Young Fulbright was no heretic, though as a young senatorrnhe caught hell from Harry Truman when he mused aloud thatrnbecause the GOP had captured both houses of Congress in thern1946 election, the President might want to appoint a distinguishedrnRepublican as Secretary of State and then resign.rn(There was no Vice President at the time.) Truman was notrnamused by British Billy’s parliamentary daydreams. He calledrnthe freshman senator “an overeducated Oxford S.O.B.” whornwould have been better off going to a good land-grant collegern(which in fact Arkansas was).rnFulbright hiked an unusual path, compiling a standardrnSouthern Democrat voting record while making a reputationrnvia highfalutin speeches. (This is not to give Fulbright—or anyrncontemporary politician—credit for the style of his “writings,”rnwhich are usually done by a factotum.) Like the Beats, hernlamented the subtle strictures that were squeezing out freernspeech. In January 1955 he decried “the narrowing effect inherentrnin the concentration of managerial control of the press,rnthe radio, the movies—and, in the foreseeable future, televi-rnPeople hear, see, watch, read, and listen to only one sion.rnside of public questions…. The public man . . . may know therntruth and want to speak it. Yet he doubts whether his views, asrntransmitted to his constituents by those who control communicationsrnchannels, will be fairly presented, or presented atrnall.”rnThis hvmnodist of dissent had as yet done little of it himself.rnIn foreign and defense matters Fulbright clove to the Cold Warrnconsensus, even urging the more sensible President Eisenhowerrnto send ground troops to Indochina in 1954. Like otherrnmid-century enthusiasts for a muscular presidency he called forrn”a more assertive exercise of executive power” in internationalrnaffairs. “The consequences of our global interventionism werernnot a major concern for me in the 1950’s,” he later admitted.rnThen in 1959 he assumed chairmanship of the Senate ForeignrnRelations Committee, and the world turned.rnTo his great and everlasting credit, Fulbright recoiled at thernadventurism of Democratic Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.rnDisturbed by the Bay of Pigs, distressed bv the invasion ofrnthe Dominican Republic, the chairman at first played therngood soldier with respect to Vietnam, shepherding through thernfraudulent Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964. But two yearsrnlater, Fulbright had become the chief “nervous nellie” in Johnsonianrndemonology; meanwhile, Warren Hinckle in Rampartsrnwas hailing him for sailing “in the mainstream of native Americanrnradicalism.” He had broken, finally and fully, with thernDemocratic Vietnam War, and the series of hearings on Americanrnforeign policy that he chaired over the next lustrum legitimizedrnthe dissent whose praises he had sung so hollowly arndecade before.rnFulbright was the first foreign relations chairman to defy arnPresident of his own party since the great Spearless Leader ofrnthe Western Progressives, Idaho’s William E. Borah, took onrnCoolidge over Silent Gal’s gunboat diplomacy in Nicaragua.rnBorah and Fulbright both emphasized the paramountcy ofrndomestic affairs. Empire, the Arkansawycr complained, forcedrnus to “reverse the traditional order of our national priorities, relegatingrnindividual and community life to places on the scalernbelow the enormously expensive military and space activitiesrnthat constitute our program of national seeuritv.”rnBorah was a congenital dissident, a leader of the GOP’srntrans-Mississippi populist antipode. His defiance, while noble.rnwas unsurprising. A better analogue to the Bourbon Fulbrightrnwas Massachusetts Senator George Hoar, a gentleman Republicanrnwho with bitter eloquence split with his friend WilliamrnMcKinley over the President’s decision to suppress the Filipinornindependence movement.rnAt least George Hoar had company; the Anti-ImperialistrnLeague was chock-full of Mugwump Republicans. Fulbright’srnlonely apostasy came at a time when the same mind-our-ownbusinessrnvoices of Main Street had been silenced. Our two-forthe-rnpriee-of-one parties were monolithic in support of AmericanrnEmpire: the Western isolationists were all superannuatedrnor dead, the Midwestern Republicans (with the shiningrnexception of Iowa’s H.R. Gross) had stolen the 1948 DemocraticrnParty foreign policy platform, and the shrunken HenryrnWallace peace wing of the Democracy was sponsoring “Ban thernBomb” rallies at which doe-eyed Laura Retries held hands andrnsang Negro spirituals.rnEnter J. William Fulbright, quondam booster of “creativernwars,” now a Southern constitutionalist dove. The breed is rare,rnthough the pedigree is honorable. The great Southern populistsrnstood foursquare against war: Georgia’s Tom Watsonrnwas a ferocious foe of the Spanish-American and First WorldrnWars, and Louisiana’s Huey Long promised to make thernlegendary Marine Corps Major General Smedley “War is arnRacket” Butler his Secretary of (Anti)War. Yet with fewrnexceptions the states’ rights Democrats of the South—whosernbelief in limited constitutional government ought to havernengendered a skepticism of empire—whooped it up for ourrnfrequent overseas interventions.rn”No other section of the nation gave President Franklin D.rnRoosevelt such unified support in his efforts” to involve thesernUnited States in the Second World War, historian Wayne S.rnCole writes of the South. The overwhelming support of Southernrnmembers of Congress saved such critical 1941 measures asrnthe draft extension and the revision of the Neutrality Act.rnOnly at the region’s periphery—beyond Arkansas—did antiwarrngroups such as the America First Committee enjoy evenrnmeager support.rnSomething—Democratic Party loyalty, an inordinate enthusiasmrnfor things military, the need to preserve foreign marketsrn—kept even the wisest of Southern conser’atives quiet. Forrnexample, Georgia Senator Richard Russell, chairman of thernArmed Services Committee, was a thoughtful states’ rights advocaternwho drily observed that “if it is easy for us to go anywherernand do anything, we will always be going someplace and doingrnsomething.” Alas, like the Fulbright of 1955, Senator Russellrnnever translated his sapient maxim into practical action. Harshlyrncritical of our Vietnam War in private, he was the dutifulrnhawk in public, caught up in the idiotic delusion that politicsrnstops at the water’s edge.rnFulbright was a friend and admirer of Russell’s, and thoughrnthe Georgian was regarded as the apotheosis of the courtlyrnSouthern senator, Fulbright, in his own way, was an even truerrnson of the Old South. What liberals viewed as the wart on therngreat man’s profile was in fact the source of his greatness.rnLet’s step back for a moment. Even at his career’s apex, J.rnWilliam Fulbright made a lousy saint. He took a states’ rightsrnposition on integration and stuck to it, much to the discomfortrnof otherwise worshipful northerners. He signed the March 12,rn1956, Southern Manifesto attacking the Brown v. Board of Educationrndecision for its exercise of “naked judicial power,” andrnunlike nimble opportunistic old segregationists like StromrnAUGUST 1994/27rnrnrn