Oprah: Can we turn this around?

Bobby: I think we can, but it's going to take a generation to recover, particularly in the Muslim world. In Tehran there was a nascent democratic movement; most observers were betting that Iran would be a democratic nation by now. But after the war in Iraq, that movement disappeared. The war allowed the radicals to say to the moderates, "Here's proof that all the bad things we've been saying about the United States are true." The radical, Islamofascist leaders were empowered.

Oprah: Do you fear for our country?

Bobby: I think the worst thing this White House has done is to use fear as a governing tool. No, I don't fear for our country in terms of an attack. They've used the excuse that 9/11 suddenly put us in the most dangerous part of our history. That's nonsense. When you and I were raised, there were 25,000 nuclear warheads pointed at America, and we faced absolute annihilation. That was a dangerous time. When George Washington fought the British and his troops didn't have shoes, that was a dangerous time. And during the Civil War, if we had lost Gettysburg, the United States of America would have disappeared.

Oprah: That's right.

Bobby: Lots of countries, like Israel, live with terrorism every day, and it doesn't impact their integrity. The big threat to America is the way we react to terrorism by throwing away what everybody values about our country—a commitment to human rights. America is a great nation because we are a good nation. When we stop being a good nation, we stop being great.

Oprah: Why haven't you run for office?

Bobby: I've got six reasons running around this house. But at this point, I would run if there were an office open because I'm so distressed about the kind of country my children will inherit. I've tried to cling to the idea that I could be of public service without compromising my family life. But at this point, I would run.

Oprah: For what?

Bobby: I would run for the Senate or for the governor's office [in New York]. But my friends are in those offices, and I'm not going to run against them.

Oprah: Why didn't you run for New York attorney general?

Bobby: Because I really didn't want to be attorney general. I have the kind of life where I can take my kids on trips with me. I can involve them in my work. I've always avoided politics because I didn't want to make commitments that would take me away from raising these children. But now America has changed so dramatically that I'm asking myself: What's going to be left of this country? I'm spending time with my kids, but maybe my time would be spent just as well if I tried to save the country.

Oprah: What kind of father would your children call you?

Bobby: You can ask them.

Oprah: Your wife's not here with us today. What kind of husband would she call you?

Bobby: I think Mary would call me a pretty good husband. And by the way, Mary remembers you as a great sport, because she once picked you up in Boston to take you to Maria [Shriver]'s wedding....


Next Story