Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bob Short Reflects

Bob Short has a way with words. He is a crackerjack interviewer, a storyteller of the old school, and an experienced hand. For almost three years he has worked on Reflections on Georgia Politics, tirelessly and without reward, with a mix of serious historical inquiry, wry humor,and a depth of political understanding that explains a lot about who he knows and why he knows them. And when I say this, it is important to understand that of the 86 interviews he has completed thus far, he has been on familiar terms with all but a small handful of his subjects. He has known every Georgia governor since Herman Talmadge. All have had a high regard for Bob, and so do those with an eye on Georgia's political climate. It has not been rare in the last year for the camera to be turned off and 2010 gubernatorial speculation to be turned on - interesting, particularly given that three of our subjects have announced plans to enter the race. They ask Bob what he thinks because he has a feel for these kinds of things, particularlywhat the tenor is in the mountains.

Bob is meticulous in his preparation for our interviews. His apprehension with regard to how forthcoming his subjects may be is almost always unfounded. Bob's depth of knowledge and feeling for Georgia's political history open up the interviews and warm the conversation. Rarely does a Reflections episode go by where the phrase, "I probably shouldn't betelling you this" isn't uttered. It is simply hard not to talk to Bob Short.

So, it seemed like a good idea early on to turn the camera on Bob occasionally and talk to him about his career and experiences in politics. The clip included here details the 1966 Georgia gubernatorial race, and Bob's experiences working first for Jimmy Carter and then for Lester Maddox. A more complete picture of this turning point in the state's politics would be difficult to match.

For podcasts & transcripts of recent interviews in the Reflections series, click here.

Post by Craig Breaden, Head of Media and Oral History, Russell Library

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