Perhaps it’s the ultimate in chutzpah to interview myself. But then again, who the hell else is better qualified to get me to sit down for an interview?
1-Q-Is this the most divisive time you’ve experienced in America?
A-No. If you lived through the Vietnam War, I think you’d agree that we were even more divided back then. The protest and counter-protests. The Ohio National guard killing four Kent State students. It was a truly terrible time.
2-Q-How do you respond to readers who believe you’re obsessed with Trump and should stick to writing about South Philly?
A-Well, I agree that I’m obsessed with Trump. I recently wrote a column about it that I meant to be humorous. Found out lots of readers have lost their sense of humor.
3-Q-And why not stick to writing about South Philly?
A-Look — The truth is that if you checked back through the archives, I’ve always written almost half of my columns about other stuff. But I always try to write about things that are relevant to all of us, and sometimes the most interesting issues just happen to occur outside of South Philly.
4-Q-What do you say to those who claim that you’re not objective — that you’re just another liberal.
A-Many readers don’t understand the difference between the role of a columnist and that of a reporter. A columnist is not only allowed to have opinions, he or she is expected to have opinions. The reporters on this newspaper do an excellent job of covering straight news. That’s not my job.
5-Q-Lots of folks think you’re biased — that your ONLY opinion is that President Trump is evil. Fair?
A-Do they complain that Laura Ingraham or Sean Hannity are just biased Trump lovers?
6-Q-Your point being?
A-It’s not a question of my being biased, but about whether they agree with me.
7-Q-Are you a Trump-hater?
A-I hate migrant kids being separated from their parents at the border and living in filthy conditions. I hate the birtherism charges leveled against Barack Obama. I hate the idea that too many folks think that liberals and the media, not Vladimir Putin or Kim, are the enemies of America. I hate when folks run down a genuine war hero such as John McCain, even after he’s dead and can’t defend himself. I hate their bad-mouthing a gold star father or claiming that undocumented immigrants are mainly rapists and thugs. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Donald Trump is behind all of these things. So, yeah, at the very least I hate “Trumpism.”
8-Q-Why do you think that Trump seems so popular in certain areas of South Philly?
A-I’ve puzzled over that question since I was accosted by an old friend in the supermarket during the 2016 campaign. She wanted to know how I as an Italian-
American could be against Donald Trump? I wonder why would Italians necessarily support Trump in the first place?
9-Q-So, now do you think there is a connection?
A-I do. Trump received about 25% of his vote total in Philadelphia from my old ward. And some of my critics tell me they feel a connection between Frank Rizzo and Trump.
10-Q-Why do you think that is?
A-I’ve been told by those same folks that it’s because both Rizzo and Trump were and are for “law and order.”
11-Q-You sound as if you don’t agree.
A-I was critical of Rizzo, but comparing him to Trump is an unforgivable insult to Frank Rizzo.
A-Rizzo was incorruptible. I disagreed sometimes with how Rizzo interpreted “law and order,” but he had principles and stuck to them. Trump promised to drain the swamp, but he and his family ARE the swamp. Unlike Rizzo, Trump believes in nothing but his own self-aggrandizement. If you were in a trench, who would be the guy who would save your ass and who would be the guy to cut and run?
13-Q-Is it unfair to call you a “liberal?” Does it offend you?
A-The only thing that offends me is that people think that calling you a liberal disqualifies your opinion. It used to be in the ‘60s people on the right were called “reactionaries” and THEIR opinions were dismissed. I thought it was wrong then. I think it’s wrong now.
14-Q-Do you accept the label “liberal?”
A-I think my liberal friends might object to my being called a liberal.
A-Let me give you a laundry list of the ways I’ve ticked off my liberal friends, beginning with my column demanding that Bill Clinton resign the presidency as a result of the Lewinsky scandal.
16-Q-You thought he should’ve been impeached and removed from office for lying about sex?
A-Not for lying about sex. For disgracing the office of the presidency. And if he had any sense of decency, he wouldn’t have waited for impeachment to get the hell out of the White House.
17-Q-Did you commit what you would consider other “transgressions” against liberals?
A-Ask my good friend who almost threw me out of the car on the way to work one morning when I argued that Ronald Reagan should be praised for helping to end the Cold War. By the way, she’s still a good friend. And she still gets ticked at me about it.
18-Q-Some would say that you’re just trying to curry favor with conservatives.
A-That would have to be a helluva of a curry. Besides which, neither Trump nor his followers are “conservatives” in any true sense of the word.
(End of Part 1).
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