jeff. Mother told me how much she loved me and urged me to get more rest. Jeff gave me an update on family matters, then spoke these words:
I took the liberty of calling the Colonel a few days ago and visiting with him a little. He wishes you well and hopes youll find time to drop by and say hello to him on your return. I would not be concerned at all regarding the ROTC program as far as he is concerned, because he apparently understands more about the general overall situation of our young people than people would give him credit for.
So by the second week of March 1970, I knew I was free of the ROTC obligation, but not the draft.
As it turned out, Lee Williams was wrong. The deescalation of the war reduced the need for new troops to the point that my number was never called. I always felt bad about escaping the risks that had taken the lives of so many of my generation whose claim to a future was as legitimate as mine. Over the yearsas governor, when I was in charge of the Arkansas National Guard, and especially after I became Presidentthe more I saw of Americas military, the more I wished Id been a part of it when I was young, though I never changed my feelings about Vietnam.
If I hadnt gone to Georgetown and worked on the Foreign Relations Committee, I might have made different decisions about military service. During the Vietnam era, 16 million men avoided military service through legal means; 8.7 million enlisted; 2.2 million were drafted; only 209,000 were alleged to have dodged the draft or resisted, of whom 8,750 were convicted.
Those of us who could have gone to Vietnam but didnt were nevertheless marked by it, especially if we had friends who were killed there. I was always interested to see how others who took a pass and later got into public life dealt with military issues and political dissent. Some of them turned out to be superhawks and hyperpatriots, claiming that personal considerations justified their failure to serve while still condemning those who opposed a war they themselves had avoided. By 2002, Vietnam apparently had receded so far into the shadows of the American psyche that in Georgia, Republican congressman Saxby Chambliss, who had a Vietnam-era deferment, was able to defeat Senator Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in Vietnam, by questioning his patriotism and commitment to Americas security.
In stark contrast to the activities of the nonserving superhawks, Americas efforts to reconcile and normalize relations with Vietnam were led by distinguished Vietnam veterans in Congress, like Chuck Robb, John McCain, John Kerry, Bob Kerrey, Chuck Hagel, and Pete Peterson, men who had more than paid their dues and had nothing to hide or prove.
When I returned to Oxford in early October for my surprise second year, the circumstances of my life were almost as complicated as they had been in Arkansas. I didnt have a place to stay, because until the end of summer I hadnt thought I was coming back, and we got guaranteed rooms in college only the first year. I lived with Rick Stearns for a couple of weeks, during which we worked on and participated in our own Vietnam Moratorium observance at the U.S. embassy in London on October 15, in support of the main event back in the United States. I also helped to organize a teach-in at the London School of Economics.
Eventually, I found a home for the rest of my stay at Oxford with Strobe Talbott and Frank Aller, at 46 Leckford Road. Someone else who had been slated to live with them left, and they needed me to share the rent. We paid about thirty-six pounds a month$86.40 at the exchange rate of $2.40 a pound. The place was pretty run-down but more than adequate for us. On the first floor there was a small sitting room and a bedroom for me, along with a kitchen and a bathroom, which was the first thing you saw when you entered the house. The bathroom door had a glass window covered with a portrait of a woman in pre-Raphaelite style on a thin sheet that made it look like stained glass from a distance. It was the most elegant part of the house. Strobes and Franks bedrooms and workspaces were on the second and third floors. We had a small, scraggly walled-in yard in the back.
Unlike me, Strobe and Frank were doing serious work. Frank was writing a thesis on the epic Long March in the Chinese civil war. He had been to Switzerland to see Edgar Snow, whose famous book Red Star Over China chronicles his unique experiences with Mao and his revolutionaries in Yenan. Snow had given Frank some of his unpublished notes to use, and it was clear that he was going to produce a scholarly work of real significance.
