I’m on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami, across the way from a ship I’ll soon board, but I had to check the Sunday newspaper before loosing myself from the world of bad news.

And I’d just like to say briefly:

How could anybody who’s spent 10 minutes in candid conversation with Dale Bumpers ever say the words recorded in those transcripts in the University of Arkansas archives were not his? The phrasing, the descriptives, the politics? Him.

His take on the “troglodyte” Ronald Reagan (a particularly favorite descriptive of his, perhaps inspired by James O. Powell), on boring speeches, on veterans (he was one, don’t forget), beauty queens?  Pure, unadulterated Dale Bumpers. Some of his closest friends might tell you it reflects one of the reasons he might have made a poor president. He didn’t suffer fools easily. The sunny ones — ‘charlatan’ Reagan, for example, or the ambitious Bill Clinton — sometimes fare better politically. In this regard, he bears a little resemblance  to the next Clinton candidate, Hillary.


This story got extended by virtue of the family’s reluctance to see the private thoughts spread on the public record. I’m grateful in a way. The Democrat-Gazette’s Bill Bowden did some mining that gave us a slice of the real Dale Bumpers. It reminded me of why I admire him so much. The Clinton stuff? As I said Day One: Big deal. He thought a then-potential political rival and his wife were overly ambitious, but still tempered his remarks significantly in comparison with, say, those about Ronald Reagan and others.

(PS: I can think of one newspaper that will find the Clinton remarks spot on, but the Reagan commentary wholly without basis.)