Al: Mr. Novak, you are a hard man to schedule an interview.
Bob: Well, would you like to do the interview right now?

Al: I would love to. If you don't mind, we can do it before your reception starts.
Bob: That would be fine.

Al: What I like to do is to ask you several political questions and get your response to them. I listen to you on CNN's Capital Gang and Crossfire. However, with both those forums, none of the commentators seem to be able to get more than a sentence in before they are interrupted. Therefore, I would like to get you uninterrupted responses to a couple of world issues.

Bob: Well, they call those programs debates, but they really aren't debates at all. However, I do go on the road and do what is called a "dog and pony show." I really do debate Paul Begala and James Carvel. One of them does twenty-minutes, and I do twenty-minutes and then there is a ten-minute rebuttal. I enjoy that.

Al: What I would like to learn from you is what made you who you are today.
Bob:There are just so many factors. I was an only child, which had a great influence on me. I was interested in things that my father was interested in like sports and politics. My father was a good athlete, and for some reason, I wasn't. So, I started writing about sports rather than doing sports. At a very early age, I knew that I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to tell people what was going on. I always had strong ideas as a child and a teenager. So, it just developed.

Al: You have been a political commentator for a half century. Supposing I were God, and I put you in charge of the world. What would you do about Iraq?

Bob: Well, it is no secret that I'm on record of opposing the war. I don't think that we can say now, "Well, okay, let's get the hell out of here." I think that we need to try and create some stability in Iraq. One thing that I wouldn't do is to say, "Boy, we are going to have a democracy here." I think it is unrealistic to think that we can do that. Senator Pat Roberts from Kansas made a very controversial speech recently saying that we aren't the messiah to the world. I agree. What I would try to do is to get the infrastructure up and running and then say, "If you want an Islamic theocratic state, be my guest. Just don't bother your neighbor, and don't develop nuclear weapons. We aren't going to make you like Dixon, IL. That's what I would do.

Al: I would also like you to address the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
Bob: Well, I think that we have made a terrible mistake. We can't be a mediator and then move over here and back Sharon's plan. I have a lot of Palestinian friends who have been devastated by our shift away from mediation. I think that we need to restore the balance. Kerry is as bad as Bush on this.

Al: During your commencement address, you mentioned your conversion from Judaism to Catholicism. It struck me interesting that you were born Jewish but have been such an outspoken critic of Israel's position on the Palestinian situation. How did you come to your position of this particular problem?

Bob: Well, I haven't been an observant Jew since I was thirteen years old. I think there are a lot of Jews who think like me. Other people often ask me why I am anti-Israel. I'm not; I just think we need to have a more balanced approach to this situation.

Al: Gene Siskel use to ask the people that he interviewed what their favorite movie was. He said that it sometimes gave him a better insight into the person than any other question. What is your favorite movie?

Bob: Citizen Kane.

Al: My question that I try to ask all my interviewees is how do you want to be remembered? Someday, Robert D. Novak won't be here. How do you want the world to remember you?

Bob: I've never thought of that. I'm seventy-three years old and would like to leave some legacy. Nobody will remember my newspaper columns or television appearances. They won't remember me for my writing. How many people remember Walter Lippmann?

I have a Novak scholarship fund in perpetuity, and I am the founder and chair for writing at the University of Illinois. That is how I want to be remembered.

Al: I really appreciate your time during this busy commencement celebration. While I was watching a recent Cross-Fire program on CNN, you were opining that you don't have a valet making popcorn for you when you are on the road. Therefore, I would like to present you this small symbol of my appreciation. Here are two boxes of Orville Redenbacher's popcorn: one Cinnabon popcorn and the other Kettle corn. The Cinnabon is my favorite. Enjoy them in good health. Thanks again.
Bob: Well, thank you.

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