Strobe was working on an even bigger project, Nikita Khrushchevs memoirs. Khrushchev was known in the United States for his confrontations with Kennedy and Nixon, but as Cold War Soviets went, he was a reformer and a fascinating character. He had built the beautiful Moscow subway system and denounced Stalins murderous excesses. After more orthodox conservative forces removed him from power and installed Brezhnev and Kosygin, Khrushchev secretly recorded his memoirs on tape, and arranged, I think through friends in the KGB, to get them to Jerry Schecter, then Time magazines bureau chief in Moscow. Strobe was fluent in Russian and had worked for Time in Moscow the previous summer. He flew to Copenhagen to meet Schecter and get the tapes. When he got back to Oxford, he began the laborious process of typing Khrushchevs words out in Russian, then translating and editing them.
On many mornings, I would make breakfast for Frank and Strobe as they began their work. I was a pretty fair short-order cook. Id take them the products of Mother Clintons Country Kitchen and check on their work. I was especially fascinated to hear Strobe recount Khrushchevs tales of Kremlin intrigue. Strobes seminal book, Khrushchev Remembers, made a major contribution in the West to the understanding of the inner workings and tensions of the Soviet Union, and raised the hope that someday internal reform might bring more freedom and openness.
On November 15, the second, larger Moratorium service was held, with more than five hundred people marching around Grosvenor Square in front of the U.S. Embassy. We were joined by Father Richard McSorley, a Jesuit on the Georgetown faculty who had long been active in the peace movement. As a chaplain in World War II, McSorley survived the Bataan death march, and he later became close to Robert Kennedy and his family. After the demonstration, we had a prayer service at St. Marks Church near the embassy. Father McSorley recited the peace prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, and Rick Stearns read John Donnes famous lines that end Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
After Thanksgiving, Tom Williamson and I flew to Dublin to meet Hillary Hart and Martha Saxton, whom I had been seeing on and off for several months. More than thirty years later, Martha reminded me that on that trip I said she was too sad for me. Actually, back then, as anguished as I was about Vietnam, I was too sad for her, or anyone else. But even sad, I loved Ireland, and felt at home there. I hated to leave after just a weekend.
By Saturday, December 6, three days after I wrote the letter to Colonel Holmes, I was in London at David Edwardss flat for a big event, the Arkansas-Texas football game. Both teams were undefeated. Texas was ranked first and Arkansas second in the national polls. They were playing for the national championship in the last regular-season game of the one hundredth year of college football. I rented a shortwave radio, which wasnt too expensive but required a fifty-pound deposit, a lot of money for me. David whipped up a big pot of good chili. We had a few friends over who thought we had lost our minds as we whooped and hollered through a football game so exciting it was billed as the Game of the Century. For a few hours, we were innocent again, totally caught up in the contest.
The game and its cultural and political contexts have been beautifully chronicled by Terry Frei in his book Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming. Frei subtitled his book Texas v. Arkansas in Dixies Last Stand, because it was the last major sporting event involving two all-white teams.
A few days earlier, the White House had announced that President Nixon, a fanatic football fan, would attend the game and present the national championship trophy to the winner. Nine members of Congress would accompany him, including his Vietnam nemesis Senator Fulbright, who had played for the Razorbacks more than forty years earlier, and a young Texas congressman, George H. W. Bush. Also slated to come were White House aides Henry Kissinger and H. R. Haldeman, and Ron Ziegler, the press secretary.
Arkansas kicked off to Texas, forced a fumble on the first possession, and scored less than a minute and a half into the game. At halftime, with Arkansas still leading 70, President Nixon was interviewed. He said, I expect to see both teams score in the second half. The question is whether Texass superior manpower, and I mean probably a stronger bench, may win in the last quarter. Thats the way I see it. On the first play of the fourth quarter, with Arkansas leading 140, the Texas quarterback, James Street, made an amazing forty-two-yard touchdown run on a busted play. Texas went for the two-point conversion, got it, and was behind only 148. On the next possession, Arkansas immediately took the ball down to the Texas seven. With the best field-goal kicker in the country, Arkansas could have kicked a field goal, making the score 178 and requiring Texas to score twice to win. But a pass play was called. The pass fell a little bit short and was intercepted. With just under five minutes left, Texas had a fourth down and three yards to go on its own forty-three-yard line. The quarterback completed a miraculous pass to a well-defended receiver at the Arkansas thirteen-yard line. Two plays later, Texas scored and took the lead, 1514. On its last drive, Arkansas moved the ball down the field on short passes, mostly to its talented tailback, Bill Burnett, who was having a good day running the ball and who would soon become Colonel Eugene Holmess son-in-law. After a thrilling game, Texas intercepted an Arkansas pass, ran the last minute and twenty-two seconds off the clock, and won 1514.
