Was Gary Hart Set Up? ~ The Atlantic

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ILLUSTRATION BY PAUL SPELLA; PAUL LIEBHARDT / CORBIS; ‘NATIONAL ENQUIRER’ / GETTY; ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

In the spring of 1990, after he had helped the first George Bush reach the presidency, the political consultant Lee Atwater learned that he was dying. Atwater, who had just turned 39 and was the head of the Republican National Committee, had suffered a seizure while at a political fund-raising breakfast and had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. In a year he was dead.

Atwater put some of that year to use making amends. Throughout his meteoric political rise he had been known for both his effectiveness and his brutality. In South Carolina, where he grew up, he helped defeat a congressional candidate who had openly discussed his teenage struggles with depression by telling reporters that the man had once been “hooked up to jumper cables.” As the campaign manager for then–Vice President George H. W. Bush in 1988, when he defeated Michael Dukakis in the general election, Atwater leveraged the issue of race—a specialty for him—by means of the infamous “Willie Horton” TV ad. The explicit message of the commercial was that, as governor of Massachusetts, Dukakis had been soft on crime by offering furloughs to convicted murderers; Horton ran away while on furlough and then committed new felonies, including rape. The implicit message was the menace posed by hulking, scowling black men—like the Willie Horton who was shown in the commercial.

And in a private act of repentance that has remained private for nearly three decades, he told Raymond Strother that he was sorry for how he had torpedoed Gary Hart’s chances of becoming president.

Strother, 10 years older than Atwater, had been his Democratic competitor and counterpart, minus the gutter-fighting. During the early Reagan years, when Atwater worked in the White House, Strother joined the staff of the Democratic Party’s most promising and glamorous young figure, Senator Gary Hart of Colorado. Strother was Hart’s media consultant and frequent traveling companion during his run for the nomination in 1984, when he gave former Vice President Walter Mondale a scare. As the campaign for the 1988 nomination geared up, Strother planned to play a similar role.

In early 1987, the Hart campaign had an air of likelihood if not inevitability that is difficult to imagine in retrospect. After Mondale’s landslide defeat by Ronald Reagan in 1984, Hart had become the heir apparent and best hope to lead the party back to the White House. The presumed Republican nominee was Bush, Reagan’s vice president, who was seen at the time, like many vice presidents before him, as a lackluster understudy. Since the FDR–Truman era, no party had won three straight presidential elections, which the Republicans would obviously have to do if Bush were to succeed Reagan.

Gary Hart had a nationwide organization and had made himself a recognized expert on military and defense policy. I first met him in those days, and wrote about him in Atlantic articles that led to my 1981 book, National Defense. (I’ve stayed in touch with him since then and have respected his work and his views.) Early polls are notoriously unreliable, but after the 1986 midterms, and then–New York Governor Mario Cuomo’s announcement that he would not run, many national surveys showed Hart with a lead in the Democratic field and also over Bush. Hart’s principal vulnerability was the press’s suggestion that something about him was hidden, excessively private, or “unknowable.” Among other things, this was a way of alluding to suspicions of extramarital affairs—a theme in most accounts of that campaign, including Matt Bai’s 2014 All the Truth Is Out. Still, as Bai wrote in his book, “Everyone agreed: it was Hart’s race to lose.”

Strother and Atwater had the mutually respectful camaraderie of highly skilled rivals. “Lee and I were friends,” Strother told me when I spoke with him by phone recently. “We’d meet after campaigns and have coffee, talk about why I did what I did and why he did what he did.” One of the campaigns they met to discuss afterward was that 1988 presidential race, which Atwater (with Bush) had of course ended up winning, and from which Hart had dropped out. But later, during what Atwater realized would be the final weeks of his life, Atwater phoned Strother to discuss one more detail of that campaign.

