Collected Interviews

Here are a few interviews I have run into as I attempt to catch up on my surfing after having been out of town for a few days. Some you might have already noted while others might have escaped your attention. ‘In case you have missed them, I reproduce the links as a service to my readers:

– As is par for the course for Mr. Birnbaum, his interview with Charles McCarry, author most recently of Old Boys, is interesting and thought provoking. I particularly liked this exchange:

RB: There is a sense, and it is reiterated in your novels, that the Cold War struggle against the Russians and Communists was very affirmative for the intelligence community and that there was an absolute faith they were on the right side. And after the Soviet Union collapsed there was great self-congratulation. Somewhere in Old Boys you write, “They did a lot of good in the world, little of it except through stupidity and inadvertence.”

CM: I don’t remember saying that. Some of it by inadvertence at least. I never met a stupid person in the agency. Or an assassin. Or a Republican.
RB: No Republicans? [laughs] Are you serious?

CM: I’m serious. They were, at least in the operations side where I was, there were wall-to-wall knee-jerk liberals. And they were befuddled that the left outside the agency regarded them as some sort of right-wing threat. Because they were the absolute opposite, in their own politics.

– Frontpage Magazine contains an interview with William F Buckley whose recently released Miles Gone By is on my To Be Read list. Here is a taste:

FP: Give us your report card on President Bush in the War on Terror.

Buckley: A grade given to Mr. Bush in the matter of the war on terrorism would require scales of performance by others in similar situations. The one tactile confrontation we all have is at airports, and I decline to believe ingenuity has been exercised there. Though that perhaps reflects my having to bare my toenails to somebody or other a couple of days ago. Another measure is a posteriori: If there are no terrorist attacks, progress is being made.

– Penguin at some point decided to focus is marketing power on those readers of the conservative persuasion (or at least those with an interest in that persuasion) and so created a new imprint entitled Sentinel. National Review Online has an interview with Ronald Kessler on the first product of that imprint A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush. Here is an interesting issue that came up:

NRO: It seems you spend a lot of time on education — especially phonics. Why?

Kessler: I have a special interest. After I got into Bush’s reading initiative, I realized that when I had to take remedial reading in Cambridge, Mass., after the third grade, I learned to read with phonics. The New York City schools, which I had previously attended, taught reading with a form of whole language. So I know how humiliating it is to not be able to read, to think that you are a failure. I hope that parents will read this book, find out the facts, and storm their school boards to demand a return to phonics. Despite Bush’s efforts, 60 percent of public schools continue to teach whole language.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).