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Oral History

Charles Haar Oral History, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Copyright 2016 the Miller Center Foundation and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Knott

This is the Edward Kennedy Oral History Project. It’s a six-year project, so we’re—

Haar

Six years. What year are you now?

Knott

Near the end of the year one. 

Haar

Okay. 

Knott

We’re just starting, but your name was given to us by Senator Kennedy as someone who might be able to shed some light particularly on the early years of his career. 

Haar

Well, all right.

Knott

We understand you were a key figure in 1962 as far as organizing academic support for—

Haar

Yes, is it that far back?

Knott

Yes.

Haar

That interesting, ’62. What would be the best way to do this? Do you have some questions?

Knott

Yes, I do. I think the best place to start, if you don’t mind, would be for you to tell us a little bit about your own background and then we’ll segue into a discussion of your relationship with Senator Kennedy. 

Haar

Well, as I’m thinking as we’re talking here, probably the best way would be to do it chronologically, as best I can recall. I hope I can recall. All right.

Knott

That would be terrific. This isn’t a quiz. Just do your best. 

Haar

All right. Well, let’s see. Just very briefly about my background to that time. I received a B.A. from NYU in 1940 and an MA in Economics a year later from Wisconsin. I graduated from the [Harvard] Law School, the law school. Of course, we all say that arrogantly, meaning by that, the only law school here in Cambridge. When did I get out of here? In ’40. I’d been going to college without much thought of what I would be or do; that phase was interrupted by World War II. There was this far-sighted lieutenant commander in the Navy, charged with the issue that has become very prominent now in Iraq: the fact that we Americans don’t speak any language fluently but English and we expect everybody else to kowtow to that language. We had few people familiar with Japanese, even though it had evolved into such a great power at the time. 

He went around the country interviewing people and selected officers for training in the Japanese language—I still don’t know precisely on what basis. He selected many language professors, professors of Spanish or French or Italian, for example, and they were placed into Navy language school at Boulder, Colorado. There were many people like myself, with but vague career plans. He interviewed us quickly—by the seat of the pants—and you had to have a Phi Beta Kappa key. That was the major requirement. He didn’t ask for any records, but you had to have that golden key.

I ended up in Boulder, Colorado, at the Navy Japanese Language School. It was a wonderful experience, in small classes of four or five native Japanese instructors, many of them professional people removed from California in a huge, forced migration. We had five-hour classes, six days a week. After that I went to [Douglas] MacArthur’s headquarters in Brisbane and New Guinea, transferred to Admiral [Richard] Connolly’s battleship and worked my way up to the invasion of the Philippines; in the process, I interviewed prisoners and translated documents. By that time I decided I’d lost my space on the career escalator. The escalator was moving along, life was moving fast—the Navy wanted us to stay, naturally, but we went different paths. Some stayed, but I came back. I came to law school here thanks to the extraordinary GI Bill of Rights, and I graduated from here.

After graduation (second in the class, I am proud to remember), I went to work at a New York law firm for two years. Then I was fortunate enough to get a surprise call from Dean [Erwin] Griswold, who was the dean of the law school, and he asked me to come up. I thought he wanted to talk about taxes, his field of specialization, because I had been doing a lot of income tax law, selling hotel chains and leasing them back to Catholic churches and to religious groups and so on, to take advantage of the depreciation and other loopholes. But no. To my surprise, he—after I graduated in January, he’d gotten me a Sheldon Traveling Fellowship to England for half the year. I’d just gotten married during the years at law school and we thought that would be a delayed honeymoon. So we went to England, where I studied at LSE [London School of Economics], with [Harold] Laski and [Joan] Robinson and worked at the offices of two kind and great barristers; I also worked for LCC [London County Council] on administration and planning law. We came back. It was about three years later when I was invited to the law school. 

Dean Griswold was the major force for change at the law school. It was moving from a New England Puritan, very WASP [White Anglo-Saxon Protestant], very upper class, kind of law school, concentrating on the old law, the law of torts, property, contracts, procedure. Without a conscious design, we were really, at that time, being trained as the mercenaries of capitalism. As you know, the lawyers are the ones who make the machine work. 

Knott

Sure.

Haar

And so that’s what we were doing. At any rate, he called me back and it was interesting. Several of my good friends from my law school class were here. He’d expanded the school and desired to bring it and special legal training to the needs and problems of the 20th century. I was interested in property, which is what I taught at the beginning. I was very interested in urban renewal, city planning, community development, and how the law of real property could work with the evolving society. 

Griswold also introduced seminars, which was brand new at the law school, over and above the 200-member class taught in the first year. So we did that. I taught one of the first seminars, in urban redevelopment. Teaching is a splendid way to learn. I knew but little about urban problems and had not thought much about the nature of law. I just started, worked closely with the students, and they taught me. I tried to teach them. This background is a little diffuse and perhaps too long for your purposes.

Knott

No, no, no. That’s fine.

Haar

One of my students was John Culver.

Knott

Oh, sure.

Haar

John was a most interesting young man. He was already working in improving the lives of people. He’d gone off to teach and live in Africa. He’d done all sorts of pro bono work. He’d also been in the war. I had him in class and I enjoyed him. One day he came over to me, quite diffidently, and asked if I would mind meeting his roommate. Teddy was his roommate at the time. I said, Well, why should I mind? Yes, I’ll be glad to meet him. 

And at that time the law school was extremely—I don’t know what the word should be—opposed is probably accurate. I remember Mark DeWolfe Howe was the one who felt strongly about the nomination of Ted Kennedy for the Senate. Although there were many students, some 550 in each of three classes, there were few professors, 18 or 20 people, a friendly group, somewhat clannish. To him, it seemed an onslaught by one family upon the political system. There was President Kennedy; then he appointed his brother Attorney General and that was all right. The President has a right to choose whom he wants to be the keeper of his conscience. But then a third Kennedy, Teddy, to be the Massachusetts Senator smacked too much of nepotism. And this time he was running against McCormack, Eddie McCormack. So you had the two powerful Massachusetts families or dynasties, two political dynasties, on a collision course. 

There was another sense in the Law School faculty: the President, who was such a marvelous figure, would have a broader range of people to draw from, and of wider experiences, and maybe even to be so daring as to appoint people a bit older and more experienced. The Attorney General, you know, is a key person in the Cabinet because he roams throughout the Departments where he learns much about dealing with everything from health and human services to housing to administrative law. In a sense, too, he is a guardian of the rule of law and all that entails.

Now, at that time, putting it politely, I was very much a novice in politics. I was always interested in improving public policy, but I didn’t identify reform with any one party. I did not see much in the pure market mechanism of a [Friedrich von] Hayek or [Milton] Friedman but I also saw problems with government regulation and its administration. If anything, I was more influenced by the tradition of [Felix] Frankfurter and [Louis] Brandeis, sort of pragmatic, but trying to be on the side of the underprivileged, the people to whom the full protections of the Constitution had not been fully extended. 

