My Interview With Donna Brazile

While my experience at the 2008 GOP Convention in Minneapolis was about republicans, I did meet and interview some liberal democrats. One person I had the genuine pleasure of meeting and interviewing was Donna Brazile.

http://donnabrazile.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donna_Brazile

Donna Brazile was the first black woman to head a major Presidential campaign. She was the campaign manager of Al Gore in 2000.

As pleasant as she was, we are both partisans. For this reason I delayed publishing my interview with her until after the 2008 election. I did not wish to say anything positive about anybody on the left during the heated campaign season. Now that the election is over, in the spirit of unity, Ms. Brazile and I have both taken steps towards unity. She wrote a very poignant column herself yesterday showing compassion towards the losing side of this election. She understands the pain of losing an election, and her words are very sincere.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/11/07/brazile.losers/index.html

One of the reasons I am so glad to have met Ms. Brazile is that it allowed me to walk away with a positive feeling towards somebody that I had previously held a very negative opinion towards. The 2000 recount was a frenzied time in American history, and I had only hostile words towards Ms. Brazile at that time. To this day I confess that my attitude towards her former boss Al Gore is not a warm one.

Yet Ms. Brazile and I have both grown over the years. In an article entitled, “The Green Room,” she spoke of how she got to know political opponents while sitting in the famed waiting room with them. She developed a positive attitude towards former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. She found out he was not the caricature that television portrayed him as.

At the convention, the Louisiana raised Ms. Brazile told one interviewer that Republican Mississippi Senator Trent Lott came through for her during Hurricane Katrina.

“Trent Lott saved my family. I needed three things from him personally, and he came through for me. He made sure that the ice that we desperately needed was delivered. He got us ice, insulin and water. The food came as well. He put politics aside and made sure my family was ok. I will always thank him for that. We were not republicans or democrats during Katrina. We truly were all Americans, and he came through for me.”

Yet the moment when I truly developed a liking for Ms. Brazile came during the 2008 campaign. She went on the Colbert Report and had one of the most hysterical interview sessions in recent memory. In an appearance that was as funny as it was salacious, she and Stephen Colbert implied that they were going to have a sexual rendezvous after the show. They would meet in a Kansas City hotel room and get to know each other. She and Stephen Colbert both began singing the song “Kansas City” to each other.

“Kansas City here I come…crazy littler women there, and I’m going to, get me one.”

When I spoke with Ms. Brazile, I was upfront with her about my political leanings. A person can be partisan and still be fair. She was generous with her time, but I kept it brief anyway.

The interview took place before the financial crisis and the election, so her words have an almost prophetic quality to them.

1) What are the most important issues of 2008?

DB: “The economy is most important. It is off track. Yet in any election, one has to always be prepared for unforeseen events.”

2) Despite your being in a very partisan position as Al Gore’s campaign manager, you have said very positive things towards the other side. What do you do to reduce the acrimony between republicans and democrats?

DB: “People are human beings. Bob Novak of all people was one persn who truly made me feel comfortable. If you are nice to me, than I am nice to you. I live by my mother’s advice, which is that the Golden Rule is the way to go.”

3) Who are your 3 favorite political heroes?

DB: “Barbara Jordan is one. Her 1976 speech in New York inspired me to get into politics. Shirley Chisholm is another one. She was a dynamic speaker, and the first black woman to run for President. Lastly, the Reverend Jesse Jackson. I know he is controversial, and not a popular figure with many, but he hired me in 1984. He gave me my first job in politics.”

4) How would you like to be remembered 100 years from now? What would you want people to say about Donna Brazile the person?

DB: “That I inspired a new generation in the same way the previous generation inspired me. I believe that our democracy itself is very inspiring.”

5) Can America finally crack the glass ceiling and elect a bald President in the modern era?

DB: “It has been a long march to equality. We have cracked the door, and opened the window. Tonight, the nomination of John McCain is another milestone. So whether black, women, or bald, yes we can.”

6) Is there anything can be done with regards to Stephen Colbert? Is there any hope?

DB: “There is a place in America for diversity of views and opinions. I may cook my gumbo differently from you, but that does not make mine better. I may just use different ingredients. Politics has gotten so spicy, and we need to cool it down some. We may find that your recipe for gumbo is just as good.”

I thanked her very much for her time, and let her know three things.

“Ms. Brazile, I would like to let you know that since you are from Louisiana and I am from New York, I can assure you that your gumbo tastes significantly better than mine. Also, my girlfriend is a liberal democrat and an Obama supporter, so I agree with you about reaching out. We can never tell who we will appreciate until we give them a chance.”

She was pleasant and friendly, and she laughed at my last pair of questions. She knew exactly what my reference was regarding Stephen Colbert, and like a true Southern woman, she handled it with gentility and grace. Yet it was the last thing I said to her that truly made the experience special.

“Ms. Brazile, I just wanted you to know that in 2000, I did not like you very much. I said some harsh things about you. The reason I did not like you was because I did not know you. If I convey anything to my readers at all, it will be how likable you are in person. I am glad my perception has completely changed.”

