Martin Schneider writes:
Last Sunday 92Y perpetrated a switcheroo. Longtime TV analyst Jeff Greenfield has hosted a recurring series of interviews at 92Y for (if I heard the intro right) something like 30 years, a forum he has used to interview people like Newt Gingrich and presumably also people whose opinion is worth a damn. (Although, to be fair, Greenfield referred to that interview in a way that made it sound worth watching.)
At the moment Greenfield has a new book to flog, Then Everything Changed, an entertaining exercise in alternate history from the sound of it. So for this one night, Greenfield was the subject of the interview, and 92Y enlisted longtime friend Charlie Rose to host the proceedings.
In short, the event featured two of America's best and smartest professional talkers, although perhaps not the most exciting two people in the world. Not surprisingly, Rose and Greenfield are such fluent talkers/thinkers and also such political junkies that the event was highly amusing and entertaining.
Rose, whose affable drone has occupied the 11pm slot on PBS for a generation now, was remarkably amusing and fluid as the host on this night. Greenfield spoke at length about two former bosses, Robert F. Kennedy and John Lindsay, both of which feature in the book to some extent. It was fun to hear Greenfiled explore the possibilities of an RFK presidency (and therefore no Nixon presidency, no Watergate) and similar scenarios.
Late in the session, Greenfield made some quite critical remarks about President Obama for not making the urgency of the economic crisis of 2008-09 (and ongoing) the central theme of his presidency. Greenfield ventured that he "may have been overtaken by events." He also noted the political wisdom of "acknowledging the elephant in the room," a move that voters appreciate and that Obama has not done sufficiently.
I was a little surprised that Greenfield had swallowed the conventional wisdom about the election of 2010 to that extent, but then again, he works for a major news network -- as smart as he is, it's not his role to push a big alternate version of events (given his book, ironic) in which most of what Obama did worked fairly well and so forth. But I'm picking nits. It was a good time!
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