I was quite curious to meet the man seeking the Democrat mission. So a couple of days later, John brought over Teddy to my office. I remember he was very deferential at the time. Students at the Law School, as a group, hadn’t found out how professors had feet of clay, and the old tradition of respect for the academy was strong. I chatted with him and Culver, and he told me a little bit about what he was interested in. Then, I don’t know who suggested it, he did or John did. I don’t think I did. He was going out to campaign in the primary that evening, and I said I’d be happy to go along with him. I did and found it fascinating. 

Teddy went around talking to many, quite small groups. I don’t think he had any press accompanying him. We went to a sampling of American associations; Knights of Columbus meetings, Rotary clubs, bowling alleys in different towns. We went to a wake. We didn’t neglect a bar mitzvah. There were all sorts of obligations to attend meetings that a person running and wishing to capture the hearts of the American electorate has to discharge. So we did that—in earnest.

Now, the interesting thing for me, then and now, as I look back at it and talk to you, was that the big issue between him and McCormack—McCormack was making the point that I think Mark Howe had made in a letter that several of the law professors here had signed—was that, but for his name, Teddy had no other qualifications for the important job of Senator. You probably have the letter. 

Knott

We’ve seen it.

Haar

You do? I’d like to see it some time. I don’t remember its particulars. It was a polite letter, but it said that perhaps the President should look a little wider for a more appropriate candidate. The end result sought by the professors was that Ted Kennedy wouldn’t get nominated, or elected if he was nominated. 

The big issue there was, again, church and state: whether Congress had the right and the power to give money for parochial schools. I think the primary purpose at that time was payment for texts and books for students. 

And as I was saying, McCormack was making the issue that were his name not Kennedy, he would not even be considered for office—what was his experience that would warrant becoming a United States Senator, one of the great jobs in the world, representing this country? 

What interested me was that this was the big issue with the people at the various places we visited. They’d say, at the end of his brief opening talk, Okay, Teddy, that’s fine. No, you talk about foreign policy or you talk about the Democratic Party’s goal. But what of matters that concern us most? They really wanted to know, where’s the bread on the table? They wanted to know what his attitude was toward giving money to the church schools, to the religious groups. 

And what I was struck by was the fact that Teddy did not do what was so obvious a safe escape route: argue to do what they wanted. But he did not say that he would do that, that he would support giving grants or loans to that group. Instead, he made some points about the fact that, well, there’s a constitutional issue here. He didn’t come right out and say I won’t support it, but he did say there’s a constitutional issue, explained its implications for the type of democratic society all of us wanted, and then he went on. At other places, as he sort of warmed up, the question was almost always the same at these different groups. He emphasized that the President has taken a position on this, that the President has said that he wants—that he doesn’t believe that the wall between church and state should be parted at this place. 

Later on astute politicians worked out a deal where government granted funds directly to the student but didn’t give it to the school, so it didn’t raise the first amendment problem. But the point was that despite the pressures, Kennedy wouldn’t budge. I remember one place, we were in the basement of a building somewhere with only a few people. A woman said, Ah, come on, Teddy. Teddy, Eddie was here a while ago and he told us that he was going to get money for this purpose, for the school. Why can’t you do that the same? Now, really putting him on the spot—you think that would happen today, by the way? 

Knott

I don’t know. I doubt it.

Haar

I doubt it, too. I think with too much leaking and too much talking candidates have grown far more cautious. And people hedge. I recall I was very impressed at the time, because I could feel the almost physical pressure that was being brought on him by these people who would be his future constituents and obviously liked him, but who wanted this, and to whom this grant of funds was essential. As an observer, it seemed to me that this was the key issue. The people didn’t care who he was, that his brother was President was important, but there was one issue: if he’s going to give us that, he’s got my vote. But Teddy stood firm. He said no, that he couldn’t do it. He tried to explain. He said that we have to support the public schools, the public school system of Daniel Webster, that pulled this country together and so on and so forth. 

And this went on. We started early in the day. I don’t know really fully the various events that were so jammed together. I think we slept over somewhere that night. I do remember that in the morning, we went to a factory. I was also impressed by the energy and time that had to be taken and how he was—well, he was young and green but was comfortable in his shaking of hands and responses and the kidding by the workers. Oh, he’s carrying on this way wonderfully. We got up early and shaved and showered and were off to the next series of meetings. Went to the factory at 5:00 o’clock, and immediately Kennedy was out there shaking hands and just talking briefly, laughing, smiling and people would kid him a little bit, but with much affection.. 

One fellow, in the midst of shaking hands—but he must have encountered this question many times, you know—Teddy, I hear you never worked a day in your life. Then someone else in the crowd went on and shouted, Let me tell you this. You haven’t missed anything, take my word for it. But that was how factory workers would deal with him. He was a rich kid, but still they liked him, and warmly—

Knott

They didn’t seem to resent that, that he was a wealthy kid?

Haar

No, not at all. They were cheerful and happy to see him. That he was wealthy and from a rich and powerful family did not enter the picture. There was something magnetic about him. They called him Teddy and they felt comfortable with him. That was the sense I had in listening and talking to a few, one-by-one. Maybe they didn’t express a loud respect or dignity or utter expressions that he was too young to be a Senator, but I don’t think that’s the American way. There were changing bunches of them; they were all changing shifts. There were 50 or 100 of them, coming in and out and gathering around the candidate. 

I was impressed by his—well, I guess I’m sensitive to it—I was impressed by his good looks, by the way he carried himself and by what he said and how he phrased it. Above all, by the fact that he did stave off the pressure. And it wasn’t for my benefit; it wasn’t for showing off and it wasn’t temporary. He really believed his own expositions, and he was uncomfortable in denying what this group wanted, and what he, as a person desiring strongly to be elected, should yield. I found that impressive. Then as we talked, we chatted about the daily news, about baseball and foreign affairs, and we came back—I can’t remember if John was with us. I don’t think John was. Was he with us?

Knott

I don’t know. He may well have been. He traveled with him quite a bit that year.

Haar

Have you had him down?

Knott

We have, and we hope to have more.

Haar

He’s a wonderful person. 

Knott

He is.

Haar

I got to know him more thoroughly when I was in Washington. I was Assistant Secretary of Housing much later and got to know John when he was in the Senate where he was on the Armed Services Committee. In fact, got his vote on a low-interest housing bill we needed. 

Knott

Do you have any sense of why it was that Professor Howe, other than the absence of experience on Kennedy’s part, was there something else about Kennedy or the Kennedys that Professor Howe had a problem with? Do you know what his objections may have been?

Haar

No. Mark was a generous, liberal person. His father was a distinguished English professor here at Harvard. Mark was a great orator. His brother, Quincy, I think, was a news commentator on the radio, which at that time was the media of communication. No, I think his real problem was the feeling that in America we shouldn’t have a family dynasty. I think it was mainly that, that there was enough. And, of course, as lawyers, we know the field. At that time, there were many brilliant lawyers other than Robert Kennedy, many people who would have made great Attorneys General. The earlier appointment could lead to opposition to this second appointment. 

