The First Arkansas Billrnby Bill Kauffmanrn’The price of empire is America’s soul and that price is too high.”rn—Senator J. William Fulbright, August 8,1967rn%rn^B^’^^lfcrn/mrn. ^^^^rnJ^^^Sm^^rnr ‘SB^B’^ irnm^”rn^^^^-“^rn.rn0g0- – “^1^^rnb •^JBrnj^grn^-:*i-?^”^”’ ^ . « – * * * ^ ^ ‘ *rnThe oily whoremaster in the White House dodged therndraft thanks to another Arkansas Oxonian named Bill, butrnthe debt remains unpaid. For the shirker is viciously conventional,rnas the ambitious young always are, while his benefactorrn—Senator J. William Fulbright—is an 89-year-old manrnwho bewails “how little criticism of the conventional wisdomrnis tolerated in this country.”rnA rich boy from a poor state, a bookish football hero, anrnOzark Anglophile, Senator Fulbright operated outside therndismal confines of left and right. He was a Confederate antiimperialist.rnA George Kennanite. The Prince of Fayetteville.rnA Southern Whig. And the most trenchant Senate critic ofrnempire since Robert A. Taft departed this vale of tears.rnI.F. Stone conferred upon Fulbright in 1966 the dubious titlernof “the most civilized and urbane man in the U.S. Senate.”rnFulbright was tough to peg. Stone wrote, “because he does notrnfit the easy stereotypes of American politics. He is not a rebel,rna dissenter, a crusader, or a fighting liberal. He is not a liberalrnat all.” In Britain this “well-educated young country squire ofrnminor but inherited and ample wealth” would have been a respectablernif maverick Tory.rnWell, perhaps. The issue of another of Arkansas’ great families,rnthe agrarian aristocrat John Gould Fletcher, commendedrnFulbright for his “enlightened conservatism,” which, when thernlight slants just right, blends into the poet’s own “rebelliousrnAmericanism, my individualistic anarchism.” Sweet dreams—rnand pariahs—are made of these.rnBill Fulbright was the golden boy of Fayetteville. Moodyrnscion of the wealthiest family in town, he starred as halfback onrnthe university’s football team, won a Rhodes Scholarship, marriedrna girl from Philadelphia’s Main Line, earned a law degreernBill Kauffman is author of a novel, Every Man a King, and arntravel book, Country Towns of New York.rnat George Washington, and worked in a minor way for the NewrnDeal-era Department of Justice before moving back tornArkansas to teach law and practice gentleman farming. Quiternunexpectedly—and with his mother running interference—rnFulbright acceded to the university’s presidency in 1939 atrnthe tender age of 34.rnThe green president jumped into extracurricular frays. Anrnardent warhawk, he denounced “the weasling, timid, and fearfulrnpolicy of the isolationist senators.” Fired the next year at thernbehest of a new governor, Fulbright ran for Congress in 1942 onrnthe family money. Though he had never set foot in six of hisrnOzark district’s ten counties, he won, and thus began a 30-yearrncareer representing a constituency he viewed as “self-reliant, industriousrnfarmers and small businessmen.”rnFulbright was an internationalist, as Oxonians are wont to be.rnHe joined the Foreign Affairs Committee and gained early noternas sponsor of a 1943 House resolution favoring American participationrnin whatever worldwide organization might emergernfrom what he queerly termed a “creative war.” (The fabled FulbrightrnResolution was so vague that even isolationist tacklernHamilton Fish, another football hero, voted for it.)rnFulbright rapidly became the pet Southerner of Easternrnliberals. “This man is destined for greatness,” Dorothy Thompsonrncooed. Fulbright’s high-minded internationalism provokedrnColonel Robert McCormick’s Chicago Tribune to animadvertrnon the “first-termer from Arkansas, who in hisrnformative years was sent as a Rhodes Scholar to Oxford to learnrnto betray his country and deprive it of its independence. In thisrninstance, as no doubt in many others, Mr. Rhodes appears tornhave got his money’s worth.” It was a good decade for Anglophiles.rnIn 1944, when Fulbright defeated Huey Long protegeernHattie Carraway for her Senate seat, so passionate was hisrnAtlanticism that populist foes derided him as “British Billy” andrn”Lord Flushbottom.”rn26/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn