Tom Vilsack is a guy who lives for his job, but that did not stop him from telling President Obama a few weeks ago that he was willing to hand in his resignation.
Having stepped on the true third rail of American politics – – race – – Vilsack was willing to throw himself from the sled before somebody else did it for him.
In a 75-minute, exclusive interview Tuesday, Vilsack, the secretary of agriculture, told me about his suspension of Shirley Sherrod and his subsequent meetings with President Obama about it. Vilsack also spoke frankly about how without the labor of illegal immigrants, the price of food in the United States would cost “three, four, or five times more than it does now.”
More quiet than shy, he even talked about the mosque near ground zero in New York.
As Vilsack has gone from job to job – – from mayor to state legislator to governor of Iowa and now secretary of agriculture – – he has kept a framed quotation on his wall, a famous one by Teddy Roosevelt that talks about the man who struggles in the arena and how “if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
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