Monday, May 01, 2006

John Kenneth Galbraith


''I hear that in your country you are considered a man of the left," Leonid Brezhnev once said to him. ''I invite you to the Soviet Union so you will have the experience of being a reactionary."

And another anecdote, from the New York Times obituary.

Mr. Galbraith said he inherited his liberalism, his interest in politics and his wit from his father. When he was about 8, he once recalled, he would join his father at political rallies. At one event, he wrote in his 1964 memoir "The Scotch," his father mounted a large pile of manure to address the crowd.

"He apologized with ill-concealed sincerity for speaking from the Tory platform," Mr. Galbraith related. "The effect on this agrarian audience was electric. Afterward I congratulated him on the brilliance of the sally. He said, 'It was good but it didn't change any votes.' "