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A George “Major League, Big Time” Bush’ Valerie Fowler JAMES K. GALBRAITH “The Mike is Live” 1 n the spirit of the present presidential ther. What follows is from John Kenneth Galbraith, A Life in Our Times, a memoir first published in 1981. It describes a meeting of the Democratic Advisory Council on December 8, 1958. Harry Truman had joined the proceedings: Since the presence of a former President greatly enhanced our prestige, we invited the press in for the beginning of the meeting. Almost immediately there was trouble with one of our western-state representatives. After lunch he had remained at the bar to take advantage of the free liquor, an opportunity unparalleled in his past experience on the Great Plains. Coming back as the microphones and cameras were being put in place, he told Truman of a sinister plot in his state to have all farms first mortgaged to, and then expropriated by, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He wanted this stopped and the company taken over by the government. He implied, indeed he said, that Truman as President had failed ‘the farmers by not doing so. I was presiding and moved to get things back on saner ground. My best thought was to ask the President how things had gone in New Haven where, somewhat earlier, he had served as a Chubb Fellow at Yale. Truman first dismissed the man from the West, telling him that the way his farmers voted out there, they deserved to be expropriated. Then he turned to Yale. “You know, Professor, every university is like every other. Students all Republicans, faculty all Democrats. People who talk about the differences remind me of once out in Independence when I went to the courtroom to fill in the time. “We had a prosecuting attorney in those days who was really pretty good. One day he had a fellow up for rape, and he opened up by saying, ‘Your Honor, I intend to show that this man had sexual intercourse with this poor unwilling woman. And, Your Honor, I will show that he was also guilty of fornication with this reluctant young woman.’ “That kinda surprised the judge. Since we were pretty informal out there, he said, ‘Bill, I don’t understand. What’s the difference between the two?’ And Bill said, ‘Judge, I have to admit I’ve tried them both, and they’re pretty much the same!’ That’s how universities are in my experience. Different names, otherwise the same.” At this moment Charles S. Murphy, once counsel to Truman in the White House … appeared in front of the table where we were sitting, which was now laden with electrical equipment. He held up a piece of paper which said, THE MIKE IS LIVE. Beads of perspiration came to my forehead. Not Truman the professional. He looked at the message and said, “They can’t use that. It’s too dirty.” I cannot improve on this story. So I won’t try. But I do have friends who will vouch for me. For almost a year, from the summer of 1999 until perhaps May of 2000, I stoutly assured all who asked, on my authority as a fellow-survivor of Andover, Yale, and Texas, that there was no chance George W. Bush would become President of the United States. Why not? It’s simple. Unlike Truman or Nixon, or Reagan, or his own father for that matter he’s an amateur. True, I revised this view for a brief period early in the summer. Nobody’s perfect. But it was the right call the first time. James K. Galbraith teaches major league, big-time at the LBJ School. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11 SEPTEMBER 22, 2000