It was just stimulating to him to engage in conversation with some other person. The first step is to discover where they were coming from, you know, what their underlying attitudes and state of mind actually were. Then as the conversation developed it was doubly interesting to find out how permeable at the fringes this attitude set might be, how amenable to change it might be, so then he would go, “Do you really believe that or might some other point of view have weight as well in your understanding?” People felt that they were being studied. Some felt they were being cross-examined and suspected malice. Others felt challenged. Still others felt that he was asking a lot of intimate questions and giving no intimate information about himself. Claud Sutcliffe’s wife Mary Jo was kind of an Earth Mother type and having babies at that time and Bob was just as interested in Mary Jo as he was in — well, probably more interested in Mary Jo than any political science colleague. About the time I went up to Bennington in 1970 she just got furious one night and just exploded all over Bob for exactly that, you know, always prying out intimate details from others and never offering any of his own in exchange. There was something dreadfully unfair about that kind of conversation, one-sided. She really took him to task.

Craig Brown,
Former Political Science Professor