What he wanted to say, according to Strother, was that the episode that had triggered Hart’s withdrawal from the race, which became known as the Monkey Business affair, had been not bad luck but a trap. The sequence of events was confusing at the time and is widely misremembered now. But in brief:

In late March 1987, Hart spent a weekend on a Miami-based yacht called Monkey Business. Two young women joined the boat when it sailed to Bimini. While the boat was docked there, one of the women took a picture of Hart sitting on the pier, with the other, Donna Rice, in his lap. A month after this trip, in early May, the man who had originally invited Hart onto the boat brought the same two women to Washington. The Miami Herald had received a tip about the upcoming visit and was staking out the front of Hart’s house. (A famous profile of Hart by E. J. Dionne in The New York Times Magazine, in which Hart invited the press to “follow me around,” came out after this stakeout—not before, contrary to common belief.) A Herald reporter saw Rice and Hart going into the house through the front door and, not realizing that there was a back door, assumed—when he didn’t see her again—that she had spent the night.

Amid the resulting flap about Hart’s “character” and honesty, he quickly suspended his campaign (within a week), which effectively ended it. Several weeks later came the part of the episode now best remembered: the photo of Hart and Rice together in Bimini, on the cover of the National Enquirer.

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5 Things We Learned From Paul Butterfield Doc ‘Horn From the Heart’ ~ RollingStone

From cutting his teeth in the Chicago blues scene to nabbing one of Dylan’s best sidemen, our takeaways from new doc on legendary bandleader

Paul Butterfield

Bandleader/blues legend Paul Butterfield, the subject of music documentary ‘Horn From the Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story.’

Kathy Butterfield

During the blues revival and rediscovery of the Sixties, few dominated like Paul Butterfield, the hard-puffing, hard-living harmonica player and band leader. Assertive and experimental Butterfield Blues Band albums like 1966’s East-West, featuring equally manic and inspired guitarist Mike Bloomfield, were essential college-dorm listening. And during the following decade, Butterfield’s mighty harmonica powered a version of “Mystery Train” at the Band’s Last Waltz concert and movie.

These days, over three decades after his death, Butterfield is largely known only to blues cognoscenti — a situation that could hopefully be rectified by director John Anderson’s documentary Horn From the Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story, which opens at select theaters around the country on Oct. 17th. The movie includes interviews with friends and fellow musicians like Bonnie Raitt, Todd Rundgren, Paul Shaffer, Al Kooper and the late B.B. King, and traces Butterfield’s story from blues-loving Chicago kid to his groundbreaking work and his subsequent health and addiction issues. (He died from an overdose of substances, including heroin and alcohol, in 1987 at 44.)

Even for those who know his best work, from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to his overlooked 1970s group Better Days, Horn From the Heart is an enlightening look at an under-documented musician. Here are five things we learned along the way.

Forget any clichés you have about harmonica playing.
As seen in clip after clip, even during the difficult final decade of his life, Butterfield didn’t just play the harp; he shredded it. The documentary elucidates the difference between his aggro style and those of harp legends like Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson and Junior Parker. One reason: Butterfield played the harmonica upside down, possibly because he was left-handed. Whatever the reason, his style wasn’t just motorized; he seemed to throw himself onto — and into — the instrument, blasting out single notes over chords and making for a pained, expressive wail all his own.

Especially in Chicago, the blues were bigger — and drew more inter-racial crowds — than you may remember.
As recalled by singer and cohort Nick Gravenites, Chicago was home to an astounding number of blues bars — between 50 and 70 — when the two musicians were starting out. Butterfield himself was raised in Hyde Park, a neighborhood in Chicago’s South Side that had been predominately white but was racially integrated during his formative years. One of his early gigs was playing a dance party, and we see both white and African-American kids doing the Twist, of all moves, to the blues. That legacy wasn’t only heard in Butterfield’s genre of choice but even his band, whose members were both white (Bloomfield, guitarist Elvin Bishop and keyboardist Mark Naftalin) and African-American (drummer Sam Lay, bassist Jerome Arnold) at a time when that was rarely seen. In the movie, Lay also recounts that Butterfield offered him $20 a night — a big bump up from the $7 nightly Lay was getting backing Howlin’ Wolf.