It had been a magnificent game. Even several of the Texas players said neither team should have lost. The only really bad taste in my mouth came from President Nixons prediction at halftime that Texas might well win the game in the fourth quarter. For years afterward, I think I held that against him almost as much as Watergate.
The fact that David Edwards and I went to the trouble of renting a shortwave radio to listen to a football game wont surprise anyone who grew up in Americas sports-mad culture. Supporting the Razorback football team was central to the idea of being an Arkansan. Before our family got a television, I listened to all the games on my radio. In high school, I carried equipment for the Razorback band just to get into the games. At Georgetown, I watched all the Razorback games that were televised. When I moved back home, as a law professor, attorney general, and governor, I got to virtually every home game. When Eddie Sutton became the basketball coach and his wife, Patsy, took an active role in my 1980 campaign, I also began going to all the basketball games I could. When Coach Nolan Richardsons Arkansas team won the NCAA Championship over Duke in 1994, I was in the arena.
Of all the great football games I ever watched, only the Game of the Century had any impact on my political career. Though the anti-war demonstrators werent shown on national television, they were there. One of them was perched up in a tree on the hill overlooking the stadium. The next day, his picture was in many of the daily and weekly papers in Arkansas. Five years later, in 1974, shortly before my first congressional election, my opponents campaign workers called newspapers all over the congressional district asking if they had kept a copy of that picture of Bill Clinton up in the tree demonstrating against Nixon at the Arkansas-Texas game. The rumor spread like wildfire and cost me a lot of votes. In 1978, when I ran for governor the first time, a state trooper in south Arkansas swore to several people that he was the very one who pulled me out of the tree that day. In 1979, my first year as governor, and ten years after the Game, when I was answering questions at a high school assembly in Berryville, about an hours drive east of Fayetteville, a student asked me whether I had really been in the tree. When I asked who had heard the rumor, half the students and three-quarters of the teachers raised their hands. In 1983, fourteen years after the Game, I went to Tontitown, a small community north of Fayetteville, to crown the queen of the annual Grape Festival. After I did, the sixteen-year-old girl looked at me and said, Did you really get up in that tree without any clothes on and demonstrate against President Nixon and the war? When I said no, she replied, Oh, shoot. Thats one reason Ive always been for you! Even though I had even lost my clothes as the story ripened, the worm seemed to be turning on it. Alas, not long afterward, Fayettevilles irreverently liberal weekly paper, The Grapevine, finally put the loony old tale to rest with a story on the real protester, including the picture of him in the tree. The author of the article also said that when Governor Clinton was young, he was far too preppy to do anything as adventurous as that.
That long-ago football game was a chance for me to enjoy a sport I loved, and to feel closer to home. I had just started reading Thomas Wolfes You Cant Go Home Again and was afraid it might turn out that way for me. And I was about to go farther away from home than I had ever been, in more ways than one.
At the end of the first week of December, during our long winter break, I began a forty-day trip that would take me from Amsterdam through the Scandinavian countries to Russia, then back to Oxford through Prague and Munich. It was, and remains, the longest trip of my life.
I went to Amsterdam with my artist friend Aime Gautier. The streets were covered with Christmas lights and lined with charming shops. The famous red-light district featured perfectly legal prostitutes sitting on display in their windows. Aime jokingly asked if I wanted to go into one of the places, but I declined.
We toured the main churches, saw the Van Goghs at the Municipal Museum and the Vermeers and Rembrandts at the Rijksmuseum. At closing time, we were asked to leave the wonderful old place. I went to the cloakroom to pick up our coats. There was only one other person left in line to pick up his. When he turned around, I found myself facing Rudolf Nureyev. We exchanged a few words and he asked me if I wanted to go get a cup of tea. I knew Aime would love it, but just outside the front door, a handsome, frowning young man was anxiously pacing, obviously waiting for Nureyev, so I took a pass. Years later, when I was governor, I found myself in the same hotel with Nureyev in Taipei, Taiwan. We finally got our cup of tea late one night after we had fulfilled our respective obligations. Obviously he didnt recall our first meeting.
