Anne (netmouse) wrote,

good reading

Cliff Sloan's Obit of Mary Anderson Bain over on Slate. He writes:

"You don't need many heroes," legal scholar John Hart Ely once wrote, "if you choose carefully." Mary Anderson Bain, who died Monday at the age of 94, was one of mine, though she surely would have scoffed at the label.


In the '30s, Mary was one of the nation's two youngest directors of the New Deal state employment agencies. The other was Lyndon Johnson in Texas. Mary quickly made a name for herself by standing up at meetings, challenging Hopkins and others about why more wasn't being done more quickly. That was her defining spirit every day I knew her—why weren't we doing more, and doing it more quickly? From the time I met her until her death this week, I always wondered if I could keep up with her.


Mary's real legacy was what she accomplished. Using Sid Yates' perch as chairman of the interior appropriations subcommittee and his enormous skill as a legislator, the two of them almost single-handedly saved federal support for the arts, fought on behalf of the environment, created the Holocaust Museum, and killed wasteful sacred cows, such as the SST, a supersonic civilian jet. They won unheralded victories every day.

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