Bloomfield turned down Bob Dylan to hook up with Butterfield.
One of the top-gun guitarists of the era, Bloomfield was something of an American Eric Clapton. In 1965, played on Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited; he was also in Bob’s band at that infamous Newport Folk Festival electric show. When Dylan offered him a regular spot in his group, though, Bloomfield declined — and went with Butterfield instead. “I just want to play the blues,” he told Kooper. The guitarist probably lost out on a sizable paycheck, but the clips of him and Butterfield going head to head —Bloomfield’s hands swarming over the fretboard, matching the bandleader’s harp frenzy — confirm he made the right decision, even if left the band not long after.

Butterfield played Woodstock.

Since one Butterfield Blues Band track appears on the original Woodstock triple LP, this shouldn’t be a complete surprise. But since the band wasn’t included in the movie, it’s still startling to be reminded that they were indeed there, ripping it up with a lineup that included saxophonist David Sanborn.

Butterfield really did live the blues.
As shown in the doc, Butterfield’s high school yearbook sported one of the most poignant inscriptions you’ll ever read: “I think I am better than the people who are trying to reform me.” Yet he struggled with reforming himself. Raitt admits she had a crush on him, and for a brief period he seemed to lead a cozy, domestic life with his wife and young son in Woodstock. But Butterfield’s hellraiser side was always lurking. Even after he was diagnosed with peritonitis, an inflammation connected to the abdomen, he didn’t always take care of himself; Shaffer, who played on his final album in 1984, recalls him eating “the worst fried peppers” despite his stomach problems. Nor did return to a clean and sober lifestyle after his health problems intensified. (This writer had a particularly petrifying experience with the musician a few years before his death, when an initially friendly Butterfield agreed to an interview, disappeared into his dressing room at New York’s Lone Star Café for a lengthy period and re-reemerged as an entirely different, paranoid and irate person.) White blues players were sometimes accused of being dilettantes, but that charge could never apply to Butterfield, who lived it as he sang and played it.

DNA Test Reveals Donald Trump, Jr., Is Fifty Per Cent Idiot

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—Donald Trump, Jr., has taken a DNA test that reveals that he is “fifty-per-cent idiot,” Trump confirmed on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Trump Tower, Trump said that he had undergone the DNA testing “to silence all of the haters who have been saying I’m a total idiot.”

Crowing about the test results, Trump said, “According to this test, I am fifty-per-cent idiot, which is way less than half.”

Trump’s results drew a skeptical response from the scientific community, with many leading geneticists questioning the integrity of his DNA sample.

According to Davis Logsdon, a genetic scientist at the University of Minnesota, “Any test of Don, Jr., that comes back lower than ninety-per-cent idiot is going to set off alarm bells, scientifically speaking.”

Trump, Jr., first boasted about his test results on Twitter, where he misspelled “DNA.”

 

  • Andy Borowitz is the New York Times best-selling author of “The 50 Funniest American Writers,” and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the Borowitz Report, a satirical column on the news, for newyorker.com.

San Juan Hut System makes the NYT …

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This sparse, unaltered landscape has long been a source of fascination for geologists, mainly because of its shape. Rather than charting a one-way course (as with most canyons), Unaweep, which bisects a portion of the sprawling Uncompahgre Plateau, instead flows out in two directions, with an elevated hump in the middle, like a hose with two openings.

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This makes it ideal for road bikers, who see the bare, winding roads of Unaweep, and nearby Grand Junction, as an irresistible challenge. Since the 1970s, bike enthusiasts have latched onto Mesa County for its rich supply of trails. Just outside town, the Colorado National Monument makes for one of the most spectacular, high-altitude rides in America. (The 1985 Kevin Costner film, “American Flyers,” was filmed here.)

