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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:01:12
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I loved going to the hospital to visit her, meeting the nurses and doctors, watching them care for people. I got to watch an actual operation once, when I was in junior high, but all I remember about it is that there was a lot of cutting and a lot of blood and I didnt get sick. I was fascinated by the work surgeons do and thought I might like to do it myself one day.

I resolved to stay away from public speaking for several months, with one exception. In February, I drove to Brinkley, about an hour east of Little Rock on the interstate, to speak at the Lions Club banquet. The area had voted for me in 1980, and my strongest supporters there all urged me to come. They said it would lift my spirits to be with folks who were still supporters, and it did. After the dinner, I went to a reception at the home of my county leaders, Don and Betty Fuller, where I was gratified and a little surprised to meet people who actually wanted me to be governor again. Back in Little Rock, most people were still trying to get on good terms with the new governor. One man whom Id appointed to a position in state government and who wanted to stay on under Governor White actually crossed the street in downtown Little Rock one day when he saw me walking toward him. He was afraid to be seen shaking hands with me in broad daylight.

On the nineteenth of November, Kenneth Starr appeared before the House Judiciary Committee, making comments that, like his report, went far beyond the scope of his responsibility to report the facts he had found to Congress. The Starr report had already been criticized for omitting one big piece of evidence helpful to me: Monica Lewinskys adamant assertion that I never asked her to lie.

When I was at Ramble, my interest in reading grew and I discovered the Garland County Public Library, which was downtown, near the courthouse and not far from Clinton Buick Company. I would go there for hours, browsing among the books and reading lots of them. I was most fascinated by books about Native Americans and read childrens biographies of Geronimo, the great Apache; Crazy Horse, the Lakota Sioux who killed Custer and routed his troops at Little Bighorn; Chief Joseph of the Nez Perc, who made peace with his powerful statement, From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever; and the great Seminole chief Osceola, who developed a written alphabet for his people. I never lost my interest in Native Americans or my feeling that they had been terribly mistreated.

The election had presented a simple choice: the Democrats wanted to save Social Security first, hire 100,000 teachers, modernize schools, raise the minimum wage, and pass the Patients Bill of Rights. The Republicans were against all that. By and large they ran a single-issue campaign, on impeachment, although in some states they also ran anti-gay ads, essentially saying that if the Democrats won Congress, we would force every state to recognize gay marriages. In states like Washington and Arkansas, the message was reinforced by pictures of a gay couple kissing or at a church altar. Not long before the election, Matthew Shepard, a young gay man, was beaten to death in Wyoming because of his sexual orientation. The whole country was moved, especially after his parents bravely talked about it in public. I couldnt believe the Far Right would run the gay-bashing ads in the wake of Shepards death, but they always needed an enemy. The Republicans were also weakened because they were deeply divided over the late October budget agreement; the most conservative members thought they had given away the store and gotten nothing in return.

The Saudis had allowed us to establish the base after the Gulf War in the hope that having U.S. forces pre-positioned in the Gulf would deter further aggression by Saddam Hussein and allow us to respond quickly if deterrence was unsuccessful. It achieved that objective, but the base also made our forces more vulnerable to terrorists in the region. The security provisions at Khobar were plainly inadequate; the truck had been able to get too close to the building because our people and the Saudis had underestimated the ability of terrorists to build a bomb that powerful. I appointed General Wayne Downing, former commander in chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command, head of a commission to recommend what steps we should take to make our troops stationed overseas more secure.

In September, I visited Illinois again and spoke to the leading Democrats of Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska in Sioux City, Iowa, and to the Democratic National Committee in Los Angeles. The Illinois stop was particularly important because of the primary calendar. The nomination fight began with the Iowa caucuses, which I could pass up because Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa was running and was sure to win his home state. Then came New Hampshire, then South Carolina, then Maryland, Georgia, and Colorado. Then the eleven Super Tuesday southern states. Then Illinois and Michigan on March 17, St. Patricks Day.


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