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Posted by on Jul 22, 2005 in At TMV | 0 comments

Blogger Interview With A Pulitzer Prize Winner

We always encourage people to read the work of a blogger who goes that extra mile by putting aside the published stories and op-ed pieces and actually doing THEIR OWN interview. And now we have another solid example.

The Talking Dog has interviewed Putitzer Prize winning Professor David Hackett Fischer by phone from his home in Massachusetts. Fischer, University Professor at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass, has written various books including Albion’s Seed, Paul Revere’s Ride — and he won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for history for Washington’s Crossing.

We urge you to read the entire interview yourself. It should provide PLENTY of food for thought — and debate — for people on the right and left. We’ll offer you a few highlights (but just a few):

The Talking Dog: I always start with this question. Where were you on 9/11?

David Hackett Fischer: I was sitting at my computer terminal, writing a book. I received a telephone call from my son-in-law who told me to turn on the television, and I was glued to the t.v. the rest of the day, like the rest of the country. I wrote about aspects of 9-11 in my book Liberty and Freedom… I’m old enough to recall where I was when I first heard about Pearl Harbor. I was 6; my brother and I were both at home, just having had our tonsils out… I remember my father’s reaction to the news, and it made an indelible impression on me. Like September 11th, which was a warm, clear day in September, I remember it as a warm, clear, December day in Baltimore. The reactions were very much the same as on 9/ll.

TTD asks him some questions about values and history, then ties it to the present. Here is an excerpt highly edited by TMV (read the original):

The Talking Dog: …Let me ask you about the apparently sudden surge in the popularity of books about the Revolutionary War era…. Why do you think books about that era are suddenly popular? Do you believe it has anything to do with a resurgence in patriotism since 9-11?

David Hackett Fischer: Before 9-11 there had been a surge of books about World War II. That was driven by an anniversary. There have been many waves of interest in books about the Revolution.,,,,Each wave tends to focus on different figures in the Revolution….I do believe, though, that the current surge started with John and Abigail, and mostly it is about character and moral values in public life, and principled leaders. Is patriotism part of it? Yes, I agree. Certainly, as to the patriotism question, there is a sense of belonging to the Republic, similar to what was experienced after 9-11. A sense of identification with the Republic, if you will.

And then there are some more historical questions — and the part of the interview that could generate a lot of partisan “buzz” and debate. Like this:

The Talking Dog: …First, do you believe we are making a mistake, and I believe it is a huge and catastrophic mistake, in not adhering to Washington’s insistence on the absooutely humane and lawful treatment of prisoners in our custody, be it at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, or wherever, and otherwise not maintaining the absolute moral high ground?

David Hackett Fischer: I absolutely agree with that. We have lost the moral high ground. We had it in the aftermath of 9/11. We had it going into Afghanistan. Mr. Bush might have had it going into war against Saddam Hussein. But he blew it. He just blew it. We certainly have many mortal enemies throughout the Islamic world, not all of it obviously. But many– besides Al Qaeda, Shiite groups in Iran and Palestine and Baathists in Iraq, all dedicated to our destruction. Bush was right to address the problem. And indeed, the Democrats, by and large, are not right to refuse to face up to the problem. Further, Saddam Hussein gave us the cause for war. He attacked United States’ aircraft day after day for months. He supported the murder of our diplomats in Jordan, and indeed, the attempted murder of a former President. He supported Abu Sayef in the Philippines, and he supported Palestinian terrorism in Israel that took its share of American lives. But Mr. Bush blew the just war. He didn’t care about the moral high ground and alienated many supporters at home and abroad.

The doctrine of preemption was also a huge mistake. … Rumsfeld’s management of war bears no resemblance to Washington’s. The Iraq war planning is entirely for the short run. Washington always planned for the long run, even as his men marched through the winter snows, he was planning future infrastructure, military academies and other long-range visions. By contrast, under Mr. Rumsfeld’s leadership we are neglecting maintenance, manpower, and considering things like base closings….

Worse, we are reaping a whirlwind from things like the abuses of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Indeed, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo were mentioned by terrorists responsible for the London bombings recently. We are giving terrorists a thin veil of moral authority that is completely unnecessary. There was simply no need to have incurred this level of divisiveness.

There is a LOT MORE.

And what could Washington teach US today? To find out that read the whole TTD interview yourself (and leave TTD some comments).Remember: it’s an ORIGINAL PIECE by a blogger who is using the full potential of a weblog to do more than comment — but to present readers original reporting.

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