Friday, September 12, 2008
Sulu Friday: ABC News Interviews George Takei, Democratic Candidate for Vice President
The following is a transcript of George Takei's interview with ABC News’ Charles Gibson:
GIBSON: Hajimemashte, Takei-san. Let me start by asking you a question that I asked Barack Obama about you. And it is really the central question. Can you look the country in the eye and say, I have the experience, and I have the ability to be not just vice president, but perhaps president of the United States of America?
TAKEI: First, Charles, let me say something. I'm an American. You don't need to speak to me in Japanese. As for your question, Barry believes--as do I--that my life in the spotlight and my experience as an actor playing senior bridge personnel, up to and including captain, more than prepares me for the rigorous challenges of the vice presidency. And, if something happens to Barry, God forbid, the presidency itself.
GIBSON: When Obama asked you to take the spot on the ticket, for a moment, did you think no?
TAKEI: Absolutely not. I was too overwhelmed by his manliness and charm to think anything of the kind. Besides, an actor knows better than to turn down good roles.
GIBSON: And you didn’t say to yourself, am I experienced enough? Am I ready?
TAKEI: Again, no. I think you're missing the point, Charles. I was awash in feelings of lust. I had no thoughts at all about the presidency. However, I can tell you that I knew and know that I am perfectly qualified for the job.
GIBSON: Doesn’t that take some hubris?
GIBSON: You know, "overbearing pride or presumption", like in all those old Greek myths.
TAKEI: I'm not Greek, either, Charles. Why do you keep trying to imply that I'm anything other than American? Returning to the topic at hand, I'm fully on board with Barry's desire to change and reform this great but flawed nation.
GIBSON: But this is not just reforming a government. This is also running a government on the huge international stage, in a very dangerous world. When I asked Barack Obama about your national security credentials, he cited the fact you had command of the Enterprise and the Excelsior on Star Trek. Are those sufficient credentials?
TAKEI: Of course. Look, Charles, Reagan was an actor, and many consider him to have been a great president. And it took a lot of energy for me to play those roles, energy that my work with Howard Stern and on Heroes clearly shows that I still have. In spades.
GIBSON: National security is a whole lot more than energy.
TAKEI: Is it, Charles? Is it really?
GIBSON: Did you ever travel outside the country prior to your trip to Japan last year?
TAKEI: I've been all over the globe. I'm an actor--I go where they tell me to go.
GIBSON: Have you ever met a foreign head of state?
TAKEI: No, but I did meet the Klingon leader, Chancellor Gorkon, in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Well, I met the actor. We actually weren't on screen together--Shatner got my best stuff cut out, as usual. Though Bill and I are okay, now. More or less.
GIBSON: Let me ask you about some specific national security situations.
GIBSON: Let’s start, because we are near Russia. Let’s start with Russia and Georgia. The administration has said, we’ve got to maintain the territorial integrity of Georgia. Do you believe the United States should try to restore Georgian sovereignty over South Ossetia and Abkhazia?
TAKEI: Well, from what I read in my briefing notes, it was unprovoked aggression on Russia's part.
GIBSON: You believe unprovoked?
TAKEI: That's what my notes say. Look here [shows Gibson a notebook].
GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions particularly in the last couple weeks does the proximity of the state give you?
TAKEI: It's hard not to be sympathetic with people in Russia, Georgia, and, say, Ukraine. I nearly froze my testicles off when I went on a tour of Eastern Europe four years ago.
GIBSON: You favor putting Georgia and Ukraine into NATO?
TAKEI: Why not? The more the merrier, I always say [Laughs a deep and rich laugh].
GIBSON: Under the NATO treaty, wouldn’t we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?
TAKEI: War? Why war? Surely Russians can visit Georgia if they want to. You seem awfully aggressive and militaristic today, Charles. Barry certainly doesn't believe in using war to deal with excessive tourist incursions. Nor do I.
GIBSON: Let me turn to Iran. Do you consider a nuclear Iran to be an existential threat to Israel?
TAKEI: Existential? You mean like Sartre? Your question makes no sense.
GIBSON: So, what should we do about a nuclear Iran?
TAKEI: If Iran were nuclear in size, I doubt it would constitute much of a threat. I may only be an actor, but I enjoy reading popular physics books and know something about the structure of the atom. Did you know that if an atom were blown up to the size of a football field, the nucleus would only be the size of a grape? A grape-sized Iran could only threaten something equally tiny, like, say, a strawberry.
GIBSON: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and need[ed] to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?
TAKEI: Ah, I see. Well, I suppose that's their business.
GIBSON: So if we didn’t second guess it and if they decided they needed to do it, because Iran was an existential threat, we would be cooperative or agree with that?
TAKEI: I don't think that word means what you think it means. If you want to talk about the philosophy of existentialism, just say so. I've read several books on the subject.
GIBSON: So if it felt necessary, if it felt the need to defend itself by taking out Iranian nuclear facilities, that would be all right?
TAKEI: Oh. I guess so. But we absolutely would not stand for an Israeli attack on our nuclear facilities.
GIBSON: We talk on the anniversary of 9/11. Why do you think those hijackers attacked? Why did they want to hurt us?
TAKEI: They hated the gay man, Charles. The attack was intended to forestall any more states legalizing gay marriage. Thank God that we Americans are tougher than that and refused to knuckle under.
GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?
TAKEI: Is that some kind of beer?
GIBSON: The Bush — well, what do you interpret it to be?
TAKEI: I asked you.
GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq War.
TAKEI: You're going to have to explain that, it's not in my briefing notes.
GIBSON: The Bush doctrine as I understand it is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with us?
TAKEI: Charles, if you tell me that's what the Bush doctrine is, of course I agree with you and ABC News. Barry and I trust you--you always say such nice things about us.
GIBSON: Do we have the right to be making cross-border attacks into Pakistan, from Afghanistan, with or without the approval of the Pakistani government?
TAKEI: To attack the enemies of homosexuality? Absolutely.
GIBSON: But Mr. Takei, I am asking you, do we have the right, in your mind, to go across the border, with or without the approval of the Pakistani government?
TAKEI: If necessary. We could defeat Pakistani if we had to. This is about freedom! Freedom from oppression! Freedom from prying, judging eyes! Why must I put up with all of these slights and insults? First Bill Shatner, now America!
GIBSON: And let me finish with this. I got lost in a blizzard of words there. Is that a yes, that you think we have the right to go across the border, with or without the approval of the Pakistani government? To go after terrorists who are in the Waziristan area?
TAKEI: It's a yes.
GIBSON: You said recently in your old church, “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.”
TAKEI: I said that? Are you sure?
GIBSON: Are we fighting a Holy War?
TAKEI: I don't remember saying that.
GIBSON: But you went on and said, “There is a plan, and it is God’s plan.”
TAKEI: I don't remember saying that, either.
GIBSON: Then, are you sending your son on a task from God?
TAKEI: Son? What the f--k (sorry!) are you talking about, Charles? I have no son, and I don't care what Jerry Springer says. I. . .did. . .not. . .have. . .sexual relations. . .with that woman! [Ed.: Takei apparently refers here to rumors that he is the father of Britney Spears' son, Sean.]
For background, please be sure to see Urkobold's previous coverage of George Takei's selection as Obama's vice president.