I don’t think it was anything personal, except perhaps a slight envy of youth. In other words, it was not a belief that Edward Kennedy was either a la-di-dah type who was going to do a New Frontier and a New Society, replete with Romantic 19th century stuff for young poets, [Lord George Gordon] Byron and [Percy Bysshe] Shelley, and not suited to an American democracy. No, I don’t think it was that. It was just too much of one family, exacerbated perhaps by the youth of the candidate.

Knott

Okay.

Haar

I don’t think Howe knew any of them personally, but maybe he did, in the sense, too, that on the record Teddy was too inexperienced. 

The argument against an additional member of the First Family is a strong, emotional one. Only a few academics—Sam Beer, Bob Wood, myself—came out publicly and strongly for Teddy. After a while we almost huddled together, a defensive group. I began to realize how difficult it is to be outside the majority group, especially friends and co-workers. All of our friends were asking us, what’re you doing that for? The natural reaction of the academic community was that there was too much honor flowing one way. All right, let him knock around for four years or six years, and let him go again later on when he’s proven himself more. 

And so our small group felt funny. Once you’ve committed yourself and said that you’d support him, well, you begin the justification along the lines David Hume pointed out: the reason follows the emotion. Thus, there was a concomitant compensation: we had to sift through issues and work out theories and reasons for justifying our position in support of the young Kennedy’s candidacy.

Knott

Was there any sense that McCormack—I think he had been the Massachusetts Attorney General and had a pretty good record on civil rights—

Haar

Yes, he did.

Knott

Was that perhaps part of the reason why some academics may have been leaning towards McCormack, or at least against Kennedy?

Haar

Yes, and also he could get things done for Massachusetts as well as Teddy could because, after all, his uncle—was he Speaker at the time, his uncle?

Knott

Yes, he was.

Haar

Well, you’re close to a Speaker of the House, so if you need to defend academic freedom in MIT or if you required money for a neuroscience program at Harvard, he would deliver the goods as effectively as Teddy.

Knott

Sure. 

Haar

So I think when I look back on it, you can make a pretty good case for him, yes.

Knott

Sure. 

Haar

It’s just that it was a remarkable series of events. I still remember and I feel good about it, how Teddy did stand up to the vigorous and articulate women who argued with him, You know, we need it and Eddie has told us he’s going to give it to us for religious purposes, and why can’t you do it? To them it was an obvious question with an obvious answer. It’s not a lot of money and it’s a noble cause, and also what is this person in it for? Is it just to be elected, or is it good for society—and they would think the proposed grant was clearly for the general good. 

Knott

Sure. Do you recall any conversations you had with him about this issue perhaps? I mean, did he talk to you about this whole church-state question?

Haar

Yes, he did. We talked about that frequently, from different angles. I think he felt—

Knott

Yes.

Haar

He must have thought that—no, he did want to talk. What was interesting about it, too, the second phenomenon about it, which is why I think he fooled—is that the right word, fooled?—some people who thought this was just going to be an inconsequential rich wastrel of the inheritance. No. Teddy really wanted to learn. I was most impressed by that because learning is not often a driving force with students. They want to get out of the classroom and be lawyers—a simple, direct objective concealing many problems. 

Teddy asked me what I thought about it. I hadn’t really spent much time on it. So I thought aloud with him. I did extensive reading, in which he joined me. He would ask questions. This trait was, I think, a predominant one that he’s not given full credit for. It’s kind of intense curiosity that drives his question; he likes to get to the bottom of issues, probing further and further until it becomes a part of him. And he doesn’t get tired. At that time, I think he was virtually indefatigable. 

He could keep plugging at a political or social issue that arose during the campaign. Automatically, as a professor, you’re not too intelligible at the introduction to a subject: you’ll say Meyer against Nebraska, assuming that everybody knows the case by its name. He’d say, Well, what was that about? And then you’d reply, Oh, well, that was the case where the Supreme Court had to decide whether a state could compel a school to teach in English. To so act, ran the claim, violated the first amendment. 

Now, about this time—I’m not sure of my chronology, a long time ago. Soon after the election one of the very first issues he encountered was the repeal of the poll tax. There was a race going on. There was no question the tax was not going to last. It came down to a race between the courts that had a case wending its way, whether it was constitutional or not, and legislation before the Congress that would outlaw the tax. Relationship of Congress and the courts is truly a fascinating one, and it’s one that Kennedy has been involved in ever since his appointment to the Judiciary Committee. Well, both branches are jealous of their prerogatives; this is one place where that vague separation of powers doctrine comes into play. Right now I think it’s a strong feeling on both sides, with the euphemism employed of activist judges. 

I think [Arlen] Specter puts an interesting point on it when he says that the court is not polite to Congress. There are places in recent opinions where the court has gone out of its way and it’s not only state courts—it’s people like Justice [Antonin] Scalia. They’ll say this statute’s the most bewildering I’ve ever seen; the Congress shouldn’t pass bills like this that are so vague, or so contradictory with section 2 virtually repealing section 8. You know, of course, that ambiguity is essential to the political process; if the draftspeople really cleared it up and made it strikingly clear you couldn’t often get a bill passed. You’ve got to leave certain ideas ambiguous, to be worked out case by case; that’s part of the legislative process. 

And then on the other hand, there may be direct conflicts. The court has been trying to get its salary raises; you have a situation where a clerk just out of law school, working for a judge, is making more money in a year than the Justices; it’s exacerbated because the Justices are at ages where their kids are going to graduate school. So the Justices go to Congress hat in hand. And Congress says no, we’ve more important things to do right now, and anyway, you made a lot of money as a lawyer. Now, Teddy is far more receptive to the role of the judge than some of his colleagues. And this has continued to be an issue with him. 

We decided, and I don’t know exactly who made that decision, that we would go over the poll tax most carefully so that he would fully understand the situation, and that when he made a speech in the Senate it would be to the point, be impressive, and it would make the various arguments. 

I remember sitting with him, not here, on the other side of Langdell Hall, and we went over the poll tax history, the early cases, the different policies. I worried about how well I discharged my function. I hadn’t had any experience in dealing with the fascinating issue of how do you take the law and the precedents and go on to present the picture that you have in your mind to somebody who either doesn’t have that perception or has a totally different picture? What words can you use, and how do you make it clear, and straightforward—what was the purpose of the whole property requirement? We went back to The Federalist Papers to what Alexander Hamilton was writing about, the suffrage requirement. Or the requirement in many state constitutions when our Constitution was written, and the general understanding of the requirement that you had to have property to vote. 

