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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, October 24, 1976. Interview A-0321-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Description of J. William Fulbright

J. William Fulbright became an important ally in the fight against the war in Vietnam. Gore describes the other senator and how Fulbright balanced a pragmatic understanding of politics with a recognition of right and wrong.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, October 24, 1976. Interview A-0321-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

DEWEY W. GRANTHAM:
Senator, would you comment on your relations with Senator Fulbright?
ALBERT GORE:
I was in the House, having had one term, when the young congressman named Fulbright came from Arkansas, the former president of the University of Arkansas. We didn't particularly develop a warm friendship then. We were congenial and played a little handball together; it was entirely friendly, but we didn't develop any warm equation. He soon achieved some prominence in the House of Representatives. He offered some resolution, I don't recall exactly its contents now, but it passed and became a nationally-renowned action.
DEWEY W. GRANTHAM:
Would that have been the UN resolution?
ALBERT GORE:
I just don't recall. I just remember it was in the field of foreign affairs. I remember he offered a resolution that attracted a great deal of publicity, favorable publicity, and it was passed. Our friendship really developed on the Vietnam issue. Rather generally he supported my views, and rather generally I supported his on the Foreign Relations Committee. Both of us were interested in international trade, both interested in the United Nations, both interested in international cooperation. And then ultimately both of us questioned the use of force as the principal arbiter of international differences. And then in Vietnam, the cause célèbre of that particular philosophy, we shared opposition to it. I found Bill Fulbright an intellectual, an inquisitive, curious man who perhaps was prepared to see the other side, one of the most probing men I served with in the Senate, and one I (for the most part) followed closely--not always. Sometimes he was practical. For instance, as a lawyer and as a scholar and as an elector he thought civil rights legislation had a great deal of merit. He opposed it all, nevertheless. His rationale was that on that subject he had to represent the majority sentiment. Unless he did so, then some rightist so-and-so would replace him who would be wrong on everything. So he had to compromise on some things to be in the United States Senate and thus be able to achieve broader and, in his view, more worthy purposes. So he had a practical turn of mind, a realism, as the Kennedys would describe it a pragmatic attitude about politics and public service. But overall a very honest man. He was nice enough to admit when he was voting contrary to his convictions for political purposes. He didn't stoop to that which I saw so many stoop to, to try to find extreme ways to rationalize an erroneous position. Bill Fullbright would just admit or air his position, but justify it on the basis of political pragmatism.