So on the front page today the Democrat-Gazette reveals new morsels from the apparently dictated journals of former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers in the 1980s and 1990s — journals in the sense that the now-ailing senator apparently dictated candid personal thoughts that his secretary transcribed on pages the Bumpers family now says should not have been included in a document donation to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and that the family has retrieved at least temporarily for review.
These were the musings that included the Mother Jones headline discovery that Bumpers had harsh words in 1983 for Bill and Hillary Clinton.
It turns out the Democrat-Gazette copied some pages before the family retrieved them. On the front page today, thus, Bumpers is quoted from decades ago talking about what a “charlatan” and “troglodyte” Ronald Reagan was, and ridiculing the substandard oratorical stylings of Bill Alexander and John Paul Hammerschmidt, former Arkansas congressmen, and calling Gary Hart a scary oddball, and saying he had found three Miss Americas of his acquaintance to be not all that, including one whose legs were, in the former senator’s estimation, larger that his own.
That last one is the big scoop. I knew all the other things already. But that a beauty pageant winner had . . . well, let’s move on.
The new information also has Bumpers praising his own oratory.
There’s something very sad about uncovering and making much of old private thoughts of a man now in cognitive decline and unable to speak to the discovery’s authenticity or context.
But since the thoughts are out there, let me say, as a great admirer of the senator and good friend of his family, that the musings sound like him in his heyday..
His tendency to ridicule Reagan’s intelligence and engagement and to lampoon colleagues . . . well, let me put it this way: It is conceivable that we would uncover someday the private thoughts of one of those colleagues and that colleague would say that Dale Bumpers was the most egotistical person he had ever encountered.
Bill Clinton had character flaws. Hilary Clinton has a bunker mentality. Ronald Reagan wasn’t all there. Gary Hart was eerie. Some other guys were boring speakers. And Dale Bumpers was always very keen on himself but not so much on others.
None of us is perfect.