I mean, you didn’t have the impression that the Senator was looking for some buzz words to give to a reporter. He wanted to understand the issue and what the poll tax meant; why Congress should act; then we went into questions like, well, if Congress doesn’t act, what is the likelihood of the Supreme Court, in the case that’s wending its way up there, what it’s going to find? You know, it seemed pretty clear to me that it would find it unconstitutional. So if you didn’t get the bill through the Congress, you’d get the end result anyway of eliminating this barrier to equality. The Senator thought as he worked there, that it would be better to have Congress act, rather than raise the whole business of a non-elected judiciary, a small elite group doing it. It was time for a statement. America has decided it’s time that equality before the law meant that voting should not be done on the basis of prejudice, or wealth status or social status. 

Does his diary have any of this, because I don’t have any idea how many days were spent on the poll tax issue. It was a long period, many hours we spent. I remember talking to my colleagues here, reading old cases and texts. Trying to understand fully the different viewpoints. I don’t know why we worked out of doors; I still have the feeling of sitting on the stones of Langdell Hall. Ask the Senator if he remembers that aspect.

Knott

We will.

Haar

Why didn’t people come around and say what the heck are these guys doing? It seems strange now, but nobody paid particular attention, and we just sat there and we talked and argued. Maybe it was on a weekend when there weren’t many students around. But I do remember those discussions and how good I felt about them because sometimes when you teach, you feel you’re—and possibly it’s your own fault—that you’re talking to yourself, not communicating to the students. The Senator wanted to learn, and he did. So that was the feeling I had about him. 

Knott

Could I ask you? Sam Beer, I know, was sort of active in the Americans for Democratic Action. Were you sort of part of that circle?

Haar

No. I was not political.

Knott

You were not political?

Haar

I was not political. Sam, to his credit, always has been and is. I became much more political later on, but before that, I wasn’t. I don’t know why. Perhaps I was working over course materials. Because now it seems to me such an obvious requirement that people who studied should want their ideas tested—Also, it should determine the subject matter you teach or what you write about. I mean, you want to have some impact and influence. Of course, you’re training people. You’re doing it through the brilliant people who come to this law school. But the notion of being in politics or even taking political stances, that was not an issue for me at the time. I was just trying to absorb the law and its workings. But you get forced into policy and public participation when you do something. One of the things I was very involved in, and I remember I talked with Kennedy about its complexity, was—Did you come in through the Mass Turnpike?

Knott

Yes, we did. 

Haar

Well, I was teaching urban transportation, and the laws controlling it. At that time, and I think it’s still true today, there was a 90-10 provision; that is, that the feds would pay 90% of the cost of any road. Now, the state agency brought the Mass Turnpike up to somewhere around Newton. [William] Callahan was going to issue bonds to pay for finishing the road, bringing it down to the Prudential Center. It was really not the best route but it had a lot of political backing. I became involved with two professors at MIT, and our argument was a simple one. Why should we do that, issue bonds and have a toll road to pay the interest and ultimately the principal? But Massachusetts had the 90-10 money, and with McCormack and the rest of the potential backers we could get our share of federal funds and run it through. 

Affordable housing was another issue that aroused fierce political concerns. From time to time I would talk to the Senator about what he thought should be done about these intense local political issues involving, as well, environmental and development aspects. 

Of course, I think the Senator is a very smart man. Intellectuals tend to emphasize certain aspects of the personality. I guess to some degree it’s truer of natural science than of social science, but I think Kennedy has a brilliant mind. He hasn’t been trained in certain ways of analysis and thinking, but he’s made up for it in others, by far, with decision-making power and excellent judgment.

Knott

Well, his brother, certainly President Kennedy, had the reputation for being very smart, and perhaps Bobby as well. Sometimes that word is not always applied to Senator Kennedy, but you would disagree?

Haar

I would most certainly disagree with that appraisal. I think, as raw talent, he’s very, very bright; with time and experience he has become extraordinarily competent in appraising people and in evaluating their positions and advice. He’s quick to absorb ideas, novel as they may be, and draw his own implications and conclusions. I remember I was very impressed because I couldn’t skim on the surface of the poll tax. He would not let me.

Knott

He really was probing.

Haar

He really was after me, and he’d ask me things and I’d say, That’s a damn good question. I would be honest enough to say, Gee, I don’t know the answer to that. Let me think about it and look it up some more. And later on—We’re digressing a bit. 

Knott

This is fine.

Haar

He has a sense of humor about the whole situation of problem-solving. And he uses it elsewhere. When you’re a public figure, you can’t make a new speech or produce a new idea about a subject, or find a new form of phrasing. But you can modify or sharpen core ideas and speeches. I remember once the Senator was in town speaking at the Copley Square Hotel. I was with him in the car and he was saying, You know, it’s hard because my stances on many issues are not what many constituents want at the time. And he was rattling them off. It was a web of paradoxes. He went through A, B, C. A is for abortion, B is for, I forget what B was.

Knott

Busing perhaps?

Haar

Busing. C was for—He went through all the issues, and it was funny and moving. We both laughed. Then he went out and made a quick speech. You know how fast public officials have to work. As we came out of the Copley and entered the car—we both were shocked—a woman threw a cup of coffee at him. See if he remembers that incident. Or maybe it happens too frequently, I don’t know.

Knott

I’ll ask him. 

Haar

Yes, ask him. She threw a cup of hot coffee at him, and it poured all over his shirt, suit and tie. He just went on to the next meeting. It was really a strange feeling. Now, we didn’t have at that time what now afflicts us, the terrorists and assassinations and those terrible outrages happening in the world. That was not a constant presence in the picture at that time, so you didn’t think about terrorism. You thought, well, what the hell, it’s like throwing an egg at a play you didn’t like, and that’s bad enough. 

Knott

Did he laugh that off, that coffee incident, do you recall?

Haar

Oh, yes. He just took out his handkerchief, said a quiet imprecation, wiped it off, and continued the day’s work. 

Knott

Do you remember what her beef was? Did she say anything to him?

Haar

It just came in so fast and unexpected. It was an exclamation about abortion.

Knott

Can you recall other issues over the years where he may have consulted with you, other times where you might have—It might have been a phone call or whatever, where he asked for your advice on something?

Haar

Yes, he did. He did call up and ask for things. I’m trying to think—

Knott

I realize we’re asking—

Haar

You know, it’s terrible. I think I have some notes; also letters back and forth in my files. I’ll look for them later on. I’m just trying to think of the kind of things—For instance now, the obvious one, whether there were nominees for the Supreme Court that we dealt with. I’m trying to think of some of the other issues. 

Knott

You didn’t get involved at all. He had this controversial nomination very early on in Francis Morrissey to become a federal—I believe a district court judge.

Haar

Yes, a district court judge. Yes, I remember that.

Knott

It was ultimately withdrawn.

Haar

Yes, and I remember I told him I thought that was something he ought to stay away from. Yes. I do remember that. Another issue that comes to mind is the later one—I don’t know why it comes to mind now—the Kennedy Library. That involved an enormous controversy. I worked for him on that with the Ropes & Gray law firm. Isn’t it amazing how these matters you believe you’ll never forget do slip the mind? How long ago was the Library?