 

It is the latest project by the founders of the San Juan Hut System, which launched in 1987 with a set of five huts on the north face of the Sneffels Range in Colorado. Originally meant as an easy-to-navigate route for intrepid skiers, the DIY appeal of the huts soon expanded to bikers, who take over those same trails in the summer months. Today, the system commands a total of 16 huts, spread over hundreds of square miles inside Uncompahgre National Forest.

One of the few signs of life can be found at the Bedrock General Store, looking like a time capsule out of the 1910’s and which made an appearance in “Thelma and Louise.” Credit Caine Delacy for The New York Times

In May, just after this new trail officially opened, I was one of the first bikers to attempt this challenging route, accompanied by my friend, Joe, who bailed halfway through the first day. (More on that later.)

The remoteness of the trail is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, there are razor-sharp mesas and ghostly valleys, making for unforgettable scenery. But this being rural Colorado, the weather can be unpredictable. Heat makes the trail brutally uncomfortable in summer; the snow and ice make it impassable in winter. As a result, it’s only open for two months a year — May and October.

“These canyons are rough, desolate, harsh,” explained Zebulon Miracle, a geologist who leads dinosaur walks for guests at the Gateway Canyons Resort, an unexpected luxury outpost in the middle of the red rock peaks, 53 miles from Grand Junction.

For bikers, all roads lead to Moab

But if humans have survived in these parts for a couple thousand years, then I should be able to manage for a couple days, right? And it’s not like I’d be camping out in the wilderness. Two huts, installed along the trail roughly 50 miles apart, would provide overnight shelter for the three-day, two-night journey. They are basic cabins, built of plywood, and furnished with bunk beds and a propane tank stove.

Best of all, they are fully stocked with food: bacon, eggs, tortillas, onions, canned food (beans, salsa, tuna fish), cheese, salami sticks, cookies, different kinds of dried fruit, coffee, tea and plenty of water. There’s even a cookbook to show how to make elaborate meals like curry or chicken parm. (We booked our huts three months in advance of our trip, on the San Juan Huts website: sanjuanhuts.com/gravel-grinder-tour-of-the-canyons.)

Heading up the first climb of Unaweep Canyon on Highway 141Credit Caine Delacy for The New York Times

The cost for two nights was $199. (The “beer option” costs an additional $30 per person.)

Ahead of this trip, I had spoken with Kelly Ryan, a former ski patrol and the daughter of Joe Ryan, who founded the San Juan Huts Systemin 1987. According to Ms. Ryan, the Grand Junction-Moab route, though challenging, is “beginner friendly.” While this tour involves long days, the terrain itself is nothing a newbie — even someone who’s never been on an overnight cycling trip — can’t handle, she said. Plus, the relative absence of cars on this route makes things more manageable. Typically, busy highways represent a hazard for road biking. “You’re more likely to get hurt mountain biking, but you’re more likely to die road biking,” Ms. Ryan said.

This didn’t exactly inspire confidence, but then again, this wasn’t a road biking trip, per se. The route is split between old paved highways and sections of dirt, and because of that, the route is technically classified as a gravel grinder tour.

Gravel grinding, once popular in the 70s and 80s, is essentially off-road road biking, and it’s enjoying a resurgence lately. Shops like SloHi in Denver Rapha in Boulder are now renting gravel grinders and hosting group rides.

While mountain biking is often seen as too dangerous, and road biking has a reputation for being a little dull, gravel grinders offer a middle way. Their tires are thick, but more pressurized than mountain bikes, and they are more stable in their frames. Ms. Ryan called them the “Swiss Army knife of the bike world” — not as clunky as a mountain bike, but not skittish and thin like road bikes.

Two huts, installed along the trail roughly 50 miles apart, provide overnight shelter for the three-day, two-night journey. They are basic cabins, built of plywood, and furnished with bunk beds and a propane tank stoveCredit Caine Delacy for The New York Times

On a route like this, which involves long distances and rolling landscape on some unpaved roads, a gravel grinder can really shine. I opted to rent a Moots Routt 45 from a nearby Grand Junction vendor.

We were set to go.

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