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In December, my old pastor and mentor, W. O. Vaught, lost his battle with cancer. He had retired from Immanuel a few years earlier and was replaced by Dr. Brian Harbour, a fine young pastor who represented the dwindling ranks of progressive Southern Baptists with whom I identified. Dr. Vaught had remained active in retirement until his illness made him too weak to travel and speak. A couple of years earlier, he had come to visit me in the Governors Mansion. He said he wanted to tell me three things. First, he said he knew I was concerned about the morality of capital punishment, though I had always supported it. He told me that the biblical commandment Thou shall not kill did not forbid lawful executions, because the root Greek word did not cover all killing. He said the literal meaning of the commandment was Thou shall not commit murder. Second, he said he was concerned about fundamentalist attacks on me for my pro-choice position on abortion. He wanted me to know that, while he believed abortion was usually wrong, the Bible did not condemn it, nor did it say life begins at conception, but when life has been breathed into a baby, when it is slapped on the behind after being taken out of the mothers body. I asked him about the biblical statement that God knows us even when we are in our mothers womb. He replied that the verse simply refers to God being omniscient, and that it might as well have said God knew us even before we were in our mothers womb, even before anyone in our direct line was born.

I often told the story of my visit to the Arkansas Eastman chemical plant in rural Independence County. During the tour, my host kept saying that all the anti-pollution equipment was run by computers and he wanted me to meet the guy who was running them. He built him up so much that by the time I got to the computer control room, I expected to meet someone who was a cross between Albert Einstein and the Wizard of Oz. Instead, the man running the computers was wearing cowboy boots, jeans with a belt adorned with a big silver rodeo buckle, and a baseball cap. He was listening to country music and chewing tobacco. The first thing he said to me was My wife and I are going to vote for you, because we need more jobs like this. This guy raised cattle and horseshe was pure Arkansasbut he knew his prosperity depended more on what he knew than on how much he could do with his hands and back. He had seen the future and he wanted to go there.

After a stop in the Netherlands to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Marshall Plan, I flew to London for my first official meeting with the new British prime minister, Tony Blair. His Labour Party had won a big victory over the Tories in the recent election as a result of Blairs leadership, Labours more modern and more moderate message, and the natural ebbing of support for the Conservatives after their many years in power. Blair was young, articulate, and forceful, and we shared many of the same political views. I thought he had the potential to be an important leader for the UK and all of Europe, and was excited about the prospect of working with him.

I told Albert Reynolds I would consider a visa if Adams had a formal invitation to speak in the United States. Shortly afterward, Adams, along with the leaders of Northern Irelands other parties, was invited to participate in a peace conference in New York hosted by an American foreign policy group. This put the visa question front and center, where it became the first important issue on which my foreign policy advisors couldnt reach a consensus.

On October 4, Denise went with me to Pier 86 on the Hudson River, where I would board the SS United States for England. I knew where the huge ocean liner was headed, but I had no idea where I was going.

Thanksgiving at Camp David became an annual tradition with our families and a few friends. We always had our Thanksgiving meal in Laurel, the largest cabin on the grounds, with its big dining and conference room, a large open space with a fireplace and television, and a private office for me. And we went by the dining hall to greet the navy and marine personnel and their families who kept the camp going. At night we watched movies and bowled. And at least once over the weekend, no matter how cold and rainy it was, Hillarys brothers, Roger, and I would play golf with whoever else was brave enough to go with us. Amazingly, Dick Kelley always played, though he was already almost eighty in 1993.


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