Knott

Well, the one that’s out at Columbia Point was opened in ’79, so the battle about locating it in Harvard was all throughout the ’70s. 

Haar

Yes, and so the issue was whether the family should fight to put it there. It involved many land use and environmental issues. The question was that you’d have X number of tourists coming and just changing all of Harvard Square, or pulling in different ways. I remember I worked with him a lot. 

We looked deeply at the legal and political issues of locating the Library. We studied, first of all, what would happen if the Commission said that they couldn’t approve the site? And what would happen if we appealed? What would be the judicial action? And the outcome? Because Teddy was highly interested in that the Library, as was the entire family. I worked a lot with the law firm to prepare a report for him. 

Knott

We’ve got a lot of turf to cover.

Haar

Yes, you do. 

Knott

So we’re going to have to make some choices.

Haar

But you’ve got six years.

Knott

We’ve got six years, yes.

Haar

But at any rate, he—I don’t know if I have some papers. I put them in the basement here. My conclusion at the time was that we would win, that the SJC [Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts] would rule that the environmental impact statements were a sufficient protection. Environment impact statements were first coming into judicial evaluation at that time and they didn’t cover the situation adequately. I thought we would win, but then the big issue, again, talking with Teddy, was a practical one. All right. We would win. How long, with all the motions, appeals, and diverse interest groups, would the matter take? 

Knott

Yes.

Haar

And it just seemed that it would eat up another decade to get a settlement. There were also the side effects. Some people were saying that too much or we’ll lose the whole charm. I think individuals in the Harvard Corporation may have been against it. I don’t know. 

Knott

Do you ever get the sense that he might have been—In a sense, his brother wanted his library to be here and had stated that before he was killed. Was this something that bothered Senator Kennedy when they were facing this opposition and it appeared that they weren’t going to get their way?

Haar

Yes. It certainly was an unhappy time for him.

Knott

Yes.

Haar

No, no, it was a very—I’m trying to think of what some of the legal issues were. It was more public relations aspects, too. I think you could pull out the Boston Globe. There were a lot of newspaper stories, and letters to the editor, comments, and so on about it. That I did a lot of work on. I really wanted it here and so, in a sense, that’s why my opinion was that we would win. I think we all tossed in the practicalities that he would win, but—I guess Presidential libraries and so on were not much on the horizon at that time. Were they? 

Knott

Well, there were already probably at that point three or four of them.

Haar

[Herbert] Hoover—

Knott

Hoover, FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt], [Harry] Truman, and [Dwight D.] Eisenhower.

Haar

So it already was set that the Presidents would have them.

Knott

Right. 

Haar

I don’t know, is the one at Columbia Point—I’ve been there, of course, several times, but I don’t think—It’s really helped that place. It hasn’t overcrowded it or made it a tourist trap with hot dogs.

Knott

No, no. 

Haar

That was an issue that I dealt a lot of with him—

Knott

You mentioned earlier that you were an Undersecretary at HUD [Department of Housing and Urban Development]. Did you have many dealings with him in terms of your own confirmation, or perhaps issues that you dealt with at HUD?

Haar

No. He wrote letters for me. He wrote a letter probably to [Joseph A.] Califano and also to Secretary [Robert C.] Weaver. He was not on Banking and Currency Committees, the ones that controlled HUD. In fact, it turned out that I had more dealing with [John] McCormack, the Speaker, who would come over and call on me quite frequently. As [Thomas] Tip O’Neill summed it up, all politics is local. 

Knott

Right.

Haar

No, Teddy and I didn’t have too much exchange on particular ideas relative to HUD. Of course, we had no trouble with the Senator’s vote. He would vote for the programs, and was always supportive.

Knott

How long were you at HUD?

Haar

Three years.

Knott

Could you give us the years, the time frame you were there?

Haar

I was there under [Lyndon] Johnson. I was there from ’65 to ’68. I did the Model Cities initiative, and I did talk with the Senator from time to time about these programs because he knew a great deal about Congress by then. He understands the workings of Congress. He’s a tremendous worker, wading through documents, reports, talking with experts. I remember he had meetings at his house with academics, officials, business people to discuss affairs of the world and specific problems. I recall Joan Kennedy coming one rainy day, with the rain pouring off her raincoat. Later there were a group of us there, mixing the social with the political. As was his custom, we did discuss public policy issues in which he was interested. You’re going to see [Gerard] Doherty today, you said. 

Knott

Yes, right.

Haar

And Gerry’s busy in housing, you know. He had many clients in HUD programs. I remember I worked with him on some amendments he needed that we presented to Kennedy, but I can’t—not with the detail that you need.

Knott

No, no, that’s fine. 

Haar

I’ll be glad to go over it later on if you have the papers and get them to me. Say hello to him for me. I haven’t seen him in a while. 

Knott

I certainly will. 

Haar

We used to go to football games and he would talk about the politics. Often I wondered why African Americans had such little force in the Democratic Party in Massachusetts. I remember his answer was a simple one. They don’t vote. [Laughs] They don’t vote because, what? They don’t have any influence—the chicken and the egg problem. But I remember him telling me that idea and, once enunciated, it was sort of obvious on its face, but it hit me because I hadn’t thought of that institutional cause. 

And Teddy—I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him talk many times. He’s become a magnificent orator. Maybe you go back to Daniel Webster or somebody of that caliber for comparison. He made a speech two years ago, at the American Academy [of Arts and Sciences]. The speech dealt with preemption and international law. This was really the beginning of serious debate about Iraq. I thought it was a great speech; I know a lot of its content was his own inspiration.

Knott

He really has become the voice of modern American liberalism, I think we could say.

Haar

Oh, yes.

Knott

Would you agree with that?

Haar

Oh, sure. I think he is that spokesperson, he has the respect of many people who don’t agree with the substance of his programs. He can pull out the organ stops, you know, of America, of democracy, of youth, of opportunity, of the future. He’s excellent at inspiring audiences. Of course, he goes back into immediate history at these times. I think it’s instinctive. I’ve noticed when I speak with him, just the two of us, or occasionally with just two or three people around, that he goes back in his talk to his brothers a good deal. 

Knott

Oh, yes.

Haar

He goes back to his brothers a lot. And at the Academy speech, for example, he talked about how the President was opposed to the preemptive strike, the reasons he had for this position, and then he brought in the more scholarly things later with what law professors wrote on the subject. But I think there’s a real sense of tying in the earlier goals. 

Now, of course, I have another relationship with him, one of a different stripe. When I went to HUD, I brought with me—At that time, I respected—well, I still do, but then more [laughs] than I do now, intelligence and intellect in the world of action. It’s come to me that politics is much more a communal effort than individual strokes. I was really shocked when I went down to HUD and somebody in the chain would edit a memo that I was sending off to Califano or to Weaver. But then you get used to it. Lawyers do it all the time in law firms; I do some consulting with Skadden, Arps, and I work along with them. Of course, the end result is better. That’s a reason for partnership; you force yourself to talk and to think Oh, do I really mean that? Can’t I say it better? And then you re-write it. 

