In 1962, future Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alex Haley sat down with jazz musician Miles Davis for what would become an institution of American journalism—the Playboy Interview. To celebrate the Interview’s 50th anniversary, Playboy has culled 50 of its most (in)famous Interviews and will publish them over the course of 50 weekdays (from September 4, 2012 to November 12, 2012) via Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform. Here, a glimpse at our conversation with former U.S. Senator Gary Hart from the February 2002 issue.
“You would think that when you predict a major terrorist attack on America, most editors would put it on the front page. But that didn’t happen. We got fair to good coverage in local papers, but nothing on the networks, a page-two story in The Washington Post and nothing, I think, in The New York Times. I mean, it wasn’t as if our forecast was hesitant or tentative. And this wasn’t just another federal commission. We had 14 vastly experienced, bipartisan members, and when the final report was finished, there wasn’t one dissenting voice among us.”
“I’ve always been frustrated, as long as I’ve been in public life, with the resistance of our society and its government to anticipate problems and consequences that are as predictable as this horrible event was. We are, I’m afraid, reactive in this country rather than proactive.”
“Americans find it convenient to rally against a personalized demon like Hitler, or Tojo or Hussein. In this case it’s a mistake because the problem is bigger than Bin Laden. He’s part of the problem but not the whole problem, and focusing on him in the Jesse James way the president did when he said ‘wanted dead or alive’ tends to set him up for martyrdom, which could make things worse in the long run.”
“This is not the cold war. We’re not fighting enemies in the field, we’re fighting people who are demonic and clever, and we’re not used to that kind of enemy. We don’t have to become like them, but we have to begin thinking like them in order to protect ourselves.”
“It isn’t just doom and gloom. This new world opens tremendous possibilities in the coalition that is building against terrorism. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to bring nations like Russia, China and Indonesia into what’s usually called the Western alliance. That’s a huge opportunity, because if they join us in this effort, doors will open for them to join us in others. And the national unity we’ve experienced since the attack is a great thing, along with the reassessment of values, people turning to their families. And the tremendous feeling of warmth toward our public servants, particularly the emergency rescue people. If only 10 percent of that were to last, it would signal a huge change in the stability of our society that has been sadly lacking.”
“In many ways it’s a good thing when we’re challenged. Americans are great at turning lemons into lemonade.”
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