by Max Brantley
On a September night 36 years ago, we nearly lost Arkansas. Some people may regard that as a mixed blessing, even now — Bill Clinton and his wife, then the governor and first lady of that state, were less than 50 miles away in Little Rock, at the Arkansas Democratic Convention.I remember rousting reporters to begin covering the event. I remember feeling assured — unreasonably, the film apparently illustrates — by official representations that there were ample safety mechanisms to prevent accidental explosion of the nuclear warhead.
If the Titan 2 intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, that exploded inside its silo in Damascus, Arkansas, had detonated its nuclear warhead, both the Clintons and Vice President Walter Mondale (also attending the convention) would have been dead within minutes. So would have millions of other people in Arkansas and neighboring states, with a plume of deadly radioactive fallout extending from the mid-South to the East Coast, perhaps as far as Washington.