Well, the shift that the Senator manages to do must be a characteristic that I’m sure you’ll be looking into. His staff, he has excellent people. He’s demanding and he knows when you’re bullshitting or when you’re talking straight, when you know what you’re proposing. Oh, like Jim Flug, who’s now working with him on the nomination process. Well, Jim is a brilliant lawyer; I know that. And some of the others there are of star quality. Carey Parker, for example. Carey’s a wonderful staffer. He does everything necessary for a special matter. He writes plugs for books. And you profit from conversations with him about strategies. What do you think about—Well, what’s going on with the Justice now, and what’s the strategy? He’s very good. People like that, absolutely topnotch. Or every once in a while a different staffer calls you on his behalf, and as you talk with him you wonder what kind of questions are these, or what’s he trying to accomplish? And sure enough, you find out a couple of weeks later that he’s not working there anymore. I think Kennedy’s learned to be a superb judge of ability.

Whatever the occasion, the Senator isn’t there for show. That’s one of the attractive traits about him. He’s really for substance, and always seeking out the merits of a proposal. If you tell him that the housing proposal is too generous to developers, that the interest rate doesn’t have to go down a full percent, and he comes to agree to that conclusion, he’ll get it across to an official in authority. 

Knott

He’s really turned out to be a serious Senator.

Haar

Yes, he is. His ideas carry much weight. It’s really fascinating how his public addresses merge with the charisma of his personality. I think of the time when he memorialized his brother at St. Patrick’s Cathedral after the assassination of Bobby. I remember several mourners took turns at the bier. John Culver was there, too, that night as were many others. We took turns standing there for four hours or so.

Knott

At the casket?

Haar

And he made a brief, eloquent, sad talk. On those occasions, his emotions are on the surface and very straight. He does catch people. It’s not acting; it’s reaction. It’s part of what makes him the rare person he is. The Senator is also most responsive. If you ask him once in a while, if you tell him that this is a bright hard worker and I think you ought to take him for a year or two to work with you in your office, he—

Knott

So you’ve done this?

Haar

Yes. He’s always ready to do a favor. I hesitate to ask him, but if you want something from him, if you want him to write a letter on some purpose or to take some action, he’s quite ready to do it, and makes it easy for you. I’ve tried for years to get him to sponsor an Urbank. I wanted an urban development bank for cities that would take the place or supplement the tax-exempt municipal bonds. To have a kind of Federal Reserve Board for local infrastructure, set it up to have banks, a series of regional infrastructure banks. As a matter of fact, infrastructure would be more popular currently. What with New Orleans and other disasters due to infrastructure failures. Maybe you’d have some—I haven’t thought of it, maybe it could assemble new support. 

He gave me and my close associate, Peter Lewis of Lazard, some time, about an hour. But then he asked the practical questions. One of them was, Well, what Governor is for this? Who have you talked to in the government? In the civil service? Well, we were chagrined. We hadn’t talked with many state or local officials. And, Who are the mayors? I mentioned several mayors who were sympathetic to the idea, but we failed to exert concerted action to get to them. Kennedy was making a simple but sweeping point. It’s a big proposal to set up a new chain of banks in different cities, or even in metropolitan areas. He said, You’ve got to muster support from would-be participants. But that was the sort of thing he sought to bring about. 

Knott

I noticed you’ve written a book about the Boston Harbor cleanup. Was he at all involved in that issue, do you know, or was that something—

Haar

Well, I talked with him several times when I was a special master during three years. 

Knott

I think it’s a promotional flyer, Mastering Boston Harbor.

Haar

Oh, I think the book—I must have the book up there somewhere. The Senator wrote a blurb for me. Oh, here’s the book. Kennedy has written his brief reaction to several books I’ve done. Where is the stuff? As soon as you leave I’ll find it. 

Knott

Yes, that’s always the way it works. Would it be primarily urban issues that he would consult with you on over the years?

Haar

Yes, primarily urban issues, or whatever he wanted to talk about, think about, discuss. Oh, I was talking about Dunny [K. Dun Gifford]. I brought with me about four people from the Law Review, who just were finishing here at the law school, to come to work with me in the office. One of the remarkable people was K. Dun Gifford. I don’t know if he’s on your list. 

Knott

Yes. 

Haar

Dunny taught me much about public relations and about how you deal with Congress, how you deal with Senators. Dunny was excellent at compressing long essays into shorter, shapelier points. 

There’s one limitation on the use of Law Review people. You’re also dealing with a Congressman. He’s raised a question. You’ve got to give him an answer. The staff would work on an answer. You’d call one or two days later and say Where’s the answer? I just had another call from Senator so and so. And they’d say, Well, I’m almost there, I’m trying to work it through. Then you sit down and write something. You may get a much better answer two or three days later, but you couldn’t use it because of the lapse of time. 

At any rate, we were down there about six months. He came in one day and told me that he’d received an offer from Senator Kennedy, and I was taken aback. After all, we were changing the world; we created the new Department of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary Weaver had gotten to work on Model Cities and so forth. However, who could resist an offer from the Senator? But he went over there and we stayed friends for a long time. 

Knott

By the way, my recollection was that he said for me to tell you that he says hello.

Haar

Oh, all right. Thank you. Well, I will say hello. There’s a picture of the Senator with—a long time ago. There’s a photo of my wife and—

Knott

And Joan. Do you know what this occasion would have been?

Haar

I was at HUD and I was making grants for historic preservation. Congress had appropriated funds for preservation of historic districts as well as for individual historic buildings. Yes. And I think the Senator was after me because somebody was after him. 

Knott

Right.

Haar

And I was very happy to do it. I think that was a most useful program, so we gave money for the historic district in Boston; in a way, especially with the superb work of Toni Chayes, it launched that city’s renaissance. I haven’t thought of that in 40 years. Maybe I have some papers on it, but I don’t know if you want them. 

Knott

Is it fair to say that he views Harvard—over the years, he has used Harvard, the Law School, the other institutions here, as kind of a think tank for himself? Is this something he dips into for ideas?

Haar

Certainly I think he does. And of these joint ventures I’ve been proud of—By the way, how are we doing on time? 

Knott

We’re doing fine. Whatever’s good for you.

Haar

One of the things I’ve been working on the last few years is the American Academy of Arts and Sciences here at the [Norton’s] Woods. Then it dawned on me as we were writing one of the pieces that tells about great things the Academy is doing, applying the academic world and its many distinguished scientists and social scientists, and also businessmen. That’s one of the advances made recently, bringing in private people. That even Felix Rohatyn, the investment banker, can bring much information and knowledge about urbanism. So we’re bringing in more entrepreneurs and corporate managers. The Academy is an impartial place, objectively searching for what is in the public interest. We have different internal groups and bring them together to examine national problems and potential solutions.