In Amsterdam, I said good-bye to Aime, who was going home, and left on the train to Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm. At the border between Norway and Sweden, I was almost put out in the middle of nowhere.
At a tiny railroad station, the guards searched the luggage of all the young people, looking for drugs. In my bag they found a lot of Contac pills, which I was taking to a friend in Moscow. Contac was relatively new and for some reason wasnt yet on the Swedish governments list of approved drugs. I tried to explain that the pills were just for colds, widely available in American drugstores and without any addictive qualities. The guard confiscated the Contac pills, but at least I wasnt thrown out into the snowy desolation for drug trafficking, where I might have become an interesting piece of ice sculpture, perfectly preserved until the spring thaw.
After a couple of days in Stockholm, I took an overnight ferry to Helsinki. Late in the night, as I was sitting by myself at a table in the dining area reading a book and drinking coffee, a fight broke out at the bar. Two very drunk men were fighting over the only girl there. Both men were too inebriated to defend themselves but managed to land blows on each other. Before long they were both gushing blood. One of them was a member of the crew, with two or three of his mates just standing there watching. Finally I couldnt stand it anymore. I got up and walked over to stop the fight before they did themselves serious damage. When I got about ten feet from them, one of the other crewmen blocked my way and said, You cant stop the fight. If you try, theyll both turn on you. And well help them. When I asked why, he just smiled and replied, Were Finns. I shrugged, turned away, picked up my book, and went to bed, having absorbed another lesson about different cultures. I bet neither one of them got the girl.
I checked into a small hotel and began touring the city with Georgetown classmate Richard Shullaw, whose father was deputy chief of mission in the American embassy there.
On Christmas Day, the first Id ever spent away from home, I walked out onto Helsinki Bay. The ice was thick, and there was enough snow on it to give some traction. Amid all the natural beauty I saw a small wooden house a few yards from the shore, and a small round hole in the ice a few yards out. The house was a sauna, and soon a man came out in a skimpy swimsuit. He marched straight out onto the ice and lowered himself into the hole and its frigid water. After a couple of minutes, he got out, went back into the sauna, and repeated the ritual. I thought he was crazier than the two guys in the bar. In time I came to enjoy the hot steam of the sauna, but despite my growing love for Finland during several trips since, I could never get into the ice water.
On New Years Eve, I boarded the train to Moscow with an interim stop in Leningrads Finland Station. It was the same route Lenin had taken in 1917 when he returned to Russia to take over the revolution. It was on my mind because I had read Edmund Wilsons marvelous book To the Finland Station. When we came to the Russian border, another isolated outpost, I met my first real live Communist, a pudgy, cherubic-looking guard. When he eyed my bags suspiciously, I expected him to check for drugs. Instead, he asked in his heavily accented English, Dirty books? Dirty books? Got any dirty books? I laughed and opened my book bag, pouring out Penguin paperback novels by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Turgenev. He was so disappointed. I guess he longed for contraband that would enliven those long, lonely nights on the frigid frontier.
The Soviet train was filled with spacious compartments. Each car had a giant samovar full of hot tea that was served along with black bread by an elderly woman. I shared my berth with an interesting man who had been the coach of the Estonian boxing team in the 1936 Olympics, three years before the Soviet Union absorbed the Baltic states. We both spoke enough German to communicate a little. He was a lively fellow who told me with absolute confidence that one day Estonia would be free again. In 2002, when I traveled to Tallinn, Estonias beautiful old capital, I told this story to the audience I addressed. My friend, former president Lennart Meri, was at the speech and did some quick research for me. The mans name was Peter Matsov. He died in 1980. I think often of him and our New Years Eve train ride. I wish he had lived another decade to see his dream come true.
It was nearly midnight and the dawn of a new decade when we pulled into Leningrad. I got out and walked for a few minutes, but all I saw were policemen dragging inebriated celebrants off the streets in a driving snowstorm. It would be nearly thirty years before I got to see the splendor of the city. By then the Communists were gone and its original name, St. Petersburg, had been restored.
