Conable journals to be subject of book talk

University of Kansas Press Author Bill Kauffman will talk about his new book, “The Congressional Journal of Barber Conable,” during a July 28 program at the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia.

BATAVIA – A new book about Barber Conable will be the subject of a talk this month at the Holland Land Office Museum, 131 West Main St.

Author Bill Kauffman will discuss “The Congressional Journal of Barber Conable, 1968-1984” (University Press of Kansas, 440 pages) a work that he edited, during the Museum’s guest speaker series at 7 p.m. July 28.

Conable, a Warsaw native who lived in Alexander for many years, was a U.S. Congressman for 20 years and later president of the World Bank.

Kauffman is the editor of the work which is a compilation of entries from Conable’s journals. The entries explore the machinations of Congress and the American government at the highest level.

The book is described by its publisher as “an honest, searching, sometimes humorous, occasionally cutting, and always fascinating look inside Congress.”

Conable writes of Presidents Nixon, Ford, H.W. Bush, and the leading congressional figures of the day. He writes about big events and daily political life that included Vietnam, Watergate, political realignment and major changes in entitlements and taxes, where he played a key role.

“While he is never shy about expressing personal judgments, he revels in the give and take of legislative politics,” the publisher writes.

Conable, an attorney, was encouraged to run for public office and in 1962 he was elected to the New York State Senate. He served one term and was elected to the United States Congess where he served from 1965 to 1985, including 18 years on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. He was a member of Joint Economic Committee, the House Budget Committee and the House Ethics Committee. He was considered one of the most principled and trusted members of Congress.

Conable’s work with the 1982–1983 Social Security Commission, led by Alan Greenspan, is a classic exercise detailed in his journal. Conable thought a deal was critical for the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund but politically almost impossible given the differing priorities of the chief protagonists, President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill. In the journal, Conable pronounces the effort doomed on Jan. 13, 1983. Two days later he marvels at the political and personal dexterity and skill that ended up producing a deal.

After retiring from Congress, Conable served on numerous corporation boards and the Board of the New York Stock Exchange. He was active in many foundations and not-for-profit work. He was appointed a Distinguished Professor at the University of Rochester where he lectured.

In 1986, he was appointed president of the World Bank. He served for five years in the powerful position.

Conable died Nov. 30, 2003. He was 81.

Kauffman, a native of Genesee County, is the author of 11 books, including “Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette” and “Look Homeward, America.” He also wrote the screenplay for the feature film “Copperhead.”

Copies of “The Congressional Journal of Barber Conable,” which was published in June, will be available for purchase.

Admission is $3 per person or $2 for museum members. The presentation will also be available via Zoom. The links can be found at the museum’s Facebook page or website

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