Friday, August 15, 2008

The Tom Barbash Interview: He has substance and style!

Tom Barbash is the author of On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick and 9/11: a Story of Loss and Renewal and The Last Good Chance. He is from Manhattan, lives now in San Francisco and I'd vote for him.

PRS: Tell me about the first time you voted in a presidential election.
TB: My first voting experience was for Walter Mondale who I so badly wanted to beat Reagan. Mondale was decent, honest, a bit on the dull side and would have made an infinitely better president.
I recall being amazed at what a landslide it was considering that virtually everyone I knew in my New York City and Haverford College circles mocked Reagan, and Nancy's reliance on psychics, etc. I never saw his appeal, and never did until George Bush came around and made Reagan seem regal in comparison.

PRS: What, if any, was the first political scandal that had you glued to the television, or that you followed pretty closely? Can you explain your fascination with it?
TB: Watergate, though I didn't entirely understand it. I remember being at my uncle's beach house over the summer and everyone was watching these hearings and I knew it was great drama, and I knew the bad guys were getting in trouble, and that pleased my parents and pleased me. We all hated Nixon and Agnew. My fascination had to do with the concept of an evil president, titillating stuff for a kid raised on stories of Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.

PRS: You've seen the Paris Hilton fightback? What do you think of the mixture of celebrity in politics? I have to admit I found the line "I'll see you at the debates, bitches" funny.
TB: I think celebrity is being used as a substitute for attractive, and well-liked. The myth promulgated by people as ill at ease in their own skin as McCain is, is that the smoothies like Barack must lack substance. But maybe its their substance that makes them so attractive.

PRS: Mr. Smith Goes To Washington? Have you ever seen that? Do you think there is place for a decent and honest politicians in American politics, and that they'll prevail?
TB: I think there's a place for an ESSENTIALLY decent and honest person, but it seems as though if you want to win you have to play tough, and compromise occasionally, and you have to raise money. The trick is not to bend so far in the opposite direction that you become unrecognizable - as the cranky old senator from Arizona has this campaign season.

If YOU have any questions you'd like to ask Tom Barbash or any of our August authors, come to the Makeout Room Saturday night, August 16 at 7p.m. The rest of the lineup includes last minute and very exciting addition April Sinclair, all the way from Ann Arbor, Davy Rothbart, author of The Farther Shore, Matthew Eck and headliner Jonathan Franzen! All for the low price of ten to twenty dollars. Plus we're helping Houston with their recycling issues. What more could you really ask for a on Saturday night?

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