Today Pundit Press is proud to present interview number 56 in our ongoing series. Today we're interviewing writer and playwright Gary Morgenstein, author of the new play Right on Target. He has also written Take Me Out to the Ballgame and The Man Who Wanted to Play Right Field for the New York Yankees. His new play centers around a black conservative and presents conservatives as "as intelligent people who happen to disagree. With a sense of humor."
1) When and why did you decide to write Right on Target?
The Juan Williams controversy where NPR fired him because he dared work for Fox News was an inspiration, leading me to explore prejudice against conservatives within a story about people. You don't want a polemic on stage, how boring. See, I'm a middle-aged Brooklyn Jewish writer so everyone always assumes I've got an Obama tat. You should hear the responses on some of my dates. "Uh, you're really a Republican?" they ask as if I'm carrying the plague. The notion that someone could be intelligent and well-read and also conservative strikes liberals as an unlikely proposition. I wanted to address that cliche. By casting the protagonist Benjy Harrison as an African American conservative, I really turn things upside and make people consider different Universes. Like where all the smart people aren't liberal and all the stupid people aren't conservative.
2) What are some of the biggest stereotypes that conservatives are subjected to?
As we know, entertainment mediums all too often portray conservatives as either religious zealots, redneck bigots or simply Satan's Spawn. A good example is Aaron Sorkin's new HBO series The Newsroom, where he deigns to have a Republican character -- who, of course, is a liberal who attacks conservatives. Though the media does treat women politicians far worse than men (am I really defending Hillary Clinton?) women conservatives are especially trashed, ie Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, by the likes of Bill Maher. There are two very different standards for left and right. Which is pretty peculiar in a country where about 80% of the people characterize themselves as either moderate or conservative.
3) Why does this play resonate with its audience?
RIGHT ON TARGET will open August 11 in the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City's Greenwich Village before what I'm sure will be a predominantly liberal audience, so the reaction should be very interesting. I'll be curious to see if it will be perceived as a satire on conservatives or if people will appreciate this as a comedy about all different perspectives. I think folks are way smarter than they're given credit for. Maybe it's the optimistic Reagan Republican in me.
4) Who do you think will win in November? Will it make a difference in the direction the country is headed?
Oh, I think Romney will win and perhaps by the same margin Obama enjoyed in 2008. Well, will Romney fight for real reform and cut the budget, decrease regulations, taxes and, most importantly, take on the corruption infesting the federal government on both sides of the aisle? And will Americans be willing to forgo some of their entitlements to get this big government under control? That's a tall order.