On Tuesday March 17, Mother Jones reporter Tim Murphy published an essay recounting details from the diary kept by former Senator Dale Bumpers, relaying Sen. Bumpers’ none-too-flattering comments about Bill and Hillary Clinton, dated from the 1980s. According to Murphy, the diary is held within a collection of Sen. Bumpers’ private papers at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville, a collection that was opened to the public last year. It would appear to be a case in which the diarist out-lived the embargo on his private papers (Bumpers is now 89 years old), because in a curious turn of events, Sen. Bumpers’ son had denied that the diary was authored by his father and the library has withdrawn the diary from public circulation. But Murphy’s original reporting included images of the diary and he attests that no one but Sen. Bumpers could have authored the diary that he read. The University of Arkansas Fayetteville Special Collections has apparently caved to political pressure, as perhaps Sen. Bumpers has too — and over something so minor. Does anyone really care? There have been so many critical things written and said about the Clintons — it’s not a smoking gun to discover that a close friend privately described them “maniacally ambitious.” Obviously the family needs to decide whether or not to acknowledge the diary as authentic, and whether they want to extend the embargo on the papers but all the hullabaloo has drawn attention to the diary as a historical artifact — and that I cannot but find wonderful.
I learned something else: If you Google “Bumpers diary,” you get a handful of news articles but you also get a link to the website Zazzle featuring diary-related bumper stickers. It is the most bizarre assemblage. Check these out: