him not to just take an attack-dog posi- tion." Others gripe that, in flogging the issue of indecency, he's turned the FCC into a national nanny.
Beltway Bandit decides to stay
Nothing in Copps' upbringing sug-
gested the makings of a hell raiser or even
an activist Democrat. He grew up in Wis-
consin, where his father was a Republican
businessman. Dad was lured out of semi-
retirement to help turn around a feldspar
processing plant in South Carolina.
Copps, then attending junior college in
Florida, decided to transfer to Wofford
College in Spartanburg to be near the
family. Early on, he figured he'd become a
lawyer. A professor awakened his interest
in history. Mter graduation, he ended up
enrolling in Carolina's doctoral program.
Studying history cemented his admira-
tion for Franklin D. Roosevelt, his hero,
and his interest in such progressive-era
presidents as Theodore Roosevelt and
Woodrow Wilson. For his dissertation, he
chose intellectual history, writing about
Gilded Age representations of reality.
"There were all these depictions of the
Gilded Age as discontinuous with what
came before and after," he said. "I tried to
understand the discontinuity and, more
important, the continuity that existed in
our whole history of thought."
His professional pursuits have drifted
away from where he started, but his
admiration for FDR hasn't waned. To this
day, he'll read any book published on the
former president. In 1982, on the cente-
nary of FDR's birth, Copps published an
op-ed piece about Roosevelt's accom-
plishments in The Washington Post. A
framed copy hangs on his office wall as
does a portrait of FDR.
After Carolina, Copps took a teaching
job at Loyola University in New Orleans.
But as his admiration of Roosevelt sug-
gests, he harbored an interest in politics.
When a friend back in South Carolina
learned that Sen. Ernest Hollings was
looking for a researcher and writer with
knowledge of history, he gave the law-
maker Copps' name.
Copps had been a professor for three
years when Hollings offered him the job.
He figured he'd work in Washington for
two or three years and then return to
teaching. That was 34 years ago.
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