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Interview with Bill Jordan, December 8, 2010

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: I'm Bob Short, and this is Reflections on Georgia Politics sponsored by the Richard B. Russell Library at the University of Georgia and Young Harris College

Segment Synopsis: Short introduces interview subject Jordan

00:00:51 - Early life / Education / Pre-political career

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Partial Transcript: You spent your early life in Monticello, Georgia...

Segment Synopsis: Jordan tells of his early life in Monticello, his law studies and early interest in drafting rather than practicing law, and his work with the FBI.

Keywords: Bobbin mill; Chicago, Illinois; Columbus Roberts; Communists; Criminals; Farming; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Herman Talmadge; Jasper County, Georgia; Korean War; Quantico, Virginia; ROTC; Textile industry; University of Georgia Law School

00:05:54 - Early work with Senator Russell

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Partial Transcript: When and how did you meet Senator Russell?

Segment Synopsis: Jordan tells of his work as one of six staff members for Russell, and compares the "generalist" staffs of the past with the large specialized staffs currently found in the Senate

Keywords: Barack Obama; C-5 Amp; Chief of staff; Darlington School; John Ellis; Lockheed Martin; Press secretary; Richard Russell III; Saxby Chambliss; Senate clerks; Strom Thurman; Tufted Textiles Manufacturers Association; Wyman Pilcher

00:10:48 - Senator Russell's private life and character

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Partial Transcript: We've heard a lot about, uh, Senator Russell, really about, uh, his private life...

Segment Synopsis: Jordan tells of Russell's obsession with work and loneliness and tells an anecdote about Russell's purchase of a condominium in Washington, D.C.

Keywords: Bank of Barrow; Georgia governor; Great Depression; Harry F. Byrd Jr.; Hobbies; Lady Bird Johnson; Lyndon B. Johnson; Mayflower Hotel; Potomac Plaza; Reading; Speaker of the House

00:16:41 - Russell's dedication to the Southern cause

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Partial Transcript: He was a powerful man, and despite his strength and his reputation, he turned down leadership positions in the Senate several times

Segment Synopsis: Jordan describes Russell's resistance to national causes that would conflict with his commitment to the South and his service on the Senate's Agriculture Committee

Keywords: Agriculture; Defense Committee; Farmers; Farming; Farms; Forestry; General Dwight Eisenhower; Georgia; Hubert Humphrey; Hyannis Port, Massachusetts; John F. Kennedy Jr.; Paul Douglas; Robert Taft; Southern votes; Stalking horse candidate; World War II; World War Two

00:23:19 - Mentoring Lyndon B. Johnson / Reluctance to campaign for others

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Partial Transcript: He's been given credit for helping many, many young senators who come to, who came to Washington and is given credit for the rise of Lyndon Johnson...

Segment Synopsis: Jordan discusses Russell's relationship with his Senatorial heir apparent, LBJ, and LBJ's decision to leave the Senate to run for vice president on JFK's 1960 ticket; Jordan also recollects Russell's sole appearance at a campaign event for JFK/LBJ.

Keywords: Adolphus Hotel; Appropriations committee; Atlanta, Georgia; Bobby Kennedy; Dallas, Texas; Dean Rusk; Department of State; Drinking; Elections; Ernest Vandiver; Gainesville, Georgia; John F. Kennedy Jr.; Lyndon B. Johnson; Politic campaigns; Robert F. Kennedy; Stumping

00:29:02 - Working on the 1960 Kennedy/Johnson campaign

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Partial Transcript: Were you involved in that campaign?

Segment Synopsis: Jordan tells several anecdotes about campaigning for JFK/LBJ in 1960, including acquiescing Johnson's demands for a very specific podium height and Johnson holding up a campaign event because of a lost contact lens.

