I am on a research trip to Oregon, starting the preliminary research on a new Northwest book. In doing so, I have been reading a lot of newspapers on microfilm. This is both fascinating and boring at the same time. So I do something to help pass the time–I take pictures of odd things I find on the microfilm or sometimes in the archives themselves that have nothing to do with my research agenda and post them to Twitter. Usually, no one cares. But I posted a piece the other day on a terrible Gary Wills column from 1975 arguing that while there are lots of reasons not to vote for George Wallace, one of them is that his mental health after his shooting may be in question. This caught the attention of the historian and disability rights writer David Perry, who wrote about it in more detail and placed it in context of recent attempts to medicalize Donald Trump’s behavior.
Worth noting as well that there I am finding a lot of tiresome Wills columns from that era, especially about how Harry Truman was History’s Greatest Monster unlike Genuine American Hero Dwight Eisenhower.