April 23, 2014

Florida Icon

Icon: Bob Graham

U.S. senator, 1987-2005; governor of Florida, 1979-87; founder, University of Florida Bob Graham Center for Public Service; Miami Lakes; age 75

Cynthia Barnett | 1/4/2012

Bob Graham[Photo: Jeffrey Salter]
» I would like to be a closer for a Major League Baseball team.

» When I went to the Senate in 1987, I would estimate from 100 senators, one-third of them were centrists — Republicans and Democrats. They were a little left or right of center, but were close enough that they could sit down and have a serious discussion and frequently find common ground. Today, I would say that number has declined to less than 15.

» Like Harry Truman, there are some people who weren't thought of well while they were active but time has treated better. One of those people would be Claude Kirk. He was the governor who began changing the value system of Florida from being 'Florida is a commodity' to 'Florida is a treasure.'

» I don't think Floridians appreciate the ethical challenge that our state faces. The Department of Justice publishes a state-by-state list of public officials who have been convicted of some crime. Florida was not only No. 1, but there was a noticeable gap between No. 1 and No. 2. When you ask people what's the most corrupt state, they may say New Jersey. But we're here.

» I came away from (the congressional inquiry into 9/11) believing there were significant unanswered questions. Questions for which there were answers — we just hadn't gotten them.

» It's important to know the extent of the Saudi involvement. First, because we have a lot of other relationships with the Saudis predicated on their being loyal allies to the U.S. If, in fact, they aren't, then we need to reassess their reliability. Second, if there was an infrastructure of support in place in the run-up to 9/11, is that infrastructure still there? My guess is that it is.

» I'm disappointed that some of the things I believe are very important for Florida's future, such as land and water management and education, seem to be under assault. There's no correlation between the policies that were repealed and their ability to contribute to jobs.

» I had a conversation with Jeb Bush, who agreed with me that (dismantling the water management districts) was bad for water, but it was also bad for the office of the governor because the governor effectively has control over the water-management districts. So why do you need to dismantle the districts and turn a substantial amount of what's now the governor's responsibility over to the Legislature, where I'm afraid it will be politicized?

» Florida is not going to grow at the rate that it has for the last 40 years of the 20th century.

» In some countries, impeachment is used as a political weapon regularly. In our country, it's only been used twice, and in both instances it has failed. I think for an action such as President Bush took, the proper forum or sanction is the ballot box, and that is what occurred.

» After the Civil War, there was a period when Florida was under control of what were referred to as 'carpet-baggers' who had come into the state after the war, most of whom had little familiarity with Florida. For over a hundred years, we had a state seal with a mountain on it.

» People forget that the first big advocates of the environment were Republican. Richard Nixon. Almost all of the major environmental laws that we live with today were enacted while he was president.

» I wish I didn't have to have open-heart surgery in the middle of my campaign for president. I don't know if I would have been the nominee, but I think it would have been a better performance.

» Adele is my closest friend and most-valued adviser. We've had 52 years of wonderful marriage.

» The perfect Florida meal would start with fresh shrimp cocktail. I'd have a heart-of-palm salad. I'd have the freshest fish available — with an equal amount of Angus beef: Surf and turf. I would have Key lime pie.

» I see education and the environment as being the two main pillars for Florida's ability to respond as we move through the 21st century.

» What little civics is left is spectator civics. It trains people to sit in the stands and watch the game of Democracy. It does not give them the skills to actually be a participant.

Tags: Politics & Law, Florida Icon, Government/Politics & Law

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