On New Years morning 1970, I began an amazing five days. I had prepared for the trip to Moscow by getting a guidebook and a good street map in English since I couldnt read the Russian Cyrillic script.
I checked into the National Hotel, just off Red Square. It had a huge high-ceiling lobby, comfortable rooms, and a nice restaurant and bar.
The only person I knew in Moscow was Nikki Alexis, who had given me the two friendship cards I loved when I went home from Oxford the previous summer. She was an amazing woman, born in Martinique in the West Indies, living in Paris because her father was a diplomat there. Nikki was studying at Lumumba University, named after the Congolese leader who was murdered in 1961, apparently with the complicity of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Most of the students were poor people from poor countries. The Soviets obviously hoped that by educating them theyd be making converts when they went home.
One night I took a bus out to Lumumba University to have dinner with Nikki and some of her friends. One of them was a Haitian woman named Helene whose husband was studying in Paris. They had a daughter who was living with him. They had no money to travel and hadnt seen each other in almost two years. When I left Russia a few days later, Helene gave me one of those trademark Russian fur hats. It wasnt expensive but she had no money. I asked her if she was sure she wanted me to have it. She replied, Yes. You were kind to me and you made me have hope. In 1994, when, as President, I made the decision to remove Haitis military dictator, General Raoul Cedras, and return the democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, I thought of that good woman for the first time in years, and wondered if she ever went back to Haiti.
Around midnight, I rode the bus to my hotel. There was only one other person on it. His name was Oleg Rakito and he spoke better English than I did. He asked me lots of questions and told me he worked for the government, virtually admitting he was assigned to keep an eye on me. He said hed like to continue our conversation at breakfast the next morning. As we ate cold bacon and eggs he told me he read Time and Newsweek every week and loved the British pop star Tom Jones, whose songs he got on bootlegged tapes. If Oleg was pumping me for information because I had had a security clearance when I worked for Senator Fulbright, he came up dry. But I learned some things from him about the thirst of a young person behind the Iron Curtain for real information about the outside world. That stayed with me all the way to the White House.
Oleg wasnt the only friendly Russian I encountered. President Nixons policy of dtente was having noticeable results. A few months earlier, Russian television had shown the Americans walking on the moon. People were still excited about it and seemed to be fascinated by all things American. They envied our freedom and assumed we were all rich. I guess, compared with most of them, we were. Whenever I took the subway, people would come up to me and say proudly, I speak English! Welcome to Moscow. One night I shared dinner with a few hotel guests, a local cabdriver, and his sister. The girl had a bit too much to drink and decided she wanted to stay with me. Her brother had to drag her out of the hotel into the snow and shove her into his cab. I never knew whether he was afraid being with me would guarantee her a grilling by the KGB, or he just thought I was unworthy of his sister.
My most interesting Moscow adventure began with a chance encounter in the hotel elevator. When I got in, there were four other men in the car. One of them was wearing a Virginia Lions Club pin. He obviously thought I was a foreigner, with my long hair and beard, rawhide boots, and British navy pea jacket. He drawled, Where you from? When I smiled and said, Arkansas, he replied, Shoot, I thought you were from Denmark or someplace like that! The mans name was Charlie Daniels. He was from Norton, Virginia, hometown of Francis Gary Powers, the U-2 pilot who had been shot down and captured in Russia in 1960. He was accompanied by Carl McAfee, a lawyer from Norton who had helped to arrange Powerss release, and a chicken farmer from Washington State, Henry Fors, whose son had been shot down in Vietnam. They had come all the way to Moscow to see if the North Vietnamese stationed there would tell the farmer whether his son was dead or alive. The fourth man was from Paris and, like the men from Virginia, a member of the Lions Club. He had joined them because the North Vietnamese spoke French. They all just came to Moscow without any assurances that the Russians would permit them to talk with the Vietnamese or that, if they did, any information would be forthcoming. None of them spoke Russian. They asked if I knew anyone who could help them. My old friend Nikki Alexis was studying English, French, and Russian at Patrice Lumumba University. I introduced her to them and they spent a couple of days together making the rounds, checking in with the American embassy, asking the Russians to help, finally seeing the North Vietnamese, who apparently were impressed that Mr. Fors and his friends would make such an effort to learn the fate of his son and several others who were missing in action. They said they would check into it and get back to them. A few weeks later, Henry Fors learned that his son had been killed when his plane was shot down. At least he had some peace of mind. I thought of Henry Fors when I worked to resolve POW/MIA cases as President and to help the Vietnamese find out what had happened to more than 300,000 of their people still unaccounted for.
