Florida Sen. Bob Graham has time to write down all the details
It could be egotism. It could be Alzheimer’s. It could be that he is crazy enough to be a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Whatever the reason, Sen. Bob Graham of Florida has, for 26 years, kept a diary of his daily activities. I don’t mean your run-of-the-mill-three-lines-before-you-fall-asleep kind of diary. We’re talking about a minute-by-minute, blow-by-blow account of the minutiae and the mundane that makes up most of our days, even if you do happen to be a U.S. senator.
Here is the page from his diary for Feb. 10, 2001:
8:25: Awake at MLTH (Miami Lakes town house) dress in red golf shirt, khaki pants.
8:50-9:15: kitchen – brew coffee – eat breakfast (Raisin Bran)
9:15-9:30: outline Demo dinner speech
9:30-9:45: update wrote- body (of speech)
9:45-10: sign mail collect materials
10:05-11:15: drive to ML Barber Shop in Concorde
10:10-10:40: ML Barber Shop – haircut with Rolando
10:45-10:55: Carriage cleaners – pick up Adele’s dry cleaning
On and on it goes like this until he finally notes (at 11:55 p.m.): Asleep at MLTH.
There are, by my count, 38 notations for this particular day. Thirty-eight times the good senator felt it important enough to record what he was doing at the moment. According to the New York Times, Mr. Graham has 4,000 completed notebooks now in storage. Four thousand!
To whom do you suppose such prolificacy is intended? I may be way off here, but it is hard for me to imagine too many historians who intend to spend a good part of their careers sifting through 4,000-plus books of notations to produce the definitive work on Robert Graham, ex-governor, now senator, hoping to be presidential candidate from Florida.
Nevertheless, I am somewhat impressed by his model and only wish some other men and women of history might have been inspired by the same muse.
Socrates, for one, who, despite shaping most of modern philosophy, didn’t leave us a single note for posterity, let alone a few thousand notebooks. How wonderful it would be to have just one little scroll with the scribbling of this great mind etched within it. Alas, it is left to such suspicious characters as Aristophanes and enophon to fill in the biographical blanks.
Jesus, as well, left us no written legacy. I can’t help but think some of the stories passed down about him might be radically changed if he would have had the same narcissistic note-taking need as Mr. Graham. Whole religions might be radically altered.
Nowadays, of course, ex-presidents build huge expensive libraries to house all their documents. What goes into these egocentric edifices beyond the most boring bureaucratic bellowing? Although when you think of the William Jefferson Clinton Library now under construction, one is reluctant to even imagine what artifacts may be housed within.
Clinton, Kennedy and Nixon are all well known, of course, for the many secrets that were kept hidden behind the walls at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Countless books have been written revealing the surreptitious goings on in the White House during those tenures.
One can only assume that Sen. Graham is seeking to make it much easier on future presidential biographers. Such consideration for history is noble to be sure but probably not enough to garner the votes needed to win.
Although when you consider the rest of the Democratic field S
Columnist Rich Mayfield records his thoughts weekly, every Saturday on the opinion page.
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