He just put out a book on who takes care of the gatekeepers. Why did the lawyers not succeed in keeping the scandals at Enron and Tyco from coming into being? Why didn’t the accountants? All the failures, with the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission], and you could look at the institutions and the legal profession, you know the difficulty is a practical one: if you give an opinion that the client’s desire is outside the law, she is going to say thank you very much, and go to another law firm and get the opinion she wants. And accountants suffer the same pressures, they just—all the branches that are supposed to check the excesses and imbalances of the market mechanism just fail. 

The Academy is working on those kind of studies, such as this one on corporations. In writing them, you go back to the origins of the Academy and some of the people at that time who worked on the Constitution. As members, it’s had some distinguished political people including Jack Kennedy. It suddenly hit me that the Senator should be a member: he’s worked so hard on the educational system, on improving health delivery, on the environment. So I had the honor of nominating the Senator, one that was enthusiastically accepted, and that was when he gave the unilateral preemption speech.

Knott

Oh, okay. 

Haar

I talked to Carey about a possible speech. I said, I don’t know what’s important to the Senator right now. What is the major issue he is dealing with? After all, in a sense, Iraq is not within the bailiwick of his Senatorial committees. What is it that bothers him? And I added, When he comes up here, we could gather half a dozen bright people from the universities here, mull over beforehand some issue that concerns him and come up with alternatives to think about. And he thought that was an interesting idea. The Democrats, as do most of us, certainly need new ideas, at least new ways of articulating or expressing thoughts. 

Perhaps we could also talk to the Senator about Urbank, but that’s more personal. We ought to do that. The Senator has lots of friends here. He does call on different people. That’s how he brought Steve Breyer to work on one of his committees.

Knott

Right. Did you know Breyer?

Haar

Oh, yes, very well, over the years of teaching together. Steve is a fine example of what the Law School can contribute to the public welfare. 

The Senator seems to be happier now, at this period of his life. What’s he now, 70?

Knott

Seventy-three.

Haar

Is he 73 now? I think he is a more contented person. He ought to be, in his achievements and in his development as a person and a human being. But there must be dark personal moments that hit him. I don’t see how he can avoid that. The family, it’s been a tragic story for him and many of us. 

Knott

Sure. 

Haar

A mixture of things. I think he’s conducted himself enormously well in achieving a great political and social career. I really do. I think the way he conducted himself with the church groups that we started our conversation with early this morning. I still remember those introductions to the American people. They were busy with families and the households. But for this they came out. They really gave the young candidate a rough time. And his response showed the kind of public official he would become. It would have been so easy to say, oh, sure, don’t worry; or, he could have said, whatever is possible under the system, I will work to get it. He could have done so many things, but he told them directly what he felt. He said I can’t do it. There’s the Constitution. The way he emphasized the Constitution and on the broader public policy of separation of church and state. It wasn’t a rehearsed platitude when it came out; it was a phrase of sincerity and deep belief. 

Knott

That’s a great story. 

Haar

Yes. There’s another thing. Maybe you can help me understand what it means. When the Senator walks into a room it changes. He does do that, it’s a charismatic charge of energy. Now, I’ve seen other people—When Lyndon Johnson walked into a room, it changed, everything stopped. When Jimmy Carter walked into a room, it did not change. I remember several occasions with a group at the White House, whenever President Carter came in and the people keep on talking, keep on doing what they’re engaged in doing. When Johnson came in, they stopped; whatever they’re doing, they stop and they virtually salute. The Senator belongs to the second group; he has a real ability to walk into a room and to command that kind of presence and attention.

Knott

What do you think that is?

Haar

I was going to ask you. 

Knott

Well, I beat you to it. 

Haar

I can’t say so precisely. Is it a sense that this is an occasion that you and I, I being the Senator and you being this group or an individual, that we’re here together and that we’re going to have an enjoyable and productive time, we’re going to do something, but something with a serious purpose. Or maybe there’s something about him that you’d like to talk to him about, a sense that you’re not going to hear something trite or boring, but that something unique or special will be said, that the conversation will be guided toward bringing out different views, and the perspectives and points of view not common, not just a repetition of the daily newspapers. 

I was on the board of trustees of McLean Hospital. There’s a professorship in the name of the family. I remember we had meetings in Hyannis on its operations, and he has dealt with budgetary matters. You know, as a matter of fact, one of the puzzles to me about the Senator’s activities has been, where do you find the time or how do you prioritize what you’re doing?

Knott

That’s a question we’ve asked him as well.

Haar

I bet you he gives different answers depending on what the month is and depending on what he’s had to do or is doing the last week or two. Part of the problem, I suppose, is his reputation as a bon vivant. I think he’s oversensitive—it came out to some degree, on the Clarence Thomas nomination and even on these last two judicial nominations that are now going. I don’t think he’s fully himself in this situation. I don’t know what your opinion is. 

He feels a little bit that here, when we’re moving away, when it’s on policy, that’s one thing; when, however, you’re wondering whether this person has an emotional balance and personal and moral character to be a great Justice, it’s hard to probe; there’s a sense that the Senator feels that his job is to get over to some of the personal qualities that will determine whether we have a decent, even great, Justice of the Supreme Court. I think the Senator is somewhat reluctant to engage in it. I don’t know what your sense of the matter is. You’ve probably watched the films more of what he’s doing there. But I don’t think he’s as active a voice, or as he is on broader occasions and on policy issues. I think there’s something, a little bit there that holds him back in the personal examination side. For we still argue about how personal, non-legal characteristics of a person come out in the adaptation of the Constitution to technology changes and shifts in social aspirations and needs.

Knott

I see.

Haar

Well, that’s just between us.

Knott

Yes.

Haar

There’s some holding back. There’s some feeling that—He said, Who am I to judge this sort of thing with all that I have done? I’m not sure. I’m not sure, but I think it lingers there. 

Knott

Yes.

Haar

Well, that’s what it is. He’s a tremendous human being and I think a great, great Senator, but there are certain frailties and histories that have been experienced. I don’t know who doesn’t. [Sir Winston] Churchill had them. They make the frail human being how you come out, and how you synthesize.

Knott

Right.

Haar

And also he does change and grow over time. We had lunch a while back and I found him fascinating company. I forget the exact item he was talking about, but it was not the Washington gossip. It’s not the gripping inside story. It’s that, of course, too, but he has a unique filter now. There is some force in himself that filters the world, and comes out with its own conclusions. It’s not what he’s read in the Washington Post that morning. It may be, or it might contribute to it, but it’s not that. It’s that he’s also bringing something that nobody else brings, bringing his personality, his experience, his life, his contemplation of it, and the end result is fascinating.

Knott

Well, he’s been in the Senate for 43 years, so that’s—

Haar

Is it 43 years?

Knott

Forty-three years.

Haar

Amazing. 

Knott

He has the potential to break the all-time record.

Haar

What is the all-time record?

Knott

I think right now the leader is Robert Byrd, who’s a year or two ahead of him.