She was genuinely a delight to meet. She is 100% right when she points out that while we can disagree about politics, we have to come together and heal as a nation. We cannot let politics become personal.

She is most likely beaming with pride at the 2008 Presidential race. While I am sure she still wishes 2000 had turned out differently, she does not live in the past. Neither should we. If we are truly to move forward, we have to stop fighting that election.

While It was a joy to speak with her, I have to reiterate that the one fundamental disagreement I have with her will not be bridged.

Her gumbo is far superior to mine, and I am relieved that she never challenged the Bush campaign to a gumbo cookoff.

eric

15 Responses to “My Interview With Donna Brazile”

  1. Jersey McJones Says:

    Ya’ gotta feel good for Donna Brazile. She must be beaming right now.

    JMJ

  2. Micky 2 Says:

    Too bad the guys a loser, if not it, would of been way better for everyone.

  3. Jersey McJones Says:

    What guy?

    JMJ

  4. Micky 2 Says:

    Your saying nothing about why shes beaming can only lead me to think shes proud for black America.
    Great, weve proven we can elect a black man no matter how uqualified he is.
    I’m not going to get to excited about electing a black man, it was never a focus for me unless someone else made it an issue.
    True, the presidency is a mile stone but we’ve many black men in our country who are responsible for some very prominent positions displaying for decades now that the black man was never to be doubted of his equality in any circumstance.
    I dont need to see a black president to reafirm this for me.
    Its just too bad he doesnt know his rump from a hill of beans

  5. Jersey McJones Says:

    Oh, here we go with the qualified thing again. Look, hes a bright guy. very impressive. As WJC said, the only qualifications are laid out in the constitution and he meets them. Hes bright, well educted, erudite, and hes laid himself out for the all to see with two long books and several years of public scrutiny. Besides, you guys were willing to take a chance on Palin (I wont even get into Bush), so what are you complaining about?

    As for your last line, thats just school playground talk. Hes very bright and anyone with half a brain can see that.

    JMJ

  6. parrothead Says:

    Obama is qualified. He is 35 and born a US Citizen. I have long thought that America could elect a Black Man president. I think if Colon Powell had run in 2000 he likely would have won. What is more shocking to me is that we elected a Senator and a Northern Liberal. Two things we have not done in my lifetime. Of course Obama ran as a centrist so we have to wait and see how he governs. I agree that he is an intelligent man and I don’t believe he will be anybody’s puppet. The question I will need answered is what direction does he lead the country once he gets into office and truly understands the constraints and ramifications of his decisions. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but my gut tells me he will be a lot more moderate than most people think. I didn’t vote for him and he was not my preference, but he will soon be my President and I hope he is a successful one. I for one feel we need to wait and see what he does once he gets in office before making any judgments on what type of president he is or will be. I have said this before, but people get to office with lots of intentions, but once there they often change due to fully understanding what reality is. That happens for the rest of us too. I know when I got my current job, what I saw as the future direction is not necessarily the path I have followed once I had to deal with the reality of the situation.

  7. Jersey McJones Says:

    “What is more shocking to me is that we elected a Senator and a Northern Liberal.”

    Oh man! You said it! I mean, he’s not really all that “liberal,” but thats what most people think, and that’s all that really matters. And a black, “liberal,” northern senator at that! I mean, when you look around the world, women and minorities that make it to top office are almost always “conservative” or from the “rightwing.” It seems to sort of make it okay if they seem to be against what most people would think is in their “special” interest. Indira Ghandi, Margeret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto, etc. To think that an African American Democratic senator from Illinois made it to the top is just plain amazing. Thats like three or four strikes against ya’ right there! I think it proves one thing for sure: The Republicans REEEEAAAAALLLLY screwed up this time.

    His actual record is very moderate (despite that silly ranking from the National Journal that reflected time he was busy running for president). When you look at his transition team, it’s all mainstreamers, Blue Dogs, Wall Streeters, etc. Dont expect anything “radical” from Obama (despite the past 20,000 hours of Fox “News” broadcasting). He seems like a genuinely thoughtful and pragmatic guy. I think his administration will reflect that.

    I only wish he was more to the Left.

    JMJ

  8. parrothead Says:

    Jersey,

    As much as I hate to agree with you, my sense he will be pragmatic and govern from the center. Far more moderate than Democrats want and Republicans fear. My guess is in many ways he will disappoint Pelosi, Soros and company. I hope we both turn out to be correct

    Much the way Reagan did overall even though he is painted by both right and left as an extreme conservative. Look how much he got accomplished both in California and in the White House whihc overwhelming control of the legislature by Democrats in both cases.

  9. Micky 2 Says:

    Not only FOX carried the news about all his far left activities and buddies Jersey.
    And his track record defintley shows him as one of the most liberal senators ever.

    Please, stop spreading mis information.
    His past on the hill is common knowledge to everyone.

    America electing a black man represents how badly the right screwed up ?

    See a shrink, or question your bigotry (oops, did I do a Jersey and question someones sanity ?)

    Damn right.

