Robert Davi

My 5 Minutes with the President

Actor, director and singer Robert Davi is a native of Astoria, Queens, and grew up speaking Italian as his first language. Davi is best known for playing drug lord Franz Sanchez in the James Bond film “License to Kill,” as well as agent Baily Malone in the NBC television series “Profiler.” He has played such notable characters as Vietnam veteran and Special Agent Johnson in “Die Hard,” the villainous Jake Fratelli in “The Goonies,” Commander Acastus Kolya on “Stargate Atlantis” and Al Torres in “Showgirls.” Most recently, he was in “Game of Death” with Wesley Snipes and “Kill the Irishman” with Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer and Vincent D’Onofrio. Davi made his directorial debut with “The Dukes,” starring Chazz Palminteri and Peter Bogdanovich. A classically trained singer, Davi recently launched his singing career with the Phil Ramone-produced 2011 album “Davi Sings Sinatra — On the Road to Romance.” 

Davi is a frequent speaker on conservative politics. He narrated several film montages that aired during the 2008 Republican National Convention and spoke at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference. Davi also has received many honors and awards for his public service, including the George M. Estabrook Distinguished Service Award from the Hofstra University Alumni Association. He serves on the Steering Committee for George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute. Davi is a recipient of the Man of the Year Award from the Los Angeles FBI. He serves as national spokesman for the I-Safe Internet Safety program.

ROBIN BRONK: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about? 

ROBERT DAVI: I would like to talk with him about the crisis in American education. To help children reach their full intellectual potential, an education must include American values, civics and history. Our students must have an exceptional education that inspires them and builds upon our country’s greatness, instead of a relativistic, socialistic worldview that wants to erase what our country stands for and has accomplished. There has been a systematic approach to undermine the “Greatness of America” — a pervasive hipness in denigrating our country that flatters itself as being intellectually provocative. And, while I know he distanced himself from the Rev. Wright’s comments, I would like to discuss with the president why the comment “God damn America” offended the vast majority of Americans. Specifically, because America is an ideal — a living dream that has been a beacon of hope for the world. Yes, at times, the men and women who make political decisions may be misguided and cause some to want to damn them. But if we erased America from world history, one must unequivocally agree the world would be a lesser place. Therefore, I say, “God BLESS America!”

Another crucial issue is the one my good friend John Hope Bryant has devoted his life’s work to promoting: financial literacy. As John puts it, “Silver rights, not just civil rights.” If financial literacy was taught across the nation, people would have been able to understand some of the mortgage traps snaring them, such as the Community Reinvestment Act that pushed banks to give loans to low-income families that could never repay them. This, of course, helped lead to the collapse of global financial systems. John wrote a compelling book called Love Leadership, which does not condemn capitalism but speaks of how success entails the personal responsibility of giving.

Now, I do not interpret this as Warren Buffett did when he publicly rued how his secretary paid more in taxes than he did. That he wants to pay more taxes is all fine and good, but how about just giving his secretary a raise? If he wants to spread the wealth, then do it through increased salaries and profit sharing, not through increased government. Government is not more efficient than the private sector. However, the private sector does have a spiritual duty to do the right thing. Let’s not let the milk of government “kindness” drug a society into complacency and steal the dreams, promise and passions that create a climate for personal success and self-reliance. Assistance, yes; reliance, no. Punishment for success? Never!

RB: If you could give President Obama one piece of advice, what would that be?

RD: Don’t appease the enemies of freedom, democracy and our allies. Israel must remain a shining example of democracy in the Middle East. The Arab Spring has come about because of oppressive regimes, not as a result for a yearning for freedom; let Israel be used as an example for how productive the Middle East can be, and we must encourage other nations in the region to emulate and ally with it. Jews and Arabs are cousins, and somewhere along the line, the fear of change caused the status quo to create tensions that need not be there. And it does not just have to do with a Palestinian state, but also with a fear of a lack of control that democracy can bring. Alvin Toffler’s book The Third Wave advocated that instead of fighting against each other, people should be working together to make the Sinai a rich, fertile, food-producing land. In this spirit of working together for the common good, Mr. President, please bring Churchill’s bust back to the White House.

RB: If you could ask President Obama one question, what would that be?

RD: Why — when we see the failure of European socialism and knowing how inefficient government programs can be, and the problems with socialized medicine — does he still wish to continue on this path? My very good friend, Dr. Jack Kavanaugh, understands the whole medical insurance problem as many do, and this current path is riddled with minefields. Why have you dug in your heels and why do you continue to sell this to the same people who do not have the financial literacy to understand the dangers in this program that will eventually lead us to an even worse crisis than the banking one? Let’s all agree that healthcare is in a very precarious place and we must come up with solutions. But why do we come up with government solutions? My idea is to call a symposium of experts and shed light on all the pitfalls or benefits before a program is presented — don’t dump it in our laps and then clean up later. Our country has been faced with these issues for years. Both parties have stumbled on these knowing that sooner or later they will come crashing down. It reminds me of the classic Abbott and Costello routine, “Who’s on first?”

RB: What book would you offer to lend President Obama? Why?

RD: My father, a World War II veteran and a Knights of Columbus member, gave me two essential books when I was a teen: Masters of Deceit and None Dare Call it Treason. These books helped to shape my political beliefs, because over the years I saw events unfold that those books predicted. (Saul Alinsky, although I did read him, was not my view of America. But his schemes are tragically advancing, as well.) My grandparents, who were Italian immigrants, loved the promise of America — even while they experienced harsh treatment as minorities and people of a different skin color and foreign language. But they never let themselves feel victimized. Their heartfelt love of God and country wasn’t something to be ashamed of admitting. It wasn’t viewed as something simplistic or not intellectually “nuanced.” It was and is something to embrace and be proud of. We have entered an age of cynicism that is like a swarm of termites eating away at our nation’s foundation. This isn’t President Obama’s fault or the fault of one political party. We have been incrementally brought where we are today because we’ve not been watchful and held our elected officials accountable. Thankfully, this has already begun to change and will continue to do so for the benefit of all Americans.

RB: If you were going to send the president to one place in the United States for one day, where would that be ? And why?

RD: Maybe the president should spend some time in my old neighborhood, Astoria, Queens. It’s home to people from many different backgrounds who aren’t afraid to speak their mind. But any of America’s vibrant cities and towns would do. Look, the president has traveled all over this great country and spoken to a great many people. Wait, here’s an idea! Every president usually invites to the White House only those celebrities who are supportive and share his ideology, so the result is nothing but an evening of mutual adoration and back-slapping. What if the president invites some conservative celebrities to the White House? Better yet, he could invite some conservative celebrities to meet him in Astoria, Queens.

RB: Would you ever consider a political career?

RD: We have enough people who want to be politicians. Laura Ingraham wrote a book several years ago about celebrities who become zealous political activists. Her book was called Shut Up and Sing — so I did just that on my new album, [which] is comprised of numbers from the great American songbook, which I hope everyone, regardless of politics, can enjoy.

Bronk is a seasoned Capitol Hill strategist and advocate. She started her career at The Creative Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group for the arts and entertainment industry, in July 1998. During her tenure as CEO, Bronk has taken The Creative Coalition from a New York-based entity to a national organization.