By The Hill Staff - 07/13/06 12:00 AM EDT
In view of Rep. Kay Granger’s (R-Texas) new book, What’s Right About America: Celebrating Our Nation’s Values, The Hill’s Kelly McCormack spoke with the congresswoman at length to discuss American values.
Q: When did you find time to write the book?
A: Granger: It took me a long time. I didn’t do it quickly. I worked on it when I had time or a break.
Q: What has been right about America lately?
A: Granger: What’s right about America lately is what has always been right about America. We’re very compassionate people. I think, in fact I know, that we’re very generous. I know that we’re copied around the world.
We hear a lot about the rest of the world gets angry or doesn’t agree with us, but I just went to Iraq this weekend. It’s my third trip to Iraq and my third time I have worked with Iraqi women. One of the trips I went to the Middle East to work with women at a conference to talk about the principles and practices of democracy. One thousand two hundred Iraqi women signed up to learn about democracy.
So, what’s good about America is that we are the leading democracy in the world and other countries look to our Constitution to copy.
Q: How did you learn your American values?
A: Granger: From my mother, who is a teacher; from my school, because when I grew up in school we talked about American history and American values; and [from] our movies. I’m from a generation where our music and our theater and motion pictures, I think, were very positive, and I think that we’ve gotten away from that.
Q: In light of some of the recent lobbying scandals, how do you think politicians can use some of the values that you spoke about to make America better?
A: Granger: Well, I don’t think that it has anything to do with lobbying scandals. [The book is] not political; it’s not partisan. It absolutely talks about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and about values like equality, service, compassion, justice. It gives examples.
When I talk about the importance of the individual, I start out with Scott O’Grady. His F-16 was shot down over Bosnia. He was separated for six days, and we send in 40 planes and helicopters to find one person. That just doesn’t happen anywhere.
Q: What did you teach, and for how long did you teach?
A: Granger: I taught for nine years. I taught high school literature and journalism.
Q: If a reader could take away one thing from your book, what would it be?
A: Granger: I would have them take away enough of an interest to read about biographies of people that were successful Americans.
Q: I understand the book’s proceeds will be sent to a few organizations. Can you talk a little about the charities that the proceeds are going to?
A: Granger: The Lena Pope Home is an institution in Fort Worth, Texas. I’ve worked with them for years, and they work with young people. It’s progressed, as far as the young people they work with, but it’s primarily troubled young people.
Q: Are planning on writing anything else?
A: Granger: I’m working on one. I think we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what’s wrong with America, what faults we have. We’ve done the same thing with families.
We all know now, pretty well, what a dysfunctional family is, and we all know what’s wrong with families. I don’t think we write about what’s right with families.
Q: Can you tell me about some important works that you included at the end of the book?
A: Granger: Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter for a Birmingham Jail.” … I thought it was important to print it in its entirety because it is just an amazing document.