Prime Buzz: Your job in 60 words ...

Jack Cashill: In my contractual work with Ingram’s, and my work as an independent writer and producer, I see myself as a chronicler of the obvious. I get to tell the stories that no one else will. For the next month or two, however, my main job will be hawking my new book, What’s the Matter with California?

   Where did you grow up? What was it like? 

   When I was 5 years old, my policeman father, my mother, my two older brothers, my baby sister and I moved to my new block on the second floor of a coal-fired triplex, 7 Myrtle Avenue, Newark, New Jersey. I would spend all my formative years on that block. Despite getting mugged a few times as the neighborhood collapsed around us — once at gunpoint — I had an oddly happy childhood.

   What did you do for your first paycheck?

   I was 12 years old. I delivered milk off a truck in the back streets of Newark from roughly 2 5 a.m. every other day. Before that I delivered The (Newark) Star-Ledger, but as paperboy I was more of an entrepreneur than an employee.

   Any embarrassing work stories you'd care to divulge? 

   In college, as a telephone solicitor for the Albany Times Union (N.Y.), I sold a newspaper subscription to a blind man. Ah, sweet triumph! For a moment, I reveled in the pure glory of it. Selling a newspaper subscription to a blind man! Incredible! If only Pulitzer gave prizes for solicitation! By evening's end, however, the historic warring forces of the American psyche were staging a prize fight in my conscience — in one corner, individualism, cold and rugged; in the other, community responsibility, warm and fuzzy. "Community" prevailed in a split decision. Egad! I thought. I sold a newspaper subscription to a blind man! What has become of me?

   Why can’t the Kansas GOP get its act together?

   If “together” simply means coalescing around some empty strategy to get more votes than the other guys, it speaks well of the GOP that they cannot. In fact, one large faction of the GOP is motivated almost exclusively by the pursuit of principle. Another faction is motivated largely by power and perks. The latter faction is happy to flirt with the Democrats if the Dems can deliver comparable goodies. Personally, I have never understood how a politically aware person could, without embarrassment, identify as a “moderate.” What does “moderate” mean?

   What is the one thing that most voters don’t understand about the art and science of winning elections?

   The “undecideds” are not the sharpest knives in the drawer, just the opposite. Those who “vote for the person, not the party” are in that same dull drawer. Most of the political TV commercials you see are aimed at these people, and that is why they strike you as so stupid.

   What is your second career choice?

   I run multiple careers simultaneously — writer, video producer, marketer, occasional radio broadcaster, editor.

   Where do you see yourself in 2027?

   Ideally, on the sunny side of the grass, likely splitting time between KC and my place in western N.Y. state, and hopefully doing pretty much what I do today.

   What's your favorite book about politics? Why? 

   Although not a beach read, I would say The Federalist Papers. Three very bright guys sat down and delineated the most successful political experiment in world history. It is hard to understand how America works without reading this. If I am going to the beach, I would take Whittaker Chambers’ classic, Witness.

   What's your biggest weakness?

   Lack of focus. That is how you get rich, and I haven’t.

   Comfort food?

   The Jack Deluxe at Hooper’s on Monday hamburger night.

   If I could win a reality TV show, it would be ...

   "American Idol." I always wished I could sing.

   What concert would you pay to see tonight?

   Andrea Bocelli

   Who are you backing for president in 2008? 

   Fred Thompson, as is my self-described “liberal Democrat” niece. If you have not guessed, she is the "Law & Order" fan. She votes for the person, you understand.

   Will you ever run for public office?

   Not unless drafted for president.

   What's your job's hardest part?

   As a chronicler of the obvious, the hardest part of my job is dealing with those in the mainstream media who refuse to see what is right in front of their face. I have become, for instance, the chief literary custodian of the great untold story of our time, the destruction by missile-fire of TWA Flight 800 (see for details). Few in the major media doubt me, and fewer still will debate me, but none has yet shown the moxie to take the next step and break the story open. And I am talking Bob Woodward on down.

   Locally, alas, the [George] Tiller story falls in the same category.