Q: Tell me this: Why do people keep hiring your 2004 campaign adviser Bob Shrum when he’s repeatedly associated with failed runs for the White House?
A: I think Bob Shrum’s been treated very unfairly. Because I think he’s an amazingly talented, capable person, and has a huge heart, and cares about the political process, and worked his tail off for everybody he’s ever worked for. And you know, he wasn’t the only person making decisions in that effort. And in the end, it’s my responsibility. Look, we won the nomination, and we came damn close to winning, and people better go back and check the history books as to how hard it is to beat a sitting president in a time of war. The mood has changed like night and day from when I was running in ’04 to where we are now. If it had been two months later, three months later, you’d have had a very different mood. You know, I think the people who worked for me in that campaign worked their hearts out, and none of them deserve to be kicked around the way some people like to kick people around in this city. I just think it’s inappropriate. It’s an unfortunate ugliness that I hope we can move on from.
Q: What is the single biggest waste of time that Americans engage in today?
A: The amount of television they watch.
Q: Why do you think that’s a waste?
A: Because some of it is just not very good. I mean, they’d be better off reading a book or writing a poem or getting outdoors and running around, doing anything else. Look, there’s some great stuff on TV, there’s some wonderful programs, and some great entertainment, and the Emmys reflect that. But there’s also just a lot of. . . a lot of junk.
Q: I know you’re a reader of poetry. During the campaign, was there a poem you turned to frequently that provided some kind of sustenance or inspiration?
A: Yeah, I mean, who wrote the poem about “When all those around you are losing their heads. . .” Is that Kipling?
Q: I would imagine it is Kipling.
A: I recited “Gunga Din” on the bus one day, if I recall correctly. I remember that. I did that in Iowa with a bunch of veterans. “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”