Al: Mr. Novak, you are a hard man to schedule an interview.
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: 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
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
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