Sometimes you gotta shut up and listen

I enjoy sharing my stories. But here’s the thing, I know all of my stories. My stories aren’t going to teach ME anything new.

Recently I spoke at Central College in Iowa. As part of my visit I was interviewed by Dr. Bob Leonard for his local radio show In-depth. You can listen to the interview. It lasted 13 minutes. I say things I’ve heard myself say hundreds of times, but when the interview was over, the real interview began.

I interviewed Bob.

All I said was, “I hear  you have some interesting stories,” and that’s all it took for Bob to get going. Bob is an Anthropology professor, and I had heard that he drove cab for a while as part of his research. He didn’t talk about that much, but he did talk about interviewing pretty much every major presidential candidate over the last 12 years. It’s not my place to share his stories as they were told in confidence, but I will say this: it is scary how some of the candidates he interviewed were unable to handle being interviewed on a show in rural Iowa. And it’s even scarier how close they actually came to the White House.

Bob has stories. Loads of stories.

He shares some of his stories and opinions on The Hill (“Stop giving Ben Carson a pass on issues just because he’s a ‘brilliant’ surgeon) and on Salon (Ted Cruz’s dad is even more frightening than Ted Cruz). Here’s an excerpt from that last story:

I sat at a corner table when the senior Cruz spoke recently to a standing room only crowd of about 60 people at a coffee shop in Knoxville, Iowa, population 7,200 (more or less). My guess is that all were Republicans, and most, if not all, are Christians in a world where they see Christian influence waning, if not under attack. Historic and current global persecution of Christians is part of their intellectual DNA, and they take this persecution personally, despite the fact that Christians in the United States are arguably the most privileged religious group in the history of the planet.Sometimes even when you are supposed to be doing the talking, it’s best to shut up and listen. . .

Near the end of the question and answer session, Pastor Cruz walked up to a boy, maybe eight to ten years old, who was seated at a table.

What is your name?” he asked, hands folded, looking down at the boy.

“Thaddeus,” the boy replied, looking up, eyes widening.

“I’m so glad you are here… Let me tell you Thaddeus, I don’t want to shock you, but let me tell you something. We are fighting for your future (amens came from the crowd), and if we lose, you will not have a future. Do you understand what I am saying?”

Thaddeus gulped and nodded. Cruz looked up to the rest of the audience, opening his arms wide.

“We are fighting for the future of our children, and our grandchildren. That is why we cannot lose this fight. It is their future that is at stake, because the way this country is going, if we don’t change it, they will not have a future. If things continue the way they have someday we will be sitting and telling our children and grandchildren about back when America was free. I’m not willing to have that conversation.”

The crowd erupted.

You can listen to Bob on Twitter @RobertLeonard



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