Keywords: 1960 Presidential election; Bil Bates; Environmentalism; Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; Mississippi River; Podium; Public speaking; Richmond, Virginia; Texas Rangers; Wichita Falls, Kansas; Winston-Salem, Virginia

00:38:03 - Russell's service on the Warren Commission / More comments on JFK/LBJ campaign

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Partial Transcript: Uh, after President Kennedy's assassination and Senator Johnson became, Vice President Johnson became president, he appointed what became known as the Warren Commission

Segment Synopsis: Jordan speaks briefly on Russell's initial reluctance to serve on and eventual appointment to the Warren Commission, and Jordan tells a story about being invited to fly on the presidential jet while working on the JFK/LBJ campaign

Keywords: Armed Forces; Bill Moyers; James U. Cross; Lee Harvey Oswald; Limousines; Nashua, New Hampshire; New England; Patriotism; Presidential seal; Private jet; Rhode Island

00:43:22 - Rift between Russell and Johnson / Russell's pet political causes

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Partial Transcript: Back to, uh, the drifting apart of what had been, as you described, a father/son relationship between Senator Russell and President Johnson

Segment Synopsis: Jordan describes Johnson's blocking of Russell's nomination of a U.S. attorney as one of the main rifts between the senator and his former mentee, and speaks about some of Russell's other political views and causes, including his position on the Vietnam War, environmental causes, and refusal to accept gifts from lobbyists

Keywords: Alex Lawrence; Alexander A. Lawrence; Army Corps of Engineers; China; Clark Hill Lake; Federal court; Federal judge; Georgia Waterways Commission; International Paper Company; Jack Daniels; Jim Woodruff; Lake Lanier; Lake Russell; Lobbyists; Ramsey Clark; Savannah River; Savannah, Georgia; U.S. attorney; Vietnam; World powers

00:52:28 - Russell in contemporary politics

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Partial Transcript: Uh, Bill, before we get into your joining the State Appropriations Committee, I'd like to ask you a couple political questions.

Segment Synopsis: Jordan speculates that Senator Russell would no longer identify as a democrat in contemporary politics and describes Russell's attempts to keep news cameras out of the Senate and his preference to keep the U.S. out of world affairs

Keywords: Afghanistan; Alan Colmes; Albert Gore Sr.; Barry Goldwater; Bob Taft; Chris Matthews; Democrats; Estes Kefauver; Foreign policy; George H.W. Bush; George Washington; Hannity and Colmes; Harry Byrd Sr.; Herman Talmadge; James Eastland; John C. Stennis; Leverett A. Saltonstall; Massachusetts; Media; Mogadishu; Northern Republicans; Partisanship; Republicans; Robert Taft; Russell B. Long; Sean Hannity; Southern Bloc; Walter George

00:57:55 - Transition from Senator Russell's office to the Senate Appropriations Committee

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Partial Transcript: You left the Senator's office to join the, uh, Senate Appropriations Committee.

Segment Synopsis: Jordan discusses moving from Senator Russell's office to the Senate Appropriations Committee and how senators rally for allocations from the committee

Keywords: Armed Services Committee; Carl Hayden; Carl Vincent; David Stockman; Debt; Defense subcommittee; Earmarks; Federal deficit; Floor amendments; Graphs; John Little McClellan; Ronald Reagan; Stephen Horn; Steve Horn; The bible; Treasury; Unused Power: Work of the Senate Committee on Appropriations; Washington Post; Washington Star

01:07:01 - Russell's death / Concerns over federal deficit

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Partial Transcript: What was your relationship with Senator Russell after your retirement from the Senate?

Segment Synopsis: Jordan describes his relationship with Russell at the end of Russell's life and tells of his dismay at the growing federal deficit during his service on the Appropriations Committee, comparing the U.S. with 1920s Germany.

Keywords: Berlin, Germany; Buddy Darden; Budget; Congress; Currency; Elijah "Tic" Forrester; Emphysema; Expenditures; George "Buddy" Darden; German mark; Hyperinflation; Inflation; Liability; Medicare; Megaflation; Senate; Social Security; Treasury; World War One

01:17:04 - Campaign finance reform

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Partial Transcript: You're concerned about money as a corrupting influence.

Segment Synopsis: Jordan opines that money is polluting campaigns and politicians and describes his idea for mandating free campaign time on public airwaves

Subjects: Airwaves; Broadcast license; Community service; Eat Right campaign; FCC; Fundraising; Public service; Radio stations; Smokey the Bear; Television stations

01:20:27 - Congress today v. during Jordan's career

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Partial Transcript: Bill, uh, how do today's members of Congress compare with those of your time up there?