On January 6, Nikki and her Haitian friend Helene put me on the train to Prague, one of the most beautiful old cities in Europe, still reeling from the Soviet repression of Alexander Dubceks Prague Spring reform movement in August 1968. I had been invited to stay with the parents of Jan Kopold, who played basketball with me at Oxford. The Kopolds were nice people whose personal history was closely entwined with that of modern Czechoslovakia. Mrs. Kopolds father had been editor in chief of the Communist newspaper Rude Pravo, died fighting the Nazis in World War II, and had a bridge in Prague named for him. Both Mr. and Mrs. Kopold were academics and had been big supporters of Dubcek. Mrs. Kopolds mother also lived with them. She took me around town during the day when the Kopolds were working. They lived in a nice apartment in a modern high-rise with a beautiful view of the city. I stayed in Jans room and was so excited I woke up three or four times a night just to stare at the skyline.
The Kopolds, like all the Czechs I met, held on to the belief that their chance at freedom would come again. They deserved it as much as anyone on earth. They were intelligent, proud, and determined. The young Czechs I met were especially pro-American. They supported our government in Vietnam because we were for freedom and the Soviets werent. Mr. Kopold once said to me, Even the Russians cannot defy forever the laws of historical development. Sure enough, they couldnt. In twenty years, Vclav Havels peaceful Velvet Revolution would reclaim the promise of Prague Spring.
Ten months after I left the Kopolds to go back to Oxford, I received the following notice from them, written on simple white paper with black borders: With immense pain we want to inform his friends that on July 29 in the University Hospital in Smyrna, Turkey, died at the young age of 23 Jan Kopold. . . . For a long time it was his great desire to visit what remains of the Hellenic culture. It was not far from Troy that he fell from a height and succumbed from the injuries he sustained. I really liked Jan, with his ready smile and good mind. When I knew him, he was tortured by the conflict between his love of Czechoslovakia and his love of freedom. I wish he had lived to enjoy both.
After six days in Prague, I stopped in Munich to celebrate Faschingsfest with Rudy Lowe, then returned to England with renewed faith in America and democracy. For all its faults, I had discovered that my country was still a beacon of light to people chafing under communism. Ironically, when I ran for President in 1992, the Republicans tried to use the trip against me, claiming that I had consorted with Communists in Moscow.
With a new term, I got back into my tutorials in politics, including studies on the relevance of scientific theories to strategic planning; the problem of making a conscript army into a patriotic one, from Napoleon to Vietnam; and the problems China and Russia posed for U.S. policy. I read Herman Kahn on the probabilities of nuclear war, different destruction levels, and post-attack behavior. It was Strangelove-like and unconvincing. I noted in my diary that what happens after the fireworks begin may not pursue the set course of any scientific systems and analysts models.
While I was enduring another sunless English winter, letters and cards from home streamed in. My friends were getting jobs, getting married, getting on with their lives. Their normalcy looked pretty good after all the anguish Id felt over Vietnam.
March and the coming of spring brightened things up a bit. I read Hemingway, tended to tutorials, and talked to my friends, including a fascinating new one. Mandy Merck had come to Oxford from Reed College in Oregon. She was hyperkinetic and highly intelligent, the only American woman I met at Oxford who was more than a match for her British counterparts in fast, free-flowing conversation. She was also the first openly lesbian woman Id known. March was a big month for my awareness of homosexuality. Paul Parish came out to me, too, and was mortally afraid of being branded a social pariah. He suffered for a long time. Now hes in San Francisco, and, in his own words, safe and legal. Mandy Merck stayed in England and became a journalist and gay-rights advocate. Back then, her brilliant banter brightened my spring.