    Theres lots of bright community organizers that are not fit to lead.
    Anyone can write a book, ask Carter.

    John Gotti.
    Charles Manson.
    Jesse Jackson.
    Hugo Chavez.

    I think a good part of the left just wanted to prove to the world our diversity and elect a black man.
    No matter what the consequences
    Get it ?

  10. Jersey McJones Says:

    Parrot, I think were right. Well be laughing about this in a year or so. Many on the Left thinks hes the next Messiah, and many on the Right thinks the socialist Anti-Christ. Anyone who really takes a good hard look at the guy, his history, his style, knows that he’s a pragmatic moderate. He may be able to make some changes that the Right thinks are “radical” and “socialistic” but really are just plain good sense, like beginning the universalization of healthcare coverage, or reining in the military empire (especially the privatization of that). But these are things we may well have seen with a Republican president! We just can’t afford to keep up the cannibalization of the healthcare sector and the endless military empire. these things are simply bleeding us dry.

    Cmon Micky, get real here for a moment. You obviously don’t even know his “track record.” Here’s his US Senate voting record: http://www.votesmart.org/voting_category.php?can_id=9490 Pretty standard stuff. But notice all the “NV”s. That’s Barack running for president. McCain’s looks the same. Are you reallly going to try to assert that Obama is more “liberal” than Bernie Sanders? Russell Fiengold? Teddy Kennedy? Shumer? Whitehouse? Wyden?

    C’mon. Get real.

    “America electing a black man represents how badly the right screwed up?”

    That would be a rather misleading way of putting it. I think I would put it like this, “The Republicans screwed up so bad, that even a black, northern senator with a liberal reputation could win the Whitehouse!” To be honest, if he was a white, southern governor with a moderate reputation, I think McCain would have lost by thirty points.

    JMJ

  11. Micky 2 Says:

    So what ?
    All your link does is prove my point ! As does this line in your last paragraph; ” northern senator with a liberal reputation ”
    Most of the Y votes are to liberal agendas.
    And also, stop thinking people are stupid, it just makes you look stupid.
    We all know that NV is just as good as no.
    Jeez, you tell me to get real and you obviously didnt even read the thing ?
    I’ve spent two years studying the guy and almost every aspect of his life reaks with uber progressive socialist liberalism.
    Whats really freaking hilarious and just goes to show how disengenuous you really are is that the vote smart project carries the National Journals report on their own site as credible refernce and yet you still try discount it as not worthy.
    Nice try, but you forget who your dealing with.

    See here.
    http://www.votesmart.org/issue_rating_detail.php?r_id=49

    Unforunatly he his not a white man so my point remains the same.

  12. Jersey McJones Says:

    “We all know that NV is just as good as no.”

    Where do you guys get these silly ideas from, anyway?

    If a bill is sure to pass with or without you, and you “no vote,” then is that as good as a “no.” Man, you guys have some seriously misguided simplifications goin’ on here.

    And you have not been studying the guy for years. Give it a rest. You sound like you’ve spent the past two years studying Rush Limbaugh. I saw his votesmart records. But you have to look at his State Senate record if you want the whole picture, and there you see most of his record was rather moderate. Too moderate for me. Look, if he was really as left as you say he is, I’d be his biggest fan, and I’m not. So come back down to Earth Micky. You’re way out in Right field.

    The NV’s are NOT counted in the NJ survey, Micky. That’s why nobody serious takes the NJ ranking seriously. It’s just fodder for Fox News goofballs.

    JMJ

  13. Micky 2 Says:

    Look jersey, you got caught in a conflict depicting your willingness to try and decieve, or maybe you’re just inept.

    You say that NJ is not a good guage of Obamas positions and refer to votesmart, when votesmart itself uses views and data fro NJ to complete its presentations. So the NJ cant really be all that “SILLY” as you say if vote smart project uses it as reliable data.

    Your relation to FOX is predictable an irrelevant as that your only escape is to start bashing ones sources based on bias opinon only.
    I bashed your source with the “FACT” that it and the NJ work together.

    And really, who cares if the NVs arent counted ?
    DUH?
    Its all the Y votes on the liberal agendas that make my point.

    Also, I and anyone who is an avid blogger has been researching Obama since he announced his candidacy, almost two years ago, give or take a couple months, so spare me the petty minutia.
    I’ve come across a lot of things so ridiculous that I cast it out my mind right away like the front page of the Globe.

    His upbringing, family, schooling, choice of associates, activities supported, spiritual choices, mmentors etc…
    The guy is as left as weve ever seen any president in history.
    Its no secret, its common discussion that doesnt get too much resistance on many forms I’ve listened to.
    I think you just want to spur disagreement for the sake of it since you cant really prove much of anything else.

  14. Micky 2 Says:

    Ha !!!

    Rasmussen shows 64% of Americans think Palin should be the nominee in 2112.
    I didnt even expect that much.
    Even if it were 32% thats still impressive at this time wth all the BS about her floating around

  15. Micky 2 Says:

    whoa !
    Sorry.
    lets shoot for 2012 instead.

    :-)

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