From Poverty To Political Legend: Arkansas’s Dale Bumpers

Born and raised in a tiny rural Arkansas town, Dale Bumpers was drawn at a very early age into public service, by his encouraging father.

Service in the Marine Corps during World War II was followed by law school, and any illustrious legal career. He was, as he called his 2003 memoir, The Best Lawyer in a One-Lawyer Town.

His political career began in 1970, when he ran successfully for governor of Arkansas. He then flirted with the idea of running for president,but ran for Senate, and served there for the next 24 years.

A fiscally conservative Democrat, Bumpers earned a reputation as a powerful and influential Senator.

In one of his most memorable Senate moments, Bumpers delivered a closing argument in the Bill Clinton impeachment trial.

In 2003, four years after leaving public office, Bumpers published his memoir, and that’s when I met him. So here now, from 2003, Senator Dale Bumpers.

Dale Bumpers died on New Year’s Day 2016. He was 90.

You may also like these episodes:

Gerry Spence

Pat Schroeder

Buy Books / Media from Amazon

As an Amazon Associate, Now I’ve Heard Everything earns from qualifying purchases.

Jane Byrne

Photo: Alan Light

For 21 years, from the mid-1950s to the mid ’70s, mayor Richard j. Daly ran the city of Chicago. And I mean he ran the city.

One member of Daley’s cabinet was a woman named Jane Byrne, who was Chicago’s Commissioner of Consumer Sales.

Not long after Mayor Daley’s death in 1976 Byrne left her city job, and ran for mayor herself in 1979. And against the odds, Byrne won. She became not only Chicago’s first female mayor, but the first woman to be elected mayor of any major U.S. city.

But 4 years later, when she ran for reelection, the tide that had swept her into office swept her back out again.

In 1992, Jane Byrne wrote a political memoir, and that’s when I have the chance to meet her.

So here now, from 1992, Jane Byrne.

Jane Byrne died in 2014. She was 81.

You may also like these episodes:

Geraldine Ferraro
Ann Richards

Buy Books / Media from Amazon

Gary Hart

Photo: Kenneth C. Zirkel

As many others of his generation were, former Colorado, senator Gary Hart was inspired to get into politics by John f. Kennedy, and Robert f. Kennedy, and their contemporaries in the 1960s.

By 1972, hard had established himself as a rising star in the Democratic party, and ran George McGovern’s unsuccessful campaign for president.

Two years later, heart ran for US Senate from Colorado and one. He was reelected in 1980. But he had his sights set on higher office.

He ran for president in 1984, narrowly losing the nomination to Walter Mondale. And he ran again in 1988, until his candidacy was done in by allegations of sexual misconduct.

I had the chance to interview Gary Hart several times during the 1980s and ’90s, including the interview you’re about to hear. Heart had just written another book reflecting on his years as someone who tried to be a political reformer .

For context, this interview was conducted less than 6 months after Bill Clinton was first elected president. And no one, including Gary Hart, knew exactly what the next few years would bring.

So here now, from 1993, Gary Hart:

Gary Hart is 85 now and remains active in public service.

You may also like these episodes:

George McGovern
Eugene McCarthy

Buy Books / Media from Amazon

Sen. Robert Byrd

For over half a century Robert Byrd served the people of West Virginia in Congress, first in the House of Representatives, then in the United States Senate. He was, in fact, the longest serving US senator ever, until Michigan’s John Dingell surpassed him.

And if you think West Virginia’s current Senator Joe manchin has outsize influence, he’s nothing compared to what Byrd had.

The one and only time I had a chance to meet Senator Byrd was in 2004. It was just a couple of months before the presidential election, in which George W Bush was running for re-election against Democrat John Kerry..

Byrd had written a book obviously intended to help carries effort, in which Byrd scathingly criticized President Bush for the Iraq War.

That’s the background on the context. So here now, the interview. My 2004 conversation with Senator Robert Byrd.

Senator Robert Byrd died in 2010. He was 92.

You may also like these episodes:
Herman TalmadgeEugene McCarthy

George McGovern

The 2020 Democratic National Convention is getting underway this week. It’ll look a lot different from any past convention, though, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Let’s go back 48 years, to 1972, when the Democratic party nominated South Dakota Senator George McGovern as their standard-bearer.

Running on a liberal, anti-war platform, McGovern lost badly to Republican incumbent Richard Nixon — who, less than two years later, resigned in disgrace over the Watergate scandal.

When I interviewed George McGovern 2004, in he had just published a book advocating for those same traditional liberal values.

So here now, from the summer of 2004, George McGovern.

After his 1972 loss to Richard Nixon, George McGovern remained in the U.S. Senate until his defeat in 1980.

McGovern died in 2012 at age 90.