Haar

Oh, he is? Just a year or two?

Knott

Do you know, Rob?

Martin

Several.

Knott

Several years ahead. Okay. Five or six years ahead, maybe, something like that.

Haar

Oh, that’s it. 

Martin

It’s pretty close.

Haar

Well, people like [Henry] Clay didn’t last a long time but were remarkable achievers.

Knott

No. As far as I know, right now, Byrd, Daniel Inouye, and Ted Kennedy, and up until recently, Strom Thurmond, until he passed away, they were the all-time leaders. And Byrd and Inouye and Kennedy are still in the Senate, so they’re increasing this record as they go along.

Haar

They’re each trying to outlast somebody else. 

Knott

Exactly.

Haar

Well, that’s a laudable ambition.

Knott

Right. 

Haar

When’s he running again?

Knott

Next year, 2006. 

Haar

Oh, next—it’s this year. It’s already here. 

Knott

Yes, but as of now he has no opponent, so—

Haar

Didn’t he have that problem, if that’s a problem, last time? 

Martin

That’s a nice problem to have.

Haar

Well, who was it? Did [Mitt] Romney run against him last time?

Knott

No. Romney ran against him in ’94, and it was a tight race for a while.

Haar

Yes.

Knott

It’s a guy named Jack Robinson, who—

Haar

He sounds like a movie, doesn’t he?

Knott

So, it looks like he’s going to be easily reelected next year.

Haar

I’m sure he’s going to be coming around for funding.

Knott

Oh, sure. Oh, yes. 

Haar

To support other people.

Knott

I don’t think he takes anything for granted. 

Haar

Yes. It’s an intriguing thing you have.

Knott

Well, thanks.

Haar

What are you planning to do? Turn out ten volumes, or what?

Knott

Well, the main goal of this project is, five or six years from now we will open all these transcripts so that anybody, researchers—

Haar

Oh, so all the historians, the Ph.D. students and so on, will get to work on it.

Knott

Correct. And hopefully they’ll be online in six or seven or so years, so you can access them from your home computer.

Haar

Well, that’s wonderful. Do you also record and take pictures of him so that future historians 50 years from now will see him in action?

Knott

Yes, we do. He has committed a tremendous amount of time to this project. In fact, we’re interviewing him on Thursday, which will be the seventh—

Haar

Where’s that going to be? Here in Boston?

Knott

In Hyannis. So he’s committing a tremendous amount of time himself, and we’re going into great detail on certain elections and policy issues and so forth. So he’s pledged to do this for the next five years.

Haar

Well, I think it will be probing and informative. All of us to do this, it brings back—like I’m having all sorts of memories here, and I’d like to think about them some more. 

Knott

You’ll have a chance. When you get this transcript three months or so from now, you can put anything into that that you wish, okay? So if there’s something you remember in the interim that you want to include—

Haar

Yes, I want to look it up because as we’re talking, certain things I remember, meetings or when I was appointed to task forces by the President on certain policies, on health policies, I would call the Senator and ask him what he thought of whatever it was at that time. Things like Medicaid or who should—Oh, what he’s very good at, too, is you ask him, I have this issue on Medicaid. Who should I talk to? Or Who’s good at that? He’ll tell you to call Dr. so and so. And then you ask him, Can I use your name? Can I call him and tell him that the Senator suggested that I talk to you a little bit about this issue? He’d say, Sure, you could do that.

I don’t know why—I’ve been reluctant to impose on him. I haven’t been going to Washington with this administration, but I used drop in on the Senator and get a picture of what was going on. I used to every year get a photograph with him. And talk about certain things and feel refreshed and invigorated by the visit. You always feel that he’s being friendly, that he’s not trying to—That he’s not being polite, and he’s not someone who tells you, I have to rush and I have two minutes here. What have you got? And that he’s interested in you.

Have you talked to anybody who’s hostile to him?

Knott

Well, that’s certainly part of our plan. As of now, the only person we talked to who was an opponent was George Lodge, who ran against him in ’62, his Republican opponent, but he actually loves Ted Kennedy now. He’s become a Democrat and thinks very highly of him. But we do plan to interview a number of his Senate colleagues who are Republicans.

Haar

I think that even they—when I’ve run into some of his colleagues that even though they disagree with him and they think he’s all wrong on the votes, they feel that he doesn’t do it out of a bias, or pulls of the past, but out of thoughtfulness. Who’s comparable to him in the history of the Senate?

Knott

I think it’s a select group. I’d be hard-pressed to say.

Haar

It would be an interesting thing to speculate about and to read some of these—

Knott

We are right now trying to find a Republican member of the Senate to do a similar project on. We’ve talked about either Bob Dole or Howard Baker, but neither of those men has served anywhere near as long as Kennedy in the Senate. 

Haar

It’s a tough call. 

Knott

Yes.

Haar

Baker, I think, would have a lot more to say. A lot more than Dole.

Knott

Right.

Haar

Are you doing this for prominent political leaders in the past?

Knott

Yes. The Miller Center Oral History Program has focused on Presidents up until now. We’ve got an ongoing [William] Clinton project. We’ve done the Carter administration, [George H. W.] Bush Sr., [Ronald] Reagan. Now, we’re expanding into the Senate. Senator Kennedy is our first Senator, so we’re looking for a Republican.

Haar

Oh, I see. I didn’t realize that. 

Knott

So that’s where we are. Well, we want to thank you for giving us your time, and again—

Haar

I appreciate the opportunity. 

Knott

It was a great interview. And again, when you get that transcript, if you want to add, you can add anything. You can just write it right into the transcript.

Haar

Well, I’ll start thinking about it some more and I’ll talk with the Senator a little bit. You ought to get a couple of us who’ve worked with him over time, and we’ll have a couple of beers somewhere. 

Knott

That would be great. 

Haar

And then let us just talk. 

Knott

Get you all together.

Haar

Yes. I think talk informally about it. Certain things will come out or certain phrases will jump out that might prove of interest. I don’t know if that’s possible.

Knott

Well, we talked about group interviews and it’s a great idea, and I think we’ll try to do that.

Haar

Yes, I think if you get about six of us compatibles and with the two of you and we sat down at a good Chinese restaurant here, and sit down and talk about it, if your budget permits you to.

Knott

Well, we’ll probably be back, believe me. We have a lot of interviews in Boston we have to do. 

Haar

Yes. So I think it would be both fun and educational. And we’d have a couple of days, like after this, then to re-read and think about it. I think it would come out more stilted in some ways, but also more spontaneous

Knott

Sure, sure. That’s a great idea.

Haar

Yes.

Knott

Well, thank you again for your time.

Haar

Well, thank you for your being so pleasant about it and courteous. I appreciate it.

Knott

Well, we do, too. 

Haar

All right.

Knott

All right, thanks. 

Martin

Thank you.

Haar

Thank you. 

This is one of the many interviews that comprise the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History. For more information about the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History, including links to all interviews, please click here.

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