Segment Synopsis: Jordan opines on how both politicians and society have changed over the course of his career and life, and speaks of moral decay and the arrogance of those in the public service, from politicians to municipal workers

Keywords: Abortion; Abuse of authority; American power; Arrogance; Binge drinking; Churches; DMV; Deforestation; Department of Motor Vehicles; Economic depression; Georgia Bar Journal; Georgia Constitution; Georgia Supreme Court; Morality; Morals; Permit office; Police officers; Pollution; Post office; Public servants; Religion; Shanty; Storm troopers; Tom Brokaw; U.S. Constitution; Video games

01:28:37 - International travels

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Partial Transcript: I just got back from Europe.

Segment Synopsis: Jordan describes his extensive international travel since retirement and compares the culture and people of various European and Asian countries with that of the U.S., which he considers "insolent."

Keywords: Architecture; Black Sea; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Bulgaria; City; Hirshoma; Infrastructure; Insolence; JFK Airport; Johnny Isakson; LaGuardia Airport; Mass transit; Museums; Nagasaki; New York; Sarajevo; Soviets; Tourism; Trains; Vienna

01:34:24 - Letter to Senator Bird / "Jordan Dollar Certificate"

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Partial Transcript: I don't know whether you'll indulge me, but since I didn't get to give the, Senator Byrd was too ill, he wasn't at the Senate, I couldn't see him...

Segment Synopsis: Jordan reads the text of a letter he wrote to Senator Byrd expressing his concern over what he sees as social and political ills and describes the "Jordan Dollar Certificate," which he created to promote financial accountability

Keywords: Adolf Hitler; Authority; Crime; Debauchery; Education; Financial regulation; Government workers; Healthcare; High schools; Pension; Private jets; Taxes; Taxpayers; Virtue

01:41:43 - Life after retirement

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Partial Transcript: Let's get back to Bill Jordan.

Segment Synopsis: Jordan talks about his personal life following retirement from public service, including caring for a daughter who was disabled after an accident with a drunk driver and a blind granddaughter

Keywords: Antebellum; Atilla the Hunt; Conservative politics; DUI; Disability; Drunk driving; Monticello, Georgia; Stock market; Vision impairment

01:43:56 - Jordan's arrest as a law student at UGA

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Partial Transcript: The Bill Jordan I remember is a student who took on the City of Athens.

Segment Synopsis: Jordan recalls being arrested for refusing to pay seven dollars for a parking tag while attending law school at the University of Georgia.

Keywords: Alcoholics; Bail; Bond; Bullpen; Fraternity; Jail; Litigation; Magistrate court; Olin Price; Police; Prostitution; Socrates

01:47:01 - Jordan reflects on political career and work with various senators

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Partial Transcript: Uh, Bill, let's take a minute now to sort of rehash here...

Segment Synopsis: Jordan provides brief commentary on some of the other Senators with whom he worked while on the Appropriations Committee and again references his work on the 1960 JFK/LBJ campaign and his feelings on campaign spending.

Keywords: 552nd Regimen; Citation; Daniel Ken "Dan" Inouye; Football; Gerald Ford; Hubert Humphrey; Louisiana; Northern Italy; Rusk Institute; Russell Long; U.S. Army; William "Bill" Proxmire; Yale University

01:52:04 - Friendships with liberals

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Partial Transcript: I appreciate the opportunity to add a post-script...

Segment Synopsis: Despite describing himself as an "arch-conservative," Jordan tells of his friendship and travels with a liberal Pakistani-American Muslim and disabled Democratic Senator Max Cleland, and his interest in exploring views different from his.

Keywords: Baptist; Basit Chaudhry, M.D.; Born-again Christian; Columbia University; David Axelrod; Demonstrations; Iraq War; Islam; Johnson & Johnson; Kavita Patel; Larry King; Los Angeles Times; Macon, Georgia; Mao Zedong; Max Cleland; Mekong River; Morocco; Muslims; NYU Medical School; New York University; Pakistani; Sahara Desert; Ted Turner; Times Square; Tom Johnson; Turner Network; University of Texas; Walter Reed Hospital; Washington Mall