Rick Stearns threw me for a loop one night when he told me I was unsuited for politics. He said Huey Long and I both had great southern political styles, but Long was a political genius who understood how to get and use power. He said my gifts were more literary, that I should be a writer because I wrote better than I spoke, and besides, I wasnt tough enough for politics. A lot of people have thought that over the years. Rick was close to right, though. I never loved power for powers sake, but whenever I got hit by my opponents, I usually mustered enough toughness to survive. Besides, I didnt think I could do anything else as well.
In early 1970, having received Jeff Dwires tape recounting his conversation with Colonel Holmes and the high lottery number, I knew I was out of ROTC and wouldnt be drafted at least until late in the year. If I wasnt called, I was torn between coming back to Oxford for a third year, which the Rhodes scholarship would cover, or going to Yale Law School, if I was accepted.
I loved Oxford, maybe too much. I was afraid if I came back for a third year, I might drift into a comfortable but aimless academic life that would disappoint me in the end. Given my feelings about the war, I wasnt at all sure Id ever make it in politics, but I was inclined to go back home to America and give it a chance.
In April, during the break between second and third terms, I took one last tripto Spain, with Rick Stearns. I had been reading up on Spain and was totally mesmerized by it, thanks to Andr Malrauxs Mans Hope, George Orwells Homage to Catalonia, and Hugh Thomass masterly The Spanish Civil War. Malraux explored the dilemma war presents to intellectuals, many of whom were drawn to the fight against Franco. He said the intellectual wants to make distinctions, to know precisely what he is fighting for and how he must fight, an attitude that is by definition anti-Manichean, but every warrior is by definition a Manichean. To kill and stay alive he must see things starkly as black and white, evil and good. I recognized the same thing in politics years later when the Far Right took over the Republican Party and the Congress. Politics to them was simply war by other means. They needed an enemy and I was the demon on the other side of the Manichean divide.
I never got over the romantic pull of Spain, the raw pulse of the land, the expansive, rugged spirit of the people, the haunting memories of the lost civil war, the Prado, the beauty of the Alhambra. When I was President, Hillary and I became friends with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. (On my last trip to Spain, President Juan Carlos had remembered my telling him of my nostalgia about Granada and took Hillary and me back there. After thirty years I walked through the Alhambra again, in a Spain now democratic and free of Francoism, thanks in no small part to him.)
At the end of April when I got back to Oxford, Mother called to tell me that David Leopouloss mother, Evelyn, had been murdered, stabbed four times in the heart in her antique store. The crime was never solved. I was reading Thomas Hobbess Leviathan at the time and I remember thinking he might be right that life is poor, nasty, brutish and short. David came to see me a few weeks later on his way back to army duty in Italy, and I tried to lift his spirits. His loss finally provoked me to finish a short story on Daddys last year and a half and his death. It got pretty good reviews from my friends, provoking me to write in my diary, Perhaps I can write instead of be a doorman when my political career is in shambles. I had fantasized from time to time about being a doorman at New Yorks Plaza Hotel, at the south end of Central Park. Plaza doormen had nice uniforms and met interesting people from all over the world. I imagined garnering large tips from guests who thought that, despite my strange southern accent, I made good conversation.
In late May, I was accepted at Yale and decided to go. I finished up my tutorials on the concept of opposition, the British prime minister, and political theory, preferring Locke to Hobbes. On June 5, I gave one last speech to an American military high school graduation. I sat on a stage with generals and colonels, and in my speech told why I loved America, respected the military, and opposed the Vietnam War. The kids liked it, and I think the officers respected the way I said it.
On June 26, I took the plane to New York, after emotional good-byes, especially with Frank Aller, Paul Parish, and David Edwards, this time for real. Just like that, it was over, two of the most extraordinary years of my life. They began on the eve of Richard Nixons election and ended as the Beatles announced they were breaking up and released their last movie to loving, mourning fans. I had traveled a lot and loved it. I had also ventured into the far reaches of my mind and heart, struggling with my draft situation, my ambivalence about my ambition, and my inability to have anything other than brief relationships with women. I had no degree, but I had learned a lot. My long and winding road was leading me home, and I hoped that, as the Beatles sang in Hey Jude, I could at least take a sad song and make it better.