Saturday, May 03, 2003

What impressed me most about this Washington Post profile of Bob Graham was this:
In more than three decades in public office -- including two terms as governor and three as senator -- he had earned respect for his honesty and integrity, but had rarely made a national splash. His main claim to fame was his bizarre habit of scribbling the dullest conceivable minutiae of his life -- the chocolate Slim-Fast he drank, the red shorts he changed into, the Jim Carrey video he rewound -- in little notebooks that he color-coded by season. (He even recorded in his notebooks the time he spent recording in his notebooks.)
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Graham was mocked relentlessly as an obsessive-compulsive in 2000 after he showed one to Time magazine, which introduced America to such mundane entries as: "8:45-9:35 -- Kitchen, family room. Eat breakfast, branola cereal with peach." Graham is genuinely puzzled why his notebooks have become a Beltway punch line. He sees them as low-tech Palm Pilots, indispensable for recording constituent concerns and keeping track of his day-to-day doings -- just as his dad used to jot down which fence needed mending and which cow seemed weak. "I could make a better case that this is eccentric," he says, pointing to his Florida tie. Unprompted, he hands over his current notebook, proving if nothing else that the jokes have not persuaded him to adjust his all-the-facts style:

"7:15 -- Awake at 3STTH. [That's his Capitol Hill townhouse.]

"7:15-7:35 -- read 'John Adams' on the importance of an independent judiciary -- dress in dark grey suit

"8:00 -- Kitchen -- eat breakfast (Smart Start cereal and raisins)."
To anyone who doesn't work at a law firm, Graham's ability to track all his activities minute-by-minute may seem anal-retentive, almost to the point of being obsessive-compulsive. But speaking as a law firm lawyer, I can only bow in awe at someone who is able to do that sort of thing spontaneously. (Whether that habit would suit him well in the office of the Presidency is another matter.)


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