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Glickman calls Vilsack ‘greatest,’ tells Clinton pork price story

Dan Glickman

Dan Glickman

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dan Glickman, the Agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration, told Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack here this week that he is “the greatest Agriculture secretary ever” because farm incomes have never been higher, and then told a story about President Bill Clinton calling him to ask him to take action to raise pork prices.

At a Tuesday evening “Kick Up Your Heels With Ag” reception on the sidelines of the Democratic convention, Glickman said he was “envious” that Vilsack is secretary when farmers are earning such high prices and incomes. “You are the greatest Agriculture secretary ever,” Glickman said to Vilsack, who was standing nearby.

Glickman then told the crowd about a time when he was secretary and playing a round of golf on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, when an employee tracked him down and said, “There is a Mr. Potus on the phone for you.” (“Potus” being White House shorthand for “president of the United States.”)

Glickman said he had just shot “par, par, birdie, par, par,” and that he was playing so well he did not want to interrupt his winning streak and told the course employee, “Mr. Potus can wait.”

But the knowledge that he was making the president wait made him nervous, and on his next holes, he shot, “bogey, bogey, double bogey, bogey,” Glickman said, before returning the call.

Glickman recalled with amazement that when Bill Clinton came on the line and Glickman told him where he was, the president said, “How do you like that 9th hole?”

But Clinton then proceeded to tell him, “We’ve got a problem with pork prices,” relating that former President Jimmy Carter had called to say pork producers in Georgia were upset, and that Carter had promised he would tell them in Sunday school that week what the government was doing to help.

Glickman replied that he had bought pork for the schools and for senior centers and that he was doing everything he could to take excess pork off the market.

“I even called my rabbi and ask for a special dispensation” for Jews to eat pork, he said telling the crowd that as a Jew, “I always felt I had a special responsibility to support pork.”

Glickman ended his tales by remarking, “The best job I ever had was at the Department of Agriculture.” Noting that he also has been head of the Motion Picture Association, Glickman said, “I like the farmers and ranchers better than any Hollywood actors. They were nice and they didn’t talk back to me.”

Glickman said afterward in an interview that these days, in his association with the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Aspen Institute and the Meridian Institute he has to be bipartisan, but that he hopes that American farmers and ranchers will feel some gratitude to President Barack Obama and Vilsack for the general good times they have experienced in the last four years.